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Manuscript Book in the West


Admission requirements



This seminar course offers an introduction to the history and development of the Western manuscript book. It explores various aspects of the production and use of the medieval manuscript in Europe, from scribal habits to the practices of readers. The main focus of the course will be on the codicology of manuscripts, or how they were put together. Areas of inquiry include a discussion of parchment, quires, layout, illumination and binding, as well as a detailed focus on the different cultural settings in which books were used, including at monasteries and at schools. The course also explores research methods, and strategies of studying and describing manuscripts. Students will have the opportunity to view a wide variety of medieval manuscripts from the rich collections of the library.

Course objectives

To introduce you to the physical traits of medieval manuscripts and show you how the objects were made
To develop your understanding of how the physical appearance of medieval books can contribute to other disciplines, such as the study of history and medieval literature
To emphasize how the medieval manuscript is an active part of the larger history of human communication


The timetable will be available by June 1st on the website.

Mode of instruction

Two-hour seminar per week.

Assessment method

  • Essay 50%

  • Essay outline 15%

  • Submitting discussion topics 20%

  • Class participation 15%



Reading list

Introduction to manuscript studies / Raymond Clemens and Timothy Graham. – Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2007.


Students should register through uSis. Exchange students cannot register through uSis, but must see the director of studies and register with her. If you have any questions, please contact the departmental office, tel. 071 5272144 or mail:
Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply


Departmental Office English Language and Culture, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 102C. Tel. 071 5272144; mail:
Co-ordinator of Studies: Ms T.D. Obbens, MA, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 103C.