The Book: Scrolls in the Age of the Book

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edX online courses
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Course Description

This course is an introduction to the making and use of scrolls in the European Middle Ages. The codex, with its portability and instant access to any place in the text, became the dominant container for writing after the 4th century BCE, but scrolls continued to be made. Why and how did the scroll format remain popular and relevant in the age of the codex? This course proposes four main reasons, which 

account for essentially every kind of scroll that still exists today. We will see and examine in detail a number of beautiful objects, and come to understand the thinking of those who chose the scroll format for their texts.

This module features four main units, each of which is based on one of the reasons for scroll-making:

  1. Scrolls of indeterminate length
  2. Scrolls in long format
  3. Ceremonial and archaizing scrolls
  4. Portable scrolls

Scrolls in the Age of the Book also features a guided tour of an exhibition on ...

This course is an introduction to the making and use of scrolls in the European Middle Ages. The codex, with its portability and instant access to any place in the text, became the dominant container for writing after the 4th century BCE, but scrolls continued to be made. Why and how did the scroll format remain popular and relevant in the age of the codex? This course proposes four main reasons, which 

account for essentially every kind of scroll that still exists today. We will see and examine in detail a number of beautiful objects, and come to understand the thinking of those who chose the scroll format for their texts.

This module features four main units, each of which is based on one of the reasons for scroll-making:

  1. Scrolls of indeterminate length
  2. Scrolls in long format
  3. Ceremonial and archaizing scrolls
  4. Portable scrolls

Scrolls in the Age of the Book also features a guided tour of an exhibition on Harvard University’s collection of medieval scrolls, held at Houghton Library, Harvard’s special collections library, in Spring 2014. Each scroll featured in the exhibit has been fully digitized by Harvard’s Preservation Services division, and participants will have the opportunity to interact with them in unprecedented fashion using Mirador, a state-of-the-art web application developed by Harvard and Stanford Universities.

This is a module in the series The Book: Histories Across Time and Space.


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Reviews 8/10 stars
2 Reviews for The Book: Scrolls in the Age of the Book

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Tiffany Rondón Román profile image
Tiffany Rondón Román profile image

Tiffany Rondón Román

10/10 starsCompleted
4 years, 7 months ago
This was an amazing course that I'm so glad I had the chance to take it. While I have to clarify that as I'm also studying at the university I had to stopped studying from this class after some days (when it started) because if you're going to take lots of annotations like I did by hand... is going to take some more time from you, which is why I decided to continue now on my vacations. If you already know about medieval times and medieval books you're still going to learn so much from this course just by the simple fact that we have the chance here in seeing them as if we are there in person looking up-close into the scrolls. I didn't know there are so many scrolls regarding the subject of law which is a really interesting big-fact to add to my annotations. Also, my favorite scrolls were the: compendium of the history of world, the universal chronicle of the world which has very beautiful drawings of the creation of the world and of ... This was an amazing course that I'm so glad I had the chance to take it. While I have to clarify that as I'm also studying at the university I had to stopped studying from this class after some days (when it started) because if you're going to take lots of annotations like I did by hand... is going to take some more time from you, which is why I decided to continue now on my vacations. If you already know about medieval times and medieval books you're still going to learn so much from this course just by the simple fact that we have the chance here in seeing them as if we are there in person looking up-close into the scrolls. I didn't know there are so many scrolls regarding the subject of law which is a really interesting big-fact to add to my annotations. Also, my favorite scrolls were the: compendium of the history of world, the universal chronicle of the world which has very beautiful drawings of the creation of the world and of the Genesis; also the Genealogy of the English Kings and one that it was discussed at the end of the program which is the asmat- just wow! such a beautiful scroll from the other side of the world! mixing the liturgy with magic incantations. I also find very interesting the information given in the section of: Italian Humanist Scripts in where you will learn about important figures that has to do with two of the most known and used scripts: the roman and italic script. Take this amazing class and write down everything you can because it has very valuable information to hold on. Thanks for giving this class for free and for a very long period. Had much fun.
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Paul Hundal profile image
Paul Hundal profile image
8/10 starsCompleted
  • 138 reviews
  • 119 completed
4 years, 10 months ago
I think the series is really good and the format of a series of mini-MOOC's is excellent along with the grading scheme. I have to say that I found the subject matter of this one less interesting than the other modules in this series. The instructor and display technology was great but the subject was a little dry.
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