Penn Libraries

Penn Libraries Announces Fall Exhibit and 2016 Schoenberg Symposium Theme: “Reactions/Medieval Modern”

In conjunction with the 9th Annual Schoenberg Symposium of the same theme, Penn Libraries’ fall exhibit, “Reactions: Medieval/Modern” explores the many and varied ways that people have reacted to and acted upon manuscripts from the Middle Ages up to the 21st Century. “Reactions: Medieval/Modern” will be on display August 25-December 16, 2016 in the Goldstein Gallery on the sixth floor of Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center. A full-color, illustrated companion volume exploring the themes of the exhibition will be available for purchase in late September. It includes an introduction by exhibition curator Dot Porter as well as essays by Bruce Holsinger, Erik Kwakkel, Kathryn M. Rudy, Michael Livingston, and Angela Bennett.


Detail from a marginal illustration in a bible, showing a defaced fox preaching to a rooster. Arras, France, late 13th century. University of Pennsylvania , MS Codex 724, fol. 247v.


The theme of “reactions” gives the viewer space to explore the many and varied ways that people have reacted to and acted upon manuscripts from the Middle Ages up to the present day. The reactions explored in the exhibit take many forms. They include the manipulation of physical objects through the marking up of texts, addition of illustrations, disbinding books (or rebinding fragments), as well as the manipulation of digital objects.

Exhibition curator Dot Porter admits that not all premodern book owners wrote in their books and not all modern artists look to medieval manuscripts for inspiration. According to Porter, “The value in examining the various ways that medieval and modern people have reacted to manuscripts is in developing an appreciation of these objects as more than simply bearers of information or beautiful things for us to enjoy.” Porter sees “Reactions: Medieval/Modern” as a celebration of visceral responses to physical objects, “a reminder that an object is not just the thing we have today, but a thing that has existed over time and been touched by so many hands and lives before it came to us, and will continue touching people long after we are gone.”

The 2016 Schoenberg Symposium begins Thursday evening, November 17, at the Free Library of Philadelphia, Parkway Central Library, with keynote speaker Michelle P. Brown, Professor Emerita of Medieval Manuscript Studies at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, and former Curator of Manuscripts at the British Library. The symposium continues, November 18-19, at the Penn Libraries’ Kislak Center of Special Collections, Rare Books, and Manuscripts, with papers and workshops that delve into various aspects of fragmentation and reconstitution.

For more information on the exhibit and to register for the 2016 Schoenberg symposium, please visit:



About the Penn Libraries
The Penn Libraries serve the world-class faculty and students of Penn’s 12 schools. The Libraries’ collections comprise more than 7 million volumes, over 100,000 journals, some 2 million digitized images, and extraordinary rare and unique materials that document the intellectual and cultural experience of ancient and modern civilizations. Through our collaborative relationships, we supplement Penn’s great local collections with physical access to the Center for Research Libraries (approximately 5 million items), the combined holdings of the Ivies (more than 70 million volumes), and exclusive electronic access to some 2 million public domain titles in the HathiTrust. Today, the Libraries play an instrumental role in developing new technologies for information discovery and dissemination and are noted for groundbreaking work in digital library design.  To learn more about the Penn Libraries, visit


About the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts

The Kislak Center is a vibrant space that brings together people, technology and unique content.  Located on the top floor of the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library, it was redesigned in 2013 to allow several different groups to interact with objects of study simultaneously, increasing the use of primary resources in the University’s curriculum and access to the Libraries’ resources for the larger scholarly community.  Today the Kislak Center encompasses the Annenberg Rare Book and Manuscript Library, the Furness Memorial Shakespeare Library, the Edgar Fahs Smith Memorial Collection and the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies. To learn more about the Kislak Center, visit


About the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies

In response to the gift of the Lawrence J. Schoenberg Collection, the Penn Libraries founded the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies, (SIMS). The mission of SIMS is to bring manuscript culture, modern technology and people together to bring access to and understanding of our intellectual heritage locally and around the world. SIMS is a teaching and research center devoted to the study of manuscripts in their material and digital forms. Housed at the Penn Libraries, SIMS emphasizes hands-on work with these unique witnesses to the past through the practical study of paleography, codicology, illumination, book arts, book history, and the history of science and medicine, among many other fields. These primary source materials offer the Penn community and scholars everywhere unprecedented opportunities for collaboration in multidisciplinary research and scholarship. SIMS engages with regional and international institutions to foster study and use of the collection through lectures, symposia, publications and digitization programs, and holds a firm commitment to develop and promote digital technologies that instruct and inspire scholars and students around the world through forward-thinking open access policies.

To view the collection, go to:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s