During the 2015 winter quarter, students from the senior seminar on the “art of the medieval book” organized, prepared and installed both a physical and online exhibit. The class was held in McHenry Library’s Special Collections and taught by Elisabeth Remak-Honnef. The items on exhibit, selected from Special Collections, provide a glimpse of what the students learned throughout the quarter: a survey of about a thousand years of the evolution of book production and use in Europe. Concentrating primarily on medieval illuminated manuscripts, the class looked at different types of books to examine not only how they were made, for whom they were made, how they were used and how and why they were decorated, but also how they have survived. As part of their coursework, students wrote descriptive captions for the items on display as well as longer essays on single manuscripts. Students also selected a 20th or 21st century artists’ book to compare with their medieval manuscript and prepared short reports on such aspects of book production as parchment preparation, pigments and gilding, scripts and paleography, writing materials and binding techniques.
Artists and their Books: Medieval and Modern examples from Special Collections focuses on the circumstances under which the books were produced and first used. How were they intended to be used and by whom? What is the relationship between text and image in each of the books, and how does the page layout inform the way a reader looks or looked at the page?
The cases contain facsimiles of eight medieval illuminated manuscripts grouped primarily by subject matter and function: religious books, secular books, model books, and alphabet books - including the library’s most recent acquisition, a one-of-a kind artists’ book by San Francisco calligrapher Thomas Ingmire entitled Finnegan’s Facebook.
The installation of both the physical and digital exhibits took the place of a final exam and I think that you will agree that the students listed below passed with flying colors!
Natalie Black (Botanical illustration)
George Droulia (Psalter)
Gabriela Espinal (Crusades)
Matthew Kim (Apocalypse)
Blake Laughter (Legends from Antiquity)
Kelsey Lewis (Haggadah)
Dominique Lindsay (Pattern and Alphabet Books)
Logan McDowell (Dante)