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The Emergence of Multiple-Text Manuscripts

Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures, Hamburg
9 - 12 November 2016


There is a substantial continuum between the two possible meanings of ‘collection’ in manuscripts cultures – namely, collections of MSS and collections of texts in (non composite) MTMs. This twofold notion of ‘collection’ appears to have an enormous heuristic potential both in relation to the organization of knowledge (from a typological, descriptive, and synchronic point of view), to a practice-oriented approach, and with regard to its transmission in a diachronic perspective. This continuum encompasses the knowledge that is organized and transmitted as well as the evidence (for example, paratexts, ‘secondary’ or additional texts, varying arrangements of discrete units, in their ‘sequence’ within a single MS and their ‘distribution’ within a corpus) to be used to reconstruct its history. There are therefore several dynamics where the role manuscripts hold in determining grouping, sequence, arrangement, but also selection of texts, can be seen reflected at the level of the collection as well as at that of the single MS.

A manuscript culture – besides using oral intellectual production, that is always therein involved to some extent – can fix the intellectual production of a given time, plan to transmit it to the future, but also interact with the intellectual production of the past and from other areas. As for the collection of MSS, the crucial importance and peculiarity of the MTM is that it can put in direct, physical contact, and consequently in conceptual proximity, different knowledges from different times, places and contexts, causing hybridations and new interpretations. As to the MTMs, the notions of ‘canon’, ‘anthology’, ‘chrestomathy’, ‘florilegium’, ‘excerpta’, ‘epitome’, and even ‘bybliotheca’ in its narrow sense, and as far as ‘archive’, and certainly others (for example, ‘corpus organizer’), all appear to be related to specific functions and tasks of the MTMs which can be traced in their respective emergence process. This function of transferring mental assumptions to the physical level and the other way round, seems to be a most important role MTMs have played in human culture.

While in some research areas the topics have already been thoroughly discussed – for example, classical Greek, German, Romance (with refined elaborations on ‘canzoniere’), Medieval Latin and Byzantine studies, etc., with elaborations on a large numer of MTM subvarieties (for hagiographic, liturgical, and canonical writings, see for example ‘menologion’, ‘calendar’, ‘menaion’; ‘lectionary’, etc.) – for other areas research still is at its very beginning.

The dynamics of knowledge, collection, corpus, selection, anthologization, canonization, and eventual (re)canonization, if approached from the point of view of the actual manuscripts in a wide range of manuscript cultures promises to provide fresh inputs. Without assuming and taking for granted that the MTMs have always represented a secondary development starting from more STMs (single text MSS) – which can be a point to discuss –, ‘The Emergence of MTMs’ conference intends to focus on the processes and dynamics that cause the birth of MTMs in a wide spectrum of manuscript cultures, with a stress on the importance of the relevant practices involved.

Programme and Astracts

Tentative programme and abstracts (updated 22 September 2016)


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


Participation in the conference is free of charge and vistors are welcome.
You may find the Hamburg Tourismus site useful for finding a suitable accommodation.
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