Tomorrow I will be leaving to the abbey Rolduc in the south of the Netherlands, along with fourteen classmates and four faculty members from the department of Book and Digital Media Studies at Leiden University. And it should prove to be extremely interesting!
While there we will be hunting in the monastic library for fragments of medieval manuscripts, hidden (or not so hidden) away in the covers of 15th to 17th century books. These covers hide wondeful treasures: pieces of old text transferred in the handwritings of medieval scribes. And the fragments convey their own, often unwritten, messages that can tell us a lot about books in the Middle Ages as well as culture of that time.
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“Book bindings from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century hold hidden treasures. Book binders from this period cut up handwritten books from the Middle Ages, manuscripts, because these had become old fashioned after the invention of printing. The dismembered manuscripts were used as binding material.”
“It is not easy to cut up parchment quires, but judging from the evidence staring at us through the cracks in the leather today, book binders excelled at it. […] Stepping out of their leather time capsules after centuries of darkness, fragments are “blips” on the map of Europe, expressing “I existed, I was used by a reader in tenth-century Italy! (But look at me now…)””
For those interested, I also highly recommend following our Twitter hashtag #rolduc2012. We will be actively tweeting during the project!