Folger Institute


Programs, 2010-2011

In Praise of Scribes: Early Modern English Manuscript Culture

Peter Beal
Late-Spring Seminar

This seminar will explore and raise questions about the nature of English manuscript culture from approximately 1550 to 1650. Topics to be discussed will include the impact that printing had on manuscript production; the types of documents, both public and private, that continued to be written by hand, by both men and women; the work of some individual scribes; the raison d’etre of manuscript circulation; matters of authorship; and the textual implications of all this for editors.

Participants will use electronic and facsimile images of manuscripts in addition to select manuscripts from the Folger’s collections. Familiarity with secretary script is an advantage. Members of the seminar will browse together through selected handouts to discuss some palaeographical matters. Some attention will be paid to descriptive terminology for select scripts. Finally, time will be allowed for participants to report on the research projects they are undertaking themselves.

Director: Dr. Peter Beal, FBA, FSA, was for 25 years English Manuscript Expert at Sotheby’s, London. He is now Senior Research Fellow in the University of London, where he is  building a database Catalogue of English Literary Manuscripts 1450-1700 (CELM). His publications include Index of English Literary Manuscripts 1450-1700 (4 vols, 1980-93); In Praise of Scribes (1998); Elizabeth I and the Culture of Writing (co-edited, 2007); and A Dictionary of English Manuscript Terminology 1450-2000 (2008). He is co-founder and co-editor of  English Manuscript Studies 1100-1700  published annually by the British Library.

Schedule: Thursdays and Fridays, 1 – 4:30 p.m., 19 May through 17 June 2011.

Apply: 7 January 2011 for admission and grants-in-aid.

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