Beyond the tidy desk

2 12 2011

The Beyond the Text students have been going above and beyond the course of duty with their case-studies. This year, each of the students researched a single edition of the Commedia printed between 1478 and 1555 from the University’s collections, looking at different aspects of the books, from their original production context and producers, their bindings and physical features, and their later readers and owners. This kind of object-oriented study can give us vivid insights into the lives of these objects, from the fake binding on the 1502 Aldine, evidence of sixteenth-century French bibliomania, to the localized cult of Dante in late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century Manchester, as seen in the remarkable collection of Dante material donated to the library in 1920 by a Manchester obstetrician, Dr David Lloyd Roberts.

Marking the essays is always a fairly time- (and space-) consuming business, when there’s so much to follow up and evaluate. I took these pictures a couple of weeks ago in the Reading Room when I was marking, as it was such an extravagant set-up.

L-R: two supports for the books, w/ a couple of priceless Dante incunables, the fibre-optic light sheet for watermarks behind them, beloved laptop, and a whole trolley-full of reference material.

There is always space for another picture of a load of books on a trolley in this blog.

A less generous interpretation of this housekeeping post might be my world-class ability to make the most austere space into a right mess within a few minutes…

The class of 2012

2 12 2011

There’s been a bit of a dearth of blog action here over the past few weeks, so I’m clearing my backlog with a spurt of activity today. Here are a couple of pictures from our sessions in Deansgate earlier this term. In the first one, John Hodgson is showing the class one of the Dante manuscripts.

The second one is a bit out of focus, but I’m posting it because I like the way the students look highly hostile and ready to leap over the table and attack us. Or maybe break into a musical number. Or maybe both.

You can also read John’s perspective on the close-up seminars on the SCARLET blog.