Past Event

Branner Forum: Beatrice Kitzinger (Princeton University), 'Regarding Cassiodorus'

April 14, 2023
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
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612 Schermerhorn Hall

The talk addresses a rarely published schoolbook from the abbey of St. Gall, dated to the mid-ninth century and modified in the 880s–90s. The manuscript contains Donatus' and Flavius Mallius Theodorus' treatises on grammar, Alcuin's on rhetoric, and part of Cassiodorus' Institutiones. The Cassiodorus section is fitted with sprightly diagrams parsing out sections of the argument, each (literally) tied to a human or animal figure, or a composition of vessels and vegetation. At the end of the ninth century, two blank pages were filled with sketches that have generally been dismissed after mention of their singularity because of their sketchy quality. The drawings in the body of the manuscript deserve further study as a set, and analysis with a view to understanding how they were meant to function in an encounter with Cassiodorus that triangulates among seeing, reading, drawing, and learning.