Oxford Medieval Studies Talk: 'Four Ways to use Technology to Spy on the Past'

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


The year’s final Oxford Medieval Studies talk be given by Kathryn M. Rudy, Professor of Art History at the University of St Andrews, and promises to be informative as well as entertaining, taking a hands-on approach to examining medieval manuscripts. It has been moved to the Old Dining Hall in St Edmund Hall to allow moving seamlessly over into a different form of entertainment at 6pm, a presentation of highlights from the Medieval Mystery Cycle in conjunction with drinks and nibbles. All welcome!
Medieval books are among the most enduring testaments of pre-modern culture. Inscribed on organic parchment, manuscripts’ signs of wear are self-documenting: medieval parchment buckles when moistened with hands or breath. It remains permanently dented when impressed. It traps fluid and debris. In ‘Dirty Books’, Rudy measured dirt to discover which parts the owner had habitually read. In Touching Skin, she analysed traces of wear (spittle, smearing) to understand how medieval readers behaved with their books: kissing them, deliberately smearing them for dramatic effect. Continuing with these fruitful approaches during a three-year Leverhulme grant titled ‘Measuring medieval users’ responses to manuscripts: new technological approaches’, she will develop four new applications for interpreting use-wear, by applying imaging techniques, pollen analysis, forensic analysis, and codicological parameters to better understand the roles that books played for medieval people.
Period18 Jun 2019
Held atUniversity of Oxford, United Kingdom
Degree of RecognitionInternational