The Lives and Afterlives of Illuminated Manuscripts

Course summary

  • Sat 21 Jul 2018 to Sat 28 Jul 2018
  • Oxford
  • Course fees vary depending on accommodation – please see ‘Fees’, below.
  • 10 CATS points
  • Course code O17I307CAR
  • +44 (0) 1865 270396
  • Closed to new applications

The Lives and Afterlives of Illuminated Manuscripts


This course takes as its starting point the manuscript as artefact existing of and beyond its time. We consider the production of manuscripts to meet an emerging literate class in the 14th and 15th centuries. As part of this exploration we’ll consider a number of specific examples taken from devotional books and secular literary material such as romance. The course will move forward to consider the afterlife of manuscripts in the hands of 19th and 20th century collectors: what motivates a bibliophile to collect centuries-old material and what relevance do collections of manuscripts in public institutions have for us today?

Programme details

Session One:
From roll to codex.

Session Two:
The book trade in the later Middle Ages.

Session Three:
The Duke of Berry and his books.

Session Four:
Mary of Burgundy and her books.

Session Five:
The Sforza Hours.

Session Six:
The afterlives of Chaucer.

Session Seven:
What does it mean to be a collector? The psychology of collecting.

Session Eight:
Petrarch as bibliophile.

Session Nine:
Sir Robert Cotton and his collection.

Session Ten:
Nineteenth century bibliophilia.

Session Eleven:
Case Study. Far from home: Australasian bibliophiles.

Session Twelve:
Case Study: AH Reed.


Recommended reading

Alexander, JJG.  1992.  Medieval Illuminators and their Methods of Work.  Yale.

Basbanes, N.  1999.  A Gentle Madness.  St Martin’s Press.

de Hamel, C.  2002.  A History of Illuminated Manuscripts.  Phaidon.

de Hamel, C.  2016.  Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts.  Penguin.

Woods, K.  2007.  Viewing Renaissance Art.  Yale.

Note from Tutor: The above books are for background reading only - it is not necessary to bring them to class, kindle editions are also available.


Concessionary Fee (No Accomm., inc. Tuition, Lunch & Dinner): £680.00
Programme Fee (No Accommodation - inc. Tuition, Lunch & Dinner): £790.00
Programme Fee (Standard Single Room - inc. Tuition and Meals): £1375.00
Programme Fee (Standard Twin Room - inc. Tuition and Meals): £1155.00
Programme Fee (Superior Single Room - inc. Tuition and Meals): £1480.00
Programme Fee (Superior Twin Room - inc. Tuition and Meals): £1245.00

Course fees vary depending on accommodation – please see ‘Fees’, below.


Dr Victoria Condie


Victoria Condie has taught courses in medieval and Old English literature for OUDCE and currently teaches medieval language and literature at the University of Cambridge.

Course aims

This course aims to encourage an understanding of book collecting through a study of specific manuscripts in their historical context and in later centuries.

Course Objectives

This course will enable students to:

  • Engage in a study of specific manuscripts.
  • Understand their importance in their own lifetime and beyond.
  • Gain an insight into the psychology of collecting.

Teaching methods

All summer school courses are taught through group seminars and individual tutorials. Students also conduct private study when not in class and there is a well stocked library at OUDCE to support individual research needs.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course students will be expected to understand:

  • What a manuscript is.
  • Why they are collected and preserved.
  • How they survive and what they mean to later users.

And students will be expected to have gained and/or developed the following skills:

  • Analytical
  • Critical
  • Contextual

Assessment methods

Students are assessed during the summer school by either a 1500 word written assignment or a presentation supported by individual documentation. To successfully gain credit (10 CATS points) students should attend all classes and complete the on-course assignment. There is also a pre-course assignment of 1000 words set. Although this does not count towards credit, it is seen as an important way of developing a student's ideas and therefore its completion is mandatory.


To enrol online, click 'Book Now', above.  To enrol by post, please see details of the application process.