Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Italian Palaeography

A substantial amount of library and archival research in Renaissance Studies depends on being able to read books and documents from the period, often written in scripts that are hard to decipher by a modern reader. This course aims to provide the tools necessary to read and transcribe Italian manuscript and printed sources from the late medieval period to the seventeenth century. Since these are written in various kinds of scripts (Gothic, humanistic, etc.), some time will be spent examining each of these. The course starts from printed materials, which are somewhat easier to navigate and usually contain fewer abbreviations, and works its way back towards manuscripts. It also covers some of the standard bibliographical tools. The instructor, Dr Cecilia Sideri, is currently Assistant Professor (holding a Marie Curie-UKRI Guarantee postdoctoral fellowship 2023-2025) in the Centre for the Study of the Renaissance. She is an Italian Philologist by training, with a particular interest in manuscript studies and palaeography. She has worked with Italian manuscripts and printed books preserved in numerous libraries and archives around Europe.

Timetable: Thursdays, 5-6.30pm (British time) . All classes will be taught virtually. Classes will start on 18 January 2024 through 14 March 2024, for a total of nine sessions (see the Course Schedule link below) including an optional informal test at the end of the course.

Aims: Although the course will inevitably include references to book history and production as context, the focus will be on deciphering and transcribing various kinds of hands (or, in the case of print, fonts). In other words, participants should expect a lot of practice as opposed to lectures, although the instructor will also provide relevant presentations as part of each session. Sample materials will range from printed books and formal presentation manuscripts to messy archival documents, roughly in order of difficulty.

Primary audience: MA or PhD students, plus researchers who wish to develop their facility with original Italian sources. External participants are more than welcome. A solid grasp of Italian (at least intermediate level) is required. Participants should expect weekly preparation times of around 2 hours per week (but, as with many things, the more time you put into your homework and preparation, the more you will get out of it!).

Modalities: All classes will be online via Microsoft Teams. Each class will typically consist of three main components: a review of transcriptions assigned as homework; a shortish lecture/presentation on scripts and/or related cultural topics; and small-group work to transcribe and describe previously-unseen texts.

Credit information: This course does not carry any credits, but participants who pass the end-of-term test will be eligible to receive a certificate attesting that they have completed the course successfully.

Textbooks: There is not an official textbook for the course, but students will find it helpful to acquire Adriano Cappelli, Lexicon abbreviaturarum. Dizionario di abbreviature latine ed italiane (see the Bibliography link on the right), although they may also, of course, use the PDF version provided. Also helpful is Bischoff, Latin Palaeography, which provides a history of various Latin scripts, with relevant discussions about the development of vernacular scripts. Other useful tools and materials available online are listed in the Bibliography link.

Fees: Students not enrolled in Warwick's Centre for the Study of the Renaissance pay £200 at the beginning of term. Participants from institutions belonging to the Newberry Library's Center for Renaissance Studies Consortium may be able to claim their fees back from local Newberry funds; ask your local representative for more information.

Application: Places on the course are limited, so selection will be based on the details given in your brief application. Registration form can be found here.Link opens in a new window Deadline for applications is Friday 5th January 2024.

Participants accepted onto the 2023-24 course, should familiarise themselves with the applicable T&Cs, including cancellation policy. HERE