VFL Mellon Fellow’s Recent Publication

Professor Emil J. Polak, a 2009 Vatican Film Library Mellon Fellow and retired faculty member of the City University of New York, has completed the final volume of his Medieval and Renaissance Letter Treatises and Form Letters with the publication of vol. 3,  A Census of Manuscripts Found in Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, France, Germany, and Italy (Leiden: Brill, 2015). Among other libraries, this volume lists two-hundred manuscripts in the collections of the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana. Begun in 1977, the whole work covers almost nine-hundred libraries and archives in thirty-six countries and provides a repertory of Latin manuscripts of the ars dictandi and ars epistolandi from the eleventh century to about 1700. Earlier volumes include (vol. 1) A Census of Manuscripts Found in Eastern Europe and the Former USSR (Leiden: Brill, 1993) and (vol. 2) A Census of Manuscripts Found in Part of Western Europe, Japan, and the United States of America (Leiden: Brill, 1994).

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“Forging the Moon; or, How to Spot a Fake Galileo” — Lecture by Nick Wilding

The Saint Louis University Libraries Special Collections announces a guest lecture by Nick Wilding, PhD, Associate Professor of Early Modern History at Georgia State University.

Sidereus nuncius“Forging the Moon; or, How to Spot a Fake Galileo”
Wednesday, 1 April 2015, 4:00 p.m.
Pius XII Memorial Library, 2nd floor gallery

Galileo’s Sidereus nuncius, or “Starry Messenger,” is a landmark in the history of astronomy. Published in Venice in 1610, it is the first book to record astronomical observations made with the aid of a telescope. In it, Galileo described the cratered surface of the moon and postulated the presence of mountains in the lunar terrain; he reported the existence of a wealth of new stars; and he announced his discovery of the moons of Jupiter, which he named the “Medicean stars.” It is a very rare book, of which only about 150 copies are known to survive. In 2005 a hitherto unknown copy of the Sidereus nuncius came to light that purported to be a signed proof copy illustrated by Galileo himself.

Dr. Wilding will recount the fascinating story of how, beginning in 2011, he revealed this supposedly unique copy of Galileo’s work to be a forgery, one that has also been linked to the looting of the Girolamini Library in Naples. See Nicholas Schmidle, “A Very Rare Book: The Mystery Surrounding a Copy of Galileo’s Pivotal Treatise,” The New Yorker (December 16, 2013). His discovery has had repercussions not only for the history of science, but also for the authenticity of historical artifacts and the rare book trade. New forgeries of hand press era books are easier and cheaper to make than ever before and closer to perfect in their ability to deceive. How are they made, and how can we detect them? Focusing on the now-exposed fraudulent copy of Galileo’s Sidereus nuncius, this lecture will examine the tests these forgeries may pass and describe new ones that—at least until now—they have failed.

Nick Wilding is Associate Professor of Early Modern History at Georgia State University. He has published widely on the history of early modern science, and his first book, Galileo’s Idol: Gianfrancesco Sagredo and the Politics of Knowledge, is now available from the University of Chicago Press. He has held fellowships at Stanford, Cambridge, the American Academy in Rome, the New York Academy of Medicine, and Rare Book School at the University of Virginia.

The lecture is free and open to the public and will be followed by a reception. Call 314-977-3090 for more information.

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Exhibition Opening, Reception, and Curator’s Talk – “Keeping Time Through Prayer: Liturgy in the Middle Ages”

The Knights of Columbus Vatican Film Library – part of Special Collections in the Saint Louis University Libraries – announces the opening of the exhibition “Keeping Time Through Prayer: Liturgy in the Middle Ages.”

Benjamin WinterCurated by Benjamin Winter, Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies Research Assistant in the Vatican Film Library and doctoral student in the Department of Theological Studies of Saint Louis University, this new exhibition introduces viewers to the practice of liturgy in the medieval period. It draws from as many regional, lingual, and theological contexts as possible. At this time in Western European history, the celebration of Mass was seen as an essential function of society. For more than a millennium the daily lives of religious, canonical, and lay people were ordered by liturgy’s sacred rhythm and ritual.

The medieval and Renaissance manuscripts on exhibit are drawn from the teaching collection of the Vatican Film Library. The exhibition includes liturgical calendars and manuscripts related to the cult of saints that show how liturgy dictated the rhythm of time and set the boundaries of humanity’s relationship to God. These aspects are evident in the universal celebration of events in the “Church Year,” and in the particular and highly varied practices of local communities with their unique feasts and cults.

Saint Louis University Libraries, Special Collections, MS 04 - Folio E, Verso

Saint Louis University Libraries, Special Collections, MS 04 – Folio E, Verso

Also on display are liturgical manuscripts that include performance instructions—examples of how worship practices were shaped by the abilities and resources of participants. The relationships between various types of mass books (such as antiphonals, breviaries, and graduals) are also explored, as a tribute to the complexity of the manuscript tradition within which these treasures of medieval life are preserved.

The exhibition is free and open to the public and will be on display Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, through 31 August 2015 in the Vatican Film Library of Pius XII Memorial Library (Room 105). A Curator’s Talk by Benjamin Winter will take place on Thursday, March 19, at 3:30 pm, to be followed by a reception. For further information, contact Susan L’Engle, Assistant Director of the Vatican Film Library, at 314-977-3084, lengles@slu.edu.

Saint Louis University Libraries Special Collections — Rare Books and the Vatican Film Library — houses the rare book and medieval manuscript studies collections of the University Libraries and provides a laboratory for learning and research that enables students, faculty, and visiting scholars to engage directly with unique, rare, and original materials. Visit Special Collections in Pius XII Memorial Library or online or follow our blog.

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Curator’s Talk for “With Quill and Knife” — An Exhibition of Medieval Manuscripts for Study and Learning

A Curator’s Talk with Kyle Lincoln, Department of History, for the Exhibit

With Quill and Knife:
Manuscripts for Study and Learning

Vatican Film Library
Pius XII Memorial Library, Rm 105
19 November 2014, 3:30 p.m.  

Saint Louis University, Pius XII Memorial Library, Special Collections, MS 29, Francesco Petrarca, Canzionere and Trionfi

Curated by Kyle Lincoln, doctoral candidate in the Saint Louis University Department of History, this exhibition focuses on complex texts and illustrates the various methods used to impart difficult information. In the medieval world, the program of study for most students was strictly standardized. They undertook a seven-year-long course covering logic, grammar, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music; all to earn a simple bachelor’s degree. Beyond these studies, especially promising students could pursue law or theology, or, at certain schools, medicine or the sciences. The production of books was a major industry, and texts on advanced subjects were particularly prized by students and scholars.

The manuscripts and manuscript fragments on display cover a broad range of genres, including law, military science, poetry, and exegesis. Regardless of the subject matter, the manuscripts were produced for utility and functionality, and were explored by professional scholars and erudite amateurs alike.

The curator’s talk will be followed by a reception. The exhibition will be on display Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, through 31 Jan 2015 in the Vatican Film Library of Pius XII Memorial Library (Room 105). For further information, contact Susan L’Engle, Assistant Director of the Vatican Film Library, at 314-977-3084, lengles@slu.edu.

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Exhibition Opening, Reception, and Gallery Talk — “Rex Christianissimus: Books, Art, and Architecture in the Time of Saint Louis”

The Knights of Columbus Vatican Film Library — part of Special Collections in the Saint Louis University Libraries — announces the opening of the exhibition Rex Christianissimus: Books, Art, and Architecture in the Time of Saint Louis, curated by Susan L’Engle, Ph.D. In celebration of the 250th anniversary of the founding of the city of St. Louis, Missouri, this exhibition explores key elements that have made King Louis IX of France (1214–70) a memorable figure, one worthy of admiration and veneration even to his contemporaries and from 1297 as a saint. Focusing on the material culture of Louis’s unique historical context, displays will include manuscript facsimiles, replicas of reliquaries, and reproductions of manuscript illuminations. The three major themes of the exhibit explore the king’s virtues most admired by his contemporaries: his personal piety, his patronage of religious and cultural institutions, and his zeal for the grand enterprise of the crusades to the Holy Land.

The exhibition is free and open to the public and will be on display October 1-December 19 in the West Pine entrance lobby of Pius XII Memorial Library. An opening reception and gallery talk by Dr. Susan L’Engle, Assistant Director of the Vatican Film Library, will take place on Friday, October 10, at 3:00 p.m. Call 314-977-3090 for more information.

Saint Louis University Libraries Special Collections — Rare Books and the Vatican Film Library — houses the rare book and medieval manuscript collections of the University Libraries and provides a laboratory for learning and research that enables students, faculty, and visiting scholars to engage directly with unique, rare, and original materials. Visit Special Collections in Pius XII Memorial Library or online or follow our blog.

 

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New Issue of Manuscripta — Vol. 58, Issue 1 (2014)

The Vatican Film Library announces the latest issue of its biannual journal on medieval and Renaissance manuscript studies, Manuscripta: A Journal for Manuscript Research. In publication since 1957, the journal features articles and reviews and welcomes submissions on medieval and Renaissance manuscript production, distribution, reception, and transmission — encompassing paleography, codicology, illumination, textual criticism, library history, reading & literacy, catalogues, and other subjects.

 

 

Articles:

  • Hugh Hudson, “Further Research on the Italian Medieval Manuscripts in the State Library of Victoria”
  • Nadezhda Kavrus-Hoffmann, “Catalogue of Greek Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Collections of the United States of America, Part VIII: Philadelphia, PA, The Library Company of Philadelphia”
  • Roman Sosnowski, “Translation and Popularization: Sources for the History of Italian Medicine of the Middle Ages in the Berlin Collection of the Jagiellonian Library in Krakow”

Manuscript Notes:

  • Breeman Ainsworth, “Charles of Poitiers, Bishop and Count: Ownership of a Psalter-Hours in Late Fourteenth-Century France”
  • Karl-Georg Pfändtner, “Johannes Duft de Schmalkalden — An Unknown Heidelberg Illuminator of the Fifteenth Century and His Masterpiece: ‘The Calumny of Apelles’”

Book Reviews:

  • Blanton, Virginia, Veronica O’Mara, and Patricia Stoop, eds. Nuns’ Literacies in Medieval Europe: The Hull Dialogue (Anne Winston-Allen)

Abstracts of Papers:

  • Fortieth Annual Saint Louis Conference on Manuscript Studies

Submissions
The journal accepts articles and notes on topics relating to medieval and Renaissance manuscript studies, including (but not limited to) paleography, codicology, illumination, library history, reading and literacy, and manuscript catalogues.

Contributions are evaluated by peer review. Material for consideration should be submitted in English, following the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed., with footnotes, double-spaced, and in electronic form (Microsoft Word). Please include an abstract of no more than 150 words as well as ten keywords. Citations and footnotes should be robust and full manuscript shelfmarks are expected. Where appropriate, please include citations to pertinent critical editions.

“Manuscript Notes” are a means to share preliminary observations, conjectures, and conclusions. The maximum length of submissions for such notes is 1,200-1,500 words (including foot notes), with accommodation for up to two black-and-white illustrations.

Address submissions and books for review to Manuscripta, Knights of Columbus Vatican Film Library, Pius XII Memorial Library, Saint Louis University, 3650 Lindell Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108-3302 or to vfl@slu.edu.

Subscriptions
Manuscripta (ISSN 0025-2603) is published twice annually, and subscriptions are available through Brepols Publishers in print, print + online, and online forms. Print back issues for 1957-98 are available from the Vatican Film Library at $10 per issue.

Inquiries should be directed to the Editor, Susan L’Engle.

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Vatican Film Library Receives Grant from Green Scholars Initiative for Work with New Testament Manuscripts

The Knights of Columbus Vatican Film Library, part of Special Collections in the University Libraries, has been awarded a grant from the Green Scholars Initiative to take part in an international project known as the Visual Database of New Testament Manuscripts, the goal of which is to make fully available online images of all surviving manuscripts of the Greek New Testament. This project is sponsored by the American Bible Society and is intended to benefit scholars and members of the public in the study, textual research, and translation of the New Testament from its original sources. About 5,600 papyrus and parchment manuscripts containing the text of the New Testament survive from Antiquity and the Middle Ages, and these manuscripts and fragments are located in libraries throughout the world, making ready access to this body of evidence one of the greatest challenges facing biblical scholars. Among the most famous of these manuscripts, containing one of the most complete and authoritative texts of the Bible in Greek, is a Vatican Library manuscript produced in the fourth century AD called “Codex Vaticanus” (Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, MS Vat. gr. 1209) (see fig.).

Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, MS Vat. gr. 1209, p. 1349. Gospel of John.

Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, MS Vat. gr. 1209, p. 1349. Gospel of John.

SLU’s Vatican Film Library will work in partnership with the Institute for New Testament Textual Research = Institut für Neutestamentliche Textforschung in Münster, Germany, and on behalf of the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana to ensure the quality of digitized images and the accuracy of descriptive metadata for New Testament manuscripts in the collections of the Vatican Library. Most images are being scanned from microfilm in order to establish the Visual Database of New Testament Manuscripts rapidly. As part of this grant-funded project, the University Libraries have created a graduate student research assistantship, which has been filled by a student from the Department of Theological Studies. The University Libraries wish to thank the Green Scholars Initiative for supporting this work.

The Green Scholars Initiative funds and promotes international research in biblical texts and manuscripts. It is committed to the development of young scholars and fostering their support among the community of established, senior researchers. It conducts research for the Museum of the Bible on the Green Collection, one of the largest collections of biblical manuscripts, printed books, and artifacts in private hands.

The Knights of Columbus Vatican Film Library was established in 1953 with the assistance of the Knights of Columbus and holds microfilm copies of 37,000 manuscripts from the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana. It is a research library for medieval and Renaissance manuscript studies that promotes scholarship in all areas of manuscript research. It offers fellowships for study in its collections, publishes the journal Manuscripta, and brings scholars from around the world annually to participate in its Saint Louis Conference on Manuscript Studies. Visit the Vatican Film Library in Pius XII Memorial Library or online or follow our activities through the blog Special Collections Currents.

For further information about this project, contact Dr. Gregory Pass, Director of the Knights of Columbus Vatican Film Library and Assistant Dean for Special Collections at 314-977-3096 or passga@slu.edu.

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41st Saint Louis Conference on Manuscript Studies

The Vatican Film Library will hold its 41st Saint Louis Conference on Manuscript Studies this coming 17-18 October 2014. This annual two-day conference regularly features a wide array of topics in medieval and Renaissance manuscript studies — e.g., paleography, codicology, illumination, book production, texts and transmission, library history, and more.

The 2014 guest speaker will be Mary A. Rouse (University of California, Los Angeles), who will deliver the Lowrie J. Daly, SJ, Memorial Lecture on Manuscript Studies on “Why Paris? Deep Roots of a Medieval University.” This lecture is co-sponsored in partnership with the Saint Louis University Center for Medieval & Renaissance Studies.

The 2014 program will include sessions on 1) Heraldry in Medieval Manuscript Illumination, 2) Food Glorious Food: Manuscript Evidence, 3) Coptic Bindings, 4) New Approaches to the Morgan Crusader Bible: Panel on M.638, 5) Captions and their Functions in Medieval Manuscripts, 6) Work in Progress: Frank Coulson (The Ohio State University) and Beth Morrison (J. Paul Getty Museum), and 7) Games.

The guest lecture is free and open to the public and will be held on Friday, 17 October, at 4pm in the Pere Marquette Gallery of DuBourg Hall. Attendance at regular sessions of the conference is open to the public through registration. Saint Louis University students are admitted free of charge.

For further information, visit the conference webpage or contact the Vatican Film Library at 314-977-3090 or vfl@slu.edu.

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Rare Books Exhibition Opening

I am happy to announce the opening of Eloquentia Perfecta: Persuasion and Performance in Jesuit Schools – an exhibition of rare books co-curated by Paul Lynch, Associate Professor of English, and myself. We will be holding an opening reception featuring a curator’s talk by Dr. Lynch entitled, “Perfect Eloquence: Reclaiming the Jesuit Tradition for the 21st Century,” in the Pius XII Memorial Library second floor gallery on Friday, September 5, at 3:00 p.m. The rare books will be on display one floor above, in the Archives and Rare Books Reading Room (Pius 307).

The exhibition explores the Jesuit emphasis on rhetoric in education during the period before the suppression of the Society of Jesus (1773). It traces this theme from the foundational texts of the Ratio Studiorum and Constitutiones, through early writings of Borgia, Suarez, and Perpiña, and onward into the prolific output of Jesuit teachers of rhetoric throughout Europe. It looks backward at the strongest classical influences on Jesuit educational theory and practice. And it shows how the staging of dramatic works, ballets, operas, and orations were important tools used in Jesuit schools for the formation of their pupils.

The exhibition is free and open to the public, and will be on display during regular library hours through July 2015.

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Students in the Stacks: The Spanish Language in Transition

Welcome to “Students in the Stacks,” a new series of posts in which students working in Special Collections write about the finds they just can’t keep to themselves. The first post in this series is by Claire Peterson, a freshman double-major in Spanish and English in the College of Arts and Sciences and a student assistant to Rare Books Librarian Jennifer Lowe.

•     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •

Diccionario-TP-web

Title page of the dictionary

The first books to capture my attention were early versions of texts familiar to any language student, a dictionary and a grammar. Two volumes in particular, Diccionario de la lengua castellana (1791) and Gramática de la lengua castellana (1796), interested me not only because they were both published by the Real Academia Español, an organization regarded as the authority on the Spanish language, but also because they are 200-year-old precursors of the reference books I use on a daily basis.

Gramatica-TP-web

Title page of the grammar

As antiquarian books, they look very different from my modern textbooks. They are bound in leather with gold-tooled spines and marbled endpapers, printed on handmade laid paper, and were produced at the end of the hand press period in the late 18th century, before industrialization changed bookmaking. A little research revealed that the Gramática is bound in “marbled calf,” and the Diccionario in “tree calf,” both patterns created by the application of acid on the leather. Books bound in marbled calf have random swirling patterns, and tree calf bindings have patterns resembling a tree trunk and branches.

Gramatica-binding-web

The lovely patterns of marbled calf

My examination of the texts themselves revealed some surprising features. In the grammar, I found a remarkable degree of similarity between this work from 1796 and my own Spanish textbooks. Although the orthography of the language has changed considerably, the minimal adjustments made to Spanish grammar make the Gramática useful still in teaching the rules of the language. The grammar’s paradigms and methods of explanation, complete with a student’s absentminded scribblings, look very familiar two centuries later.

Gramatica-annotated-page-web

Si, si, student scribblings!

The first thing to do when opening a dictionary is to look up a favorite word–in my case, entrelazado (interlaced, interwoven). Finding it almost halfway through the Diccionario on page 379, I was intrigued by the fact that the first six letters of the alphabet comprised more than half of the 867-page work. Nothing in the binding or the pagination suggested the book was incomplete. I found the explanation of the lopsidedness in the dictionary’s introduction. Since the last edition, only the entries through the letter “F” had been corrected and augmented, making them much longer than the latter entries, and categorizing the RAE‘s Diccionario as a work in progress.

In order to find out more about the publisher, I consulted some histories of the Spanish language in the general collection. Marking Spain as the last major European nation to establish an academy to oversee its language, the Real Academia Española (RAE) began in 1713 as a group of poets and writers who came together to discuss their literary work. Modeled after and heavily influenced by its French predecessor the Académie française, the RAE is an institution that has been considered the definitive authority on the Spanish language since its beginning. As its motto limpia, fija y da esplendor (“clean, set, and give splendor”) suggests, it sought to standardize the language of the time. Its first publication in 1726 was the Diccionario de autoridades, a dictionary of words collected from and citing passages of Spanish literary works. Eventually it became clear that the seven-thousand-odd pages of entries were perceived by the public as cumbersome and inaccessible, so in the first edition of the Diccionario de la lengua castellana (1780), excerpts from hundreds of Spanish authors were removed.

RAE-device-web

Device of the Real Academia Española

But the noble-sounding motto limpia, fija y da esplendor could have more sinister implications. The dedication of the RAE’s Gramática strikes notes of unification and glorification: “All nations should hold highly their native language, but even more so those who, while embracing a grand number of individuals, enjoy a common language, one that unites them in friendship and interest.” This sentiment addressed to Charles IV, King of Spain and dedicatee of the work, coincides with the policy to make Spanish the official language of the administration and to eliminate the use of native languages in the colonies. On April 16th, 1770, Charles III published a document entitled Real Cédula para que se destierren los diferentes idiomas que se usan en estos dominios, y solo se hable el castellano (“Official document so that different languages that are used in these territories might be banished and only Spanish be spoken”), promulgating his order that Spanish be the dominant language used in Spain and the colonies.

The Jesuits also play a role in this story. In the mid-18th century, in an attempt to significantly reduce the power of the noblemen, the monarchy made an example of the Jesuits. The Crown outlawed the work of the order and pulled out thousands of missionaries because it feared their growing power throughout the colonies. They were replaced with priests who, because of the quick exchange, were told to preach in Spanish since they had not spent years assimilating the native languages of the people as the Jesuits had.

While the joint efforts of the monarchy and the Real Academia Española to standardize the language did succeed, the long-term effects of their work to eliminate other dialects, especially those of the indigenous people of the colonies, are called into question. Persisting throughout the Hispanic-American revolutions of the early 19th century, these policies provide a sharp contrast to the ideals expressed in the dedication of the grammar, making the Diccionario and Gramática quiet witnesses to the evolutions and revolutions of language.

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