INFO 284-03
INFO 284-12
Seminar in Archives and Records Management
Medieval Manuscripts: Genres
Fall 2017 Syllabus

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

Syllabus Links
Canvas Login and Tutorials
iSchool eBookstore

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 medieval manuscript genres. The course runs for 8 weeks: October 5th-December 7th.

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

We will look at a medieval manuscript as a physical artifact laden with numerous “clues” about the society that made it, one that tells a story about its makers and readers and their world.

We will examine:

  • Literacy and the implications of medieval reading practices for the study of medieval books

  • The special importance of the book in Christianity

  • The relationship between images and texts and the ways in which the figural and ornamental decoration contribute to the meaning and function of the manuscript within specific theological, liturgical, devotional, institutional and ideological contexts.

Students will have the opportunity to focus on a genre selected from:

  • Books of Hours

  • Medieval Maps

  • Marginalia

  • Bestiaries (animals)

  • Medieval Music

We will also consider how technology has enabled detailed worldwide 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 medieval manuscript genres 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 Understanding of Terms and Terminology 10 points CLO 1,2,3 Due:  19th October
Assignment Two Religious Manuscripts: the relationship between images and texts and the ways in which figural and ornamental decoration contribute to the meaning and function of the manuscript 30 points CLO 3 Due: 2nd November
Assignment Three Medieval Manuscripts: Connections to Modern Communication Technologies or Digitization Advances (pick one of the two) 25 points CLO 1,2 Due: 16th November
Assignment Four Study of a genre: maps, music, bestiaries, margins, hours (pick one) 30 points CLO 1,2,3 Due: 7th December
Discussions One-Four    5 points CLO 1-4 Due: 12th October, 26th October, 9th November, 30th 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 using web tools such as Prezi and Powtoon and as websites 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.

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. Analyze medieval manuscripts for clues about their producers and readers.
  2. Develop knowledge of medieval book genres, and perform a detailed and informed analysis of their characteristics.
  3. Analyze the relationship between images and texts and the ways in which the figural and ornamental decoration contribute to the meaning and function of the manuscript within specific theological, liturgical, devotional, institutional and ideological contexts.
  4. Assess the implications of medieval reading practices and literacy for the study of medieval books.

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

INFO 284 supports the following core competencies:

  1. F Use the basic concepts and principles related to the selection, evaluation, organization, and preservation of physical and digital information items.
  2. I Use service concepts, principles, and techniques to connect individuals or groups with accurate, relevant, and appropriate information.


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.

icon showing link leads to the PDF file viewer known as Acrobat Reader Download Adobe Acrobat Reader to access PDF files.

More accessibility resources.