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Thousands upon thousands of manuscripts written in Latin and other languages remain from the 12th century, when Western Europe saw an unprecedented increase in manuscript production. Of these manuscripts from the middle ages, only a small percentage have been identified, much less edited and published. To explore these fascinating texts, you need to learn the art and science of reading medieval handwriting.
This module of The Book: Histories Across Space and Time introduces students to medieval paleography, the science of reading old handwriting, with a focus on the era of the 12th century. By studying a representative hand in depth, you will learn to read 12th century Transitional Gothic script and decipher the abbreviations that set the pattern of writing for the following centuries before print. We will work with selected manuscripts from Harvard’s Houghton library and enter into the cultural world of the 12th century monasteries and schools. Assessments and quizzes will allow you to track your progress as you move through letter forms and abbreviations to read whole blocks of text.
Some knowledge of Latin will be very helpful for understanding the texts you will read, but students without the necessary language skills will still enjoy this chance to explore 12th century hands.
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- Transitional Gothic, the script of 12th century monasteries and school , and the tiny variations of it used for notations and glosses.
- The basic form of each letter
- Standard abbreviations
- Patterns of abbreviation that will allow you to approach the writing of later periods
- Beverly Mayne Kienzle
Harvard University is a private Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Established in 1636 and named for its first benefactor clergyman John Harvard, Harvard is the United States' oldest institution of higher learning, and its history, influence, and wealth have made it one of the world's most prestigious universities. The Harvard Corporation is its first chartered corporation. Although never formally affiliated with any denomination, the early College primarily trained Congregational and Unitarian clergy. Its curriculum and student body were gradually secularized during the 18th century, and by the 19th century, Harvard had emerged as the central cultural establishment among Boston elites. Following the American Civil War, President Charles W. Eliot's long tenure (1869–1909) transformed the college and affiliated professional schools into a modern research university; Harvard was a founding member of the Association of American Universities in 1900. A. Lawrence Lowell, who followed Eliot, further reformed the undergraduate curriculum and undertook aggressive expansion of Harvard's land holdings and physical plant. James Bryant Conant led the university through the Great Depression and World War II and began to reform the curriculum and liberalize admissions after the war. The undergraduate college became coeducational after its 1977 merger with Radcliffe College.
The university is organized into eleven separate academic units—ten faculties and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study—with campuses throughout the Boston metropolitan area: its 209-acre (85 ha) main campus is centered on Harvard Yard in Cambridge, approximately 3 miles (5 km) northwest of Boston; the business school and athletics facilities, including Harvard Stadium, are located across the Charles River in the Allston neighborhood of Boston and the medical, dental, and public health schools are in the Longwood Medical Area. The endowment of Harvard's is worth $37.1 billion, making it the largest of any academic institution.
Harvard is a large, highly residential research university. The nominal cost of attendance is high, but the university's large endowment allows it to offer generous financial aid packages. The Harvard Library is the world's largest academic and private library system, comprising 79 individual libraries holding over 18 million items. The University is cited as one of the world's top tertiary institutions by various organizations.
Harvard's alumni include eight U.S. presidents, several foreign heads of state, 62 living billionaires, 359 Rhodes Scholars, and 242 Marshall Scholars. To date, some 157 Nobel laureates, 18 Fields Medalists, and 14 Turing Award winners have been affiliated as students, faculty, or staff. In addition, Harvard students and alumni have won 10 Academy Awards, 48 Pulitzer Prizes, and 108 Olympic medals (46 gold, 41 silver and 21 bronze).
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