Today we got to work on one of my favorite context-specific projects in class, which focused on the aspects of paleography’s major tools, practices, and elements of engaging with the text. Although arguably we have been doing nothing but learning this from day one of this course, on the other hand, it was the first time we have isolated the focus to fonts and scripts, and then followed up the lesson in class about the history of notary fonts’ development over time by being given example texts and then trying our own hand at it, (pun very much intended, for better or worse). During Professor Annafelicia Zaffrano’s excellent presentation today on the Graphical Panorama that covered the 9th century to University era fonts and styles, the below slide was projected for our class to see. It is a really great summation of just how simple and exactly therein how incredibly difficult is the work of a paleographer, when working with textual documentation and trying to piece together the story of what it is, where it came from, and just how impactful its existence historically.
It was shortly after this that we took on the group assignment in class of working with groups, and were handed out two different text/manuscript examples to ourselves begin really trying it with the process like a paleographer/ detective. The very funny and yet fascinating reminder we got helped: although we have a lot of information we’ve already been working with and have been presented in classes and in research before today, it is in no way something that you should expect to be good at with any ease right away; the example we worked on in class is meant precisely to show us the intricacies and complications that paleographers work though all the time to “solve” the case of any document with which they are working. We simply took a stab at it, simulating the experiences of paleographers such as Gorgio Cencetti, Armando Petrucci, and Bernhardt Bischoff, just to name several of the most influential and famous/a few. This is one of the the tools we used today in our class exercise, only one of many like it utilized by paleographers when doing research. It is just one of hundreds of such tools that help scholars build up their own personal “paleographical lexicon”, so to speak.
Later on in the day, on the way back to the dorms, this weird thing happened: This was just along the street, on a parked car; some if us saw it on our typically Italian-style leisurely stroll on the way to the dorms after class. I am posting this along with the other contents of today, since we are on the subject of cracking cased and solving mysteries.
Later, for the second half of our day, our dear professors and hosts here in beautiful medieval Bologna had prepared for us a visit to the Medieval Museum, as we called it, or the Musei Civici D’arte Antica. I took many photos there today, but on my smaller camera; so for now, I borrow an image from our program’s Facebook group page Scriptorium, taken and posted by Professor Mueller. I accredit him this work, as not only is a photo-credit the respectful and appropriate thing to do, but also I jump on the opportunity to reference the last part of the conversation for his presentation yesterday in class, regarding the debates of “ownership” issues on internet-stored sources of information when doing research. So, a joke, and a thanks for the handy pic while my little camera sits waiting for a memory stick relocation project.
Thereafter, we immediately hopped a bus and rode up to the entrance of the famous long climb up to the mountaintop San Luca’s Shrine to Saint Mary, contained within a church high above all of Bologna’s beautiful medieval streets. The climb was basically grueling, but an amazing experience within itself, and of course not to mention with an incredible payoff awaiting you at the top. Not only was there a spiritual experience seated on the top of the hill, but the view alone was breathtaking. And lastly, the finishing of the seriously impressive feat a worthy prize, too.
The church atop the hill did not allow cameras inside, so here are a couple of shots of the remarkable perspective from there over all of Bologna.
Here’s to another magical day in an ancient city; I feel like every day is outdoing every our day on this incredible trip in this wonderful place, but today’s theme was undeniably sentimentally one of a focus on antiquity. Starting the day out with the study of how ancient language is traced back and how it grew towards the modern era, then us giving it a go today; then a trip to the museum storing the art from a time we have daily referred to here as “antiquity”, to then climbing up the staircase up to the heavens above this ancient place.
Not bad at all.
Still haven’t figured out the mystery of the bees, yet, though.