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Newly Published: Manuscripts Changing Hands

Wednesday, May 24, 2017   (0 Comments)

Manuscripts Changing Hands, edited by Corine Schleif and Volker Schier and published by Harrassowitz, contains expanded versions of presentations from a symposium held at the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel. The authors are Madeline Caviness, Nancy van Deusen, Matthias Eifler, Barbara Haggh-Huglo, Hiram Kümper, Judith Oliver, Corine Schleif, Volker Schier, Gabriela Signori, and Alison Stones.

Medieval manuscripts were conceived to move from one pair of hands to the next. Holding a book presented possibilities, and possessing a book implied power. Thus, books functioned as potent connectors. They bound producers with consumers, givers with recipients, writers with readers, writers with writers, and readers with readers. Books linked many generations and were intended to last. Hands attached messages in colophons, prayers, scribal notes, glosses, word plays, self-images, and other inserted materials. Hands also left traces in the form of penciled users’ names, threats, curses, corrections, erasures, worn and torn pages, finger prints, and dirt.

Contributors to this collection of essays analyze the ways in which the manuscript medium served and challenged communication. Sensorial empathies helped to construct communal identities that overcame barriers of time, class, and calling. Diachronic communities formed around books in both men’s and women’s monasteries. Librarians, collectors, and makers of facsimiles strove to preserve these hand-made, handed down objects.

The volume reflects current issues relating to actor network theory and eco-critical concerns. It appears at the moment in which transient virtual media are replacing enduring material objects as means of communication. Additional information can be found on the publisher’s website:

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