Meet the Manuscripts autumn series

An illuminated letter in the top left - blue on a red background - followed by medieval musical notations


Meet the Manuscripts autumn series

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 Thursday 14 October 2021, 5.30 – 6.15pm (BST)
Monday 8 November 2021, 12.30 – 1.15pm (GMT)
Thursday 2 December 2021, 5.30 – 6.15pm (GMT)


  Free event, booking required

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A series of three lectures 

Watch our experts discuss our manuscripts live online and get your questions answered. 

Lecture 1: Meet the fragments

 Thursday 14 October 2021

 5.30 – 6.15pm (BST)

 Speakers: Andrew Honey, Book Conservator, Research and Teaching and Matthew Holford, Tolkien Curator of Medieval Manuscripts

Leafing through a manuscript, it’s easy to ignore the fragments of other books that were often used to strengthen its binding or as endleaves to protect the beginning and end of the text. In this session the fragments are the focus.

We will explore their physical function in manuscripts – and the bad things that can happen when they are removed for study – as well as showing what they can contribute to book history.

Watch a recording of the Meet the fragments lecture

Lecture 2: Uncomfortable English Manuscripts

 Monday 8 November 2021

 12.30 – 1.15pm (GMT)

 Speakers: Dan Wakelin, Jeremy Griffiths Professor of Medieval English Palaeography and Andrew Dunning, R. W. Hunt Curator of Medieval Manuscripts

Medieval manuscripts written in early English are familiar and yet foreign to us, not only for their language but also for their style. Like their cathedral counterparts, Gothic script and page design come across to us as beautiful, austere, and distinctively uncomfortable. But is this how their designers intended them – and can we indeed speak of these books as designed?

Learn how the Middle Ages shaped the way we read today both in print and on screen.

Watch a recording of the Meet the fragments lecture

Lecture 3: Correcting Christmas Carols

 Thursday 2 December 2021

 5.30 – 6.15pm (GMT)

 Speakers: Micah Mackay, doctoral student in the Publication Before Print Doctoral Centre and Andrew Dunning, R. W. Hunt Curator of Medieval Manuscripts

Have you ever come close to fisticuffs with a friend over the tune to which ‘O little town of Bethlehem’ should be sung? You’re experiencing a very old problem. The Bodleian’s Selden Carol Book is a famous collection of Christmas songs that only barely made it into modern consciousness: many of them survive in no other books, but have been modified in the manuscript itself, meaning that we have more than one version to choose between. How do we deal with phenomena of scribal correction, error, and variation in late medieval carols? What can this tell us about performance and the oral culture of the late medieval period? You will learn how singers lived with change in their favourite songs, and hear carols of the Middle Ages both familiar and new.

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Booking information

You can book for just one lecture or all three in the series.

When you have booked your place, the ticketing system will send you an automated confirmation.

A link to access each lecture will be sent the day before the event to the email address associated with your booking. Please check your junk / spam email folder.

If you have not received this link 3 hours before the event please email:


This event is generously supported by The Helen Hamlyn Trust.

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