Antonia St Demiana, Doctoral Candidate, Macquarie University
On February 9 and 10 at Sydney University’s Fisher Library, I was fortunate to be one of a select group of students and researchers to participate in a Postgraduate Advanced Training Seminar supported by ANZAMEMS.
The focus of the two-day course was the Manuscript Book in which we learned about the various aspects of original western medieval manuscripts. The main features of the seminar were the lectures delivered by Professors Margaret Manion and Rod Thomson, whose direct experience with manuscripts and the libraries and museums which house them, provided us with vital information for our own work. There are many obstacles which young scholars may face when requesting access to materials such as manuscripts, and Margaret and Rod generously shared their knowledge with us in this regard.
One area which I found to be of particular relevance to my own study, were the lectures about the physical characteristics of manuscripts and the terminology used to describe them. I learned much about quires, foliation, parchments, ruling, and inks. Rod’s outline of how to catalogue and describe manuscripts was also invaluable to me. Although I am studying Coptic manuscripts, much of the terminology applies to both western and eastern books.
Another highlight of the PATS was the very rare privilege to handle the precious manuscripts in the Fisher Collection. We were free to hold the manuscripts and glance through their pages and it was wonderful to see real examples (not just photographs) of what Margaret and Rod were discussing.
I am very grateful ANZAMEMS for funding my flight to Sydney and for the opportunity to participate in the PATS on the Manuscript Book. Thanks also to the librarians at the Fisher Library and to Dr Nick Sparks for a very well organised seminar.