Talk:Scriptorium

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blarg man,It needs to say what it is!

Good point. How's that now?--Wetman 05:22, 2 November 2005 (UTC)


The point in paragraph 2 that early christian texts were modified to suit the copyist's theological perspective should be clarified slightly as not referring to copying of the Bible, which ,as far as I'm aware, was copied more accurately...though we really need an authority on biblical copying to confirm that! Raxm 16:08, 8 January 2007 (UTC)

Most of the article's text was deleted by User:PeterKidd here. Perhaps other editors will find material worth returning to the article, as Peter Kidd seems to have lost interest after his one exploit. --Wetman 03:14, 3 December 2007 (UTC)

I'm the only one interested, so I've restored the text and its references, carefully retaining edits made since then. Deleting text at Wikipedia is sometimes a psychological issue rather than an editorial one.--Wetman (talk) 00:20, 17 April 2008 (UTC)

Unfortunately I don't have time to correct everything that is wrong with WP articles in the areas where I have some specialist knowledge, but I think that it is preferable to remove text that is misleading, or downright wrong, even if I do not have time to replace it with something better. It seems that many people create and edit WP articles based on secondary literature read uncritically or uncomprehendingly, rather than on first-hand knowledge. I can illustrate some of this by discussing the two first images in this WP article.

In the first Mielot "is shown compiling his Miracles de Nostre Dame". Leaving aside the question of whether he is a "compiler" or an "author" (two different roles that the caption seems to confuse), the image clearly shows someone NOT writing this copy of the Miracles de Nostre Dame: the Miracles is a bound volume (so all sheets are folded in half at least once) and written in two columns (therefore each separate sheet will have four columns of text on each side), whereas the image shows a scribe writing on a sheet in a single column of text that therefore cannot be folded and put into a bound volume; he is probably writing a document, not a book. So, either the caption is wrong, or the image cannot be taken at face value. Either way, it is likely to mislead the unwary WP reader.

Now, no sensible adult is really surprised to hear that medieval manuscript illuminations take license with reality: an illumination of a scribe at work is conventionally taken to represent the author of the work in which it appears. That the Miracles de Nostre Dame is a compilation, generally understood, is expressed by the volumes that surround the seated writer in the illumination.--Wetman (talk) 23:16, 20 June 2008 (UTC)
You are assuming not only that WP will only be used by "sensible adult"s, but also that they understand things that many ordinary people and scholars who are not professional art-historians have not. I don't think these are reasonable assumptions. (I consider myself a sensible adult (most of the time) but if this were a non-western art-form, or from a period with which I am unfamiliar, I personally would not know whether or not to expect "reality", or how to assess its likely level of "reality".PeterKidd (talk) 17:12, 21 June 2008 (UTC)
Reading the passages on Mielot's "minutes" at his article, and the online Wilson & Wilson book refed there might be instructive here. There is of course more than one MS of the work, and the de luxe copy in which the miniature appears was certainly not his working draft - see also the bound collection of his working papers at the BnF. Also see what the caption read before I changed it, and if you are any happier with that. Compilers are authors too, ask any copyright lawyer. The interior is described, perhaps unfairly, as "fanciful" by de Hamel. I changed this caption after following links to about 15 articles on WP where the image was usually described as something like "A medieval monk copying in a scriptorium". Johnbod (talk) 23:50, 20 June 2008 (UTC)
I don't think we need to debate the nitty-gritty of whether or not the image is a precisely accurate representation, which it clearly isn't: the main question is whether or not the image and its caption are appropriate for this WP article. My opinion is that the image is very useful as an illustration of some features of scribal activity, and would be appropriate in an article on scribes, pens, ink-pots, pen-knives, writing-desks, and so on, but arguably it is not really appropriate as an illustration of a "scriptorium". But even if the image is appropriate here, I still think more care should be taken on getting basic factual details correct and complete: is this illumination really by Mielot himself, for example? (I very much doubt it). What is the location and call-number of the manuscript from which it comes?
No, "by" was a slip - it is I think by Jean le Tavernier, and in either Brussels or Paris -- you should be able to track it down easily enough via the article, if interested, in which case please update the image file with the details. I have my doubts if it is really appropriate here, although it is nice & clear, which is why it gets used, and misused, so much. Johnbod (talk) 18:31, 21 June 2008 (UTC)
I have just noticed that the caption says Mielot died in 1475, but the WP article on Mielot himself says he died in 1472. Just another case of someone not getting their "facts" right. Isn't it better to leave out a date, rather than put in a wrong one?PeterKidd (talk) 17:24, 21 June 2008 (UTC)
Oh, well spotted - in fact a contradiction between various of the printed sources. Johnbod (talk) 18:06, 21 June 2008 (UTC)

The second image shows the Evangelist St Mark, and representations of saints cannot usually be relied on for their historical accuracy. From what one can see of the furnishings of the room, it is a domestic interior, not a "mediaeval scriptorium", and therefore not a very appropriate image for this article. The fact that St Mark has been identified as "Paul Pierce" shows that whoever added this image/caption does not have even the most basic knowledge of medieval manuscripts, and has presumably misunderstood the source from which the caption was taken. Incidentally, the manuscript reference for the image is also incorrect, "Slo" is an obsolete abbreviation of "Sloane", and the MSS formerly at the British *Museum* have belonged to the British *Library* for almost 40 years. PeterKidd (talk) 17:49, 20 June 2008 (UTC)

By following clues, I have found the source among the Sloane Mss at the British Library, a thing any benevolent editor might have done. --Wetman (talk) 23:16, 20 June 2008 (UTC)
If by "following clues" you mean typing "Sloane 2468" into Google and following the first link, I think we could have expected readers to be able to do that for themselves. A "benevolent editor" would give up his day-job and social life to correct thousands of errors, which I do not intend to do, I was just using this caption as an illustration of my main point.
My main point was that the image is extremely misleading as an illustration of a "mediaeval scriptorium" and it was very badly captioned, by someone who apparently did not know what they were doing, and that therefore it would be justifiable for an editor to delete it, even if s/he did not have the time or inclination to replace it with something better. In the quest to improve WP, removing bad text/images is just as constructive as adding good information. PeterKidd (talk) 17:12, 21 June 2008 (UTC)
And justifiably repaired, corrected and restored. Don't let any of us discourage you from devoting your complete attention to your social circle. --Wetman (talk) 20:51, 21 June 2008 (UTC)

Removed as "spam"[edit]

The following external link:

The Manuscript Studies and Palaeography Collection at Senate House Library, University of London

Was deleted as "spam"!--Wetman (talk) 07:49, 3 August 2008 (UTC)

I removed it because it set off my spam radar. User:Palaeography Room, the user adding the link was a new user whose only contribs were adding this link to several articles with no edit summary, always listing them at the top of the list, and originally calling this site "the best." This made it look a lot like advertising. If you feel this link is appropriate, by all means add it, but the way User:Palaeography Room did it made it look like spam. Thanks. Apparition11 (talk) 11:50, 3 August 2008 (UTC)

Non-existent but necessary?[edit]

"such rooms rarely existed... A scriptorium was a necessary adjunct to a library; wherever there was a library it can ordinarily be assumed that there was a scriptorium." This is inconsistent. Which is it? Or is this saying that scriptoriums became necessary features of libraries in some context outside of monasteries? -Kris Schnee (talk) 17:32, 10 October 2008 (UTC)

I think the modern view is that single library-like scriptorium rooms were not the norm, but scriptoria were more physically diffused around the monastery etc, so a corporate workshop group rather than a group of people in a room, as used to be thought. Johnbod (talk) 18:40, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
I have added a footnote with a quote supporting this familiar statement.--Wetman (talk) 17:00, 21 December 2008 (UTC)
See https://medievalfragments.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/pondering-the-physical-scriptorium/ --Espoo (talk) 06:42, 21 September 2017 (UTC)

Footnote 27[edit]

Pity that one has to consult G. Greer's book to discover the source of this interesting observation. Irritating waste of time. Pamour (talk) 00:08, 26 January 2012 (UTC)