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  • Symposium

Taxonomies of Knowledge

5th Annual Lawrence J. Schoenberg Symposium on Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age

This event has already occurred

November 16-17, 2012
Open to the Public
Tree of Human Nature

In partnership with the Rare Book Department of the Free Library of Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania Libraries are pleased to announce the 5th Annual Lawrence J. Schoenberg Symposium on Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age. This year's symposium considers the role of the manuscript in organizing and classifying knowledge. Like today's electronic databases, the medieval manuscript helped readers access, process, and analyze the information contained within the covers of a book. The papers presented at this symposium will examine this aspect of the manuscript book through a variety of topics, including the place of the medieval library in manuscript culture, the rise and fall of the 12th-century commentary tradition, diagrams, devotional practice, poetics, and the organization and use of encyclopedias and lexicons.

The symposium begins Friday evening at the Free Library of Philadelphia with a keynote address by William Noel, the newly appointed Director of the Special Collections Center and the Schoenberg Institute of Manuscript Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, and moves to the Penn campus on Saturday.

Special exhibitions of manuscripts will be on view at both institutions.

Accordion List

Navigating Knowledge in Manuscript Research

From Hebrew legal literature to English universal histories, German philosophical texts to Arabic mathematical treatises, Philadelphia's libraries are a treasure trove for students of pre-modern culture. A multidisciplinary group of graduate students from the University of Pennsylvania and other local institutions will lead a hands-on discussion of their current work featuring manuscripts held in both the Free Library and the University of Pennsylvania Libraries. Several questions will guide us: to what forms of knowledge do manuscripts grant us access? How do manuscripts from disparate geographical and disciplinary realms interact? What skills do we need when interrogating manuscripts and how can online/digital resources illuminate our research? This workshop aims to be the start of an ongoing conversation among graduate students to share interest, expertise, and the challenges and rewards of undertaking manuscript research.

Organized by Alexander Devine, PhD Candidate, University of Pennsylvania, and Marie Turner, PhD Candidate, University of Pennsylvania.

To be held Friday, November 16, 1:30-4:30 pm, at the University of Pennsylvania, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library, 2nd floor, Meyerson Conference Room. Limited number of spaces will be available. For questions and more information, contact the organizers at and

Event Series

Featured image: "Tree of Human Nature," from an anonymous treatise on natural philosophy produced in Mainz, Germany, between 1485-1499 (Lawrence J. Schoenberg Collection, LJS 429, p. 28)