INFO 284-01
INFO 284-10
Seminar in Archives and Records Management
Medieval Manuscripts: Codicology
Fall 2017 Syllabus

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

Syllabus Links
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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 codicology – the study of all aspects of the making of medieval manuscripts The course runs for 4 weeks: August 23rd-September 20th 

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

  • Context of manuscript production and the people involved
  • Terminology employed to describe the elements, styles, and forms of manuscripts and manuscript illumination
  • Physical processes and techniques employed and in particular:

How designed
Why illuminated
How illuminated
Parchment, pens, layout of text, illumination, decoration

  • Types of text encountered

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 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 fun and innovative ways to teach about early manuscripts and the assignments should act as evidence for comps J and K.

Course Requirements


Assignment One CLOs 1,2

The content for the class will focus on Western Europe. Pick another area of the world (can be a specific country) and research the tools and materials used to make books before the development of printing in that part of the world. Your research should cover writing supports, inks, paints, illumination, decoration, binding. Due 6th September (48 points).

Assignment Two CLO 3

You have been asked to meet with a school group (K-12 –pick your age group). The instructor wants the students to understand how manuscripts were made. You have decided to set the following scenario to make it fun for the group.

You are a monk or a nun in the late Middle Ages. Your monastery or nunnery is opening a new site on the remote island of Hirta -part of the St. Kilda island group off the coast of the Outer Hebrides in northern Scotland. A scriptorium is to be set up at the new site. You are to develop a step by step manual that contains precise instructions for the members of the new community who will be setting up the scriptorium. Due 20th September(48 points)

Discussion Questions

Discussion Question One -due 30th August (2 points) CLO 3

Discussion Question Two-due 13th September (2 points) CLO 1

Late assignments will not be accepted. If you have an illness (medical certificate supplied) or a family tragedy please contact the instructor

Course Technology

This class makes use of a variety of technologies, and you should not take the class if your computer and Internet access are 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:

Inside the Scriptorium One

Inside the Scriptorium Two

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 284 has no prequisite requirements.

Course Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Describe the textual and visual elements of the various layers of the main text and glosses.
  2. Describe the physical production of medieval manuscripts.
  3. Investigate the context of production and the people involved.

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

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 to 100 A
94 to 96 A minus
91 to 93 B plus
88 to 90 B
85 to 87 B minus
82 to 84 C plus
79 to 81 C
76 to 78 C minus
73 to 75 D plus
70 to 72 D
67 to 69 D minus
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 or undergraduate (for BS-ISDA);
    For core courses in the MLIS program (not MARA, Informatics, BS-ISDA) — 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.

Graduate Students are advised that it is their responsibility to maintain a 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA). Undergraduates must maintain a 2.0 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: Make sure to visit this page, review and be familiar with these university policies and resources.

In order to request an accommodation in a class please contact the Accessible Education Center and register via the MyAEC portal.

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