Special Collections Teaching 2017-2018 Candlemas Semester

Monday 21 May 2018

At the University of St Andrews Library we are keen that Special Collections materials are used to support teaching through workshops, seminars and show and tell events.

We have had a very busy year, with both class contact hours by students and numbers of external visitors from the community and conferences both rising dramatically in the last year. We hope that this will mean that we will continue to see in 2018 the same evidence of healthy engagement with our collections as we have recently collated for the past 4 years.



One other very encouraging sign is that our contact with undergraduates is increasing in both repeat and new classes:


Below we have just a few highlights of the teaching involving Special Collections this semester. You can read about some of our teaching in Martinmas Semester at (https://standrewsrarebooks.wordpress.com/2017/12/06/special-collections-teaching-2017-2018-martinmas-semester/)

AH5164 – The Book as Object and Idea – with Dr Ilse Sturkenboom

This new module considers the book as cultural artefact and idea as well as repository of information and vehicle for conveying the messages contained in texts and images. It works with a broad definition of the book, which has space for accounting and commonplace books, diaries and formularies, fiction and non-fiction books, private and public books, religious and secular books, and more.

Ilse Sturkenboom AH5164 004_1

Ilse Sturkenboom AH5164 006_1

Students were able to see items from our manuscripts collection, including:

Bustan of Sa’di (ms31(o))
Shah Namah of Firdausi (ms28(o))

AH5140 – The University of St Andrews Photographic Collection – with Rachel Nordstrom

This module explores, interprets and analyses photographic materials in the University of St Andrews Special Collections. The collection includes some of the most prized treasures in the photographic canon; this includes work by Hill and Adamson, Sir David Brewster, and William Henry Fox Talbot, as well as contemporary photography.

History of Photography 011_1

Students were able to see items such as Through Cyprus with the camera, in the autumn of 1878 (Photo DS54.T5)

Travels Through Cyrpus with a Camera in the Autumn of 1878_1

GM2013 – Mediaeval German Language and Literature – with Dr Christopher Miller

This second year undergraduate module introduces students to Middle High German language and literature. It is a module that usually provides the first opportunity for students to come face to face with real medieval manuscripts and early printed books.

GM2013 Christopher Miller 002_1

GM2013 Christopher Miller 001_1

Students were able to see the St Andrews edition of Rolevinck’s Fasciculus temporum.

rolevinck rubricators doodle_1
A rubricator’s doodle from the St Andrews copy of Rolevinck Fasciculus temporum, fol. 57r. (Typ GC.A79GR)
rolevinck scottish independence_1
Page from Rolevinck’s Fasciculus temporum ((Typ GC.A79GR)

ME5016/MS5122 – Medieval palaeography – with Dr Margaret Connolly and Rachel Hart

Palaeography students took part in the annual class trip to Special Collections at the University of Aberdeen (https://standrewsschoolofhistory.wordpress.com/2018/05/21/postgraduate-class-trip-aberdeen/) to view their medieval manuscripts. This is the culmination of a year-long engagement with original sources. This time, as well as visiting the Aberdeen Burgh Records Project (see https://standrewsrarebooks.wordpress.com/2017/04/28/palaeography-class-trip-201617/ for details of last year’s visit which was repeated this time), they were able to get a behind-the-scenes tour of the University of Aberdeen’s stores and conservation suite.


more manuscripts_1

Students were able to look at a Book of Hours and manuscript volvelles.

Book of hours 2_1
A Book of hours from the University of Aberdeen Special Collections (ms 274)
manuscript volvelles_1
An example of a volvelle and compass document from the University of Aberdeen Special Collections (ms 123)

AH5167 – Writing on the Visual – with Dr Kimberly Skelton

This module examines verbal responses to the visual, from the origins of art criticism as a literary genre, to contemporary modes of art writing.

Kimberley Skelton AH5167 Writing on the Visual 004_1

Kimberley Skelton AH5167 Writing on the Visual 001_1

Students were able to look at Luca Pacioli’s Divina proportione (Venice, 1509) (For NC745.A2P2)


We look forward to next term and the new cohort of students. In the meantime, the Napier Reading Room at Martyrs Kirk is open throughout the summer for the students, staff and the public who wish to consult our collections. Please get in touch with us to book an appointment ([email protected]).

Sean Rippington
Digital Archives Officer

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