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Workshop on Books of Hours by SEC Faculty Visitor Cynthia Turner Camp

March 8, 2018, 3:00 – 5:00 pm
Special Collections and Rare Books, 401 Ellis Library

What is a Book of Hours? And why should you — whether you work in medieval literature, history, art history, or religion — know how to navigate them?

Books of Hours were ubiquitous from the fourteenth century into the Reformation. These prayerbooks, almost always in Latin, would have been found in nearly every literate layperson’s home, and they would have shaped the laity’s reading experiences and devotional life in ways we still don’t fully appreciate. Frequently studied for their often-exquisite illustrations, Books of Hours are also a treasure trove of texts. Few Books of Hours contained exactly the same sets of prayers; rather, they’re best considered “prayer anthologies” that are often tailored to specific devotional tastes. Prayers for Mary, the Passion, saints and angels; indulgenced prayers and mass prayers; scriptural passages and overwrought meditations; even personalized devotions and readers’ marginalia: the varied texts found in these manuscripts can provide insight into every aspect of late medieval spiritual life. However, their texts are rarely edited in full, and even “standard” prayers can vary significantly from one manuscript to another. As a result, Books of Hours are best studied in their original manuscript contexts — and this workshop will get you started with the tools you need to do that.

In this workshop, Dr. Cynthia Turner Camp of the University of Georgia’s English department will give you a crash course on Books of Hours. She’ll cover how they were used (and by whom), how they evolved from the monastic opus Dei, what their contents are, how they were made, and most importantly how you might approach these prayerbooks from different disciplinary standpoints. She’ll have resources for getting started with this manuscript genre and for advanced textual research, and you will spend as much time as possible examining full codices and single leaves from the Special Collections Library’s holdings.

Dr. Cynthia Turner Camp is Associate Professor and Graduate Coordinator in the English department at the University of Georgia. Her first book, Anglo-Saxon Saints’ Lives as History Writing in Late Medieval England (2015), considers the historiographic impact of Middle English saints’ lives, and her current project examines liturgical and memorial practices in English nunneries. She teaches regularly with the manuscripts in the UGA Special Collections Library, and is the principle investigator on the Hargrett Hours Project, a multi-semester, classroom based, student led research project that investigates the medieval manuscripts held at UGA.

Kelli Hansen

Kelli Hansen is head of the Special Collections and Rare Books department.