Biocodicology: The Parchment Record and the Biology of the Book

For more past programming from the Folger Institute, please see the article Folger Institute scholarly programs archive.

This was a spring 2019 workshop led by Matthew Collins.

Multi-day Workshop This  workshop was sponsored by Beasts 2 Craft and funded by European Union's EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020

This collaborative workshop will bring together historians, literary scholars, bio-archaeologists, conservators, and craftspeople. Participants will review the state of humanistic inquiry into parchment; consider the impact of provenance and conservation treatments on this form of research; share recent developments in the biomolecular analysis of parchment artifacts; ask how findings in any one field are adaptable to other methods and media; and develop collaborative research projects targeting specific archives and books in the coming years. Both practical and speculative, the three-day event will review and put pressure on our basic assumptions and questions about parchment in relation to the written record, including those about sites and methods of production, artisanal and trade practices, the status and value of certain items, and the concomitant mobility of peoples and animals. The workshop aims to highlight some myths about the above issues. It will ask what available conservation treatments inform what kinds of questions. It will compare ways of seeing across fields of expertise. The workshop further asks what will happen to those assumptions when biomolecular analysis is put at the center of the next generation of inquiry. The workshop aims to inspire new research at the frontiers of several disciplines across the sciences-humanities divide. This workshop is part of Beasts 2 Craft (B2C), a multiyear investigation into work at these disciplinary frontiers. Please see a fuller prospectus and bibliography . We invite researchers, archivists, and cataloguers with questions, assumptions, and ongoing research projects touching on parchment to apply to participate in conversations with bioarchaelogists and members of the organizing committee. Specific lines of inquiry will be determined by the research topics and aspirations of the participants. The workshop will be organized to allow a mix of brief presentations, informal exchanges, and directed discussions in hopes of sparking the kinds of interactions that will lead to concrete research projects in the months and years ahead. This workshop is the first in a series supported by Beasts 2 Craft, funded by European Union's EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020. It is hosted at the Folger in association with the Folger Institute’s Mellon initiative in collaborative research.

Organizing Committee: Matthew Collins: Niels Bohr Professor at the University of Copenhagen and Professor of Biomolecular Archaeology at the University of York; Fenella France: Chief, Preservation of Research and Testing Division, Library of Congress; Bruce Holsinger: Linden Kent Memorial Professor of English, University of Virginia; Kathleen Lynch: Executive Director, Folger Institute, Folger Shakespeare Library; Renate Mesmer: J. Franklin Mowery Head of Conservation, Folger Shakespeare Library; Timothy Stinson: Associate Professor, English, North Carolina State University; Mike Witmore: Director, Folger Shakespeare Library; Heather Wolfe: Curator of Manuscripts and Archivist, Folger Shakespeare Library.