- Department: Centre for Medieval Studies
- Module co-ordinator: Dr. Holly James-Maddocks
- Credit value: 20 credits
- Credit level: M
- Academic year of delivery: 2023-24
This module develops a student’s ability to read and translate original medieval sources, by studying palaeography in tandem with a medieval language. It develops competence with reading medieval scripts together with a language relevant to the student’s field of interest. This allows us to get behind the edition, to become aware of the different processes of linguistic and palaeographical translation, and how each can shape what we read.
|A||Semester 1 2023-24|
In the European Middle Ages material was produced without the printing press and much of it survives in handwritten medieval originals or copies. Whatever their discipline, researchers into the Middle Ages must navigate manuscripts and documents, all of them written in medieval languages. Even if a work is edited in a modern publication, a researcher must often look behind the edition to understand what was on the folio. Editing is its own act of interpretation, and it can misconstrue or erase features that the researcher needs.
This module develops a student’s ability to read and translate original sources. It has two integrated aims. First, to get behind the edition and to grapple with the manuscript as it was written. This includes appreciating the ways in which words might be abbreviated and arranged. Second, it aims to develop competence with reading medieval scripts, a competence that requires development in a medieval language.
By studying palaeography in tandem with a medieval language, you will become aware of the different processes of linguistic and palaeographical translation, and how each can shape what we read. Students will develop their skills by focusing on the kinds of hands and on a language that is most relevant to their area of study. Palaeography options typically include Early Medieval Palaeography c. 500–1000; Administrative Hands from the Conquest to the Later Middle Ages; and Later Medieval Book Hands c. 1250–1525. Language options include Latin, Old English, Old Norse and Old French. The Latin and Old English provision caters for both complete beginners, as well as those with prior knowledge of these languages. Tuition in Old French and Old Norse is aimed at those with little or no previous training.
At the end of the course students will have:
Developed the ability to transcribe, translate, edit and engage with a range of documents and manuscripts of their chosen period
Gained an awareness of when, how and why such texts were produced
Developed their knowledge of the grammatical rules and vocabulary of a medieval language
Developed the ability to read a catalogue description, as well as gaining hands-on practical experience of handling and engaging with original source material
This 20-credit module consists of two 90-minute introductory sessions in week 1, and twenty 90-minute classes in weeks 2-11. In place of one 90-minute class in week 5 there will be a 2-hour workshop, working directly with manuscripts.
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There will be weekly verbal feedback on class transcription and translation exercises and formative assessments in weeks 6 and 10, the latter providing written feedback on progress. Exam results are given within 25 working days. The module is offered pass/fail.
Tutors will either direct students to a textbook or provide course booklets and weekly handouts that cover all the material considered on this module.