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Latin Palaeography: Academic Year 2021-22

Module convenor: Professor David Lines

This course aims to provide the tools necessary to read and accurately transcribe manuscript and printed sources (in Latin) 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 toward manuscripts and archival documents. It includes a variety of genres, from literary and philosophical/theological works to archival records.

Although the course will inevitably include references to book history and production as a context, the focus will be on deciphering and transcribing various kinds of writing samples, particularly those connected with Italy. A solid grasp of Latin (at least intermediate level) is required. (Participants wanting a refresher may wish to take, alongside this course, Latin for Research in the Humanities.) Although the course is open to mature researchers who wish to develop their facility with original Latin sources, it is especially geared to postgraduate students and early career researchers. The course will follow a seminar format and will largely rely on homework transcription exercises, to be discussed in class along with other texts. It will culminate in a test giving participants an idea of their final level of attainment.

For useful online resources and bibliography, see the right-hand side of this page. In preparation for the course, participants would do well to acquire Cappelli, Lexicon abbreviaturarum and read Bischoff, Latin Palaeography (see Bibliography link).

All classes will be taught virtually via interactive seminars on Microsoft Teams, most likely on Mondays, 5:00-6:30pm (British time). Please note that the UK changes from BST to GMT on 31 October, so classes from Week 5 onwards are GMT. There is a minimum (and also a maximum) enrolment for this course. Classes are expected to start on 11th October.

This course, run by Warwick's Centre for the Study of the Renaissance, does not confer university credits. However, on the basis of students' performance in the final test, the CSR can issue a certificate of completion and of having passed the course.

Students not enrolled in Warwick's Renaissance Centre pay £100 for the course at the beginning of term. Participants whose institution belongs to the Newberry Library Consortium may be eligible to receive CRS Consortium Grants to cover the cost of the course. (Contact your local consortium representative for details.)

To apply for this course (deadline, 8:00am BST on 21st September), please complete the form here.

If you have specific queries about the course content, please contact David Lines. For other queries, contact the Centre administrator on

Course Structure:

Week of Term Date Topic


11 Oct. Introduction. Early printed books (I): working with printed materials
3. 18 Oct. Early printed books (II): transcribing printed materials
4. 25 Oct. Manuscripts (I): humanist hands; working with manuscripts
5. 1 Nov. Manuscripts (II): gothic and other hands; technical descriptions
6.   READING WEEK (no class)
7. 15 Nov. Working with archival materials (I): letters and correspondence
8. 22 Nov. Working with archival materials (II): records/minutes of official deliberations
9. 29 Nov. Working with archival materials (III): notarial records, receipts of payments, etc.
10. 6 Dec. Final considerations; test
Please note: the course will begin in Week 2 of Term 1, and will not meet during Reading Week (Week 6).

Participants accepted onto the 2021-22 course, should familiarise themselves with the applicable Terms & Conditions.

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