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The Medici Archive 2011 online Paleography Course
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9/1/2011 to 9/20/2011
When: before September 20, 2011

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Introduction to Paleography (Renaissance and Early Modern Tuscany)

Introduction to Paleography and Archival Studies :  The Medici Archive Project will offer in the 2011 fall semester its third online course in paleography and archival studies. This course is designed to increase access to the wealth of information contained in manuscript historical materials, particularly those from late fifteenth- through seventeenth-century Tuscany. This 12-week online course running from September 26th, 2011 to December 17th, 2011 teaches the requisite skills to read historical Italian writings, and offers a broad introduction to the nature of Italian archives. From the letters of Michelangelo to the inventories of the Medici family, the digitized documents used to train the course’s participants in paleographic skills will also expose them to a wide range of document types useful for art historical research.

Structure: The course, conducted in English, is organized into a sequence of twelve sections, each one lasting one week. There will be final exam, which will consist of an unseen text to transcribe and contextualize. With every section, the students are asked to transcribe a digitized document dating from the fifteenth through the seventeenth century; the featured document is contextualized with supporting materials also available online. Specific guidance in reading and interpreting the document will be provided by the course instructors in the form of explanatory comments posted on a restricted-access Forum. Throughout the week, course participants will be able to obtain individual help in these exercises by posting their questions on the Forum; both their questions and the instructor’s responses will be available for all course participants to view. At the end of each weekly section, students will e-mail to the instructor a transcription of the document; they will be expected to make improvement progressively, developing skills to read incrementally more challenging documents as the course proceeds. Students will be assessed at the end of the course on a pass/fail basis, and passing students will receive a statement from the Medici Archive Project attesting to their successful achievement of the course’s goals (a letter of recommendation may also be requested). During the course of this semester, particular attention will be paid to documents from the Medici Granducal Archive (Mediceo del Principato), in light of the launch of the new MAP Digital Interactive Platform (July 2012) that will include digitized documents from this vast archival collection.

Computer Requirements: The online course will be operated using an open-source Course Management System called Moodle. While this is a user-friendly system, should participants require technical support, the MAP’s Technology Director, Lorenzo Allori (, will be available to answer questions. The program can be used with both Microsoft (Windows) and Apple (Mac) operating systems. For optimal performance the following software programs must be installed: 1) Web browser Firefox, at least version 3.x 2) Flash player 3) Adobe Reader (at least version 8) 4) MS Office (at least version 2007 or previous version with file converters), OR OpenOffice (latest version) Fileconverters for MS Office 2007 docx files can be downloaded at:

Selection Criteria: Application Process and Tuition Enrollment will be limited to 18 students. Priority will be given to graduate students, post- graduate scholars, and museum curators with demonstrated interest in art history or Tuscany’s Grand Ducal period.
Knowledge of Italian is required.
Applications will consist of: 1. A brief letter of introduction explaining the motivation for taking the course; if the skills taught in this course will be applied towards the execution of a specific research project of scholarly import, the applicant should describe that project. 2. A curriculum vitae that details linguistic aptitude and (if applicable) archival experience. The tuition for this course is US $ 400, payable by check or bank wire (PayPal) upon acceptance. Applications should arrive before September 20th at the following email address: and

About the instructor: Dr. Elena Brizio completed her PhD in Medieval History at the University of Florence in 1993 with a thesis on the prosopographical analysis of the Sienese government in years 1355- 1399; on her previous lauree she worked on electoral systems and on a particular archival collection of a Trecento judge and official. She also completed a Masters in Gender Studies in 2003, working on the role of the dowry in the fourteenth century, whose article appeared in 2004. She has published on the political, institutional and legal history of the Trecento, on "consilia” by the most important Italian jurist of the fourteenth century, Bartolo da Sassoferrato, and on the seventeenth century legal "repetitiones”. Her article In the Shadow of the Campo: Sienese Women and Their Families (14th-16th Centuries) appeared in the volume of essays "Across the Religious Divide: Women's Properties in the Wider Mediterranean (ca. 1300-1800)”, ed. by Jutta Sperling and Shona K. Wray, published by Routledge in 2010. She taught American undergraduate students courses on "The Black Death and its Aftermath” at IES, Institute for the International Education of Students, in Siena, where she currently teaches courses on "Family and Gender in Medieval and Early Modern Italy” and on "History and Culture of Food in Italy and Tuscany”. Dr. Brizio’s current research focuses on the cultural, economic and social power of women in the Renaissance, and her book, provisionally entitled "Sienese Women in Troubled Times”, will analyze the role of Sienese women in the last century of the Republic, before the war and following annexation of Siena by the Duchy of Florence. She is particularly interested in the role of women whose kin were exiled, and the help women could offer, whether left in the city or –on the contrary—if they chose or were obliged by authorities to follow their exiled kin. Another topic she works on is the use of the law in favor of or against women, and the modifications of local laws (statutes or consuetudines) through the use of the so called ius commune, that is the former civil and canon laws. She has presented papers at the Biennial Conference of Sarasota, Florida in 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010; at the Renaissance Society of America in Cambridge 2005; Miami 2007; Chicago 2008; Los Angeles 2009; Venice 2010; Montreal 2011. In 2008 she gave the Annual Bertie Wilkinson Lecture at the Centre of Medieval Studies of the University of Toronto, whose title was Florence is not Italy: An Alternative View of Women, Family and Social Ties from Siena. In her work with the Medici Archive Project, she has continued to pursue her research interests in Renaissance history and Women’s studies. At the present time she is working on ‘avvisi’ (news reports) that came from Flanders in the seventeenth century during the Thirty Years War and from Poland. Dr. Elena Brizio, currently Vice-Director of the Medici Archive Project, successfully taught this course last fall.

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