LIBR 284-03
LIBR 284-12
Seminar in Archives and Records Management
Medieval Manuscripts

Dr. Linda Main
Office: Clark Hall 420B (San José)
Phone: 408-924-2494
Office Hours: Virtually by e-mail, in person by appointment

Greensheet Links
Textbooks and Software
Course Requirements
ANGEL Tutorials
iSchool eBookstore

The access code for the Angel site will be sent via the MySJSU messaging system to those enrolled in the class on the 23rd August. The Angel site will open for self-enrollment on the 26th August 

Course Description

This course will focus on both codicology-the study of all aspects of the making of medieval manuscripts and paleography – the study of scripts and writing used in medieval manuscripts.

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

Course Prerequisites: LIBR 200, 202, 204 required. Other prerequisites may be added depending on content.

Course Objectives

At the completion of this section 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 llumination
  • Physical processes and techniques employed and in particular:
    • How designed
    • Why illuminated
    • How illuminated
    • Parchment, pens, layout of text, illumination, decoration
  • The types of text encountered
  • Scripts used in writing medieval manuscripts

LIBR 284 supports the following SLIS Core Competencies:

  • Use the basic concepts and principles related to the creation, evaluation, selection, acquisition, preservation and organization of specific items or collections of information;
  • Understand the system of standards and methods used to control and create information structures and apply basic principles involved in the organization and representation of knowledge.

Course Requirements

Course Modules
The course will be taught as a series of modules. There will be six assignments associated with the modules. There will also be discussion items and a final exam that will be held via Angel.

  • 27th August -3rd September
    Module 1: The Medieval World
    Assignment One (10 points)
  • 3rd September-1st October
    Module II: Codicology: The physical making of manuscripts
    Assignment Two (15 points)
    Assignment Three (15 points)
  • 1st October-29th October
    Module III: Paleography: Scripts and Writing
    Assignment Four (15 points)
    Assignment Five (15 points)
  • 29th October-19th November
    Module IV: Manuscript genres (10 points)
    Assignment Six

Assignments will be presented in a Web format via SLIS’s wikidot software

Final Exam
Held via Angel between 10am-10:45am on Saturday 5th December (15 points)

Discussions on Angel (5 points)

Note: There will be no rounding up of points

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

No incompletes will be awarded.

Textbooks and Software

Instructional Materials
Instructional materials will be available each week. We will also have access  to a passworded Web-based video on the Making of a Medieval Manuscript and to a passworded version of Ductus: Digital Paleography.

Recommended Textbook:

  • Alexander, J. J. G. (1994). Medieval Illuminators and Their Methods of Work. Yale. Available through Amazon: 0300060734. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • De Hamel, C. (1986). A History of Illuminated Manuscripts (2nd ed.). Phaidon. Available through Amazon: 0714834521. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain

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;
    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 the following semester. 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

General Expectations, Rights and Responsibilities of the Student

As members of the academic community, students accept both the rights and responsibilities incumbent upon all members of the institution. Students are encouraged to familiarize themselves with SJSU's policies and practices pertaining to the procedures to follow if and when questions or concerns about a class arises. See University Policy S90-5 at More detailed information on a variety of related topics is available in the SJSU catalog at In general, it is recommended that students begin by seeking clarification or discussing concerns with their instructor. If such conversation is not possible, or if it does not serve to address the issue, it is recommended that the student contact the Department Chair as a next step.

Dropping and Adding

Students are responsible for understanding the policies and procedures about add/drop, grade forgiveness, etc. Refer to the current semester's Catalog Policies section at Add/drop deadlines can be found on the current academic year calendars document on the Academic Calendars webpage at The Late Drop Policy is available at Students should be aware of the current deadlines and penalties for dropping classes.

Information about the latest changes and news is available at the Advising Hub at

Consent for Recording of Class and Public Sharing of Instructor Material

University Policy S12-7,, requires students to obtain instructor's permission to record the course and the following items to be included in the syllabus:

  • "Common courtesy and professional behavior dictate that you notify someone when you are recording him/her. You must obtain the instructor's permission to make audio or video recordings in this class. Such permission allows the recordings to be used for your private, study purposes only. The recordings are the intellectual property of the instructor; you have not been given any rights to reproduce or distribute the material."
    • It is suggested that the syllabus include the instructor's process for granting permission, whether in writing or orally and whether for the whole semester or on a class by class basis.
    • In classes where active participation of students or guests may be on the recording, permission of those students or guests should be obtained as well.
  • "Course material developed by the instructor is the intellectual property of the instructor and cannot be shared publicly without his/her approval. You may not publicly share or upload instructor generated material for this course such as exam questions, lecture notes, or homework solutions without instructor consent."

Academic integrity

Your commitment, as a student, to learning is evidenced by your enrollment at San Jose State University. The University Academic Integrity Policy F15-7 at requires you to be honest in all your academic course work. Faculty members are required to report all infractions to the office of Student Conduct and Ethical Development. The Student Conduct and Ethical Development website is available at

Campus Policy in Compliance with the American Disabilities Act

If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, or if you need to make special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible, or see me during office hours. Presidential Directive 97-03 at requires that students with disabilities requesting accommodations must register with the Accessible Education Center (AEC) at to establish a record of their disability.

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