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Palaeography - From Manuscript to Print

Being able to read original manuscripts and prints from the Renaissance era is an essential skill for anyone pursuing research in Renaissance Studies. The CSR has a long-standing reputation for its courses in this area, which annually include both English Palaeography and (typically in alternation) either Italian or Latin Palaeography. These courses develop a facility in reading a variety of representative hands (including gothic, secretary, book-hand, etc.) and typefaces, provide a guide to solving the most common abbreviations, and also discuss the most relevant characteristics of both manuscripts and printed books.

The courses particularly emphasize practice, which is the only reliable way to learn to transcribe Renaissance texts – all of the courses below involve some amount of homework. Because of this practical approach, the courses are particularly suited to participants approaching palaeography for the first time. They are not designed for experienced readers of original Renaissance texts or philologists. Our hope is that they will particularly help doctoral students and early career fellows who are working in archives and libraries to make better sense of the materials they are reading and understand common conventions of transcription.

Please take our language requirements seriously: trying to transcribe a text when you are unsure of valid word-forms is an exercise in futility. In extreme cases, participants whose lack of preparation significantly slows down the rest of the class may be asked to withdraw from the course.

In 2021–22 our introductory courses on palaeography will be offered during the autumn term only and will be taught online using the Microsoft Teams platform.

Students not enrolled in Warwick's Renaissance Centre pay £100 per course at the beginning of term. These costs may be eligible for reimbursement by institutions belonging to the Newberry Library Consortium. (Follow the instructions under the relevant course link below.) Please note that courses are capped – if they are oversubscribed, a selection process will take place. Likewise, they require a minimum number of participants to run and may therefore be cancelled if there is not sufficient interest. The application deadline is Tuesday 21st September (8:00am BST), but earlier applications are strongly encouraged.


English Palaeography
Latin Palaeography 
Italian Palaeography (not running in the 2021-22 academic year)
Review of the class, by recent student Holly Kelsey ...

"I loved the English Palaeography course. The content was interesting and useful, ranging from medieval printing to seventeenth century italic, and Katie is a brilliant teacher. I found the discipline of palaeography a stimulating challenge to a different part of my brain than that which I use to write essays - it's really rewarding to be able to decipher a page of Elizabethan secretary hand which looks on first sight like another language!"


palaeography students2

Archive Info Re Past Courses:

Greek & Latin Palaeography (a one-off programme in March 2016)