The Scribes For Women's Convents in Late Medieval Germany

The Scribes For Women's Convents in Late Medieval Germany

CYNTHIA J. CYRUS
Copyright Date: 2009
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442689084
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  • Book Info
    The Scribes For Women's Convents in Late Medieval Germany
    Book Description:

    Cyrus demonstrates the prevalence of manuscript production by women monastics and challenges current assumptions of how manuscripts circulated in the late medieval period.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8908-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Caveats and Terminology
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  6. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xvii-2)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 3-17)

    The book that follows is a book about scribes. Specifically, as its title declares, it is about the many scribes, both women and men, who served women’s convents in late medieval Germany. Although the majority of scribes who can be affiliated with women’s monastic manuscripts were themselves, in fact, women monastics, a number of their male contemporaries also contributed to monastic manuscript holdings. This book, then, is a kind of social history of scribes that seeks to answer the question of how a monastic patron from within a women’s convent might identify the proper person to copy a book. The...

  8. 1 Of Monasteries and Their Scribes
    (pp. 18-47)

    In the era before print, women’s convents were necessarily served by scribes, the men and women who copied out the manuscripts that formed the intellectual and spiritual nucleus of the monastic experience. These scribes, many in number and often unacknowledged, served the intellectual endeavour of preserving, transmitting, and occasionally even creating the texts at their command. The books they left behind – whether given to the sisters of the convent, dedicated to the abbess or prioress, or given or sold to the broader community – are one of the central legacies of medieval convent life. The creation of manuscript books belonged to...

  9. 2 Structuring Scribal Relationships
    (pp. 48-89)

    When faced with a need for a book, the abbess of a medieval convent had several choices. Within her own convent, she could encourage (or demand) book production by arranging for materials to be made available or by tasking the nuns in her care with scribal activities as part of their monastic duties. She could also seek another source for books. If a book was not readily accessible from a donor or a bookseller – if gift or market purchase were not satisfactory options – the abbess might place an order for a specific book or book genre. In so doing, she...

  10. 3 The Content of Convent Manuscripts
    (pp. 90-131)

    To get a picture of how convent copying worked, it is helpful to separate the work done by members of the monastic community from that done by people outside of the convent walls. This chapter assesses the contents of 413 convent manuscripts written by women. (Another eighty-eight surviving manuscripts in women’s hands are largely omitted from discussion here because their contents are specifically archival in nature or because their contents are either altogether unknown or are described simply as ‘miscellaneous’ in the secondary literature consulted to date.) From this corpus of manuscripts produced by women scribes, we can trace the...

  11. 4 Scribe as Individual
    (pp. 132-165)

    In modern parlance, the colophon is that portion of the book that gives information about its publication. So too in medieval times the scribe offered up a kind of finishing touch to a manuscript or a section of a manuscript through some sort of inscription separate from the content of the text itself. A colophon, then, is a kind of scribal signature, as well as a marker of either intent or closure. Colophons appear variously at the front of volumes (where some might argue that they are not actually colophons properly speaking but rather merely inscriptions, a distinction which seems...

  12. 5 Why Scribes Serve
    (pp. 166-202)

    Modern economies have regularized the search for gainful employment in ways that would have astonished our medieval ancestors. We are accustomed to having specific job titles that can be associated with a specific list of duties. We recognize that certain skills prepare one to serve in particular capacities. In short, we have a sense that a given career comes with a portfolio of skills and duties. In constructing a sense of the historical position of the medieval scribe, we might be tempted to evolve a similar set of criteria that would have served as an ancestral job description. The monastic...

  13. Conclusion
    (pp. 203-214)

    Scribes for women’s monasteries brought various experiences to the work they undertook. They were, for the most part,matersor sisters,fratersor confessors, affiliates of a monastery, with the attendant obligations of worship, duty, and labour. The women and men who served women’s convents as scribes were also socially connected, with friendships, natal families, and the bonds of community ties. They were frequently persons of responsibility, and might belong to the convent elite, expected to assist with the bureaucratic functioning of the convent. Alternatively, scribes might be full-fledged professionals, juggling many commissions and working under the pressure of rolling...

  14. Appendix A: Distribution of Known Scribes and of Surviving Manuscripts by Monastic Order
    (pp. 215-216)
  15. Appendix B: Forty-eight Women’s Convents with Active Scriptoria in Late Medieval Germany
    (pp. 217-220)
  16. Notes
    (pp. 221-302)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 303-344)
  18. Index of People
    (pp. 345-356)
  19. Index of Convents
    (pp. 357-362)
  20. Index of Manuscripts
    (pp. 363-370)
  21. General Index
    (pp. 371-387)