We have been thrilled to host the amazing Dr. Scott Gwara, of the University of South Carolina, who has come to the Watkinson Library for several reasons.
First, he was to give a talk about one of his current projects: a history of medieval manuscripts in North America (he focused his talk last night on those in America’s liberal arts colleges), which he did on the 19th. Dr. Gwara has visited 80 libraries and seen over 3,000 manuscripts so far, and he says he has some 25,000 to go before the project is finished. It was rather breathtaking to hear the stories of the individual collectors who have made it possible for these institutions to own these amazing artifacts of the medieval world.
The Watkinson’s collection of some two dozen manuscripts were, of course, featured in part of the lecture. Scott had already blogged about them for us on his first visit. Several of these manuscripts came by way of the 19th-century collector Joseph Jesse Cooke (1813-1881), who will be the subject of another post.
Dr. Gwara is also an extended guest speaker in Jonathan Elukin’s History of the Book class, where he is teaching the students about the structure of Books of Hours and medieval Bibles. Here they are hard at work at their assignments and presentations.
Each student was asked to identify different parts in their books of hours and Bibles, and it was a great moment to see one group exclaim “we GET it!” in surprised delight.
Scott Gwara graduated summa cum laude from Hamilton College and, as a Marshall Scholar, earned a second BA in Anglo-Saxon, Norse, and Celtic from Cambridge University. He received his PhD from the University of Toronto, where he was a Mellon Fellow. Scott has authored five books and forty articles on Medieval Latin, Old English literature, manuscript transmission, and medieval education. His forthcoming works are on genre in Old English, treasure-giving in Beowulf, and the notorious book destroyer Otto F. Ege. Among other things, he is currently writing a history of medieval manuscripts in North America. For the past 18 years Scott has taught at the University of South Carolina.