7th Annual Lawrence J. Schoenberg Symposium on Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age

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Book stamp of Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872) showing a lion rampant
Book stamp of Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872) of his library at Middle Hill, from the first flyleaf of an 18th-century Italian manuscript copy of De rerum natura. Penciled notes at edges by later owners (Lawrence J. Schoenberg Collection, LJS 179).

November 6-8, 2014

Collecting Histories

In partnership with the Rare Book Department of the Free Library of Philadelphia, the Schoenberg Institute of Manuscript Studies at the University of Pennsylvania is pleased to announce the 7th Annual Lawrence J. Schoenberg Symposium on Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age. This year's symposium highlights the work of the Schoenberg Database of Manuscripts by bringing together scholars and digital humanists whose work concerns the study of provenance and the history of collecting pre-modern manuscripts. The life of a manuscript book only just begins when the scribe lays down his pen. What happens from that moment to the present day can reveal a wealth of information about readership and reception across time, about the values of societies, institutions, and individuals who create, conserve, and disperse manuscript collections for a variety of reasons, and about the changing role of manuscripts across time, from simple vehicles of textual transmission to revered objects of collectors' desires. The study of provenance is the study of the histories of the book.

The program begins Thursday evening, November 6, at the Free Library of Philadelphia, Parkway Central Library, with a panel on the past, present, and future of manuscript collecting in Philadelphia. On Friday and Saturday, the symposium will continue at the Kislak Center of Special Collections, Rare Books, and Manuscripts at the University of Pennsylvania. The program features papers and workshops that delve into these histories through both traditional and digital means. Speakers include:

  • Toby Burrows, King's College London
  • Katharine C. Chandler, Free Library of Philadelphia
  • Megan Cook, Colby College
  • Alexander Devine, University of Pennsylvania
  • Derick Dreher, Rosenbach Museum and Library
  • Lisa Fagin Davis, Medieval Academy of America
  • James N. Green, Library Company of Philadelphia
  • Scott Gwara, University of South Carolina
  • Peter Kidd, Independent Scholar
  • William Noel, University of Pennsylvania Libraries
  • Nigel Ramsay, University College London
  • William Stoneman, Harvard University
  • Julia Verkholantsev, University of Pennsylvania

Four workshops will offer hands-on exploration of problems and issues related to provenance research in the digital age. They are:

  • Mining and Visualizing Manuscript Provenance Data at a Large Scale
    Leader: Mitch Fraas, University of Pennsylvania Libraries
  • The Bibale Database: A digital tool for researching historic collections and manuscript provenance (Background, Structure, Developments, Context)
    Leader: Hanno Wijsman, Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes (IRHT-CNRS) & Bibale
  • Provenance that POPs Workshop
    Leader: Laura Aydelotte, University of Pennsylvania Libraries
  • The Butcher's Bill: What the Schoenberg Database Can Reveal about the Trade in Medieval and Renaissance Manuscript Fragments
    Leaders: Scott Gwara, University of South Carolina, and Eric Johnson, Ohio State University

In addition to these workshops, we will be offering an opportunity to test-drive a prototype for the NEH-funded New Schoenberg Database of Manuscripts on Friday, November 7, at 5 pm. Everyone is invited. We need your input!

For program details, click here. Special exhibitions of manuscripts will be on view at both institutions.

Registration fee is $35 ($10 for students with valid student ID). To register online, click here. Walk-in registrations will be accepted for a fee of $45 ($15 for students with valid student ID) to be paid in cash.

The symposium is made possible with the generous support of the Dean's Office of the University of Pennsylvania's School of Arts and Sciences.

Join the symposium Facebook group to connect with other attendees or tweet @SIMS_Mss #collectinghistories to start a discussion.

For further information, please contact Lynn Ransom at lransom@upenn.edu or (215) 898-7851.

For more information on the Schoenberg Symposium Series, click here.