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Deciphering Secrets: The Illuminated Manuscripts of Medieval Europe に戻る

Deciphering Secrets: The Illuminated Manuscripts of Medieval Europe, University of Colorado System



Perhaps no other relic of the European Middle Ages captures our imagination more than illuminated medieval manuscripts, or those documents decorated with images and colored pigments. Serving as windows unto a lost world of kings, ladies, faith, war, and culture, they communicate complex visual and textual narratives of Europe’s collective cultural heritage and patrimony. In this fashion, illuminated manuscripts are dynamic messages from our communal past that are still relevant today in fields like graphic design and typography. In this seven-week course, students will explore the material creation, content, and historical context of illuminated medieval European manuscripts. Students will acquire an introductory knowledge of their distinguishing characteristics, their cataloguing and periodization (when they were created), the methods utilized to produce them, and their historical context and value. Student achievement will be assessed using not only traditional multiple-choice quizzes, but more importantly will be evaluated based on individual student projects. In their final projects students will either (1) produce a board of commented images about medieval manuscripts or (2) prepare a physical manuscript using medieval methods. The best of these peer-evaluated projects will be posted on the Deciphering Secrets website, which is our collective citizen scholarship web presence that encourages and supports our global citizen scholars appreciation and contributions to transcription of medieval manuscripts. Finally, we wish to highlight that this course is an exciting international collaboration between the University of Colorado (USA) and Universidad Complutense Madrid (Spain)....


by K

Jan 27, 2018

An excellent overview of a complex subject , with the rare option to explore the practical skills involved in making manuscripts , and with a forward view of new research evolving IT makes possible.

by JS

May 05, 2017

fascinating subject. Excellent course whether you want to just learn about the history of the manuscripts or try creating some yourself. The Spanish professor is a real expert in the subject.



by Sandra Brandt

Apr 09, 2019

I completed the course in April 2017. I found it challenging (which I like) and thoroughly instructional. I loved it. It is well presented, with a lovely combination of theory and practical work. The visuals are stunning. It has fostered a desire in me to keep on exploring these resources.

by Theodora Papadopoulou

Mar 03, 2019

Exceptional! I am a Historian and a Historian of Art, from Athens Greece. I am really impressed by this course and its scientific aspect.

by Laëtitia Jeannin

Oct 26, 2018

Complete, and very high quality ! And last but not least, creative and funny :) Many thanks

by Anne Géraldine Macías Alby

Sep 10, 2018

I am enjoying this course a lot!!

this despite some broken links + as per my experience with the course, the process of getting reviewed by the pairs is a pain, often not getting the feedback needed, the deadline surpasses, and it is complicated to understand if it is due to system or not. While getting those issues one cannot concentrate properly on the course because it takes time digging on that part instead of dedicating that time studying.I think the course is excellent though and I am absolutely loving it.

by Irina Ivanova

Sep 02, 2018

(+) I really liked the manuscripts part - it was great.

(+) I liked the hands-on project about creating the manuscript, but sometimes instructions were too vague or missing at all.

(-) I didn't like the history part. It has a lot of reading materials and none of the videos. And I didin't always see a connection to manuscripts.

(-) I hate the system when other students should grade my assignments. There was one student who always put too low grades to me and I didin't understand why (for example, I have written ductus of 3 letters and he put that I have done only 2 etc). I suppose that he doesn't understand English quite well so he doesn't understand the rubrics, but that's quite demotivating.

(-) The interview with a Dutch scriptor, who showed letters from manuscripts, was not translated to English.

by Roger Forster

Aug 07, 2018

A very interesting and enjoyable course. The Hands-on project is very worthwhile but there is quite a lot to do.

by Maryna Pogorielova

May 12, 2018

Excellent! Just one problem. There probably not too many students so it takes more time to grade your peer reviewed assignement and you have to wait.

by Gwyneth Try

Apr 29, 2018

This was an extremely interesting course. I learnt a lot about medieval Europe and its history alongside knowledge of medieval manuscripts and bookbinding. I am tempted to do it again using the practical projects but I am not sure I have enough time to actually complete them.

by Carol Sinclair

Apr 15, 2018

Very engaging and creative course that allowed me to study a subject I have always been enchanted with. The only issues are that the professors accent was so deep that it was difficult to understand her and the machine generated transcript had the same issue I did. Still a most enjoyable course and I would highly recommend it to all. Thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to take it.

by Elisa Markhoff

Feb 19, 2018

First I'd like to say that this course is quite original and I give a lot of credit to Dr. Sanchez-Pinto for taking on such a project. Her videos are the most instructional of the class. That said, there are two instructors, and Dr. Martinez-Dávila mostly introduces a series of reading materials, so there are hardly any videos on the history component of the class.

Also, the weekly assignments are quite lengthy and require quite some work. For these, there is a deadline of only one week and the feedback from students is very diverse, depending on whether they are themselves librarians or not.

Overall an interesting course for those who are curious about manuscripts, but could definitely use a makeover.