Fragments from Engleberg: Transcribing and Contextualizing a Medieval Collection in a Missouri Abbey

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Dates

2019 -

Project Abstract

The library at Conception Abbey (Conception, Missouri) holds thirty-three manuscript leaves and fragments, many of which were a gift from its mother house, Engelberg Abbey, in the late 1870s. These documents served as a teaching collection about medieval paleography for the fledgling seminary at Conception and are a significant cultural inheritance from its mother house. Even as these manuscript leaves are relics of Engelberg's past, they are now an important part of the cultural history of the United States. Founded in 1120 and still active today, Engelberg (http://www.kloster-engelberg.ch/) had a renowned reputation as a double house of men and women, with two libraries and scriptoria, yet book survivals are limited, in part because the medieval repository was dispersed by the French army in 1798. The Engelberg fragments at Conception Abbey, some of which show evidence of having been refashioned to support the binding of post-medieval books (possibly at Engelberg itself), are a considerable treasure, for they represent something of Engelberg's cultural patrimony and enhance the narrative of Benedictine resettlement in the Americas. While the leaves are available digitally through the Digital Scriptorium, they have not been transcribed. The CODICES team is at work transcribing and tagging the data in these fragments to make them available for synthetic research. Specialists in computing are developing a software tool to enable computational searches for fragments with similar algorithmically identifiable features. Locating and linking together other survivals from the same dismembered books would allow us to study the transmission of fragments over time and permit us to recuperate portions of these lost books. This project aims, therefore, to expand access to this collection, understand the context in which this collection was created, and contribute meaningfully to existing scholarship on the medieval library at Engelberg.

Project Team

Virginia Blanton
Department of English
College of Arts & Sciences
University of Missouri-Kansas City

Yugi Lee
Department of Computer
Science Electrical Engineering
School of Computing and Engineering
University of Missouri-Kansas City

Nathan Oyler
Department of Chemistry
School of Biological and Chemical Sciences
University of Missouri-Kansas City

Jeff Rydberg-Cox
Classics Program
Department of English
College of Arts & Sciences
School of Computing and Engineering
University of Missouri-Kansas City

Research Assistants

Rebecca Adams
Department of English
College of Arts & Sciences

Mary Jean Miller
Department of English
College of Arts & Sciences