Sub-projects of the second phase 2015-2019

Since its first period of funding (2011-2015), CSMC conducts long-term fundamental research on manuscripts and manuscript cultures in ‘project areas’ :

In 2015 working groups for studying topics related to ‘manuscript practices’ were established:

Besides associated projects CSMC has a project for information infrastructure and a integrated graduate programme.

Project Areas | Working Groups

Working Group L: Learning

Working Group L focuses on manuscripts which all play a key role in the cultural practices of learning, teaching and conducting research and either directly or indirectly help to portray, explain, preserve, advance and disseminate various fields of knowledge, covering everything from basic instruction to practical knowledge and literary, philosophical and religious matters touched on in teaching. The social significance of a manuscript used for educational purposes is often visible from its appearance and from the traces which have been left behind by its users. In many cases, the layout chosen by the producer of the manuscript gives a clear indication as to its function for teaching and learning. If there is generous spacing between the lines and a broad margin has been left blank, for instance, this suggests that the reader is being invited to enrich the text with exegetical paratexts, glosses, variants, diagrams and so on in the course of working with the manuscript. These types of manuscripts are valuable testimonies to didactic and research activities and methodology in manuscript cultures and are generally the only tangible, physical pieces of evidence available to help researchers explore and reconstruct the activities of teaching and learning communities as well as the different kinds of literacy related to the process of educational instruction in such civilisations.


Teaching Language and Literature: Tamil Manuscript Compendia on Grammar

This research project on Tamil aims to examine a group of manuscripts containing excerpts from treatises on grammar in a broad sense, including not only syntax, morphology and phonetics, but also poetics, metre and rhetoric. This will allow us to understand the various contexts of teaching Tamil grammar more easily, this being a basic discipline first taught at primary level. The undertaking will acquaint students with the more formal levels of a highly diglossic language, not to mention the Tamils’ literary heritage.

Prof. Dr. Eva Wilden

Dr. Suganya Anandakichenin

Poster A04

Islamic Manuscripts with a Wide Spaced Layout as Mediators of Teaching Practices in West Africa

The West African Islamic manuscripts with wide space between the lines apparently point to teaching practices wherein extra space was planned for annotations. This project will explore possible correlations between the ample-space layout and textual genres in the Old Mande and Old Kanembu manuscript traditions and will investigate the questions of how teaching defined this specific layout and how these manuscripts mediated teaching practices.

Dr. Dmitry Bondarev

Darya Ogorodnikova, M.A.

Poster A05

The Leipzig Manuscript B.or.227: Paratexts as witnesses of Islamic Ḥadīṯ scholarship

The Islamic traditions (ḥadīth), attributed to the prophet Muḥammad and his Companions, were first transmitted orally, later written down and finally compiled for major collections from the 8th and 9th centuries CE on. From here, ḥadīth sciences and commentaries evolved further. While the academic discipline of Islamic Studies has produced a number of studies on text transmission and teaching methods, it has dedicated only limited attention to ḥadīth commentaries. This sub-project investigates the concrete use of a ḥadīth manuscript in teaching practice and ḥadīthscholarship by studying a manuscript of the known collection of al-Bukhārī (d. 256/870), Jāmiʿ al-Ṣaḥīḥ. Due to its rich annotations and user entries (ijāzāt, samāʿāt, silsila), the Leipzig manuscript B. or 227 (copied in 800/1398, most probably in Shiraz) is best suited for such a case study that aims at a comprehensive analysis of the material object, its users, and its commentaries.

Dr. Stefanie Brinkmann

Ali Zaherinezhad, M.St.

Poster A11

Esoteric Transmissions: The ’Vanaratna Codex‘ (Royal Asiatic Society, London, MS Hodgson 35)

The project is a study of the production and history of a single manuscript, Royal Asiatic Society, London, MS Hodgson 35, which has been shown to be an autograph of the famous 15th century Buddhist scholar Vanaratna. It contains, in its second part, mainly material translated by Vanaratna into Sanskrit from esoteric teachings received in Tibet and in Tibetan, as well as some verses of his own composition. This offers a unique window into the working methods of a learned Buddhist scholar, and into cross-cultural transmission of esoteric material.

Prof. Dr. Harunaga Isaacson

Dr. Martin Delhey

Poster C01

Reading Aloud, Memorising and Making Notes: Uses of Manuscripts in Alevi Village Communities in Anatolia

This project focuses on the manuscript culture that existed in Alevi village communities in Turkey, among which the level of literacy was still low up to the middle of the 20th century. Fourteen private collections of manuscripts will be scrutinised in order to examine the use of manuscripts in learning and teaching mainly of a religious character. The history, compilation and context of the collections will be investigated as sources for studying the use of these manuscripts in cultural practices. Questions to be addressed are: who wrote or used certain manuscripts, how did the various collections help to retain and impart knowledge, did their practical usage, e.g. reading them aloud, memorising them and making notes about them, had an effect on their subject matter or appearance, and if so, what kind of effect.

Prof. Dr. Raoul Motika

Janina Karolewski, M.A.

Poster C04

Ancient Greek Manuscripts on Aristotle’s Works Used in Teaching and Their Interpretation

Codices of Aristotle’s Organon, a work of fundamental importance in training students’ intellect, are particularly suitable for researching the role that manuscripts once played in the classroom. These manuscripts contain highly com­plex layers of annotations attesting to a dialogue between teachers and their pupils and sometimes even connecting them to each other at different times and places. This project will use selected ma­nuscripts from Posterior Analytics to examine the layers of commentary and explanatory anno­tations in detail and to determine what function they had as part of classroom social practice and scholarly exegetical dialogue.

Prof. Dr. Christian Brockmann

Dr. Stefano Valente

Poster C06

East Frankish Manuscripts Containing Collections of Formulae

This project will investigate manuscripts written in the eastern regions of the Frankish Empire during the 9th and 10th century which contain collections of formulae, i.e. sample letters and charters. Manuscripts of this kind are of great importance in understanding the culture of this period as they give us insights into the way in which scholars wanted to organise their knowledge and pass it on to others in the early Middle Ages. The aim of the project is to examine such manuscripts by treating them as textual evidence of monastic culture and investigating how they arose, what they contain and how they were used.

Prof. Dr. Philippe Depreux

Till Hennings, M.A.

Poster C08

Private Archives as a Source of Literacy in Old Assyrian Society

Cuneiform clay manuscripts are 3D objects on which signs appear as negative imprints. Thousands of school tablets from Nippur dated to the 18th century BCE have enabled assyriologists to reconstruct the curriculum of scribal education, which looked quite academic. School texts found in the archives of Assyrian merchants who settled in Central Anatolia (19th cent.) bear witness to on-the-job training. In fact, it has been suggested that, besides professional scribes, many Assyrian men and a number of women would have learnt the basics of writing at home.
Such an assumption can only be confirmed by systematic paleographical and scribal studies and by the analysis of text layout and the typology of tablets in specific private archives that have recently been excavated.

Prof. Dr. Cécile Michel

Wiebke Beyer, M.A.

Poster C11

Working Group R: Ritual

Manuscripts in all their different manifestations invariably form an integral part of practices. Working Group R focuses on acts which constitute presence, meaning, social order or aesthetic relevance. A solid form and the necessity of repetition are equally characteristic of these types of acts, which in principle lends them a structuring function. In other words, Group R addresses the ritual, ceremonial and liturgical use of manuscripts. This perspective encompasses manuscripts in all their various facets – starting from the production process right through to how the manuscript is used and the point at which it is ultimately destroyed.

The approach of the group profits from the many productive discussions which have taken place in the field of ritual studies in recent decades. A particularly significant contribution is made by the results collected by the interdisciplinary Collaborative Research Centre “Ritual Dynamics” (SFB 619) at Heidelberg University. The objective in this context cannot be to contribute a separate theoretical concept to the discussion, nor a new definition. Rather, the added value of Working Group R lies in linking manuscript cultures and rituals in a systematic way for the very first time.


Literary Manuscripts in a Ritual Context: Linked Poetry (renga) in Medieval Japan

Linked poetry (renga) was one of the most popular literary genres in medieval Japan. Noting down the collaborative works by hand as they were being created orally was a procedure governed by precise rules and was an integral aspect of this kind of poetry along with the inclusion of the scribe’s role. The aim of this project is to shed more light on these practices of manuscript production and the ritual context in which they were embedded. In order to achieve this, it is necessary to look into the way in which the practices developed over time, what conditions they arose in and what influenced them. Historically, the aspect of poetic contests at court needs to be taken into account. The proximity of renga poetry to the sphere of religious manuscript culture in the Middle Ages also requires clarification.

Prof. Dr. Jörg B. Quenzer

Dr. Heidi Buck-Albulet

Poster A01

Anisong (Ānisaṃsa) Manuscripts from Luang Prabang (Laos) in a Comparative Perspective

his project examines several manuscript corpora containing Buddhist texts of one of the most popular and widespread genres in the Thai-Lao world, namely preaching or homiletic texts known as Anisong. Usually written on palm leaf and generally quite short in nature, Anisong describe the rewards in terms of merit that a believer may expect from doing a particular pious deed. Anisong manuscripts have played a key role in Thai-Lao religious life for centuries, notably in transforming local customs into ‘Buddhist’ orthopraxy. They also reflect processes of modernisation in a lively and innovative manuscript culture.

Prof. Dr. Volker Grabowsky

Silpsupa Jaengsawang, M.A.

Poster A08

Structure, Indexing Systems and Liturgical Reading of Early Medieval Gospel Books

Gospel manuscripts are widely considered to be the most important books in medieval liturgy. They not only contain the Gospels as the Word of God that the priest read aloud during Mass, but also include a standardised corpus of paratexts. This project will examine how the physical characteristics of Gospel manuscripts were related to the usage of these books in liturgical reading, considering in particular the functions served by their paratexts and indices.

Prof. Dr. Bruno Reudenbach

Jochen Hermann Vennebusch, M.A.

Poster A09

Manuscript Culture and Chant Communities: Liturgical Books and Manuscripts of Music Containing Polyphonic Compilations of the Ordinarium missae in Cultural Practices c. 1200–1400 AD

From the thirteenth century onwards, we can find an increasing number of polyphonic settings of the Ordinarium missae, both in liturgical books that were not intended to contain polyphonic music and in music manuscripts that were never meant to be used during the religious ritual of Holy Mass. The aim of this project is to examine such manuscripts used in a religious environment in terms of what functions they fulfilled and how knowledge about the performance of polyphonic music was notated and modernised by experts in the respective communities, which are now known as chant communities.

Prof. Dr. Oliver Huck

Dr. Andreas Janke

Poster B03

The ‘Painting’ of Writing: The Iconicity of Writing and Word Pictures in Latin Psalter Manuscripts Used in Religious Rituals

Using a series of psalter manuscripts dating from between the 8th and 15th century, this project examines the role played by the ornamental and pictorial rendering of writing and by so-called ‘word pictures’ in the ritual use of manuscripts. In the context of changing practices of manufacture and use, this analysis provides a new approach to these phenomena, which are characteristic of medieval European manuscript culture and transcend the classic dichotomy that exists between writing and pictures.

Jun.-Prof. Dr. Hanna Wimmer

Karin Becker, M.A.

Poster B09

‘Parchment Saints’: The Making of Ethiopian Hagiographic Manuscripts – Matter and Devotion in Manuscript Practices in Medieval and Pre-modern Ethiopia

Developed from a late antique background, Ethiopian manuscripts that are part of local hagiography are attested from the fourteenth century onwards. The corpus of ‘parchment saints’ examined here has not been explored from the point of view of practices involving single and institutional figures. This research project focuses on the creation of hagiographic manuscripts as a foundational ritual act that established the cult of Ethiopian saints as canonical and also examines their role in context and in ritual practice.

Prof. Dr. Alessandro Bausi

Dr. Antonella Brita

Poster C05

Arabo-Swahili Manuscripts in Practice: Rituals, Ceremonies, Liturgies and Healing

The aim of this project is to investigate the manuscriptological aspects of Swahili cultural practices, exemplified by a study of the Qasida Hamziyya, a panegyric poem translated from an Arabic original into Swahili in the 18th century, which forms a central part of the Swahili Islamic literary canon. A corpus of Arabo-Swahili Hamziyya manuscripts which were accessed by fieldwork in the first phase of C07 will be subjected to a multi-facetted functional analysis in order to understand their widely divergent properties in design and language arrangement and the way they are shaped by production for and usage in a variety of contexts such as rites de passage (birth, marriage, delivery, burial), healing and in religious ceremonies performed during Ramadhan and at Maulidi festivals.

Prof. Dr. Roland Kießling

Ahmed Hussein Ahmed Parkar, M.A.

Poster C07

Working Group W: Agency

Based on the insight that manuscripts also represent a component of social practices and therefore have a performative role, Working Group W (“Agency”) focuses on the intrinsic potential of manuscripts as agents and their impact – assumed to be direct, especially in the context of magical practices – which is examined within the framework of different historical knowledge practices and social configurations and with regard to their various physical manifestations . The impact that a manuscript has can be intended by the producer right from the outset and implanted in the production process. However, it can also assume new and very different forms, particularly as cultural preconceptions shift in the course of time. As is the case with other things, too, the impact of manuscripts is always conveyed by social and cultural ascriptions.

The Working Group is entering new territory in this sense since the potential of manuscripts as agents has been a marginal topic at best in previous manuscript research, if it has been a topic at all. Theoretical discussions in the field of cultural anthropology have provided an extensive supply of terminology and practices which will be used by Group W. The aspirations of the group are not to enhance these approaches with their own variants, but to implement them as an initial example that will benefit the field of manuscript research as a whole.


The Changing Praxis of the 19th-century Malay Manuscript Economy

The advent of lithographic printing and the ongoing monetization of the indigenous society in the Malay world in the course of the 19th century had profound implications for the manuscript culture and the attitude of people towards manuscripts, their production and consumption. This research continues to map and investigate such changes by mining paratexts found in the manuscripts of a 19th-century lending library collection. It is hypothesized that manuscripts spawned new interactive networks of human agents and affected the reading habits of the recipients, thereby crossing ethnic and religious boundaries in a colonial cosmopolitan context.

Prof. Dr. Jan van der Putten

Siti Nurliyana Binte Taha, M.A.

Poster A06

The usage of Qur’an manuscripts as objects within Islamic-Arabic culture: The example of miniature and roll Qur’ans

It is well known that manuscripts of the Qur’an were not only used for reading and reciting but that apotropaic, curative and other effects were ascribed to them. This becomes evident from the manuscripts themselves and from pre-modern literary Arabic sources as well as from modern European travelogues. The sub-project will investigate these usages by focussing on miniature Qur’ans and Qur’ans written on rolls whose outward appearance shows that they were not primarily produced for reading or reciting. Both types are already attested to since early Abbasid times. Their function will be examined on the basis of manuscripts preserved in several libraries and of their treatment in Arabic literature. In addition to the apotropaic and curative effects, the more general context of Arabic miniature books („pocket books“) and of manuscript rolls with non-Qur’anic content will have to be taken into consideration: potentially, Qur’an manuscripts may have been designed to have multiple funktions.

Prof. Dr. Tilman Seidensticker

Cornelius Berthold, M.A.

Poster B05

Collecting, Extinguishing, Rewriting and Restaging Cultural Identity and History: Cultural Encyclopedias on New Spain

This project examines three cultural encyclopaedias from New Spain (present-day Mexico), which have hitherto been interpreted as the result of missionaries collecting, recording and archiving pre-Hispanic knowledge. If, however, one takes the burning of pre-Hispanic manuscripts into account, which also took place at the time these were compiled, the multiple-text manuscripts the missionaries wrote and illustrated appear in a rather different light. The powerful effect which manuscripts like these encyclopedias had on the processes of rewriting and restaging indigenous knowledge at that time is a key focus of this study.

Prof. Dr. Margit Kern

Dr. Anna Boroffka

Poster B07

Magia Figurata: The Visual Effect of Jewish Magical Manuscripts of the Early Modern Era

The research project entitled “Magia Figurata” intends to analyse, describe and categorise the physical and visual characteristics of early modern manuscripts containing Jewish magical texts. It thereby aims at achieving a better understanding of physical and visual aspects of the production and use of these magical manuscripts. The project will also illustrate how magical manuscripts shaped or even created reality due to the inherent authority they were claimed to possess.

Prof. Dr. Prof. h.c. Giuseppe Veltri

Michael Kohs, M.A.

Poster B08

Narrating Theatre: The Reality and Context of Japanese Nō Manuscripts between the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period

This research project examines Japanese manuscripts from the transitional period between the Middle Ages and the early modern period (c. 1550–1650) containing texts and paintings relating to plays staged at Japan’s Nō theatres. The aim of the project is to reconstruct the cultural knowledge these manuscripts impart through their texts and pictures and consequently to enable statements to be made about their reception. Features of these works that have only been analysed individually to date such as their format, layout, writing and iconography, will be examined in more detail. This approach will allow us to uncover the cultural practices made possible by the unusual combination of media in these manuscripts: text / picture / theatre.

Prof. Dr. Jörg B. Quenzer

Berenice Möller, M.A.

Poster B10

For Readers and Collectors: Publishing Copies of Works on Demand in Peking between the Late 18th and the Early 20th Century

Between the late 18th and early 20th century, there were a number of publishing companies in Beijing that copied arias from operas, folk ballads and other short literary texts at their customers’ request and sold them from catalogues displayed at temple fairs. This research project explores how it was possible for a business model based on manuscripts to survive for more than a hundred years in an age of book-printing and lithography. It will examine how the manuscripts were produced and who bought them for what purpose.

Prof. Dr. Michael Friedrich

Dr. Zhenzhen LU

Poster C10

On the Archive as an Agent of Knowledge in the Context of Cultural Sciences in Europe

This project is concerned with manuscripts, artefacts and documents within the disciplinary context of Volkskunde which are kept in the Archive of the Landesstelle für Berlin-Brandenburgische Volkskunde (ALBBV) in Berlin. This specific body of manuscripts will be analysed from an ethnographical as well as an historical viewpoint with the aim of reconstructing the context and practice of producing knowledge in cultural anthropology before and after 1945. Furthermore, the archive will be investigated in the perspective of its own agency as producing knowledge and expertise for today’s scientific community.

Prof. Dr. Sabine Kienitz