workshop registration

Indices – Tables of Contents – Registers

Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures, Hamburg
6 - 7 February 2017


A manuscript is not merely a writing surface but a three-dimensional space with its own particular structure and differentiated topography. It has a beginning and an end, a top and a bottom, and, whether it is a codex, scroll, or palm leaf manuscript, it has reverse and obverse sides. This space can be conceived of as the architecture of the manuscript, which is constructed and designed to contain script, images, musical notation and other signs. In each manuscript, particular places are allocated to these signs, sometimes meticulously and according to established conventions, and sometimes gradually and haphazardly. In considering the architecture of a manuscript, therefore, we ask where particular signs, or types of signs, are placed in a manuscript, how their location within the manuscript serves to distinguish them from one another and what kinds of hierarchies and relationships are thus created between them. This applies e.g. to paratexts and illustrations of a text as well as to different texts within a multiple-text manuscript. Such distinctions, divisions and connections can be effected by the material structure of the manuscript, e.g. by placing different texts on separate or on the same pages or quires, or by visual means, e.g. by headings, different kinds of script, colours, paragraphs, blank lines, reference signs etc.

This workshop focuses on one important type of paratext that is inextricably linked to these properties of manuscripts: Indices, tables of content and registers, which may be thought of as instruments that facilitate access to the architecture of a manuscript. In doing so, they are closely associated with practices of use, e.g. by providing a quick overview of the content of the manuscript, by making its structure transparent or by enabling the user to find specific parts of the content. Indices are always part of the visual organisation of a manuscript as they can only make its content accessible in combination with a system of signs which continuously mark particular spaces within the manuscript, such as foliation, quire numbers, text divisions or different systems of numbers, letters or other signs. In this workshop, we aim to provide an overview of the different forms of indices in different manuscript cultures. Of particular interest are their place in the manuscript, their visual appearance as well as the form and functions of each system of reference.

Workshop Info and Programme

Programme (pdf)


The workshop will be held at the Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures, Warburgstraße 26, Hamburg, Germany. How to find us


Participation is free of charge and vistors are welcome.
You may find the Hamburg Tourismus site useful for finding a suitable accommodation.
For more information please contact us.