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Scripting the Sacred exhibition opens today

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The first part of two-part exhibition Scripting the Sacred opens today, Monday, September 17, in Green Library's Peterson Gallery and Munger Rotunda. According to its website, the exhibition features "Western European manuscripts and fragments, showcases the medieval experience of reading."


From the exhibition's website: 

Throughout the Middle Ages, the Bible remained the paradigmatic text for reading and studying. The exhibited biblical items highlight different preferences pertaining to legibility. Indeed, scribes designed manuscripts to guide, assist, and sometimes challenge readers, as medieval versions of biblical commentary and patristic works exemplify. The liturgical genres on display contain written and visual markers that instruct readers in the proper performance of the Mass, music, and specific feast days. The text portion of the liturgy helped stage the clergy's ceremonial duties. Liturgical fragments with musical notation assisted ritual actors in the memorization of stylized speech. Both components show how customized manuscripts promoted reading aloud. Miniature prayer books and books of hours demonstrate a late medieval trend toward privatized and personalized lay devotion.

Additional materials on exhibition include fine facsimiles from the Art & Architecture Library portraying the national origins of late antique and medieval scripts and illustration, fragments of ancient Egyptian papyri highlighting the gradual transition from papyrus to parchment and from scroll to codex, and a selection of codices and fragments - mainly recovered from the bindings of early printed books - from Stanford's paleography collections.

Far from being a static process, reading in the Middle Ages necessitated a dynamic relationship between manuscripts and their readers, at a much more deliberate and contemplative pace than most modern reading. As we encounter radical changes in our own digital age, this exhibit encourages us to think critically about how we interact with the text, and how these interactions condition the way we acquire knowledge.


Scripting the Sacred will be on display through January 6, 2013.

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