Deciphering Secrets: The Illuminated Manuscripts of Medieval Europe

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About this course: Perhaps no other relic of the European Middle Ages captures our imagination more than illuminated medieval manuscripts, or those documents decorated with images and colored pigments. Serving as windows unto a lost world of kings, ladies, faith, war, and culture, they communicate complex visual and textual narratives of Europe’s collective cultural heritage and patrimony. In this fashion, illuminated manuscripts are dynamic messages from our communal past that are still relevant today in fields like graphic design and typography. In this seven-week course, students will explore the material creation, content, and historical context of illuminated medieval European manu…

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When you enroll for courses through Coursera you get to choose for a paid plan or for a free plan

  • Free plan: No certicification and/or audit only. You will have access to all course materials except graded items.
  • Paid plan: Commit to earning a Certificate—it's a trusted, shareable way to showcase your new skills.

About this course: Perhaps no other relic of the European Middle Ages captures our imagination more than illuminated medieval manuscripts, or those documents decorated with images and colored pigments. Serving as windows unto a lost world of kings, ladies, faith, war, and culture, they communicate complex visual and textual narratives of Europe’s collective cultural heritage and patrimony. In this fashion, illuminated manuscripts are dynamic messages from our communal past that are still relevant today in fields like graphic design and typography. In this seven-week course, students will explore the material creation, content, and historical context of illuminated medieval European manuscripts. Students will acquire an introductory knowledge of their distinguishing characteristics, their cataloguing and periodization (when they were created), the methods utilized to produce them, and their historical context and value. Student achievement will be assessed using not only traditional multiple-choice quizzes, but more importantly will be evaluated based on individual student projects. In their final projects students will either (1) produce a board of commented images about medieval manuscripts or (2) prepare a physical manuscript using medieval methods. The best of these peer-evaluated projects will be posted on the Deciphering Secrets website, which is our collective citizen scholarship web presence that encourages and supports our global citizen scholars appreciation and contributions to transcription of medieval manuscripts. Finally, we wish to highlight that this course is an exciting international collaboration between the University of Colorado (USA) and Universidad Complutense Madrid (Spain).

Who is this class for: The general public with an interest in the European Middle Ages Bibliophiles and collectors of medieval manuscripts in facsimile Students of European history and the history of arts Students of library and information science Students of cultural heritage and patrimony Graphic designers wishing to deepen their understanding of the roots of modern image, color, and icon design.

Created by:  University of Colorado System
  • Taught by:  Dr. Roger Louis Martínez-Dávila, Associate Professor

    History
  • Taught by:  Ana B. Sanchez-Prieto, Dr. in Medieval History, Dr. in Education Sciences

    Historiographical Sciences and Techniques
Level Beginner Language English How To Pass Pass all graded assignments to complete the course. User Ratings 4.5 stars Average User Rating 4.5See what learners said Coursework

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Syllabus


WEEK 1


COURSE INTRODUCTION. INTRODUCTION TO MEDIEVAL WORLD AND MANUSCRIPT STUDIES
Week #1


15 videos, 12 readings, 1 practice quiz expand


  1. Video: Course Overview
  2. Video: Meet Dr. Ana Belen Sanchez Prieto
  3. Video: Meet Dr. Roger L. Martínez-Dávila
  4. Reading: Course Description
  5. Reading: Who Should Enroll?
  6. Reading: Learning Outcomes and Goals
  7. Reading: Teaching Methods and Approach
  8. Reading: Assessment: Assignments and Grading
  9. Reading: Nota para hispanohablantes (Notice for Spanish speakers)
  10. Video: Optional video: How everything started
  11. Video: Week 1: Overview of Medieval Europe and the Mediterranean
  12. Reading: Medieval Europe and Its Siblings
  13. Reading: The Formation of Medieval Europe
  14. Reading: The Islamic World and Formation of Its First Caliphates
  15. Reading: Byzantium – Eastern Roman Empire
  16. Discussion Prompt: Was Rome really the origin of the European Middle Ages?
  17. Practice Quiz: Considering maps: What do they reveal?
  18. Reading: 1.0a. Introduction to Unit 1. Activities and Workflow
  19. Video: 1.0b. Introduction to Manuscript Studies
  20. Video: 1.1. What is a Manuscript?
  21. Video: 1.2. What is an Illuminated Manuscript?
  22. Video: 1.3. Where do we Find Medieval Manuscripts?
  23. Video: 1.4. How do we Find Medieval Manuscripts?
  24. Video: Project. 1. Introduction
  25. Discussion Prompt: Digitised manuscripts collections
  26. Reading: Searching for a definition of "manuscript"
  27. Video: Facsimile editions of medieval manuscripts
  28. Video: Handbooks and Lexicons
  29. Video: Working with Medieval Manuscripts
  30. Video: Wrap-Up to Unit 1

Graded: History: Medieval Europe and the Mediterranean
Graded: Manuscript studies. Basic concepts
Graded: Digitised collections

WEEK 2


MEDIEVAL EUROPEAN KINGDOMS (PART 1) AND WRITING SUPPORTS AND BOOK FORMATS
WEEK #2


12 videos, 10 readings, 1 practice quiz expand


  1. Video: Week 2: Overview of Medieval Kingdoms - Part 1
  2. Reading: Creation of Medieval European Kingdoms
  3. Reading: Early Germanic Peoples
  4. Reading: The Vandals: A Brief Reference
  5. Reading: The Ostrogoths
  6. Reading: The Visigoths
  7. Reading: France and the Franks
  8. Reading: England and the Anglo-Saxons and Normans
  9. Discussion Prompt: Germanic-speaking peoples created a common community in Europe?
  10. Practice Quiz: Thinking About Historical Sources: France's Einhard and England's Bede
  11. Reading: 2.0a. Introduction to Unit 2. Activities and Workflow
  12. Video: 2.0b.Writing Materials and Book Formats. Introduction
  13. Video: 2.1. Archaic Writing Materials
  14. Video: 2.2. Papyrus
  15. Video: 2.3. Parchment
  16. Video: 2.4. Paper
  17. Video: 2.5. Tablets
  18. Video: 2.6. Roll and Scroll
  19. Video: 2.7. Codex
  20. Video: 2.8. Archaic and Exotic Book Formats
  21. Video: Project : Materials and Book Formats
  22. Discussion Prompt: Book formats and reading habits
  23. Reading: Ancient Scrolls Blackened by Vesuvius are Readable at Last
  24. Reading: The Birth of the Codex
  25. Video: Wrap-up to Unit 2

Graded: Medieval Kingdoms - Part 1
Graded: Writing Materials and Book Formats
Graded: Images Board: Writing Materials and Book Formats

WEEK 3


MEDIEVAL EUROPEAN KINGDOMS (PART 2) AND THE WRITING CASE AND THE ARCHITECTURE OF THE CODEX
WEEK #3


12 videos, 7 readings expand


  1. Video: Week 3: Overview
  2. Reading: Iberia: Christian and Islamic Kingdoms
  3. Reading: Cities: The Rise of Urban Centers
  4. Reading: Medieval Warfare
  5. Reading: Scholasticism: The Revival of Learning
  6. Discussion Prompt: What had the greatest impact?
  7. Reading: 3.0a. Introduction to Unit 3. Activities and Workflow
  8. Video: 3.0b. Introduction to Unit 3
  9. Video: 3.1. The Writing Instruments
  10. Video: 3.2. Black Inks
  11. Video: 3.3. Colors (Part 1)
  12. Video: 3.4. Colors (Part 2)
  13. Video: Bonus: Making a Lake Pigment
  14. Video: 3.5. The Quires
  15. Video: 3.6. Folding
  16. Video: 3.7. Working with the Quires
  17. Video: Projects: The Writing Case and the Architecture of the Codex
  18. Discussion Prompt: Making writing instruments and inks
  19. Reading: Some readings about medieval colours
  20. Reading: Some very interesting videos about paint and ink making
  21. Video: Wrap-Up to Unit 3

Graded: Medieval Kingdoms - Part 2
Graded: Manuscript Studies
Graded: Images Board: Inks and Quires

WEEK 4


A GLIMPSE OF SPAIN'S KING ALFONSO X "THE WISE" AND PREPARING THE PAGE FOR WRITING
WEEK #4


8 videos, 7 readings expand


  1. Video: Week 4: Overview
  2. Reading: King Alfonso X "The Wise" of Castile
  3. Reading: Las Cantigas de Santa Maria - The Canticles of Holy Mary
  4. Reading: Lecture: Las Siete Partidas: A Legal Code for Three Religions
  5. Reading: King Alfonso X and the Development of Spanish Universities
  6. Discussion Prompt: Las Siete Partidas: What does it say about medieval religious co-existence
  7. Reading: 4.0a. Introduction to Unit 4. Activities and Workflow
  8. Video: 4.0b. The Preparation of the Page. Introduction
  9. Video: 4.1. The "mise-en-page"
  10. Discussion Prompt: Your personal experience with page lay-out
  11. Video: 4.2. Proportional Rectangles and Harmonic Surfaces
  12. Video: 4.3. Pricking
  13. Video: 4.4.Ruling
  14. Video: Project
  15. Discussion Prompt: Your experiences with the "mise-en-page"
  16. Reading: Richard H. Rouse & Laura Light, Manuscript Production
  17. Reading: Some interesting readings about the mise-en-page
  18. Video: Wrap-up to Unit 4

Graded: History Quiz: King Alfonso X "The Wise"
Graded: Quiz Manuscript Studies
Graded: Board Project: The Preparation of the Page

WEEK 5


PALEOGRAPHY AND A HISTORICAL CASE STUDY AND WRITING THE CODEX
WEEK #5


11 videos, 10 readings expand


  1. Video: Week 5: Overview
  2. Reading: Exploring Paleography and Making Discoveries
  3. Reading: Paleography: The study of ancient handwriting
  4. Reading: Introduction to Paleography: Handwriting from the 13th Century
  5. Reading: Case Study Overview: “La Mota”: A Christian Assumes Ownership over Jewish Homes, circa 1416
  6. Video: Digital Narration of the "La Mota" Case Study
  7. Reading: Youtube.com high resolution version of the digital narration
  8. Discussion Prompt: The "La Mota" Case Study: What is important about a handshake?
  9. Reading: 5.0a. Introduction to Unit 5. Activities and Workflow
  10. Video: 5.0. Introduction to Unit 5
  11. Video: 5.1.Copying and Copyists
  12. Video: 5.2. Writing Analysis
  13. Video: 5.3. The Cycles of Latin Writing (Part 1)
  14. Video: 5.4. The Cycles of Latin Writing (Part 2)
  15. Video: Bonus: Meet Marius the Copyist
  16. Video: Project for unit 5
  17. Video: Ductus, Angle and Weight (Project bonus)
  18. Discussion Prompt: Your experiences with reading and copying
  19. Reading: Michelle Brown, A Guide to Western Historical Scripts, from Antiquity to 1600
  20. Reading: Mark H. Smith & Laura Light, Script
  21. Reading: Interactive Album of Mediaeval Palaeography Collection of Transcription Exercises on Mediaeval Documents
  22. Reading: Edward Maunde Thompson, Handbook of Greek and Latin Palaeography
  23. Video: Wrap-Up to Unit 5

Graded: Medieval History: Paleography and A Historical Case Study
Graded: Manuscript Studies
Graded: Board Project: Writing

WEEK 6


EXPLORING THE GLOBAL MIDDLE AGES AND ONLINE COLLECTIONS AND CODEX DECORATION
WEEK #6


9 videos, 7 readings expand


  1. Video: Week 6: Overview
  2. Reading: Exploring the "Global Middle Ages"
  3. Reading: Exploring Spain's Online Manuscript and Museum Collections
  4. Reading: Internet-Based Spanish Primary Sources
  5. Discussion Prompt: Global Middle Ages Projects: Which one did you find most interesting?
  6. Reading: 6.0a. Introduction to Unit 6. Activities and Workflow
  7. Video: 6.0b. Introduction to Unit 6
  8. Video: 6.1. Technical Procedures
  9. Video: 6.2. Writing Turned in Ornament
  10. Video: 6.3. The Illustrations and their Relation to the Text
  11. Video: 6.4. Initial Decoration
  12. Video: 6.5. Marginal Decoration
  13. Video: Project: Decoration
  14. Discussion Prompt: How the image can influence the interpretation of the text
  15. Reading: Susan L'Engle and Ariane Bergeron-Foote, Law
  16. Reading: Laura Light, Women and the Book in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance
  17. Reading: Other readings about manuscripts decoration
  18. Video: Wrap-Up to Unit 6

Graded: Medieval History: The Global Middle Ages
Graded: Manuscript Studies
Graded: Board Project: The Decoration of the Codex

WEEK 7


BOOKBINDING AND COURSE COMPLETION
WEEK #7


7 videos, 5 readings expand


  1. Reading: Week 7: Overview
  2. Reading: 7.0a. Introduction to Unit 7. Activities and Workflow
  3. Video: 7.0b. Introduction to Unit 7
  4. Video: 7.1.The Parts of a Book Binding
  5. Video: The Evolution of Bookbinding (Part 1)
  6. Video: The Evolution of Bookbinding (Part 2)
  7. Video: Project: Book binding
  8. Discussion Prompt: The book and its bookbinding
  9. Reading: Binding and the Archaeology of Medieval and Renaissance Book
  10. Reading: readings about bookbinding
  11. Video: Wrap-Up to Unit 7
  12. Video: Join Deborah, Roger and Ana in the discussion about future projects
  13. Discussion Prompt: Let us know
  14. Reading: Farewell

Graded: Manuscript Studies. Bookbinding
Graded: Board project: Bookbinding
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There are no frequently asked questions yet. Send an Email to info@springest.com