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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Greek

Undergraduate Course: Greek Palaeography & Manuscript Culture (GREE10039)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryMost of the ancient and medieval Greek literature survives in manuscripts copied by scribes in the Byzantine world centred on Constantinople but reaching as far west as Sicily and southern Italy and as far east as Cyprus and the Levante. Learning to use manuscript materials allows both classicists and Byzantinists to study previously unknown or neglected texts, authors, traditions and topics and/or gain an understanding of the transmission of texts as well as the social factors and contexts informing Byzantine book production, learning and reading.
Course description Over the eleven weeks of the course, we shall traverse the world of Greek handwriting from c.300 to c.1500, taking the surviving fourth-century codices of the Bible as our starting point and concluding with early prints in Greek manufactured at the workshop of Aldo Manuzio in Venice. The following topics will typically be covered in the course:

Codicology and writing materials
Majuscule hands
Formal and archaising minuscule hands
Informal and scholarly minuscule hands
Regional hands (Levantine, Southern Italian, Cypriot, Epirot)
The transmission of ancient and medieval texts
Contexts of manuscript production: monasteries, schools, learning and literary life in Byzantium
Finding and citing manuscripts
Visits to the Centre for Research Collections and the National Library of Scotland
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Greek 2A (GREE08007) OR Greek 2a Ex-Beginners (GREE08009) AND Greek 2B (GREE08008)
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking Greek Palaeography (GREE10032) AND Greek Palaeography (PGHC11423) AND Greek Palaeography & Manuscript Culture (PGHC11602)
Other requirements Or at the discretion of the Course Organiser.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesAdvanced-level ability in Greek language and literature, equivalent to two years' study at the University of Edinburgh. (If uncertain, consult the Course Organiser.)
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 22, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 16, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 156 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework:
Poster showcasing the transmission, or an aspect thereof, of an ancient or Byzantine Greek author (50%)

Two-hour exam (50%)

Additionally, students will be offered feedback in the form of three take-home transcription, description and dating exercises in preparation for the exam; these will not count towards the overall mark.
Feedback The student will receive feedback on the three transcription and dating exercises and written feedback on their coursework, and will have the opportunity to discuss the coursework and feedback further with the Course Organiser during their published office hours for this course or by appointment.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. decipher and describe Greek bookhands from c.300 to c.1500, identify types and fashions of script and suggest approximate datings
  2. describe the construction and codicological features of a manuscript book, and handle original manuscript material
  3. use printed catalogues, online databases, and library research to locate and describe manuscripts
  4. research and discuss the classical tradition in Byzantium and the transmission of ancient Greek and Byzantine literature through the medieval and early modern periods to the early stages of printing
  5. critically evaluate the palaeographical and transmission-related aspects of textual criticism
Reading List
N. G. Wilson, 'Greek Palaeography', in E. Jeffreys & al., The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies (Oxford, 2008), 101-14.

N. Gaul, 'The Manuscript Tradition', in E. Bakker (ed.), Companion to the Ancient Greek Language (Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), 69-82.

N. Wilson, Medieval Greek Bookhands: Examples Selected from Greek Manuscripts in Oxford Libraries, 2 vols (Cambridge, MA, 1972/3; repr. 1995).

R. Barbour, Greek Literary Hands AD 400-1600 (Oxford, 1981).

P. Easterling and C. Handley (eds), Greek Scripts: An Illustrated Introduction (London, 2001).

A. Turyn, Dated Greek Manuscripts in the Libraries of Great Britain (Washington, D.C., 1981).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserProf Niels Gaul
Tel: (0131 6)50 3776
Course secretary
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