From late November through December, 2021, doctoral candidate Britt Boler Hunter will travel to several European libraries to conduct dissertation research supported by the Penelope Mason Dissertation Research Award and the International Center of Medieval Art Student Travel Grant. Hunter will examine and photograph several understudied multi-text manuscripts produced in late medieval German-speaking regions. These manuscripts – housed at the Wellcome Library and British Library in London, England; the Bavarian State Library in Munich, Germany; and St. Gallen Abbey Library in Switzerland – comprise crucial comparanda for Hunter’s work evaluating the mnemonic role of visual information in late medieval multi-text manuscript production. The research conducted during this trip will form the basis for her final dissertation chapter that interprets the historical-intellectual framework of the late fifteenth-century Wellcome Apocalypse (London, Wellcome Library MS 49).
In preparing for this research trip, Hunter reflects on dissertation writing during the era of COVID-19:
The first essay published on the Wellcome Apocalypse was written in London in the middle of World War II, and the next major publication was produced by a German scholar during the Cold War. It occurs to me that my dissertation, which builds on the groundwork set by these foundational scholars, is also taking shape during a global crisis. In fact, the manuscript itself was produced during a tumultuous period of German history rife with political and social unrest. Preparing for this research trip, it strikes me more clearly than ever that art has a particularly potent ability to unite people through our shared cultures and historical pasts.
Above, folios from Munich, Bavarian State Library, Cgm 8201, L to R:
fol. 95v: The Tower of Wisdom
fol. 96r: Tree of Vice
fol. 97v: Crucifixion with Ecclesia, Synagoga, Life, and Death