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Palaeography header 72 RGBAfter a period of tests, the introductory module of the new online course on Palaeography and Manuscript Studies is now available. InScribe provides a set of materials suitable both for someone interested in exploring Palaeography for the first time as well as for those in need of a refresher. Graduate students, academics and members of the general public undertaking this introductory module will become familiar with the most important writing styles (scripts) of the medieval period with particular reference to the English context; they will be able to explore a number of newly digitised manuscripts; and they will acquire some transcription practice.

Screenshot from the InScribe course

Screenshot from the InScribe course

The module includes short videos with experts on the field discussing relevant topics. Moreover, transcription can be practiced in the new Transcription Tool developed in collaboration with KCL.

 

Screenshot of the Transcription Tool

Screenshot of the Transcription Tool

Later in the year, we will release new modules that will provide advanced online training on Diplomatic, Script and Translation, Codicology and Illumination. The introductory module is free of charge.

To try InScribe click here. Notice that you will need to register (for free) to gain access to the module.

 

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Palaeography header 72 RGBIn this blog post I would like to introduce you to our latest research training module on History SPOT.  InScribe is an online course for the study of Palaeography and Manuscript Studies developed by several of the institutes within the School of Advanced Study (Including the Institute of Historical Research and Institute of English Studies), with support from Senate House Library and Exeter Cathedral library.

At present we have only released the ‘introductory’ module in a test mode, and we would very much welcome any feedback on how we could improve it.  This module describes what the course is about, gives an entry point into palaeographical conventions and processes, and gives you the chance to transcribe text from a selection of actual manuscripts (well, digital scans from those manuscripts at least).  More modules will follow sometime in the new year offering various pathways on subjects such as codicology, illumination, and diplomatic.

The view has long been held at the IHR that paleography is one subject that translates well into the online format.  Although we would hesitate to suggest it in any way as a replacement for skills learnt in a classroom (or even better with actual copies of the MSS themselves) we believe that learning and practicing palaeographical skills online works well if the tools are in place to aid the student.

Example of a page from InScribe

Example of a page from InScribe

It is hoped that InScribe will increasingly fill this role in the future, providing palaeographical training at a postgraduate level.   At present, however, InScribe is in its infancy.  We have initially launched the first module in a test-mode, by which I simply mean that we will be seeking feedback about what works or doesn’t work, and what we might be able to improve upon.

The Transcription Tool

The Transcription Tool

To have a look at InScribe please log in or register to History SPOT for free and follow this link to the InScribe course.

InScribe: Palaeography Learning materials

Alternatively, for further information about the course look at the research training page on the IHR website.

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The IHR Digital and Research Training departments within the Institute of Historical Research are currently in the process of adapting face to face courses for online delivery, which will eventually appear on History SPOT.  One of those ventures is a palaeography course created in partnership with other SAS institutes.  Right from the beginning we knew that this would involve the creation of video content.

Our first filming attempt was with Erik Kwakkel who himself has blogged about his experience.  The purpose of the filming was for Erik to introduce students to a half dozen manuscripts and point out some features of them for further study.  It was therefore quite a different type of filming than I have done in the past.  Not only did I need to capture Erik himself, but the stars of the show were the manuscripts themselves.  Now, how do you make a manuscript look good for the camera?  I took a few sweeping shots of the MSS and a few still photographs from various angles.  Later on we went back to take additional photographs once we had a better idea of what we would need for the final video. 

We tried various directions from directly in front of Erik to right behind him – staring down more at his hands on the MS.  We also took video from several angles.  What we wanted was to make the video seem more interesting by moving camera angles throughout the talks. 

As a whole I think the session went pretty well.  Erik himself was ever the professional and amazed me by how comfortable he seemed in front of the camera.  Now all I need to do is figure out how to link the videos together into something that works for teaching students about palaeography.  I think there will be about eight videos in total – all varying a little in length.  They will include close ups of the manuscripts themselves as well as video of Erik talking about them.

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