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What is Mmmonk School?

  • free webinars on the medieval book
  • focus on manuscripts in Flanders
  • introductions to various perspectives and disciplines by experts
  • stimulating a holistic approach of medieval books
  • co-production with Henri Pirenne Institute for Medieval Studies (Ghent University)
  • open to everyone!

Mmmonk School 2023

The second edition of Mmmonk School took place in November and December 2023, with sessions by Elaine Treharne (Stanford University), Ann Kelders (KBR Royal Library Belgium), Élodie Lévêque (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne), Thomas Falmagne (Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main), Evelien Hauwaerts (Bruges Public Library), and Jeroen Deploige and Wim Verbaal (Ghent University). Find out more about the programme and the speakers here.

Mmmonk School 2023 - The human experience as an integral part of the history and identity of a book

This session takes as its starting point an understanding that a medieval book is a whole object at every point of its long history. As such, medieval books can be studied most profitably in a holistic manner as objects-in-the-world. This means readers might profitably account for all aspects of the manuscript in their observations, from the main texts that dominate the codex to the marginal notes, glosses, names, and interventions made through time. This holistic approach allows us to tell the story of the book's life from the moment of its production to its use, collection, breaking-up, and digitization--all aspects of what can be termed 'dynamic architextuality'. By Prof. Elaine Treharne (Stanford University).

Mmmonk School 2023 - An Introduction to Manuscripts of Polyphonic Music in the Low Countries

At the transition from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, the Low Countries set the tone on the European musical stage. With their polyphonic music, numerous Franco-Flemish composers built an international career. Even at the time they were created, the manuscripts in which their work is handed down, could be found in churches, chapels, as well as in the libraries of popes, princes, and citizens. The music copyist and entrepreneur Petrus Imhoff, who worked under the pseudonym Alamire, played an important role in the transmission of this musical heritage. The manuscripts produced under his direction and other sources of polyphony from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries are the subject of this episode of the Mmmonk School. By Dr. Ann Kelders (KBR Royal Library Belgium).

Mmmonk School 2023 - An Introduction to Biocodicology

Biocodicology is the study of the biological information stored in manuscripts. Western Medieval manuscripts were, for the most part, written on parchment, a writing support whose origins are believed to be in Pergamon. Over the centuries parchment has been the foundation for a multitude of media from illuminated Gospels to the archival documents used in everyday life. Manuscripts can not only offer valuable information through their texts, but can also reveal information - that in many cases is invisible to the naked eye - about book production, livestock economies, handling, conservation and the historic use of the object by studying the materials they are made of. This talk presents three recent research projects that were carried out as part of the Beast to Craft ERC funded project, using proteomic and dna analysis. By Dr. Élodie Lévêque (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne).

Mmmonk School 2023 - An Introduction to Medieval Cistercian Reading Culture

Written culture and the practices that embody it in literary, historical, diplomatic, and scientific productions reflect the creative activity of an entire era. Authors and texts are inseparable from books and reading, and from the institutions that foster and disseminate culture. The Cistercian abbeys played a significant role in the 'documentary revolution' of the central Middle Ages, concurrently with the swift construction of several of their libraries between the second half of the 12th century and the end of the 13th century. The course explores the following questions related to Cistercian written culture: What are the sources of written culture, and where are they kept? What are the distinctive characteristics of monastic culture, and of Cistercian culture in particular? What are the aims and forms of the Cistercian book? Is there still something unique about Cistercian written culture after the 13th century? By Dr. Thomas Falmagne (Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main).

Mmmonk School 2023 - Practical Workshop on Digital Images in IIIF

IIIF stands for International Image Interoperability Framework. It is a digital innovation for more efficient and sustainable management, sharing, and use of digital images. A brief explanation of IIIF can be found here. It is applied by a growing number of institutions worldwide, for instance Bibliothèque nationale de France, Vatican Library, British Library, Getty Museum, university libraries (e.g. Ghent, Leiden…) and public libraries (e.g. Bruges). This workshop covers some easy tricks to unlock the potential of IIIF for end-users. For instance, you’ll learn how to share a detail on an image by means of a simple URL (e.g. take a look at this miniature of Galen and Hippocrates in a 13th-century manuscript!). No IT knowledge required. Suitable for anyone working with digital images of books, paintings, prints, etc. By Dr. Evelien Hauwaerts (Bruges Public Library).

Mmmonk School 2023 - Medieval Reading Strategies - The Liber Floridus as a circular enclosure of creation, history and incarnation

In the most recent issue of the journal Sacris Erudiri (DOI 10.1484/J.SE.5.133569), Jeroen Deploige and Wim Verbaal propose a new understanding of the composition Lambert of Saint-Omer’s famous Liber floridus (completed c. 1121). Their contribution focuses on the significance of the idealized city. To this end, they move from the historical and material reality of Saint-Omer, one of the most dynamic centres of urban development in early twelfth-century Flanders, to the autograph manuscript of the Liber (MS Ghent, University Library, 92). In doing so, they ask to what extent both the city as a general concept, and more specifically the town of Saint-Omer, are present in Lambert’s work of compilation. They argue that the key to answering this question lies in the Liber’s specific structure, more so than in its actual content. This insight requires them to read and approach the codex no longer solely as a linear composition, marked by an associative sequence of topics, chapters and illuminations dealing with salvation history and creation. Lambert’s work emerges as a markedly circular composition, consisting of different concentric layers and constructed around a specific central text. By Prof. Jeroen Deploige and Prof. Wim Verbaal (Ghent University).

Mmmonk School 2022

The first edition of Mmmonk School took place in November and December 2022, with sessions by Susan Boynton (Columbia University), Diane Reilly (Indiana University Bloomington), Evelien Hauwaerts (Bruges Public Library), Anne van Oosterwijk (Museums Bruges), Hanno Wijsman (IRHT), Steven Vanderputten (Ghent University), Mark Vermeer (KU Leuven), Sofie Veramme (Werkplaats Immaterieel Erfgoed) and Astrid Beckers (independent book conservator). Find out more about the programme and the speakers here.

Mmmonk School 2022 – An Introduction to Medieval Liturgical Manuscripts

Dr. Diane Reilly (Indiana University Bloomington) and Dr. Susan Boynton (Colombia University New York) discuss some remarkable liturgical medieval manuscripts in the collections of the Mmmonk abbeys.

Mmmonk School 2022 – An Introduction to Medieval Reading Culture: Boethius’ De consolatione philosophiae

Dr. Evelien Hauwaerts (Bruges Public Library) offers an introduction to medieval reading culture in Flanders and the study of reception history. As a case study, she presents copies of the Consolation of philosophy by Boethius from the Mmmonk abbeys. A comparison between these manuscripts demonstrates how the Consolation was used in different environments and what the impact of that was on the layout of the book. Reading between the lines, this session also provides a short summary of Boethius’ masterpiece.

Mmmonk School 2022 – An Introduction to the Analysis of Medieval Miniatures

Anne van Oosterwijk (Musea Brugge) demonstrates how a trained art historian approaches a work of art and describes it in a scholarly manner, with examples from manuscripts from four Flemish abbeys. She zooms in on iconic representations, such as Crucifixion scenes, on complex compositions based on the texts they accompanied, and on the interaction between miniatures and decorated borders.

Mmmonk School 2022 – An Introduction to Medieval Heraldry

Dr. Hanno Wijsman (Institut de Recherche et d'Histoire des Textes - CNRS) offers an introduction to medieval coats of arms. He discusses the historical use by various groups in society and explains the basics of heraldic analysis, with examples from medieval manuscripts from the Mmmonk abbeys and other collections. The heraldic terminology is presented both in French and in English.

Mmmonk School 2022 – An Introduction to Medieval Religious Communities in Flanders

Many medieval manuscripts in Flemish cultural heritage institutions come from religious institutions such as abbeys and chapters. It can be a challenge to describe those communities and to identify the setting in which the manuscripts were acquired. In this session, Dr. Steven Vanderputten (Ghent University) offers an introduction to the correct terminology and helps us to understand important phases in the development of religious communities in the medieval Southern Low Countries.

Mmmonk School 2022 – An Introduction to Medieval Dates

Medieval manuscripts often contain dating clauses based on various reference points, e.g. ‘ab initio mundi’, the birth of Christ, the reigns of secular and religious rulers, religious feasts, etc. Add the various year styles, e.g. Circumcision style vs. Nativity style, to the equation, and you can see why it could be confusing to interpret a medieval dating clause. In this session, Dr. Mark Vermeer (KU Leuven) offers an introduction to the most common ways dates were indicated in medieval manuscripts and discusses useful tools to translate medieval dating clauses into modern style dates.

Mmmonk School 2022 – An Introduction to IIIF in Education and Research

In this introduction, which requires no technical knowledge, Sofie Veramme (Werkplaats Immaterieel Erfgoed) explains what IIIF is and how end users working with digital images can benefit from it in research, education and public outreach.

Mmmonk School 2022 – An Introduction to Medieval Bookbindings

Astrid Beckers, codicologist and experienced book conservator, offers an introduction to medieval bindings, using examples from medieval manuscripts from four Flemish abbeys. She presents an exhaustive terminology for the description of bindings, points out evolutions and trends, and teaches us how to find traces of lost components on the remaining binding.

Why does Mmmonk organise this online course?

Each component of a manuscript is important: the binding, the text, the language, the illumination, the script, the materials, the traces of use, … To be able to appreciate a manuscript as a whole, it is necessary to study each component individually and in relation to one another. But this is a tall order, even for the most hardened medievalist. Thankfully a lot can be achieved by interdisciplinary cooperation. To encourage an interdisciplinary approach, Mmmonk School gathers specialists from various fields to offer a peek under the hood of their respective disciplines. The aim is not to create new specialists, but to offer insight in the basic methodology and reference points of various disciplines, to remove any fear of the unknown and to stimulate further collaboration and exploration.