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Course tutor: Dr Anna Somfai (Department of Medieval Studies, Central European University, Vienna)

The aim of the course is to provide theoretical background and practical training in producing critical editions and stemma codicum. The practical task is set within the context of the medieval transmission and reception of texts. The course takes the participants through the entire process of textual criticism, starting with the transcription of a brief text from various manuscripts, using digital folio images, through the various steps of creating a critical edition to the construction of the stemma codicum. The course provides brief introductions to codicology and to the transmission and reception of texts from the point of view of textual criticism and discusses the principles and practicalities of editing. Powerpoint presentations and whiteboard illustrations will be combined with breakout room work and instant feedback and discussions. 

The course is primarily designed for PhD and MA students, postdoctoral and early career researchers but also for those who want to acquire the skill of textual criticism at a later stage of their career. The course will particularly benefit those who want to produce critical editions and whose work involves their use. 

A basic knowledge of Latin and medieval Latin palaeography is required.

  • Standard: £160 
  • Warburg Staff & Fellows/external students/unwaged: £145
  • SAS & LAHP-funded students: £95
  • Warburg Students: £80

Four sessions, Thursdays 18 April to 9 May 2024, 2.00 - 4.00pm UK time: online via Zoom.

18 April 2024
The first class provides an introduction to codicology and to the transmission and reception of texts during the Middle Ages to set the context of the course. The second part of the class, in preparation for the work of critical edition, provides space in breakout rooms for the transcription of the text from digitised folios of the manuscripts selected to provide the text variants, followed by a plenary discussion of the results.

25 April 2024
The second class provides the detailed explanation of the principles and practice of textual criticism. During the second part of the class, participants prepare in breakout rooms the critical edition of a brief section of the transcribed text from the variants to practice the task of creating an apparatus criticus. The discussion of the editions at the end of the class provides the instant feedback on mastering the principles of the task.

2 May 2024
The third class focuses on the editing of the text from the transcribed digitised manuscript folios in breakout rooms. The editions will be checked in a plenary session and the process of editing discussed in detail based on the feedback from the exercise to provide clues for more refined editing methods.

9 May 2024
The fourth class continues the editing practice in breakout rooms and the discussion of the issues that arise from the practice. In the final session of the class we create the stemma codicum and discuss the intricacies of the transmission of texts reflected in the process.

  • Bischoff, B., Latin Palaeography. Antiquity & the Middle Ages, tr. D. Ó Cróinín and D. Ganz, 1990 (Paläographie des römischen Altertums und des abendländischen Mittelalters, Berlin 1979, 19862).
  • Clemens, R. and Graham, T,, Introduction to Manuscript Studies, Ithaca and London 2007.
  • Reynolds, L. D. and Wilson, N. G., Scribes & Scholars. A Guide to the Transmission of Greek & Latin Literature, Oxford 1968.


image: Walters W.13 fol. 69r Isidore Synonyms. 12th c. German