You are here:

Medieval Philosophical and Scientific Manuscripts: From Monastic Copying to University Teaching

Full day course held online, 9:00-16:00pm.

Dr Anna Somfai


The course explores medieval Western philosophical and scientific manuscripts produced from the 9th to 15th centuries. It considers the role manuscripts played in the creation and shaping of the medieval philosophical and scientific discourse. Manuscript will be considered as objects which transmitted ancient and medieval texts and as physical surfaces which facilitated reading, writing, thinking, and the exchange of ideas. The course examines by means of digital images the layers of textual and visual interpretation produced by scribes, readers, and annotators and considers the various interpretative attitudes that developed and interacted over time. We shall look at the relevant aspects of the production of manuscripts then analyse the diverse visual forms in which texts and diagrams appear in manuscripts copied at various times and within different scholarly milieus. We ponder how reading texts in manuscript form brought, and still brings, additional dimensions to the study of philosophical and scientific texts.

Some background in ancient and/or medieval philosophy and/or science and specific interest in the subject would be best. 

Essential Reading: 

Camille, Michael, 'Illustrations in Harley MS 3487 and the Perception of Aristotle's Libri Naturales in Thirteenth-Century England', in England in the Thirteenth Century: Proceedings of the 1984 Harlaxton Symposium, ed. by W.M. Ormrod, Woodbridge 1985, pp. 31-44.


Murdoch, John E., Album of Science. Antiquity and the Middle Ages, New York 1984.
Sherman, Claire Richter, Imaging Aristotle. Verbal and Visual Representations in Fourteenth-Century France, Berkeley, Los Angeles, Oxford, 1995.


Recommended Further Reading: 

Clemens, Raymond and Graham, Timothy, Introduction to Manuscript Studies, Ithaca and London 2007.

Hamel, Christopher de, A History of Illuminated Manuscripts, Oxford 1986.