Premodern Reading Cultures

Utrecht Centre for Medieval Studies Seminar 2018

For PhD and ReMa students affiliated to the Netherlands Research School for Medieval Studies (1 ECTS)

Date: 26 March 2018 – 10:30 - 17:00

Location: Auditorium, Museum Catharijne Convent (Lange Nieuwstraat 38, 3512 PH Utrecht)


During this interdisciplinary seminar specialists of Late Antiquity, the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period will present their research on books as objects and on other artefacts linked to premodern reading culture, to answer these questions:


- What does the material study of these objects reveal about their use by (generations of) readers?
- What are the possible interactions between a reader and his/her object of textual or visual reading, and for which purpose was this object created?
- Which methods and techniques are the most useful to help us understand how such objects were created for (intended) readers, and which new methods do we need to develop?


By adopting a diachronic perspective, the seminar aims at comparing new approaches and methodologies in the addressed fields, in order to determine which questions and methods may be fruitfully shared among scholars of the premodern periods. The speakers will present short position papers or case studies (15 to 20 mn per paper), that will lead to a general discussion at the end of the afternoon.

To earn 1 ECTS, the students will take notes during the presentations, and send in afterwards a short research memorandum (max. 1 A4, deadline: 30 March). The memo will sum up the major notions, ideas, questions and conclusions that will have been presented during the day, and give a  short statement about their relevance for the specific field of study of the student. 


Participation, including lunch and the guided tour, is free of charge, but registration is necessary: please send an e-mail to Lucas Helder ( before 19 March 2018 (stating you membership of the research school).




10:30-11:00: Welcome with coffee & tea


11:00: Opening: Marco Mostert, Utrecht University


11:15-13:00 Session 1: Materiality

Elisa Pallottini, KU Leuven: Eearly medieval reliquaries and the possible receptions (textual, visual) of their inscriptions

Mariken Teeuwen, Utrecht University/Huygens ING: Finding the reader in early medieval manuscript margins

Malcolm Walsby, Université Rennes 2 : Sammelbände and readers in the 16th century

Moderator: Bart Besamusca, Utrecht University


13:00-14:30: Lunch (Foyer of the Auditorium) & guided tour of the Museum and the exhibition Magische Miniaturen


14:30-16:15 Session 2: Community

Ortal-Paz Saar, Utrecht University: Jewish Funerary Inscriptions from Late-Antiquity: Text and Context

Margriet Hoogvliet/Sabrina Corbellini, University of Groningen: Ethics of reading: (Charitable) sharing of religious knowledge in the long fifteenth century

Nelleke Moser, Free University Amsterdam: The life of the party: Margarita Mels and her marvellous manuscript miscellany (1669)

Moderator: Arnoud Visser, Utrecht University


Short break


16:30-17:00 Conclusions: Katell Lavéant & Els Rose, Utrecht University