Mediaevalia 2014

March 24th 2014
Medieval Manuscript

The Lilly Library will host Mediaevalia 2014, the yearly event for all friends of things medieval, of calligraphy, gilded initials, precious manuscripts, early prints, and other highlights of the history of the book. This annual event for the IU community and interested public combines a thought-provoking lecture with a hands-on workshop, all presented by a world-renowned medievalist who will make abstract ideas concrete.

Showcasing select items from the Lilly Library’s collections of over seven hundred medieval manuscripts as well as early printed books, Mediaevalia 2014 welcomes Erik Kwakkel, the 2014 E.A. Lowe Lecturer in Paleography at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and Associate Professor in Medieval Manuscript Studies, Leiden University, The Netherlands. For information about Prof. Kwakkel's study of innovations in medieval manuscripts, see the Turning Over a New Leaf Project at Leiden University

Public Lecture:

Thursday, March 27, at 5pm in the Lincoln Room of the Lilly Library, Professor Kwakkel will present a public lecture, "Kissing the Neighbor: How Medieval Letterforms Help to Tell Time," with a reception to follow.

"Age is not important, unless you are a cheese." Historians know this expression not to be true: the age of a piece of writing matters a great deal. The key to determining when a given medieval manuscript was written is to assess the age of its script. The handwriting of scribes developed continuously, meaning that their products can be placed in time if the right reference points are available. In an age known as The Long Twelfth Century, scribes across Europe began to search for new ways of executing letters. Neighboring letters began to "kiss" and "bite" each other, while the "i" became dotted and the "t" crossed. The lecture ultimately demonstrates it is possible to gauge the date of a manuscript in an objective manner: it shows how letterforms help to tell time.

Hands-on Workshop (registration required):

Friday, March 28, from 9am to noon in the Slocum Room of the Lilly Library, Professor Kwakkel will lead "Why Study the Medieval Book," a workshop focusing on the medieval manuscript as a physical object.

The workshop will present "real-world" case studies to show how even someone with a basic understanding of the medieval book may benefit from its physical features and aims to show faculty and students how they may benefit from a manuscript beyond merely the text it holds on its pages. At the end of the session participants will be able to answer the query posed in the workshop’s title. A limited number of spaces are available; preregistration is required with Cherry Williams, Curator of Manuscripts at the Lilly

Mediaevalia at the Lilly is co-sponsored by the Lilly Library, the Medieval Studies Institute (MEST) and Germanic Studies. It is co-directed by Cherry Williams, Curator of Manuscripts at the Lilly Library and Hildegard Elisabeth Keller, Professor of Germanic Studies.

Today's Hours

9:00am - 6:00pm All hours


  • Building Access Front entrance facing Showalter Fountain is fully accessible. Building Access

Contact Info

1200 E Seventh Street
Bloomington, IN 47405
812-855-3143 (Fax)
Joel Silver
Joel Silver - Director, Librarian
(812) 855-2452