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News and Announcements: Resources

Announcing Italian Paleography

Monday, July 29, 2019   (0 Comments)

The Newberry Library’s Center for Renaissance Studies proudly launches a new digital resource devoted to Italian paleography, sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Paleography, the study of the history of handwriting and scripts in books, manuscripts, and other documents, is essential for scholarly research in the humanities for the premodern period. Created and edited by Isabella Magni (Newberry Library), Lia Markey (Newberry Library), and Maddalena Signorini (Università di Roma-Tor Vergata) in collaboration with the University of Toronto Libraries Information Technology Services and the Walter J. Ong S.J. Center for Digital Humanities at St. Louis University, this new website provides pedagogical tools for the study of Italian vernacular handwriting from 1100 to 1700 using manuscripts in the Newberry collections as well as other US institutions.

The new paleography site complements a resource devoted to French paleography launched in 2016, also funded by the Mellon Foundation and designed in partnership between the Newberry, Toronto, and St. Louis. Like the French site, the intended audience of the Italian site is varied: scholars preparing to conduct research in Italian archives; students studying Italian language, history and culture; curators, librarians, and archivists who work with manuscripts; calligraphers and graphic designers interested in historical scripts; and anyone who would like to experiment with transcribing early Italian documents. The site features 102 digitized manuscripts representing 7 different types of scripts and 3 difficulty levels. Each manuscript is paired with a transcription and a scholarly entry written by a specialist in the field. These background essays provide the historical, cultural, and at times codicological context for the manuscripts. Using the Ong Center’s transcription tool, T-PEN, users of the site can transcribe the documents and save their transcriptions online.

The site includes a handbook describing the various types of scripts and providing the history of the vernacular in medieval and Renaissance Italy. The site also comprises an appendix with significant manuscript calligraphy books and maps from Italy in the Newberry collections to showcase the library’s rich holdings and to provide another context for studying handwriting from the period. Finally, examples of abbreviations and symbols, a glossary of paleography terms, links to dictionaries, and bibliography and references provide essential resources for the study of Italian paleography. Over the next year, the team plans to incorporate teaching materials to make integration of the site into the classroom seamless.

You can access the Italian Paleography website here: https://italian-paleography.library.utoronto.ca

Follow us on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/italpaleography


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