Medievalists' Spring Break

Author: Mary Hendriksen


Ten Notre Dame graduate students enrolled in a seminar on the editing of Latin texts traveled to Vienna, Austria over the University’s spring break to study medieval manuscripts and to meet with colleagues in several Austrian libraries and institutes for advanced study. Prof. Martin Bloomer and Prof. Hildegund Mueller, both of the Department of Classics and the Medieval Institute, designed the trip as the culmination of an advanced seminar on text editing—how to find, read and evaluate the medieval copies of Latin texts to determine what an ancient or medieval author actually wrote. Students were given a medieval manuscript, dating from the eighth to the fifteenth centuries, to study at the National Library of Austria. In addition, the group traveled to the famous monastic libraries at Melk and Goettweig, where they saw, in addition to the magnificent baroque chapels and libraries, treasures of the library collection.

This was the second trip offered to graduate student medievalists, theologians, and classicists to major European collections. Last year, Prof. Bloomer and Prof. Daniel Sheerin led a group of students to the Herzog August Library in Wolfenbuettel, Germany. Prof. Bloomer says: “It is my hope that Notre Dame will continue as the place to train graduate students in the literature, history, theology, philosophy, and art history of late antiquity and the middle ages. Working with the primary evidence—the physical originals of what a medieval author wrote and read—is a necessity for original research and a great pleasure. Research trips at an early stage in graduate education provide the student with opportunities to apply their skills, broaden their research interests and abilities, and to make contacts and even friendships with European researchers and archivists.”