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Of Marginal Importance? The Role of Marginalia in Studying Late Medieval Manuscripts

Wednesday, Jul 26, 2023 @ 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Huntington Library, Seaver Classrooms 1 & 2, 1151 Oxford Rd
San Marino , CA 91108 United States
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This lecture, “Of Marginal Importance? The Role of Marginalia in Studying Late Medieval Manuscripts,” is by Tomislav Matić (Croatian Institute of History), Visiting Scholar, UCLA CMRS Center for Early Global Studies, a public event conducted at the Huntington Library.

Reading a text, at least to a Medieval reader, was not a one-way process. In the Middle Ages, readers communicated with texts, struggling to understand their meaning and combining them with other texts known to them. While doing so, they poured they ideas and conjunctures into the manuscript in the form of marginalia. The study of marginalia offers us a glimpse of the energies the Medieval readers invested in understanding the text before them. They come in various forms, such as cartoonish hands pointing to certain places in the text, comments that surround certain segments like wreaths of words, or crudely drawn illustrations. They help us to discern what the readers considered important, which other texts they relied on to understand the subject matter, and the points on which they did not agree with the author. Over the centuries, various readers communicated with each other, often completing comments started perhaps a hundred years earlier or entering into arguments with their long-dead predecessors. Here we will consider several examples which demonstrate the ways in which marginalia can be used to understand the medieval readers’ reception of texts, and sometimes even our understanding of the texts themselves. The examples come from manuscripts from various European archives, such as those in Vienna, Nuremberg and Budapest.

Tomislav Matić, is a Fulbright Postdoctoral Fellow who obtained his Ph. D. in medieval history from the University of Zagreb in 2017. Since 2022, he holds the position of research associate at the Croatian Institute for History. Previously he taught at the Catholic University of Croatia (2012-2022). His work has been supported by several institutions, including the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the Fulbright Program. He participated in several research projects, including one at the University of Oxford. Among his works are two popular-scientific books, a number of research papers and a series of popular-scientific articles. His newest monograph is Bishop John Vitez and Early Renaissance Central Europe – A Humanist Kingmaker.


Wednesday, Jul 26, 2023
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
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Huntington Library, Seaver Classrooms 1 & 2
1151 Oxford Rd
San Marino , CA 91108 United States
+ Google Map


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