The Lawrence J. Schoenberg Symposium on Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age

This annual symposium, organized by the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies (SIMS) in partnership with the Free Library of Philadelphia, brings together scholars from around the world and across disciplines to present research related to the study of manuscript books and documents produced before the age of printing and to discuss the role of digital technologies in advancing manuscript research. Whether relying on traditional methods of scholarship or exploring the potential of new technologies, the research presented in each symposium highlights the value of the manuscript book or document in understanding our intellectual heritage. 

Large initial B on page in Book of Psalms (Ms. Codex 1058, fol. 1v)

2022 Symposium

Past Symposia

Fragment of Avicenna's (980-1037) Canon medicinae, Italy, 14th or 15th century (Ms. Coll. 591 Folder 44)
November 17-19, 2021


This symposium will interrogate the notions of loss, survival, and recuperation in manuscript studies, so often in the background but rarely acknowledged as defining features of the field.

10:00am - 3:00pm | Virtual
Medieval manuscripts: 11 openings. The arrangement imitates a gallery of participants at a Zoom conference.
November 18-20, 2020

Manuscript Studies in the Covid-19 Age

This symposium will focus on the opportunities and limitations offered by digitization and lessons learned from the Covid-19 pandemic.

10:30am - 4:00pm | Virtual
A chromatic scale diagram from a late 15th century copy of Boethius' De institutione musica (LJS 47, fol. 41v), merged with a detail of the linked data model of the Mapping Manuscript Migrations Project
November 21-23, 2019

Hooking Up

This year’s symposium explores the connections between historic and current approaches to data linkage in regard to manuscripts and manuscript research.

5:00pm - 6:30pm | Kislak Center, 6th Floor Van Pelt-Dietrich Library
Initial I with a saint, possibly St. John the Evangelist
November 15 - 17, 2018

Illuminations: Manuscript, Medium, Message

This year’s symposium examines cases of intermedial exchange through manuscript illumination, while also posing broader questions about the deep connections between the craft of illumination and other arts more widely.

5:00pm - 7:00pm | Kislak Center, 6th Floor Van Pelt-Dietrich Library
Ms. Indic 9, fol. 44r.
November 2-4, 2017

Intertwined Worlds

This symposium will highlight the confluence of expressions of belief, ritual, and social engagement emerging in technologies and traditions of the world's manuscript cultures, often beyond a single religious context.

5:00pm - 7:00pm | Kislak Center, 6th Floor Van Pelt-Dietrich Library
Vellum bifolium containing portions of Psalms 79, 80, and 84, with initials in red
November 12-14, 2015

Picking Up the Pieces

This year's theme, "Picking up the Pieces," considers the notions and consequences of fragmentation and reconstitution.

5:00pm - 7:00pm | Kislak Center, 6th Floor Van Pelt-Dietrich Library
Book stamp of Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872) showing a lion rampant.
November 6-8, 2014

Collecting Histories

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.

5:30pm - 6:00pm | Kislak Center, 6th Floor Van Pelt-Dietrich Library
Diagram of head with faculties and senses

November 21-23, 2013

Thinking Outside the Codex

This year's symposium will encourage participants to "think outside the codex" and turn the tables on traditional approaches to manuscript study.

Kislak Center, 6th Floor Van Pelt-Dietrich Library

Image of tree.jpg

November 16-17, 2012

Taxonomies of Knowledge

This year's symposium considers the role of the manuscript in organizing and classifying knowledge.

Kislak Center, 6th Floor Van Pelt-Dietrich Library

Illuminated initial with the jurist Angelo de Gambiglioni, from a copy of his Tractatus de maleficiis

October 30-31, 2009

Lex scripta: The Manuscript as Witness to the History of Law

This year's symposium is dedicated to the history of handwritten law and legal documents in Western Europe and the Middle East up to the early modern period in honor of the 100th anniversary of the death of Henry Charles Lea.

Kislak Center, 6th Floor Van Pelt-Dietrich Library

Image above: Detail from a Glossed Psalter, Laon?, France, ca. 1100 [UPenn Ms. Codex 1058, fol. 1v]