This article outlines a twenty-minute introduction to medieval manuscripts in the age of Dante, using a combination of Internet resources for the study of medieval manuscripts and actual medieval manuscripts. The goal of the lecture is to introduce students to the basics of manuscript production, focusing upon the kinds of manuscripts that played such a crucial role in Dante’s intellectual formation. By the end of the lecture, students should have a clear understanding of how laborious and costly book production was, as well as how scarce access to books was among laypersons in Dante’s lifetime. The larger goal is to give students an appreciation of Dante’s remarkable erudition, evident in the hundreds of biblical, mythological, literary, philosophical, and historical allusions in the Divine Comedy. The lecture ends with the distribution of a table of works to which Dante alludes in the Inferno, with links to digital copies of manuscripts available on several websites, including Digital Scriptorium, the British Library’s Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts, and the Catalogue of Digitized Medieval Manuscripts.
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Melissa Conway; Introducing Undergraduates to Books in the Age of Dante—in Twenty Minutes or Less. Pedagogy 1 January 2013; 13 (1): 133–144. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/15314200-1814251
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