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The Secret Lives of Medieval Manuscripts

The Secret Lives of Medieval Manuscripts: Uncovering their Inadvertent Stories

Lecture by Katheryn Rudy

TEDx Talk at University of St Andrews, given on April 27, 2013

The Secret Lives of Medieval ManuscriptsAs a world-renowned scholar of Art History, Kathryn Rudy has held research, teaching, and curatorial positions in the US, the UK, Canada, The Netherlands and Belgium. Her research focuses on the reception and original function of manuscripts and she has pioneered the use of the densitometer to measure the dirt that original readers deposited in their books.

Introduction: Six hundred years ago Christians who went to church and they learned to to destroy manuscripts. We see in this manuscript here the Hours of Blanche of Savoy, made in the fourteenth century, that the clergy here are kissing and number of objects including a book and pacs. And in the process of kissing these objects they pretty much destroyed them.

So here for example i’m showing you a pacs, which has been kissed still vigorously and so enthusiastically that all of the surface detail has been worn right off at the bar relief. And a priest also would kiss this book called the missil which contains all of the text that the priest would need to read in order to perform a mass and in the process of doing that he would also kiss the book. And you can see that he’s kissed the Body of Christ here to the point that paint is worn down to the parchment, and possibly he’s nibbled the corner of a little bit here as well.

You can follow Kathryn M Rudy on Twitter @katerudy1

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