School launches UK’s first online course for deciphering medieval manuscripts

Tuesday 22 January 2013

The School of Advanced Study, University of London is delighted to announce the launch of InScribe, the UK’s first – and freely available – online training platform for the study of medieval manuscripts, or Palaeography.

InScribe provides a set of distance learning materials suitable both for someone interested in exploring Palaeography for the first time as well as for those in need of a refresher course.

The first module to be made available introduces the basics about deciphering medieval manuscripts and provides an overview of the evolution of handwriting in the medieval period, with particular reference to the English context. It offers short clips of internationally renowned experts teaching aspects of the module. It also provides students with newly digitised images of manuscripts from Senate House Library and Exeter Cathedral Library & Archives. One of the highlights of the project is a transcription tool - developed in collaboration with the Department of Digital Humanities (King’s College London) - that gives students the chance to transcribe text from these digitised manuscripts.

InScribe has been developed by several of the institutes within the School, including the Institutes of Historical Research and English Studies, with support from the Senate House Library and Exeter Cathedral Library & Archives. While it is designed for postgraduate students and academics, interested members of the public are also most welcome to use the platform.

More modules will follow shortly on subjects such as codicology (the study of manuscript bindings, layout, etc.), illumination (the decoration of manuscript pages with gold, silver and other bright, luminous colours), and diplomatic (medieval documents including charters, royal accounts, Episcopal records, etc.).

Dr Jane Winters, Project Director, said: ‘Learning how to read medieval manuscripts can be daunting, particularly in a classroom setting where everyone can hear your mistakes. This online tutorial allows postgraduate students, and anyone interested in the history of the Middle Ages, to learn an important new skill and to practice transcribing texts at their own pace and in their own home. It contains images from some wonderful manuscripts, from the 10th-century Exeter Book to the 'Prophecies of Merlin' contained in the 14th-century Chronicle of Robert of Gloucester, all reproduced in high quality colour. We hope that it will help to introduce a fascinating period of British history to a wide audience, in the UK and beyond.’

To find out more about InScribe and to access the online course visit www.history.ac.uk/research-training/courses/online-palaeography

Watch a video about InScribe: Palaeography Learning materials, a new online training platform https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m68ri9Y54LY&list=UUNJnkXq2mIAIIJ42jES2fJQ&index=3

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Notes for editors:

1. For further information please contact Dr Francisco Jose Alvarez Lopez at the School of Advanced Study, University of London at Francisco.alvarez-lo@sas.ac.uk / 020 7862 8762. Images available on request.

2. The Inscribe training course provides scholars and the general public interested in medieval books and documents with free online training on the diverse areas found within palaeography and manuscript studies. It aims to complement other traditional methods of palaeographical training to provide the necessary knowledge required by non-specialists to allow them to explore and interact with medieval manuscripts and documents. InScribe has been developed by several of the institutes within the School, including the Institutes of Historical Research and English Studies, with support from the Senate House Library and Exeter Cathedral Library & Archives.
www.history.ac.uk/research-training/courses/online-palaeography

3. The School of Advanced Study, University of London is the UK’s national centre for the promotion and facilitation of research in the humanities and social sciences. The School brings together 10 research institutes to offer academic opportunities, facilities and stimulation across a wide range of subject areas for the benefit of the national and international scholarly community. The member institutes of the School are the Institutes of Advanced Legal Studies, Classical Studies, Commonwealth Studies, English Studies, Germanic & Romance Studies, Historical Research, Musical Research, Philosophy, Study of the Americas, and the Warburg Institute. The School also hosts a cross-disciplinary centre, the Human Rights Consortium, dedicated to the facilitation, promotion and dissemination of academic and policy work on human rights.
www.sas.ac.uk