18th Colloque International de Paléographie Latine

St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. Sang. 912 | The Abba-Ababus Glossary | Bobbio, 8th c. (palimpsest, from a 5th-c. codex).

The Scriptorium
Nature – Function – Specifics

September 11-14, 2013,
St. Gall (Suiza).

The holding of the conference in the setting of the ancient abbey of Saint-Gall, whose famous ninth-century plan is one of the few witnesses to the physical existence of a scriptorium, provides an opportunity to engage upon consideration of the meaning cloaked by this word.

The term was introduced into the scholarly vocabulary only relatively recently, at the beginning of the twentieth century, when it replaced other expressions that have appreciably different connotations (‘école calligraphique’, for instance). The publication of Albert Bruckner’s pioneering work, Scriptoria Medii Aevi Helvetica (1935-1974, 12 vols) and the founding of the journal Scriptorium by Camille Gaspar, Frédéric Lyna and François Masai in 1946, contributed greatly to the popularity of the term.

Its meaning, however, has remained rather vague. Some would extend it to any kind of centre of manuscript production, and are happy to refer to lay scriptoria, or even private scriptoria. Others, by contrast, use it in only a very restricted sense to apply just to those centres that are famous for the quality and quantity of their production. In most cases it remains an abstraction, failing adequately to shed light upon the practical realities to which it refers.

Some closer definition is therefore required.

One possibility is to define a scriptorium as a unit of production (possibly just a group of individuals) operating at the heart of an ecclesiastical institution and intended to fulfill its need for books, completely independent of any commercial context. But is such a definition satisfactory or adequate? What are its implications?

The list of issues set out below are intended to elicit various kinds of response to these questions, whether based upon the analysis of a body of evidence or drawn from especially significant examples.

1. The word and its meaning

a) The use and usage of the word scriptorium (and its synonyms); the evidence of different kinds of source (literary, iconographic, etc.) for its existence as an institutional entity.
b) In what ways have scholars and writers of the classical, post-medieval and contemporary periods used the term or expressed the same concept?

2. Practice

a) Ecclesiastical requirements with regard to books for study, the liturgy and archives.
b) The location of scribal activity within monastic, conventual, university and any other communal settings.
c) The personnel and organisation of copying in scriptoria.
d) Collaborative production within the centralised orders (Cluniac, Cistercian, etc.).
e) The production of books in relation to teaching activity.
f) The copying of texts as a spiritual exercise.
g) The production of charters and other forms of administrative or diplomatic document (cartularies, etc.) within scriptoria.
h) Other forms of writing (inscriptions, in particular) that might be related to the activity of a scriptorium.
i) The coexistence of scriptoria and other forms of scribal organisation of a commerical kind (writing-offices, workshops)

3. Interpretation

a) How can one prove the existence of a scriptorium?
b) How can one demonstrate the attribution of a manuscript to a particular scriptorium?
c) How might the products of a scriptorium be evaluated quantitatively and qualitatively?
d) What factors (institutional, economic, political, social, cultural) shape the development or decline of a scriptorium?
e) What combination of historical factors are required to sustain the productivity of scriptoria?
f) What changes can be observed in the nature and function of scriptoria across the medieval period?
g) To what extent have palaeographical, codicological and art-historical typologies been based upon the assumed existence of scriptoria?



* Click on authors’ names to view the abstracts

Sept 11

1. La problématique des scriptoria

• D. MUZERELLE (Paris), A la (re)découverte des scriptoria : l’exemple du Catalogue des manuscrits datés français.
• D. GANZ (Notre Dame, In.), Can a scriptorium always be identified by its products?

2. Le développement historique des scriptoria

• P. FIORETTI (Bari), Prima dello scriptorium. Esperienze di produzione manoscritta comunitaria in età tardoantica.
• D. TRONCA (Verona), Lo scriptorum della cattedrale di Verona attraverso l’analisi dei manoscritti delle opere di sant’Agostino.
• L. REYNHOUT (Bruxelles), Scriptores de scriptoriis : mentions de ” scriptoria ” dans les colophons latins, les mots et les réalités.

3. Problèmes stylistiques.

• M. GURRADO (Paris), L’homogénéité graphique du scriptorium de Saint-Pierre de Jumièges au XIe siècle.
• A.M.J. IRVING (Yale Univ.), Uniformity and Variability in Cassinese Gospel Books. A Case Study in Scriptorium Production Engineering and its Description.
• M. BERNASCONI REUSSER (Fribourg), Handschriften und Inschriften aus dem Kloster Allerheiligen in Schaffhausen (CH)
• Å. OMMUNDSEN (Bergen), Seeing scriptoria in scraps: Norwegian manuscript fragments and their historical context.

4. La production documentaire des scriptoria.

• P. ERHART (St. Gallen), Zwischen Kanzlei und Scriptorium: Urkunden- und Handschriftenproduktion im Kloster St.Gallen in der Zeit von Abt Grimald 841-872.
• M. MARCHIARO (Pistoia), La produzione documentaria e libraria nella canonica di San Zeno di Pistoia (sec. XI-XII).
• I. CECCHERINI & T. DE ROBERTIS (Firenze), Scriptoria e cancellerie nella Firenze del XIII e XIV secolo.

Sept 12

5. Tour d’Europe des scriptoria (I)

• M.R.B. MORUJÃO (Coimbra), Le scriptorium de la cathédrale de Coimbra au Moyen Âge.
• M. WAGENDORFER (Wien), Welche Skriptorien? Zu Stand und Perspektiven der Skriptorien-Forschung in Österreich.
• GUÐVARÐUR M. GUNNLAUGSSON (Reykjavík), The Helgafell Scriptorium (Iceland, 14th cent.).

6. Tour d’Europe des scriptoria (II)

• J. ŠEDIVÝ (Bratislava), Gab es im spätmittelalterlichen Pressburg ein Skriptorium?
• W. MROZOWICZ (Wroclaw), Das Schreiben im Kloster als Weise der Bereicherung der Klosterbibliothek (am Beispiel der Sammlungen der regulierten Augustiner-Chorherren zu Zagan/Sagan)
• H. PÁTKOVÁ (Praha), Between Middle Ages and modern era. Some remarks on the writing and scriptoria in the reformed Franciscan monasteries in Bohemia in the end of 15th and beginning of 16th centuries.

Sept 13

7. Scriptoria et vie intellectuelle

• C. DENOËL & F. CINATO (Paris), Y a-t-il eu un scriptorium à Auxerre au temps d’Heiric ?
• T.J.H. McCARTHY (***), The foundation and development of a Bamberg scriptorium: Frutolf of Michelsberg and his early twelfth-century legacy.
• G. MURANO (Firenze), Uno scriptorium di corte: Carlo d’Angiò e magister Faragius.

8. Scriptoria et vie religieuse

• T. WEBBER (Cambridge), Script, book production and the practice of the Rule at Christ Church, Canterbury in the mid twelfth century.
• E. RUTHERFORD (Cambridge), The Dominican Scriptorium at St Jacques, and its production of liturgical exemplars.
• X. HERMAND (Namur), Entre le scriptorium et la cella : production communautaire et copie individuelle dans les monastères de l’ordre des Croisiers au XVe siècle.

9. Les méthodes de travail dans les scriptoria

• C. EGGER (Wien), Die Suche nach dem archimedischen Punkt. Methodische Probleme der Erforschung von Scriptorien und Buchproduktion im 12. Jahrhundert am Beispiel von Admont und Klosterneuburg.
• R.G. BABCOCK (Chapel Hill, N.C.) & A. DEROLEZ (Ghent), [Defining a scriptorium on the basis of the correctors : the case of Gembloux.]
• D. STUTZMANN (Paris), Un couteau dans la main gauche ? Organisation du scriptorium et correction des textes d’après le feuillet de corrections du ms. Paris, Bibl. nat. de france, Arsenal, ms. 302.

10. Productions spécifiques

• F. NEWTON (Duke Univ.), Proving the Existence of a Scriptorium: The Case of the Early South Italian Liturgical Rolls (Saec. X ex.) and the (Hitherto Unidentified) Scriptorium at Benevento from which They Came.
• L. YAWN (Roma), Occasional Workshops and Clustered Production of Eleventh-Century Italian Giant Bibles and Patristic Manuscripts.

11. Recherches en cours (présentations sommaires)

• P. STOKES (London), The DigiPal Project for Late Anglo-Saxon Script.
• A. PUGLIA (Arezzo), Scrivere nelle cattedrali della Toscana occidentale. Pisa, Lucca e Volterra nei secoli X-XII.
• E. NIBLAEUS (Erlangen), The Production of Liturgical Books for the Twelfth-Century Parish Church – Where and How?




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