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INFO 284-02
INFO 284-11
Seminar in Archives and Records Management
Medieval Manuscripts: Paleography
Fall 2017 Syllabus

Dr. Linda Main
Office Hours: Virtually by e-mail

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Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning August 23rd, 6 am PDT unless you are taking an intensive or a one unit or two unit class that starts on a different day. In that case the class will open on the first day that the class meets. 

You will be enrolled into the Canvas site automatically.

Course Description

This course will focus on paleography – the study of scripts and writing used in medieval manuscripts. The course runs for 8 weeks: September 21st-November 16th

The main focus is Western Europe in the period between 500AD and 1500AD

At the completion of the paleography class students will understand the:

  • Types of text encountered
  • Scripts used in writing medieval manuscripts
  • Punctuation, abbreviations, glossing, symbols, contractions
  • Marginalia
  • Manuscript genres

We will also consider how technology has enabled detailed world wide access to manuscript collections and examine some of the processes involved. 

Due to the online access now widely available there is an increasing fascination with medieval manuscripts.

  • In January 2015 Stanford ran a couple of MOOCs entitled:
  • Digging Deeper: An Online Course about Medieval Manuscripts
  • Digging Deeper: The Form and Function of Medieval Manuscripts

Also see:

where  Erik Kwakkel blogs about medieval GPS, selfies, medieval speech bubbles and medieval texting.

The assignments will focus on ways to make early writing interesting and relevant in the 21st century. They will focus on fun and innovative ways to teach about early manuscripts and the assignments should act as evidence for Comps J and K.

Course Requirements

There will be 4 assignments and four discussion items as follows:

Assignment One Roman Writing 10 points CLO 1,2,3 Due:  5th October
Assignment Two National Hands and Carolingian 30 points CLO 1,2,3 Due: 19th October
Assignment Three Gothic Writing 30 points CLO 1,2,3,4 Due: 2nd November
Assignment Four Genres and Paleography 25 points CLO 5 Due: 16th November
Discussions One-Four    5 points CLO 1-5 Due: 28th September, 12th October, 26th October; 9th November

Course Technology

This class makes use of a variety of technologies, and you should not take the class if your computer and Internet access is not fast and you are not comfortable with Web tools. The assignments will be submitted as web sites built on a passworded Wordpress site dedicated to the class.  No Web programming skills are required but you will be expected to be comfortable with Web tools that have easy to use user interfaces.

We are not using textbooks but will be using: Ductus

IMPORTANT NOTE The school has a site license so there is no cost for iSchool students. You will access the software via a secured site that we run.

Course Workload Expectations

Success in this course is based on the expectation that students will spend, for each unit of credit, a minimum of forty-five hours over the length of the course (normally 3 hours per unit per week with 1 of the hours used for lecture) for instruction or preparation/studying or course related activities including but not limited to internships, labs, clinical practica. Other course structures will have equivalent workload expectations as described in the syllabus.

Instructional time may include but is not limited to:
Working on posted modules or lessons prepared by the instructor; discussion forum interactions with the instructor and/or other students; making presentations and getting feedback from the instructor; attending office hours or other synchronous sessions with the instructor.

Student time outside of class:
In any seven-day period, a student is expected to be academically engaged through submitting an academic assignment; taking an exam or an interactive tutorial, or computer-assisted instruction; building websites, blogs, databases, social media presentations; attending a study group;contributing to an academic online discussion; writing papers; reading articles; conducting research; engaging in small group work.

Course Prerequisites

INFO 200, INFO 202, INFO 204, other prerequisites may be added depending on content. 

Course Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Describe the evolution of writing between the Roman and Gothic periods.
  2. Describe the major phases of script development and their characteristics.
  3. Identify different scripts and assign an approximate date to them.
  4. Recognize systems of abbreviations, contractions, symbols, punctuation, ligatures.
  5. Explain the implications of various forms of page layout and decoration.

Core Competencies

INFO 284 supports the following core competencies:

  1. C Recognize the diversity (such as cultural and economic) in the clientele and employees of an information organization and be familiar with actions the organization should take to address this diversity.
  2. F Use the basic concepts and principles related to the selection, evaluation, organization, and preservation of physical and digital information items.


No Textbooks For This Course.

Grading Scale

The standard SJSU School of Information Grading Scale is utilized for all iSchool courses:

97-100 A
94-96 A-
91-93 B+
88-90 B
85-87 B-
82-84 C+
79-81 C
76-78 C-
73-75 D+
70-72 D
67-69 D-
Below 67 F

In order to provide consistent guidelines for assessment for graduate level work in the School, these terms are applied to letter grades:

  • C represents Adequate work; a grade of "C" counts for credit for the course;
  • B represents Good work; a grade of "B" clearly meets the standards for graduate level work;
    For core courses in the MLIS program (not MARA) — INFO 200, INFO 202, INFO 204 — the iSchool requires that students earn a B in the course. If the grade is less than B (B- or lower) after the first attempt you will be placed on administrative probation. You must repeat the class if you wish to stay in the program. If - on the second attempt - you do not pass the class with a grade of B or better (not B- but B) you will be disqualified.
  • A represents Exceptional work; a grade of "A" will be assigned for outstanding work only.

Students are advised that it is their responsibility to maintain a 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA).

University Policies

Per University Policy S16-9, university-wide policy information relevant to all courses, such as academic integrity, accommodations, etc. will be available on Office of Graduate and Undergraduate Programs' Syllabus Information web page at:

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