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Paleography Classes at Department of Romance Languages

personeniAt the invitation of Maria Desiatova, head of the Department of Romance Languages, Dr. Dario Personeni of Bergamo State Archive (Italy) visited Saint Tikhon's Orthodox University of the Humanities on October 14, 2019.

Two informational lectures on paleography were held for 3rd-year students of the Department of Romance Languages, during which the Italian visitor discussed in detail the particularities and special methods for reading manuscripts in Latin and the vernacular. Students began their engrossing and yet winding journey by studying Gothic texts, the first of which was Steffens Tafel 86. Takings this manuscript as an example, Dr. Personeni talked about the structural and graphical nuances of the writing system. After this, students were given the opportunity to compare late Carolingian script from the early 12th century and Gothic script from 1250. During this comparison exercise, Dr. Personeni talked about various complications encountered when reading manuscripts. It turns out that these come not only from unusual writing techniques, but also manifold abbreviations. In our technological era, we are helped in the task of deciphering these by the Italian online resource Dizionario di abbreviature di Adriano Cappelli.

During the second session, Dr. Personeni turned to discussion of Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy. He gave each student the opportunity to try reading the beginning of the text, which is written in one of the Southern Italian vernaculars.

The lectures flew by, and the students were pleasantly surprised by the fact that, despite the objective complexity of the subject, they were able after only a short time to acquire basic skills for deciphering difficult medieval manuscript texts. It is proposed to continue the classes as part of a planned summer school in paleography led by Dario Personeni as a work placement for Italianists from the Department of Romance Languages.

Anastasia Kuznetsova, 3rd-year student of Romance languages