Blogging with Manuscripts: IMC Fringe Sessions, 6–9 July 2020

Medieval manuscripts are simultaneously delightful and obtuse. We now have over two decades’ experience with presenting digitized manuscripts online. Even so, medievalists are still developing creative approaches to using presenting them to new audiences as the wealth of online images continues to grow. 

In three fringe sessions for the 2020 Leeds International Medieval Congress, instructors, manuscripts curators, postdocs, and students will voice their successes and struggles in blogging manuscripts, and discuss your own developing ideas. We will start each session with 15 minutes of reflections on how universities and libraries can expand their public reach through teaching palaeography, the history of the book, and digital humanities. 

For each session, we have decided to post a challenge for all those registered. We’ll select the most intriguing response and discuss them during the last 15 minutes of each session. The submitters of the top three most creative contributions across the sessions will have the opportunity to meet with an Oxford manuscripts curator for a digital consultation with a manuscript of your choice (once staff are allowed back in the building). These sessions will also launch an open competition for blog entries on the Polonsky German manuscripts in September, thanks to sponsorship from Manuscripts from German-Speaking Lands – A Polonsky Foundation Digitization Project. Read on to find out more! These sessions will launch a summer blogging prize with Manuscripts from German-Speaking Lands – A Polonsky Foundation Digitization Project


Blogging Manuscripts with Polonsky German 

Monday, 6 July, 18:30–19:00 

This is the first of three interactive sessions that will give participants the opportunity to collaborate on presenting everyday manuscripts to the public. 


In the first half of this session academics and curators will reflect on the challenges, successes and failures of blogging about the Polonsky German digization project. 


For the second half of the session, whether you are fresh to engaging audiences online with manuscripts, or an old hand looking to try new ideas, we invite you to submit a short, informal proposal for a hypothetical blog post around one or more of the digitized Polonsky German manuscripts. (For examples of previous responses, see the Polonsky German blog.) The panel will highlight and discuss a selection of responses, and will initiate the #PolonskyGerman blogging challenge – an open competition to submit a full blog in the early autumn, with prizes (TBA) for the winning entries!

Speakers: Tuija Ainonen, Andrew Dunning, Henrike Lähnemann, Matthew Holford (University of Oxford) 

Register online with TORCH 

Submit your Polonsky German blog proposal by 24:00 on Saturday, 4 July


Teaching the Digital Codex 

Wednesday, 8 July, 18:30–19:00 

Since 2016, Teaching the Codex has brought together teachers to develop more engaging pedagogical approaches to palaeography and codicology, with both regular colloquia and a long-running blog. Mary Boyle shares the knowledge she gained in launching a successful manuscripts movement from scratch, with reflections from Leonor Zozaya-Montes on the process of writing for the project blog. Julia Walworth will present some of Merton’s digitised manuscripts as possible subjects for a blog post.  

The challenge here would be to use digitised items for a ‘teachable feature’; for examples look at previous ‘teachable features’ blogs

Speakers: Mary Boyle (University of Oxford), Julia Walworth (University of Oxford), Leonor Zozaya-Montes (University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria) 

Register online with TORCH 

Submit your Teachable Feature blog proposal by 24:00 on Tuesday, 7 July


Blogging Manuscripts for the General Public 

Thursday, 9 July, 18:30–19:00 

Alison Hudson and Alison Ray distil their wide-ranging expertise from the British Library’s Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms exhibition; the Medieval England and France, 700–1200 project; and Canterbury Cathedral’s collaborative ‘Picture This’ series. Participants will challenge one another to engage audiences in 280 characters or less with images from a medieval bestiary, British Library Harley MS 4751, digitized in full as part of The Polonsky Foundation England and France, 700-1200 digitization project. 

Speakers: Alison Hudson (University of Central Florida), Alison Ray (Canterbury Cathedral Archives and Library) 

Register online with TORCH 

Submit your tweet or microblog by 24:00 on Wednesday 8 July


Dr Andrew Dunning ( is the R.W. Hunt Curator of Medieval Manuscripts at the Bodleian Library. 

For more medieval matters from Oxford, have a look at the website of the Oxford Medieval Studies TORCH Programme and the OMS blog 

View recordings of these events here:

Please note - at this time, you need to have a  Microsoft Stream login for the first video

Blogging Manuscripts with Polonsky German

Teaching the Digital Codex

Blogging Manuscripts for the General Public

top of website for manuscripts, showing celtic designs