Teaching the Codex: Pedagogical Approaches to Palaeography and Codicology Report
Organisers: Mary Boyle (Medieval and Modern Languages) and Tristan Franklinos (Classics)
Teaching the Codex began as an interdisciplinary colloquium, with the following rationale:
Palaeography and codicology encompass skill sets which are applicable and of use to a broad range of disciplines across the Humanities. Most students encounter them for the first time at graduate level, in spite of their wide-reaching implications for our understanding and interpretation of the texts and documents with which we work. The approaches taken to teaching and using these skills vary according to the subject area, and interdisciplinary collaboration is often informal.
The event brought together academics from a range of disciplines who are experienced in teaching palaeography and codicology, which enabled a series of discussions on diverse pedagogical approaches.
Our speakers were Prof. Henrike Lähnemann, Prof. Daniel Wakelin, Prof. Tobias Reinhardt, N.G. Wilson, Dr Julia Walworth, Dr Orietta Da Rold, Dr Helen Swift, Dr Peter Stokes, Prof. Niels Gaul, and Dr Teresa Webber. Our panel chairs were Prof. David d’Avray, Prof. Richard Sharpe, Prof. Julia Crick, Dr Stephen Heyworth, and Dr Martin Kauffmann.
The day was divided into four panels: Classics, two medieval panels, and one covering approaches and resources, including digital media. The speakers each gave a paper lasting twenty minutes, and each panel concluded with a lengthy discussion. The day closed with a roundtable discussion chaired by David d’Avray.
We had over 100 attendees, of whom a significant proportion were graduate students from a number of disciplines across the humanities, and our audience was international. In addition to those who joined us on the day, we were also followed on Twitter by those who could not attend: our own Twitter feed now has over 300 followers, and our conference hashtag (#teachingcodex) saw substantial use throughout the day from delegates who live-tweeted various papers. Many participants and delegates have since given extremely positive feedback about the day, and the discussions it triggered.
This has fed into a number of future plans for the continuation of the project. The most immediate are associated with our digital presence. The website is being maintained as a blog, and we have invited contributions for guest bloggers. It will also feature a ‘Teachable Features’ section, to illustrate examples of particular aspects of manuscripts. We expect to make various other announcements in due course, with the aim of facilitating further discussion, and considering the effects of dialogues already begun.
We are extremely grateful to Dr Julia Walworth for her help and support, and to all of the organisations who sponsored us: Oxford Medieval Studies, sponsored by the Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH); the Merton College History of the Book Group; the Lancelyn Green Foundation Fund; and the Craven Committee.