Book Series Utrecht Studies in Medieval Literacy, vol. 23

Scraped, Stroked, and Bound

Materially Engaged Readings of Medieval Manuscripts

Jonathan Wilcox (ed)

  • Pages: xvi + 240 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Illustrations:23 b/w, 14 col.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2013

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-54549-3
  • Hardback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-54638-4
  • E-book
  • Available

Materially engaged readings of medieval manuscripts that build up such concepts as the philology of smell and touching the past through sensitivity to the handling of books.


"[This volume] convincingly argues that a material reading of manuscripts is essential to their full understanding and proper interpretation, and will hopefully lead to several further studies on the same subject." (Tjamke Snijders, in: The Medieval Review, 14.04.38)

"La grande variété des thèmes d’un côté et le large éventail des approches de l’autre confèrent une importance essentielle à ce recueil dans le champ de recherche de la matérialité. Il tient sa promesse de discuter tous les côtés de la matérialité à proprement parler des manuscrits médiévaux. (...) Après avoir lu le livre, on regrette de n’avoir pas pu participer à ce séminaire organisé par J. Wilcox et on aimerait bien l’encourager à poursuivre cette entreprise en organisant un deuxième séminaire et, respectivement, diriger un deuxième volume consacré à ce sujet." (Charlotte Kempf, dans: Francia-Recensio, 15/2,

"(...) the entirety of Wilcox’s volume will be valuable to anyone working with medieval manuscripts (...)" (Christine Wallis, in: Year's Work in English Studies, 94.1, 2015, p. 128-129)

“its success lies in its cross-disciplinary approach, which promotes openness to new methodologies and ideas. As such, it is a book full of good, and timely, reminders for the academe of the value of inclusivity and of expanding the bounds of potential scholarship, always with an eye to the material context of the book.” (J. D. Sargan, in Notes and Queries, vol 63 / 1, March 2016, p. 113)


This collection of essays makes an original contribution to medieval manuscript studies through deep engagement with the material side of book creation. The volume brings together major scholars of medieval manuscripts with leading contemporary book artists. The result is a ground-breaking collection which will be of interest both for its methodological implications and for the insights that the case studies provide.

In a sequence of interconnected essays, experts in the field of literature, history, art, and manuscript studies enact readings of medieval manuscripts that incorporate extreme attention to the materiality of the object of their study. While the digital revolution has provided unparalleled visual access to medieval manuscripts, these essays are attentive to what has got left behind-not just the aura of the original, but also the engagement of the other senses, such as the feel of the binding, the heft of the volume, the smell of the parchment, or the sound of the pages. By bringing together experienced medievalist scholars with practicing book artists of today, this volume brings back an artisanal sense of the complete book to an understanding of medieval manuscripts.





List of Plates and Figures

Introduction - JONATHAN WILCOX

Scribes in Action

Anglo-Saxon Scribal Habitus and Frankish Aesthetics in an Early Uncial Manuscript - MATTHEW T. HUSSEY

On the Nature of Matched Scribal Hands - PATRICK W. CONNER

A Modern Scribe Views Scribes of the Past - CHERYL JACOBSEN

Substrata: Skin and Paper

Parchment Production: A Brief Account - JESSE MEYER

Unruly Reading: The Consuming Role of Touch in the Experience of a Medieval Manuscript - JENNIFER BORLAND

Parchment, Paper, and Artisanal Research Techniques - TIMOTHY BARRETT


Material Quality of Medieval Bookbindings - GARY FROST

The East-West, Then-Now Binding Nexus - ELSI VASSDAL ELLIS

The Cistercian Manuscript, Trent 1711, Version One and Its Exemplar - CONSTANCE H. BERMAN

The Whole Book

Dismembering and Reconstructing MS Durham, Cathedral Library, A.IV.19 - KAREN LOUISE JOLLY

Lymned to his awne vse”: The Illuminated Realm of John Lacy, Book Artisan and Anchorite, in MS Oxford, St. John’s College Library, 94 - MARTHA RUST


List of Contributors and Participants