Special Collections Teaching 2017/2018 – Martinmas Semester
Throughout the academic year, Special Collections supports the teaching of a wide range of the University’s academic schools with workshops, seminars and show and tell events. Previous blogs have highlighted Special Collections’ active role in co-teaching the postgraduate level palaeography courses (Palaeography Class Trip 2016/17 and ReadMe Tool) but the library’s collections are also used for undergraduate level teaching and many postgraduate subjects other than palaeography. It has been a busy term in Special Collections as we have being involved with over 109 teaching hours this semester!
We take this opportunity to highlight some of the collections used in just a sample of the modules we support.
Mediaeval St Andrews (ME3309)
Special Collections welcomed a group of third year Mediaeval History students, with course leader Dr Christine McGladdery, to look at some of our manuscript and muniment collections as part of the module, Mediaeval St Andrews.
Students were able to see some of the earliest documents in the University’s collections, such as the 1215 Pittance Writ (UYSL110/PW/3), a grant by John son of Michael the clerk of half a mark of silver to be raised on St Andrew’s day from the brewery at Muircambus, near Elie, Fife, which was to be given as alms to God and the church of St Andrew the apostle and the canons there, to be used to light the church.
Also on show were the 1544 Statutes of St Leonard’s College (UYSL165/2), which describe not only the daily routine of devotion and study, but also the minutiae of daily life – diet, dress, formal and recreational behaviour both within and out with the college, and performance of chores, as well as the unbending (and sometimes violent) discipline to which the members of the college were subject.
Examples from the St Andrews Burgh collections on display were documents such as The Register Book of the City of St Andrews, also known as the ‘Black Book’ (B65/1/1) and a Feu Charter by James, perpetual commendator of the priory of the monastery of St Andrews in favour of Henry Kairnis (Cayrnis) (B65/23/300c), complete with priory seal.
The Documentary Impulse (AH5168)
This semester we also welcomed a group of students from the module The Documentary Impulse, which is run as part of the Art History postgraduate qualification in the History of Photography. The Seminar was led by Dr Catherine Spencer and offered the students a chance to see some of our photo books and some of the documentary photographic collections held in Special Collections.
One of the items on display was the photo book Edward Ruscha’s 1966 artist’s book and topographical survey of Every Building on the Sunset Strip – which is a bit of a challenge to handle at nearly 8 metres long!
Used in the class, was a 1540 edition of Machiavelli’s The Art of War and The Prince and various political treatises in response to Machiavelli’s thought, such as Discours sur les moyens de bien gouuerner et maintenir en bonne paix vn royaume, ou autre principauté.
Mediaeval and Renaissance Texts (EN2003)
They saw not only some very interesting early printing and were able to compare editions, but also engaged with the physical evidence of the previous history of the book, through worm holes and damage.
Eastern Approaches: Early Mediaeval Armenia c. 500 – 750 (ME3608)
Dr Tim Greenwood brought his honours module class to look at some of the Armenian manuscripts held by Special Collections, including an Armenian psalter (ms38933) and Psalms (r17 BS1425.A86C50).
Mediaeval Marvels: The Exotic, the East and the Other in Mediaeval French Literature (FR4116)
Dr Vicky Turner’s French honours class were able to see some French manuscripts and rare books, including a 1558 printed book of hours and a letter from Mary of Guise to Antoine de Noailles, dated 28 July 1555.
Legal and Constitutional Studies (MLitt)
Professor Caroline Humfress’ masters students came along to the New Park Seminar Room and were shown examples of the collections relating to their studies by Gabriel Sewell. Included in this display were copies of the Regiam, recently the focus of one our visiting scholars, and 17th Century Professor of Civil law William Welwood’s, Sea Lawes (ms38883).
It is a pleasure for Special Collections staff to see new and returning students engaging with our collections and getting hands-on experience with rare books, manuscripts, muniments and photographs. We hope to have an equally engaging semester in 2018 and will share some of the highlights at the end of the Candlemas term.
Reading Room Team