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HON 4650 - The Book in the 15th Century: Welcome

Join us Spring Semester 2019 as we begin work on another book.

The Scriptorium

The scribe at work

Monk writing in scriptorium, from 15th century manuscript. Image from Art Museum Image Gallery.

Why calligraphy?

Why should anyone, especially a science major, take this class? Should any class exist that is not specifically linked to job training? Steve Jobs, the man who brought you the Mac & the iPhone, sets us straight on this account.

Welcome to the Book in the 15th Century

Close up of student's hands drawing a decorative initial cap.In this course, we will  be entering the late medieval/early modern world through book production. Throughout Europe at the start of the 15th century, books were produced one at a time following time-tested processes. Hand ruled and hand written on parchment or rag paper, each book was unique. For a person to own even one book, let alone several, was a mark of wealth and status. Wills of the period--with their list of bequests--frequently include books along side other (more recognizable to us) material possession like houses, silver plate, jewelry, and the like. Valued for the texts they contained, books were also valued--in some households even more valued--as commodities and works of art in their own right.

By the end of the 15th century, however, book production changed dramatically, driving down prices of books. What a generation or two previous had cost a small fortune for one person was now affordable to many. We can attribute this dramatic shift to one technological change: the advent of movable type. The printing press allowed craftsmen to produce several copies of a text in considerably less time than it took to hand write one manuscript book. In this course, we will explore the phenomenon of the 15th century book by studying the history of the book and by practicing aspect of book production from manuscript to printed text. The classroom itself will be modeled, in part, on a medieval scriptorium and an early modern print shop. Much of the learning in this class will be experimental - Book in the 15th Century Syllabus

Decorative Initials

Illuminate letter C. Student work.

Decorative Initial C - Student work from The Bestiary of Scholastica. Collegium Sanctae Scholasticae, 2012.


Your Professors

Dr. William Hodapp
Office: T 4101A | Phone: 723-5947

Mr. Todd White
Office: LIB 1060 | Phone: 723-6473

Ms. Meridith Schifsky, Calligrapher
By appointment