Monasteries and Manuscripts – An Austrian Odyssey (at Amica and UVic)


Course description

Austrian monasteries are not just architectural masterpieces on the outside, they are also amazing repositories of knowledge on the inside. These monasteries and abbeys house vast libraries of manuscripts (hand-written books) and incunabula (early printed books) that preserved the knowledge of the ancients through the troubles and turmoil of Church and State. Medieval manuscripts were revered as art as expressed by the trials and tribulations, blood and sweat, of the men who made the paper, copied the books and guarded them with their lives for God and future generations. To do their job properly in God's Eyes, the monks also collected and studied natural science and natural history specimens and artifacts, and many of the monasteries also contained “Cabinets of Curiousities” that were the precursors of modern scientific research. In this session, we'll explore these masterpieces of art, as well as the scriptoria where the monks toiled through the darkness – both physical and social – to preserve this “knowledge as art” deep in the landscape and culture of medieval Austria.

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