nl en

Manuscript Book in the West


Admission requirements

This is a core course for the MA Book and Digital Media Studies programme. Students from other programmes may be admitted upon prior arrangement with the course coordinator.


This seminar course introduces the manuscript as a significant cultural artefact: a bearer of traditions of reading and writing in the European Middle Ages. Every manuscript is an individual product, distinguished by use of a variety of writing supports, characteristic scribal hands, and a unique combination of texts. Students shall be introduced to the processes which would have been involved in the creation of a medieval manuscript: the conventions of production, common scripts, and the distinctive material features of particular genres of texts. Aside from investigating how manuscripts were produced, the course also looks in detail at how they were used, examining traces (such as notes, drawings and diagrams) left behind by readers and later owners. A number of sessions will be held at the University Library where students will get to work with manuscripts from Leiden's world-leading collection. The course offers, therefore, a unique chance to learn about and interact with handwritten books from the early Middle Ages to the dawn of print.

Course objectives

  • To develop a critical understanding of how medieval manuscripts were produced and used;

  • To analyse and employ research methods used to study and describe medieval manuscripts;

  • To investigate the contribution of the manuscript book to the broader history of communication and media.


Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar (2 hours per week)

Assessment method


  • Attendance and active participation in class discussions: 15%

  • Written assignment 1: 35%

  • Written assignment 2: 50%


Please note that you need to have a 'sufficient' grade (6.0 or higher) average across the written components of the grade in order to pass the course.


In the case of a fail students may resit the second written assignment. Attendance is compulsory and absence on three occasions or more may entail your removal from the course. Note that essays which are presented late without prior arrangement with the instructor will incur a 5% penalty per day for late submission.

Inspection and feedback

How and when a paper review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the paper results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the paper results, an paper review will have to be organised.

Reading list

Core text: Clemens, R. and Graham, T. (2007), Introduction to Manuscript Studies (Cornell University Press). This book is used extensively throughout the course and students are advised to purchase their own copy.

A reading list will be provided at the start of the course.


Enrollment trough uSis is mandatory. If you have any questions, please contact the departmental office, email:

You can register until two weeks after classes have started however students are advised to register as soon as possible and preferably before the start of the course. In the case of electives: please be aware that most electives have a maximum amount of students who can enroll. Do not approach the course instructor in case the class is full. You will automatically be put on a waiting list.

General information about uSis is available on the website

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


Dr. I. O'Daly

Coordinator of Studies Media Studies