Sunday, December 21, 2008

Evellum's 'The Making of a Medieval Manuscript'

The Making of a Medieval Manuscript is part of the Evellum Scriptorium Series by Bernard Muir and Nicholas Kennedy. I scanned in the DVD cover so you can read the summaries and blurbs provided.

There is very little information about this series (aside from the advertisements) available to those of us who are in between universities at present and desperately searching for a fix so my access to reviews may seem limited. Because they are. Now I am even more depressed . . . but I digress. The Old English Newsletter has a bibliographical database by which I found that Muir turned out several articles on books of hours and the Exeter MS during the time he worked on that facsimile project. Also a joint project with Kennedy, the facsimile of Bod. Lib. MS Junius 11 was greeted with an review from the Digital Medievalist that include the phrases "outstanding functionality" and "important contribution". In addition to this, Bernard Muir and John Stinson (the bookbinder in the documentary) gave a lecture suspiciously titled The Making of a Medieval Manuscript at the State Lib. of Victoria for their exhibit The Medieval Imagination, which was then made into a podcast and is available--free of charge--here.

The DVD itself contains a +40 min. presentation recording the process of binding a book in medieval fashion. It is narrated with a voice over and there is some appropriate music in the background; good sound quality, clear visuals, and it isn't too much of a teaching tool that you have to stop the video every time they use a technical term. The other marvelous thing about it is the huge slide presentation with more pictures (not just screen shots) that give more detailed shots of the process. The only thing I have reservations about is that it isn't Bischoff's text read aloud: for the perfectionists and specialists, you may want to stop the video and explain more deeply about certain processes and variations involved in the production of a codex (e.g. the difference between insular and continental practices). I really don't have a problem opening my mouth, though, especially when there are visuals to point out and at which it is possible to wildly gesticiulate.

Has anyone used it in their classes? If so, please comment!

[Note on prices: I found it for £20 at the British Library bookshop but it is available from the website for £50. Neener neener.]

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