First of all, a long-overdue link: Colleen Curran wrote up these notes on using the Vatican Library. I was linking to them in a post I half-drafted a month ago, but the post died in draft! So I’ve linked them now. This also seems like a good moment to mention that Colleen is one of the organisers of this exciting (and free!) conference in London on 3 June.
This is probably the most recent manuscript-related post which has really struck me and stuck in my mind. Jeanne’s treatment of modern misogyny cloaking itself as ordinary speech is great. The observation that many seemingly immediate and accessible manuscript features are often not so ordinary, an observation which was only really on the way to the point of the post, was useful. Thomas Howard Crofts has written a piece about these drawings as a response to the poem (in Arthuriana 20), which reads a little differently to me now.
Jeanne’s post also had me thinking about the internet’s taste for manuscript images from books which are either beautiful (usually because they are elite), or weird, or both. This is not necessarily a bad thing, and it would be hard to catch someone’s attention by promising to show them ‘some thoroughly nondescript manuscripts’! But if even manuscripts which are neither lavishly decorated, unusually made nor unusually damaged are far from ordinary, then perhaps I need to think more on my past characterisation of them as the ignored, mundane ‘background noise’ of book production.
News has been going around for the last couple of days that the University of London plans to close the Institute of English Studies. I used to see IES posters in Senate House back when I was an undergraduate, but it’s mostly known to me for its palaeography summer school, which I’ve never been able to attend because every summer I seem to have far too many manuscripts to look at. One day! Or rather, now this news has broken, ‘One day?’ Reports hint that the palaeographical and book-historical aspects of the IES might be taken over by the IHR, and I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on the financial situation of the IES, the University of London, or of British higher education in general… But the closure doesn’t sound palatable at all!