Codicology at Palazzo Rucellai
Tomorrow, I set off for a month’s teaching in Florence. It is a new course, organised at the Palazzo Rucellai, intended for high-flying graduate medievalists who want to learn more than is often available about the skills that are core to our subjects: palaeography, philology, codicology. It will be an adventure for everyone — for Stefano Baldassarri, the mastermind behind the project, those of us who are designing the modules for it, and most especially for the students themselves.
The contribution I have been asked to give is on ‘codicology and incunabula’. As those of you will know who have followed this blog with an assiduity that is uncommon and perhaps unwise, my expertise lies in the manuscript world — I am guilty, perhaps, of a little of the disdain that Vespasiano had in spades for the new-fangled culture of print. But providing a course that ranges across both allows for interesting juxtapositions and reflections on what each subject can learn from the other. And having the course in Florence invites me to consider the differences in national approach to the subjects and in particular to the tradition of manuscript and incunable description.
As both an introduction and a coda to the course, I have concocted a brief bibliography on the topics. It is by no means meant to be full, nor am I anticipating that the students hunt down all of the 100 plus works during their four weeks in Tuscany. I hope rather — and this is why I call it a coda — that they will refer to it long after they have left Alberti’s palace and the winds have blown them, like the Rucellai’s boat, far from their temporary home. I am putting it on-line here, both for their benefit of the students and for the interest of any wandering scholar who might happen upon here and wish to find some intellectual nourishment.