The Social Lives of Manuscripts (and the People that Read them)

Surviving manuscripts are foundational for our understanding of almost every pre-modern society. But Michael Penn contends that scholars often read the “wrong” parts of manuscripts. What if instead of focusing on a manuscript’s main text, we instead focus—quite literally—on the margins? In 40 minutes of colorful pictures (and colorful stories), Professor Penn will introduce to you the social worlds preserved in ancient manuscripts. 

You will encounter book thieves, vindictive ex-friends, forgeries, stolen blessing, rival siblings, and perhaps the harshest library overdue notice ever written. In the process, this introduction to the “lives” of ancient manuscripts will also help illuminate the lives of these works’ often marginalized readers.