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Gwara (2012 Congress)

Scott Gwara
(Department of English, University of South Carolina and King Alfred’s Notebook LLC)
“Composite Books of Hours in American Collections”

Abstract of Paper Presented at the 47th International Medieval Congress (Kalamazoo, 2012)

Session on “Medieval Manuscript Discoveries in North America:  Texts, Illuminations, Collections”
Co-sponsored by King Alfred’s Notebook LLC and the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence

Organized by Scott Gwara

Sessions at the 2012 Congress

[First published on our first website on 21 May 2012.]

In the early sixteenth century, an anonymous French nobleman adapted a fourteenth-century Book of Hours for his personal use.  Now preserved as Lexington, Kentucky, MS Kentuckiensis IX, this fascinating book exhibits a mixture of Uses and a combination of exceptional as well as amateur illumination.  It represents a little-explored area of study:  How were fragmentary Books of Hours adapted for later use, and what texts were added, omitted, or changed?

Considering a number of manuscripts or fragments exclusively in American collections, I survey the ways in which older prayer books were reconditioned and redeployed.  While Eamon Duffy, in his book Marking the Hours:  English People and Their Prayers, 1240-1570 (2007), has shown how such manuscripts were often annotated, I emphasize how they were modified, sometimes in conformity with local uses, and sometimes in appreciation of novel artistic emphases.