IMC 2019: Sessions

Session 415: Materiality before Materiality: 'Auxiliary Sciences' as Material History - A Round Table Discussion

Monday 1 July 2019, 19.00-20.00

Moderator/Chair:Anne E. Lester, Department of History, University of Colorado, Boulder

Despite new interests in material studies and materialities, it could be argued that some fields of scholarship have always had a strong interest in such topics – namely, those whose objects of study are primarily artefacts. Among those fields, the so-called ‘auxiliary sciences’ – palaeography, diplomatics, codicology, and manuscript studies in general – are notable for a strong self-identification of materiality-based methodology. This traditional focus on objects and manuscripts as objects has been as much a source of pride for specialists as of critique from other scholars for being too narrow or too positivist. Since the days of Dom Mabillon, studying charters, books, scripts, and the like has given scholars of the ‘auxiliary sciences’ a sense of the importance of material aspects of texts and textual practices. In that sense, so-called ‘antiquarians’ and other specialists may have anticipated the current historiographical trend. On the other hand, it could be argued that while they developed an acute analytical understanding of the artefacts they worked on, they often did so more for the sake of the artefacts than to analyse the phenomenon of ‘materiality’ in itself – the latter being more a path to reach their means (e.g. publish an edition or a catalogue) than a research topic. This round table discussion gathers specialists in these fields and those working in materiality studies to discuss their reciprocal influences and how they can be fruitfully associated for the sake of a better understanding of the medieval past.

Participants include Sébastien Barret (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Paris), Christoph Egger (Universität Wien), Katharina Kaska (Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Wien), and Dominique Stutzmann (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Paris).