My Spring at SCRIPTO

By Jenneka Janzen

In preparation for embarking on my PhD research (which I’ve just now begun as a new member of the Turning Over a New Leaf project), I had the good fortune to participate in the fifth annual SCRIPTO (Scholarly Codicological Research, Information & Paleographical Tools) program at Friedrich Alexander University in Erlangen, Germany. As a Canadian fresh out of my MA in Toronto, it was an excellent opportunity to learn from European scholars, experience some of Germany’s impressive manuscript libraries, and imbibe some Franconian culture (and of course, beer).

The program offers something for any aspiring manuscript researcher: well-designed overviews of the history and principles of cataloguing, text typology, Latin philology, book illustration, codicology, incunabula studies, bookbinding, and informatics are all offered. SCRIPTO’s breadth effectively accommodates the various levels and areas of expertise amongst participants.

A fellow participant and I pore over Gratian’s Decretum in the Stadtbibliothek Nürnberg.

Over the course of the 2 ½ months of SCRIPTO V, young international scholars (our group had students from The Netherlands, Czech Republic, Poland, Italy, and Germany in addition to my Canadian presence) journeyed through the intensive program. Nearly daily lectures by established experts and hands-on opportunities with manuscripts and incunabula in Erlangen, Nuremberg, Munich and Erfurt were punctuated by local excursions led by the program’s gracious organizers, Prof. Dr. Michele C. Ferrari and Dr. Stefan Weber. Further, to put our new skills to practice, throughout the program we worked in small groups to create catalogue entries for manuscripts at Erlangen.

The Universitäts-Bibliothek at Erlangen, where we spent much time.

While it would be impossible to single out the most enlightening, useful, or challenging feature of SCRIPTO (there were indeed many), one day stands out in my mind as the most fun: bookbinding. Conservationist Martin Strebel led us through a variety of techniques, from medieval to modern, of making our own volumes. Actually weaving the needle through quires and around tongs gave me a whole new perspective (and a keener eye for) the work of the medieval bookbinder.

A binder’s frame similar to those we used.

Based on my great experience at SCRIPTO V, I highly encourage budding manuscript scholars to apply for the upcoming SCRIPTO VI. Next year’s program is bound to be another success: it includes a research seminar by Erik Kwakkel, and a trip to Sweden is in the works. For a full description of SCRIPTO, admission requirements, and fellowship opportunities, visit their official website.

SCRIPTO is also on facebook.

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