Anna Dorofeeva

The Organization of Knowledge in Early Medieval Vademecums

A large proportion of the manuscripts produced in the Carolingian period are miscellanies, which represent a local intellectual response to pedagogical and political needs. They are not grammars or schoolbooks, but rather specifically tailored books for one or more adult users who needed certain kinds of tools all the time. What are these tools? What is the mission behind the production of these books? Do they represent an individual or a community choice? What does this tell us about monastic practices of knowledge acquisition and transferral? In order to answer these questions, I will examine the excerpting practices of a small group of individual scholars using their respective vademecums. To excerpt a text is to make a choice: who makes this choice, how do they make it, and what do they select? The arrangement, collocation and distribution of excerpts across quires and codicological wholes, and the working stints of the scribes who copied them, can shed light not only on manuscript production practices, but also on the practices of knowledge selection that determined what was learned and what was forgotten. A comparison of these features across the personal manuscripts of individual intellectuals will form a solid basis for further study of the wide range of anonymous collections of excerpts extant in early medieval miscellanies.



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