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Close encounters: a manuscripts workshop

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By | Early Medicine, Events and Visits

A free manuscripts workshop for PhD students at Wellcome Collection, 01 June 2018

Image of leg in manuscript

Western MS. 244: Collection of medical recipes compiled by Henry Dineley/Dyneley and others, 1564–1633, detail from page 337.

Engaging with an artefact from the past is often a powerful experience, eliciting emotional and sensory, as well as analytical, responses. Researchers in the library at Wellcome Collection may have an intimate, personal encounter with an archival document, manuscript, film, painting or early printed book. While the historic artefact sheds light on the experiences of past people, it can also cause reflection upon one’s own life experiences, motivations and preoccupations.

What should a researcher do with his or her uniquely personal responses to historical materials? Can such responses be channelled to produce distinctive and valuable research outputs, especially in terms of fuelling creativity? How does the extent to which personal responses can be integrated into the research process vary according to academic discipline?

People viewing medieval manuscripts.

A manuscripts viewing session at Wellcome Collection in September 2017.

This free one-day workshop on Friday 01 June 2018 will bring together ten doctoral students to engage with these questions through encounters with manuscripts at Wellcome Collection. Students will be encouraged to consider the life history of an artefact, and to revisit the actions of past readers by themselves annotating facsimile pages. Historian and storyteller Lauren Johnson will introduce the day and ask participants to think about the role they adopt when they encounter a manuscript, and how that encounter is structured and controlled. Small group activities will be facilitated by Lauren, Dr Elma Brenner (Wellcome Collection) and Dr Joe Stadolnik (Institute of Advanced Studies, UCL). The students will be asked to feed back on how their participation has impacted upon their research two months after the workshop.

We invite doctoral students in humanities and heritage-related subjects (e.g. literature, modern languages, archaeology, dramatic art, book and paper conservation, history, creative writing) to express their interest in participating in the day. Please send a one-page CV and a 250-word statement of your interest to Tracy Tillotson (t.tillotson@wellcome.ac.uk) by Monday 07 May 2018. Please also direct any queries to Tracy Tillotson. We will confirm whether or not you are able to participate by Thursday 10 May 2018.

Elma Brenner

Elma Brenner

Dr Elma Brenner is the Wellcome Library’s subject specialist in medieval and early modern medicine. Her research examines the medical and religious culture of medieval France and England, especially the region of Normandy. She is also interested in the materiality of early books and manuscripts, and the digital humanities. For her publications, see http://www.unicaen.fr/crahm/spip.php?article557&lang=fr. She can be found on Twitter @elmabrenner.

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