Medieval manuscripts at the Bodleian and the senses
1pm – 1.45pm
As literacy grew during the three centuries before the printing press, people learned not only how to read, but also how to handle their manuscripts. Certain physical gestures that readers enacted with illuminated manuscripts—including kissing or laying hands on certain images, and rubbing out the faces of others—imparted a ritual significance to books. Just as our twenty-first-century culture of ever-smaller screens has created a set of gestures and habits that had not previously existed (typing with two thumbs, scrolling, clicking, tapping), using manuscripts engendered new physical gestures, which involved touching, listening to, and even tasting books.