Early Modern Manuscripts


Tuesday, 4 pm - 7 pm


M. Teramura

Course Description

While the digitization of early English printed books has revolutionized literary scholarship, a massive field of textual production, one that permeated every facet of early modern life, remains comparatively understudied: manuscripts. Poetry, drama, prose fiction, letters, diaries, depositions, wills, recipe books -- the rich and varied manuscript archive offers ever-expanding horizons for research as new digitization projects are making manuscripts around the world more accessible than ever before. This seminar will introduce participants to a wide range of manuscript genres while providing sustained practice in paleography. We will begin by examining the kinds of manuscripts most closely relevant to literary study (authorial holographs, verse miscellanies, dramatic scripts, playhouse documents) before exploring and move on to other forms of manuscript production of the time (letters, government documents, commonplace books, financial records). The goals of this seminar are: to introduce participants to the scope of early modern manuscript culture; to develop participants' skills in reading a variety of early modern hands; to provide orientation to the resources that will allow participants to locate and access manuscripts; and to give participants a sense of the new research possibilities on manuscript sources.

Course Texts

Primary readings will include manuscripts of works by authors such as John Donne, Queen Elizabeth I, John Milton, and Hester Pulter; while many of these texts will be short, the most substantial will likely be the collaboratively authored play Sir Thomas More (Arden edition), and The Concealed Fancies by Jane Cavendish and Elizabeth Brackley. Primary readings will be paired with secondary texts on manuscript culture from a range of historical, literary critical, and paleographical perspectives.

Course Method of Evaluation and Course Requirements

  • Participation 20%
  • Mini-Assignments 20%
  • In-Class Presentation 10%
  • Final Project 50%

Term: S-TERM (January 2023 to April 2023)
Date/Time: Tuesday / 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Location: Room JHB 616 (Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street)
Delivery: In-Person