On Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, Stockton Literature majors (and Sigma Tau Delta members) Sarah Baginsky and Mark-Allan Donaldson presented their research on digital medieval manuscripts at the Delaware Valley Medieval Association at Rutgers University in Camden. Entitled “Literary Studies in the Valley,” this meeting of the DVMA featured papers by faculty and graduate students from Temple University, University of Delaware, Princeton University, and Stockton College, as well as featuring a series of “lightning talks” on Chaucer studies by graduate students from Rutgers-Camden and from two of our own undergraduates, Sarah and Mark-Allan.
Sarah presented her research on the 15th century scribe, John Shirley, who copied many important literary works by the medieval writers Geoffrey Chaucer, John Gower, and John Lydgate. She examined two digital facsimiles of manuscripts attributed to Shirley, both contained in the British Library (MS Additional 16165 and MS Harley 7333). She argued that Shirley should be considered both a professional and amateur scribe, based on the comparison between the two manuscripts, one of which looks like a personal commonplace book, with the Harley manuscript being a more professional book.
Mark-Allan’s paper dealt with a similar topic, dealing specifically with the Harley 7333 manuscript and the question of whether there were multiple scribes at work in this text. Mark-Allan showed the differences between scribal hands and fonts, and raises the question of whether the same scribe wrote in these two styles, or whether other scribes were at work. He looked at specific sections throughout the manuscript to examine the letter forms, the spacing of words, the ruling of the page, and other paleographical details to show the differences and similarities within the single manuscript. He concluded by suggesting that digitized manuscripts could lead to a re-examination of scribal attributions and shed further light on scribal practice in the later Middle Ages.
Sarah and Mark-Allan’s presentations were very positively received. Andrew Cole (Princeton), a Chaucer specialist, commented on these papers as being “lovely,” and that they raised new and interesting questions about John Shirley. Prof. Cole asked Mark-Allan a question about codicology and the quiring of Harley 7333, which Mark-Allan graciously fielded and provided a thoughtful response. Aaron Hostetter (Rutgers-Camden) told me personally that it was difficult to ask questions because they “really knew their stuff.”
Sarah and Mark-Allan were able to attend this conference thanks to support from Stockton College’s Student Travel Funding from the Provost’s Office. Their research and the response from the audience show how talented our undergraduates are. We’re really proud of Sarah and Mark-Allan for their hard work and excellent presentations!
Delaware Valley Medieval Association
Saturday, February 15, 2014
“Literary Studies in the Valley”
10-10:30 AM: Coffee and Refreshments
10:30-10:45 AM: Introductions and Announcements
Aaron Hostetter, Assistant Professor of English, Rutgers University-Camden
Dale Kinney, Professor of History of Art, Bryn Mawr College, President of the DVMA
10:45-12 PM: Session I:
*Winner of the DVMA Paper Prize*
Brie Parkin, University of Delaware, “’Clothed by God in fanciful costume’: White Clothes, Tears, and Livery in the Book of Margery Kempe”
Adam Miyashiro, Assistant Professor of Literature, Stockton College: “Alexander between Empires”
Cord Whitaker, Assistant Professor of English, Temple University: “Black, White, and In Between: Medieval Race, the Spirit, and Chaucer’s Miller’s Tale”
12-1 PM: Lunch
1-2:45 PM: Session II:
Carissa Harris, Assistant Professor of English, Temple University: “‘All medons be ware, be rewe’: Sexual Education in the Middle English Pastourelle”
Andrew Cole, Professor of English, Princeton University: “Chaucer’s Occasions”
2:45-3:00 PM: Break
3:00-4:00 PM: Lightning Talks on Chaucerian Manuscripts from Advanced Undergraduates and Graduate students
- Richard Milligan (Rutgers-Camden)
- Cristina Chillem (Rutgers-Camden)
- Nikolai Fomich (Rutgers-Camden)
- Sarah Baginsky (Stockton College)
- Mark-Allan Donaldson (Stockton College)