HST6850: Palaeography

HST6850 Image

15 credits (Semester: Autumn)

Module Leader: Dr Tom Leng

Module Summary

In this module, you are introduced to the different forms of law hand and secretary hand current in the early modern period, noting transitional styles and the emergence of italic script. A range of transcription conventions are also explained. For each session, you will be required to prepare transcriptions of a representative selection of manuscript materials.

Module aims

This module aims to equip you with the technical skills necessary to undertake primary research using manuscript sources from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and also to undertake editorial work on such documents. The first class will guide you through the basic forms of law hand and secretary hand, the various ligatures and abbreviations typical of handwriting in this period, and will also provide basic guidelines for the reading and transcription of early modern texts. The subsequent sessions are intended to expand your knowledge, skills, and confidence by exploring a range of different documents and hands from the period.

The module is also intended to give you a critical understanding of current debates over modes of transcription, so that for the final piece of assessed coursework you make an informed choice of the mode of transcription which you believe most appropriate.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, you will be able to demonstrate:

  1. An ability to write accurate transcriptions of early modern documents;
  2. An ability to identify a range of different hands;
  3. An understanding of some of the transitional forms of handwriting distinctive of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries;
  4. An understanding of the variety and inconsistency of early modern spelling, orthography and forms of abbreviation;
  5. A confidence in using technical language to discuss documents, handwriting styles and characters;
  6. A critical understanding of the range of different transcription conventions currently in use and their relative advantages and disadvantages.


Learning hours
Seminar hours Tutorial hours Independent Learning
10 1 139

This module will be taught via ten, one-hour classes. You will prepare transcriptions of specified documents in advance of each class, and the teaching hours will be devoted to a close textual analysis of the materials prepared by the entire group.



Assessment methods
Assessment % of final mark Length
Transcriptions 100% 3 documents

Assessment is by a portfolio of student transcriptions of three documents distributed at the end of the course. The documents are chosen to test your command of a range of different hands. The submitted work is marked for accuracy of transcription, and also for the appropriateness and consistency of use of transcription conventions.



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