Books for the Body & Soul
March 20 - June 6, 2003
During Winter Quarter 2003 the students enrolled in Art History 153 (taught by Librarian Beth Remak-Honnef) organized, prepared and installed this exhibit on the history of the medieval and renaissance book. The items selected from the University Library’s main stacks and Special Collections provide a glimpse of what the class attempted to cover in a quarter: a survey of about a thousand years of the evolution of book production and use in Europe. Concentrating primarily on medieval illuminated manuscripts and the first century of printing, the class looked at different types of books to examine not only how they were made, for whom they were made, how they were used and how and why they were decorated, but also how they have survived. As part of their coursework, the students wrote the descriptive captions for the items on display as well as longer descriptions of medieval manuscripts and early printed books. They also prepared short reports on such aspects of book production as parchment preparation, pigments and gilding, scripts and paleography, writing materials and binding techniques: the vertical cases are devoted to these subjects. The library’s oldest binding from 1528 is juxtaposed with a binding made by a student in 2001 and two “altered books” made by one of this year’s students. The six other cases contain facsimiles of illuminated manuscripts, grouped primarily by subject matter and function.
The installation of the exhibit took the place of a final exam; all would agree that the students named below passed with flying colors!