|ACTUALITÉ Printemps 2010|
d'abolition de la chaire de paléographie
à King's College London
Le 28 janvier 2010, un article publié sur Times Online apprenait au monde savant, frappé de stupéfaction, que dans le cadre de restrictions budgétaires, l'administration de King's College avait l'intention d'abolir l'enseignement de la paléographie dans ses murs.
Le prestige international de cette chaire, successivement illustrée au cours du dernier demi-siècle par Julian Brown ( 1987), Albinia de la Mare ( 2001), et aujourd'hui par le professeur David Ganz, ne paraissent pas avoir pesé bien lourd face aux triviaux arguments comptables ; pas plus que le fait qu'il s'agisse, pour l'ensemble du Royaume-Uni, de l'unique lieu de transmission d'un savoir de très haut niveau, patiemment accumulé et vital pour l'ensemble des disciplines sur lesquelles repose l'histoire culturelle de notre civilisation.
Les motifs invoqués, tout réalistes et légitimes qu'ils soient, sont énoncés avec un impitoyable cynisme, qui ne laisse aucune place aux considérations intellectuelles et ne daigne pas envisager un seul instant les conséquences catastrophiques d'une mesure qui compromet la survie même de l'ensemble des secteurs de la philologie et de l'histoire classiques et médiévales.
Cette effarante nouvelle a provoqué une immense vague de protestations indignées. On pourra lire ci-dessous un certain nombre de celles qui émanent de membres du Comité international de paléographie latine ou de l'association APICES.
Index alphabétique des signataires
I. Allen (Chicago) Patrick Andrist
(Berne) Consuelo Dutschke (New York)
Claudia Enger (Berne) J. P. Gumbert
(Lopik, NL) Guðvarður Már Gunnlaugson
(Reykjavik) Jeffrey Hamburger (Cambridge,
Mass.) Odd Einar Haugen (Bergen)
Monica Hedlund (Uppsala) Rijcklof Hofman
(Nimègue) Marie-Clotilde Hubert
(Paris) John Lowden (Londres) Marilena
Maniaci (Cassino) Vladimir Mazhuga
(St-Petersbourg) Outi Merisalo (Jyväskylä)
Denis Muzerelle (Paris) Francis
Newton (Durham, N.C.) Eva Nylander
(Lund) Erik Petersen (Copenhague)
Beat von Scarpatetti (Bâle)
Marc H. Smith (Paris) Herrad Spilling
(Stuttgart) Rodney Thomson (Hobart, Tasmania)
Teresa Webber (Cambridge) Laura
L. Williams (Falmouth, Maine) Stefano
|Stefano ZAMPONI, Président du Comité international de paléographie latine|
Gentilissimo Professor Trainor,
Le scrivo in qualità di presidente del Comité
International de Paléographie Latine l'associazione che
raccoglie i più eminenti studiosi di paleografia di tutto il
mondo e che è affiliata al Comité International des Sciences
Historiques per esprimere preoccupazione e sconcerto per l'annunciata
soppressione della cattedra di Paleografia al King's College.
La paleografia come disciplina che ha per oggetto primo
ed esclusivo la scrittura permette acquisizioni specifiche che sono
precluse ad altre scienze; inoltre per tutte le discipline umanistiche
dall'antichità classica al Rinascimento la paleografia è
uno dei fondamenti della ricerca, offrendo i primi strumenti di accesso
alle testimonianze manoscritte. Sono fatti noti, che molte lettere in
questi giorni hanno giustamente sottolineato e che non occorre ribadire.
Egualmente è stato sottolineato come David Ganz,
degno successore di Julian Brown e Tilly de la Mare, presenti un eccellente
profilo come studioso e come docente, qualità ampiamente riconosciute
in sede internazionale, come ribadisce anche la sua elezione a membro
del Comité International de Paléographie Latine nell'anno
Vorrei soltanto segnalare le possibili conseguenze della
decisione del King's College, soprattutto in un paese, come il Regno
Unito, ricchissimo di manoscritti (provenienti da tutta Europa) e di
documenti antichi e medievali. La soppressione dell'unica cattedra di
paleografia presente nel mondo anglosassone diventa immediatamente un
segnale, individua l'inizio di un processo che in pochi decenni rischia
di azzerare le capacità di affrontare criticamente in originale
l'eredità culturale (libri, epigrafi, documenti) che ci giunge
dall'antichità fino agli inizi dell'età moderna. Questa
soppressione rappresenterà l'interruzione di un'importante tradizione
di studi, già ridottissima e in grande difficoltà nel
Regno Unito e in tutto il mondo anglosassone, segnerà una cesura
che difficilmente potrà essere recuperata, disperderà
una scuola che può fiorire solo nella continuità (i paleografi
si costruiscono con anni di lavoro). Tutto questo significa togliere
alimento alla ricerca in campo umanistico, condannare gli studia
humanitatis alla ripetizione e all'ignoranza prima, alla marginalità
e alla inutilità sociale poi.
Vi invito a riflettere. Fate in modo che non si debba
applicare alla direzione del King's College questo motto latino:
Quos Jupiter perdere vult, dementat prius.
Presidente del Cipl
Marc H. SMITH, Vice-Président du Comité international de paléographie latine
Dear Professor Trainor,
Together with many fellow scholars, I must express dismay
at the news concerning the chair in Palaeography at Kings. Palaeography
is a basic prerequisite for any kind of work with primary sources. Without
the endless opportunities for discovery and renewal contained in such
sources, scholarship could only end up going round in circles, accumulating
glosses of glosses or gratuitous extrapolations, as it sometimes will.
It is roughly estimated that the libraries and archives of the Western world hold between 500,000 and 1 million mediaeval manuscripts, and millions of charters, rolls and registers. This legacy, of which large parts remain uncharted, constitutes the majority of any form of knowledge and culture that has come down to us not only from the Middle Ages but also from classical Antiquity. Furthermore, it is the most massive accumulation of pre-Renaissance material artefacts preserved in their original or close-to-original condition, and still used as they were designed to be.
Palaeography, with its offspring codicology, is the one discipline that considers such artefacts for what they were and are, and not only for what information they may offer in specialised fields such as literary studies and philology, art history, the history of science, religious studies, philosophy, and all branches of history in the broadest possible sense. What palaeography has to say on those artefacts is of primary importance for any of those disciplines, if the texts and art they contain are to be correctly understood and plausibly interpreted.
David Ganz, for one, has earned much gratitude thanks to both his own work and the decisive help and advice he has offered countless individuals in many parts of the academic world. Conversely, one could mention any number of publications by authors past and present, great and small, whose arguments are undermined by palaeographical misconceptions. As for the essential pursuit of palaeography, the specific study of writing as such, it has much to offer (and yet to discover) concerning the historical development of this fundamental cultural technology of ours, i.e. about how we read, write and think to this day.
Southern Europe possesses many active and prestigious chairs in palaeography and related fields. North of the Alps, it appears that being an endangered species is not sufficient to become a protected species. You are aware, of course, that Kings already has the only chair in the whole of the English-speaking part of the world. Even a small number of professional palaeographers might be enough for the ecosystem of ancient and medieval studies, to train manuscript librarians and archivists (not to mention experts for the market), and scholars prepared to use handwritten material for their research, together with younger palaeographers who will continue disseminating the necessary notions and skills. Supply is already shorter than demand, and cutting away what is left at this juncture will strike all serious scholars as the wrong decision.
Yours sincerely, with hope,
Marc H. SMITH
de paléographie médiévale et moderne
|Marilena MANIACI, Présidente d'APICES|
Gentilissimo Professor Trainor,
Scrivo in qualità di presidente dell'associazione APICES - che raccoglie molti fra i più qualificati studiosi, bibliotecari e cultori delle discipline legate al libro e al documento medievale, attivi nelle principali istituzioni universitarie e nelle più note biblioteche di conservazione europee ed internazionali - per associarmi al coro già assai nutrito delle reazioni suscitate dall'annuncio dell'imminente cessazione del finanziamento assegnato dal King's College alla cattedra di Paleografia. La notizia, tempestivamente diffuso sulla nostra mailing list, ha suscitato un'ampia eco fra gli iscritti ad Apices, determinando nell'arco di poche ore un flusso di messaggi di incredulità, solidarietà, disorientamento protesta che non ha eguali, per quantità ed intensità degli accenti, nella storia dell'associazione.
L'importanza della paleografia sia in quanto disciplina autonoma sia per l'apporto che essa è in grado di fornire praticamente ad ogni ambito degli studi storici, classici medievali e moderni, è ben nota e non richiede di essere ulteriormente sottolineata: la formazione di chiunque intenda dedicarsi, da qualunque angolazione, allo studio dell'antichità e del medioevo non può prescindere dalla conoscenza dell'evoluzione storica della scrittura e del libro come oggetto fisico, presupposti essenziali per la comprensione della sua funzione e del suo ruolo nella società. La cattedra del King's College costituisce, per la fama internazionale dei docenti che l'hanno ricoperta (Julian Brown, Albina de la Mare e oggi David Ganz) e l'importanza del lavoro di ricerca e di formazione da essi svolto con autorevolezza, entusiasmo e generosità, un punto di riferimento imprescindibile per tutti gli studiosi e una ricchezza inestimabile per un'intera tradizione di studi.
Il taglio delle risorse finanziarie assegnate alla cattedra di Paleografia costituisce pertanto non solo per la Gran Bretagna, ma per l'intera comunità scientifica internazionale, un evento deprecabile, fonte di un danno gravissimo per la ricerca e, più in generale, di un impoverimento per il mondo della cultura. A nome di APICES, mi permetto quindi di formulare l'auspicio che le autorità accademiche rivedano la decisione assunta, e che la sopravvivenza della cattedra di Paleografia continui ad essere ritenuta una delle priorità irrinunciabili della propria offerta formativa, consentendo al King's College di mantenere, anche per il futuro, il proprio ruolo affermato di centro di eccellenza e di impulso per gli studi paleografici a livello internazionale.
Presidente di APICES
|Consuelo W. DUTSCHKE, Membre du Comité international de paléographie latine|
1 February 2010
Dear Professors Trainor and Palmowski,
I was stunned at the announcement that King's College London intends to "disinvest" itself of its Chair of Palaeography, and the current incumbent, Professor David Ganz. All I could imagine initially was some sort of mistake, a typographical error by a secretary. Palaeography at King's College London is a world-class position, and has had a series of very distinguished holders of the chair: Francis Wormald, Julian Brown, A. C. de la Mare, and now David Ganz. These are people who have formed not only generations of students but the very thinking of the discipline itself.
I first met Professor Ganz some sixteen years ago, when I was running a grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities here at Columbia to catalogue our medieval and Renaissance manuscripts. At the time I only knew of Professor Ganz, of his stellar reputation in the field. I asked him to assume the function of the one outside Consultant on the grant, to judge and advance my own work, and to formally catalogue our manuscripts in caroline minuscule. Since then, and now that I know him as a person, Professor Ganz continues to both judge and advance my work, and to give definitive appreciations of the manuscripts of his specialization.
If you will go online, to the Digital Scriptorium website (http://www.digital-scriptorium.org), and search on Professor Ganz's name, you will see that he has contributed to our knowledge of manuscripts in from coast to coast. The precise localization and dating of these primary sources are the sine qua non step in integrating the knowledge from the source into the pool of our received knowledge. It is only by precise tracking of the surviving evidence that we can watch ideas bloom and grow across Europe and through the ages. Palaeography is the foundation of every discipline that traces its history to a pre-print era; without it, at best we guess, at worst we build castles on sand. Historians of all disciplines have asked Professor Ganz's help in this crucial area; we have all looked to King's College for guidance. How is it possible that King's College itself so undervalues what the rest of us admire so greatly at King's College?
The simplistic answer from you is, I know, financial constraints. But we've all faced financial constraints in the past several years, and some institutions have dealt with the problem in more flexible or imaginative ways. Block all new appointments? Freeze all salaries? Institute furloughs? whereby the entire institution or building is closed for X number of days, even consecutively, in order to pare down salaries (of professional, janitorial, security staff), and also to slash heating and electrical bills? I know of some places where the combined staff met and agreed to salary reductions by X% in order to arrive at the overall institutional rate of reduced income. Agree to longer summer hours (when lighting and airconditioning is less onerous) and to shorter winter hours? Offer inducements to the staff as individuals for flex time in their appointments: aspiring novelists, mothers of small children, theater devotees as well as academics writing books all have reasons to find more time for personal pursuits a greater reward than a high salary.
I don't imagine that either of you relished the task set to you: reduce the overall budget by X amount. But I also don't imagine that you understood the prestige and the power of the Palaeography position and of Professor Ganz. Please try to find a different solution to the financial crisis-the which will, after all, only last so long, whereas the loss of the Palaeography position and of Professor Ganz will harm King's College and the rest of us permanently.
Consuelo DUTSCHKE, Ph.D.
Director, Digital Scriptorium
|J.P. GUMBERT , Membre du Comité international de paléographie latine|
Lopik, 2 Feb. 2010
Alarmed by the news of the planned suppression of the Chair of Palaeography at King's College London, I take the liberty of adding my voice to the numerous other voices seriously concerned about this proposal.
The subject of Palaeography is medieval handwritten books. These
To make sense of these books - beginning with being able to read
them, and going on to understanding them archaeologically and culturally
- takes skills. And these skills need to be taught, and to be developed.
This cannot be exclusively left to assistants giving some elementary
instruction; there must be some scholars working and teaching creatively
in this field.
During the past decennia academic posts for palaeography have been
abolished all over Europe at an alarming rate [my own chair in Leiden
among them], to the point where most of Europe North of the Alps
is now virtually empty. Palaeographers are a highly endangered species.
The more posts are abolished, the heavier the responsibility for
the few remaining ones must weigh. The country (or county) which
happens to harbour the last tigers or the last whales finds itself
with a special responsibility, which it cannot shirk; so also with
the last palaeographers.
Otherwise we must envisage a future where all manuscripts will have been digitized and made accessible on the Internet, but there will be no one left to understand or even read them, and so they will, for all practical purposes, have turned into dead matter.
I would strongly urge that all possible avenues be explored in order to salvage one of the few remaining serious academic posts in this field in Northern Europe.
Prof. Dr. J.P. GUMBERT
Emeritus Professor of Western Palaeography and Codicology, Leiden University
|Monica HEDLUND, et al., Membres nordiques du Comité international de paléographie latine|
4 February 2010
We are writing this letter as Nordic members of the
Comité International de Paléographie Latine.
Abolishing the Chair of Palaeography at Kings
College would be a hard blow to the whole English-speaking scholarly
community, of which the Nordic countries are a part. Palaeography
may seem an exclusive and narrow field, but it is in fact an essential
part of the training of scholars in the humanities. Although only
a very small percentage of our students end up as professional palaeographers,
we teach generations of students in the humanities, from Classical
studies to Early Modern linguistics, to read and competently judge
their own source material, and to put it in its correct historical
Professor David Ganz is a highly respected scholar
and teacher in our field, famous for his generosity in sharing his
knowledge with colleagues and students. To cut the funding of his
chair would seriously damage the discipline and the international
prestige of Kings College.
We sincerely hope that such plans can be reconsidered.
Professor em. of Latin with Latin
Palaeography and Codicology
Uppsala University, Sweden
Guðvarður Már GUNNLAUGSON
Lund University Library, Sweden
Professor of Romance philology
University of Jyväskylä, Finland
Senior researcher, dr.phil.
Manuscript Department, The Royal Library
Odd Einar HAUGEN
of Old Norse Philology
|Marie-Clotilde HUBERT, Membre surnuméraire du Comité international de paléographie latine|
Paris, le 31 janvier 2010
Monsieur le Principal et Cher Collègue,
J'apprends avec une vive émotion qu'il est envisagé de supprimer la chaire de paléographie de King's College. Je ne peux pas, je ne veux pas croire à cette information.
Il ne m'appartient pas de juger des impératifs économiques et autres considérations qui motiveraient cette décision. Mais nous savons tous qu'une mesure prise en raison de circonstances factuelles se révèle tôt ou tard catastrophique. Vous avez le privilège de posséder dans votre institution une chaire, unique, où se sont succédé jusqu'à nos jours des savants de renommée internationale et où des générations d'étudiants ont été formés dans une discipline-clé.
Quelle que soit l'évolution des technologies, la paléographie demeure l'élément de base incontournable non seulement pour la recherche historique entendue au sens large, mais aussi pour la conservation et la compréhension du patrimoine écrit. La suppression de son enseignement signifierait d'ici peu l'effondrement de grands pans de ce qui a fait, aux yeux de la communauté scientifique internationale, l'honneur et la réputation de l'école historique britannique.
Veuillez croire, Monsieur le Principal et Cher Collègue, à l'expression de ma considération la plus distinguée.
honoraire de paléographie
Saint-Petersburg, January 31, 2010
Dear Professor Trainer and Professor Palmowski ,
Kings College's strained financial situation, like the measures envisaged for its amelioration, resemble conditions faced by educational and scientific institutions throughout the world. I personally understand well how painful your task is as you try to reduce expenses at Kings College. However, I think it my duty to tell you about the extraordinary experience of Russian scholars as we have struggled to preserve such fields of study in the humanities and social sciences as Greek and Latin, Roman law, Byzantine studies, Latin and Greek palaeography, and the history of early Christianity. After flourishing until the early 1920s, the teaching of all these subjects was abolished, as was philological education in secondary schools. The impact on our national culture was enormous. It is easy to decree by impulsive fiat the destruction of traditions that took centuries to establish. Then, in the 1930s, two chairs of Classics were reestablished in Leningrad and Moscow, but there was no teaching of classics in secondary schools. It was amidst the disasters of the Second World War, that Byzantine, European medieval, and early Christian studies were duly reestablished and the special scientific reviews appeared anew. Immediately after the War, Latin studies were reintroduced in numerous secondary schools. All this helped the nation recreate itself and survive in extremely difficult conditions.
Some years later all this progress began to be reversed. The teaching
of the classics was again stopped in the secondary schools. The cultural
degradation of the new Russia is very well known throughout the world.
I sincerely hope that you will struggle to maintain the humanistic
traditions so long preserved and cultivated in Great Britain, and resist
the pressures for change in the name either of "economy" or
"social equality" whose disastrous effects we in Russia have
experienced at first hand. Traditions are easy to abolish and painfully
difficult to reestablish.
With best regards,
Vladimir I. MAZHUGA
Institute of History
The international scholarly community has learnt with dismay that King's College is planning to abolish the only chair of palaeography in the UK. As palaeography does not only consist of reading old scripts but also placing them in their historical context, such a decision would inevitably have a very negative impact on the development of the research of a number of disciplines concerned with original written sources, such as history, art history, ecclesiastical history, text editing.
Considering the worldwide impact of centuries-long British research in book history, the effects would not only be limited to Britain but affect international research in general. The high international standing of Professor David Ganz in this field makes the planned measure seem quite in contrast to efforts at upholding and enhancing the prestige of King's College as an academic institution.
The Finnish Society for Book history earnestly asks you
to reconsider this decision.
Chair of the Finnish Society for Book history
|Denis MUZERELLE, Membre du Comité international de paléographie latine|
Paris, le 3 février 2010
Monsieur le Principal,
En tant que responsable de la principale formation de recherche française
spécifiquement vouée à la paléographie,
jestime de mon devoir de joindre ma voix aux innombrables cris
de stupeur qui sélèvent à lannonce
de limminente suppression de la chaire de paléographie
à Kings College.
Avec lensemble de mes collègues, je mafflige de
voir retirée à ce savant exceptionnel quest le
professeur Ganz la possibilité de transmettre son immense savoir
aux jeunes générations, et de ce fait irrémédiablement
compromise la survie de ce qui constitue lindispensable clé
des études classiques et médiévales.
Je souhaiterais toutefois situer mon intervention sur un plan moins
personnel et souligner à quel point cette décision me
paraît non seulement préjudiciable à la recherche,
mais surtout en total désaccord avec le contexte scientifique
Cette décision et les motivations dont elle est assortie laissent
en effet limpression que la paléographie a été
regardée comme une discipline confidentielle et désuète
voire oiseuse et moribonde.
Une telle appréciation est catégoriquement démentie
par les faits. Au cours de ces trente dernières années,
on a assisté au contraire à un développement
sans précédent des études paléographiques,
puissamment stimulé par les possibilités quoffrent
de nouvelles techniques pour la diffusion des reproductions des documents
originaux, tant par lusage des microfilms que par le recours
à limagerie numérique. La vitalité des
intérêts suscités par ce vaste domaine a même
amené lémergence dune branche nouvelle,
connue sous le nom de « codicologie », dont lexpansion
ne sest jamais ralentie tout au long de la même période.
Cette efflorescence sest traduite très concrètement par une multiplication phénoménale des publications et des réunions scientifiques (colloques internationaux ou journées détudes dintérêt local); les sites Internet consacrés aux manuscrits ont fleuri de tous côtés; les bibliothèques, grandes et petites, ont rivalisé dinitiatives pour faire partager la connaissance de leurs fonds; plusieurs nouvelles revues ou publications en série ont été lancées; le vénérable Comité international de paléographie latine a triplé ses effectifs; une association internationale sest formée pour réunir tous ceux qui souhaitaient participer à ce grand mouvement de progrès.
Un chiffre précis peut, à lui seul, rendre objectivement
compte de lappétit croissant du monde savant pour les
travaux paléographiques: en lespace de vingt ans, le
nombre de pages que la Gazette du livre médiéval
consacre à rendre compte de lactivité scientifique
sous ses différentes formes a été multiplié
Tous ces symptômes concourent à montrer que le monde
na jamais autant eu besoin de paléographes quaujourdhui.
Je vous prie donc, Monsieur le Principal, de bien vouloir prendre
ces faits en considération avantde rendre votre décision
En souhaitant que vous puissiez vous montrer sensible à ces arguments, je vous prie dagéer, Monsieur le Principal, lexpression de ma respectueuse considération.
Responsable de la section « Paléographie latine »
Institut de recherche et dhistoire des textes (CNRS), Paris
Membre du Comité international de paléographie latine
Membre fondateur d'APICES (Associations paléographique internationale)
Directeur-fondateur de la 'Gazette du livre médiéval
|Francis NEWTON , Membre du Comité international de paléographie latine|
Dear Prof. Trainor,
I write to protest the proposal to end financial support for the Chair of Palaeography at Kings College.
Palaeography is fundamental to the entire range of classical and mediaeval studies: not only textual criticism and the editing of texts, but more broadly, for history (intellectual and cultural history, economic history, history of science (e.g. mathematics, medicine, and the rest), art history), musicology, theology, and Greek literature and Latin literature and English and all vernacular and modern literatures of Europe.
It is the glory of palaeography as taught and practiced in the British Isles in modern times, for more than a century, that it is closely tied to cultural history. And David Ganz, palaeographer and historian, is internationally famous as a representative of just that sort of training and teaching. In addition, David is probably the most important single figure in the worldwide network of scholars who aid each other and share their expertise in a generous and mutually beneficial way.
Kings College may not be aware of it, but the occupant of your Chair of Palaeography has spread the fame of Kings College throughout the Republic of Letters; if you doubt my assessment, just look at the countless publications in which David and therefore Kings College are cited in acknowledgement of scholarly aid. The chair in question, and the man who holds it, are at the center of this network that I have been trying to describe, as his predecessors Julian Brown and Tilly de la Mare (both of whom I knew) were earlier. It would be an intolerable blow to the renown of Kings College and its longstanding humane tradition if this essential part of its scholarly program were to be lost.
|Beat von SCARPATETTI, Membre du Comité international de paléographie latine|
Please receive my entreaty to spare the chair in paleography
at King's College.
The Beda-Venerabilis-Codex 451 in the Library of St. Gall, written in Anglo-Saxon minuscule (see my recent Catalogue, 2009, p. 8 s., pl. 5), illustrates a wide network of palaeographical links across Europe, and the influence of Insular writing on the continent as far as St. Gall during the early middle ages, which is also the field of David Ganz' own teaching and research.
The international network of scholars is just as vital today, and the loss of the chair at King's would create a terrible gap in it. Moreover, if the teaching of palaeography should disappear, the access of future research to our whole heritage of pre-modern written documents would become seriously limited (see my warning in an article in the Gazette du Livre médiéval 48, 2006).
Considering the enormous worldwide cost of all technical disciplines, the money saved by abolishing a single chair in palaeography will never be equal to the loss of such an essential tradition.
I would be grateful if you should give heed to this and other letters, and reconsider your decision.
Beat von SCARPATETTI
|Herrad SPILLING, Membre du Comité international de paléographie latine|
February 1st, 2010
Would you like to see Westminster Abbey becoming reduced to rubble?
Of course not I am sure.
Manuscripts are monuments, too, handing down history; manuscripts
are mobile monuments, they are delicate and highly varied treasures
of memory, craftsmanship and creative mental activity. Manuscripts,
therefore, need well trained hands, eyes and brains; they deserve
professional understanding. To acquire such capacity, one must
Britain had famous, globally respected teachers in palaeography who played an important part in international research; I only remind of Julian Brown and Albinia de la Mare: not to continue what they have advanced means to step on their life's work and to cut off the international col-laboration which is absolutely necessary for palaeographical and historical research.
Dear Sir, please, think it over again. Surely you don't want Britain to become an illiterate considering her earliest books.
|Rodney THOMSON, Membre du Comité international de paléographie latine|
Dear Prof. Trainor,
I am sure that by now the letters from so many distinguished colleagues from around the world will have impressed upon you the esteem in which the King's College Chair is held, and the depth of concern at its proposed disestablishment.
I can only echo the sentiments already expressed: that the discipline of palaeography is fundamental to the scholarly pursuit of medieval studies (history, art and literature) in general; that the King's College Chair and its incumbents have played, and continue to play, a vital role in the promotion of the discipline; and that such a tradition, once destroyed, will be very difficult to recreate in the future.
Unique to my own contribution is only the simple fact that I live and work at the greatest possible distance from London. Despite this, I was well acquainted with the previous two holders of the Chair, and count the present one as a personal friend. In the past I have been invited by these persons to give lectures and seminars in the College.
The 'impact' of your Chair of Palaeography is thus literally world-wide, with a reach from Iceland and Russia to Australia and New Zealand. I am sure that many other colleagues in the antipodes would wish to join me in urging you to reconsider its disestablishment.
|Teresa WEBBER , Membre du Comité international de paléographie latine|
Dear Professor Trainor,
I am writing to urge you and your colleagues to reconsider the proposal to disinvest in the discipline of palaeography by terminating the King's Chair in Palaeography. Expertise and continued research in palaeography is fundamental to the understanding of the history of written communication and culture in the Middle Ages, and of the significance of that period for the post-medieval history of writing and for the preservation and transmission of the literature of the ancient world. An, in effect, single-person department might at first glance appear less sustainable than a large one, but that would be to ignore the close and indispensable relationship between palaeography and numerous other larger departments in the humanities.
The founders of the various European national historical institutes in the mid-nineteenth century recognised the fundamental role played by palaeography, not only for the practical skills it provided (to read unfamiliar letterforms and other graphic conventions) but also for the analytical and interpretative expertise required to place books and documents within their correct historical context. These requirements remain, since a great proportion of the written artifacts of the past have still to be properly analysed and evaluated. However, more recent developments in scholarship have served to make palaeography still more important. It is increasingly being appreciated that the meaning of written texts for their audience is shaped in part by the material and visual form in which they are transmitted and disseminated; changes in form and appearance accompany changes in the meaning and significance of the texts. The holders of the Chair in Palaeography at King's have all understood the discipline of palaeography as extending beyond the study of purely graphic conventions to include all aspects of the written artifact, and thus to include what is sometimes labelled separately as codicology. Scholars now studying 'the material text' in the early modern and modern periods have much to learn from the methods and approaches of medieval palaeographers such as these.
As the only established chair in palaeography in the English-speaking world, and in view of its proximity to the nation's largest collections of medieval manuscript books and documents (at the British Library and the National Archives), the Chair at King's is of national and international significance. This was recognised by HEFCE a little over a decade ago when it decided to award to King's a major grant towards the endowment of such a post.
The significance of the Chair in Palaeography extends beyond the world of scholarship. Custodians of the major collections of cultural artifacts are rightly being encouraged to widen access to their collections through digitisation projects. For the public interest to be properly served, digital images of the unfamiliar need to be rendered meaningful through description and interpretation. This must be done under the guidance of experts, otherwise the public will be fed misleading or flawed information. Professor Ganz, the current holder of the Chair, has already played a major role in one such project as the principal investigator of the British Library's digital catalogue of illuminated manuscripts.
I appreciate that these are desperately difficult times, when hard decisions must be taken, but I would urge you to view the Chair in Palaeography as a special case, whose termination would have damaging consequences not only for scholarly excellence at King's but also for scholarship in the humanities both nationally and internationally, and for the public awareness and understanding of its written heritage.
|Dr Teresa WEBBER
Senior Lecturer in Palaeography and Codicology
|Michael I. ALLEN, Membre d'APICES|
Chicago, 3 February 2010
Dear Professor Trainor,
It was with shock and disbelief that I learned your intention to
preside over the disinvestment in Latin Palaeography at
Kings College and, in effect, the sacking, of the present, highly
distinguished incumbent of the Chair of Palaeography, Professor David
This scheme is, to my mind, a deeply flawed investment decision,
and there is no question of its having any possible intellectual merit.
My own classes, including formal and informal offerings of Latin Palaeography
(my Classics colleagues also like to use me for other things), at
the University of Chicago burgeon with Asian students avid to learn
the groundwork and instruments of Western technical culture, wherein
the Written Word and Books have reigned supreme and do, in fact, underlie
all the other mechanical innovations in the ascendant today. Meanwhile,
the prime individual focus of palaeographical learning and activity
in the West stands under threat of elimination. This is no rational
economy. The Chair and Professor Ganzs activities attract numerous
students, both formally and informally to London and Britain, in the
Summer Palaeographical Workshops and otherwise to consult, absorb,
and appropriate in new, unsuspected ways the Culture that we purport
to foster or at least to safeguard in our universities. I have no
doubt that the active tuition given, in various guises, by Professor
Ganz attracts far more paying students and colleagues to Britain in
a year than his costs amount to in several. Even if the
synergies of Professor Ganzs intellectual capital,
as our Chicago economists would rightly term it, havent been
assayed in detail, they are certainly real.
Professor Ganz is personally active in myriad ways at the heart of
a considerable worldwide network of scholars. His influence cannot
simply be measured in head-counts or word-counts. It reflects a deep
and long commitment to study, that makes it possible for Professor
Ganz to envisage plausible connections across a vast range of materials,
isolated in origin and now place of conservation, but all in a living
cultural connection. Professor Ganz regularly provides needed answers
and stimulating questions in reply to medievalist-Classicist scholars
like myself and also to scholars working in histories and literatures
of the most varied sorts, both Western and non-Western. His particular
play of mind and deep personal learning allow for essential connections
made inconspicuously, but thanks to him, in the work of many others,
from scholars of Law to practitioners, in my classroom experience,
of Classical Chinese calligraphy.
David Ganz is in no sense a fungible commodity, and it is inconceivable to me that London would willingly lose a man of his singular capacity and world-wide intellectual importance. I know that others have written of the importance of training in Palaeography. That is the most obvious and real need that the looming choice discounts and disregards. It is plain to me, and to anyone who reflects for a moment, that the living tuition rooted in familiarity, intimacy, and experience that Professor Ganz brings to his students are immeasurably important. Where the loss of that would eventually end for history and literature, if the scheme goes forward, seems a horrible and ominous cultural prospect.
I can only hope that good sense and circumspect reason will prevail. People on the market place often dont see beyond their wicket. This is a matter of national and international reach and significance, and I cannot see how an act of wanton capital destruction will rate as a rational choice.
Michael Idomir ALLEN
Professor of Classics
|Patrick ANDRIST, Membre d'APICES, & Claudia ENGER|
Bern, February 4, 2009
Paleography matters also outside the academic world!
Dear Professor Trainor,
Through the press and the internet we heard that
Kings College, due to budget strains, is forced to close down
its world-famous chair of paleography.
As director of a library and as head of the manuscript
department we fully understand the need to keep to a budget and
to plan the best future for one's institution, including sometimes
difficult adjustments. But as diligent managers we have also learned
to adapt our plans to the best interests of the community we serve.
As you know, the publications of your researchers
are famous and highly appreciated. Maybe you are less aware that
they are also widely used and very useful to many people active
in historical and cultural fields, and not just to a few highly
specialised researchers in the ivory tower. Our library owns the
books by David Ganz. We appreciate them and use them for our studies.
Universities, historical research centers, libraries
and museums contribute to shaping the public awareness of our
roots and of our understanding of today's world, including the
origins of some today's religious problems or cultural phenomena.
The unwritten deal between universities, libraries and museums
runs like this: libraries protect their books and documents and
make them available (for instance on-line and via paper catalogues);
Universities offer scholars the setting for studying them and,
through publications enrich everyone's knowledge about the Middle
Ages; museums make this knowledge available to a large public.
If you cease to train students in reading and interpreting old
texts and archival documents, these skills will be lost and thus,
a successful story will come to an end, as libraries and museums
do not have the function or even the means to replace universities
in these aspects.
As recent exhibitions in Switzerland and Germany
show, the Middle Ages are a popular cultural theme; and this is
certainly no different in England. The exhibition on Charles the
Bold in Bern in 2008, where many medieval manuscripts, documents
and artifacts were presented, is a good example of it. The event
was supported by King Albert II and the Queen Paola of Belgium,
the president of Austria and the president of Switzerland, and
attracted more than 100,000 visitors. But this success is due
to the enormous scholarly work that went into the event. More
than 40 professors and scholars contributed texts to the exhibition
catalogue and wrote explanatory notes for the exhibits, not to
mention the international colloquium which lasted several days
and resulted in the publication of an entire volume of new research.
This is only possible if the universities do their job!
As you see, what happens in your classrooms can
have a clear impact on society. We urge you not to break the chain.
Compared to a chair in medicine or in science, a chair of paleography
does not offer a potential for large savings. However, by closing
down the last established chair of paleography in the United Kingdom,
you would deprive your country from being able to study its past.
The conclusion seems clear: the loss of these invaluable skills
and the damage to historical Studies in UK are not worth the savings!
People around the world would not understand that such a well
renowned institution like Kings College would take such a step.
If you happen to come to Bern, we would be happy
to introduce you to some of our major manuscripts and to discuss
these topics further.
With our best regards,
Dr. Claudia ENGLER
Director of the Burgerbibliothek Bern
Dr. Patrick ANDRIST
Konservator der Bongarsiana
|Jeffrey HAMBURGER, Membre d'APICES|
Dear Prof. Trainer, Dear Prof. Palmowski
I write concerning the grim news that King's College, where I once studied as a graduate student, has plans to eliminate the Chair in Paleography held by my former teachers, Julian Brown and Albinia de la Mare, and now by my esteemed colleague, David Ganz. In light of the fact that this Chair is the last of its kind in Great Britain, not to mention the distinguished history of paleography at King's, this decision represents nothing short of a disaster. It is not, however, too late to reverse it.
For medievalists and early modernists who work on the vast and still largely unpublished and uncharted store of documentation from over one and a half millennia of our common history, paleography has been and remains an essential tool for accessing knowledge about the past. Unless students continue to have a way to study this essential subject, the very foundations of pre-modern and early European history will cease to stand. Over the years, the paleography courses at King's have proved to be an essential resource, not only for students all over Britain, but also from the United States and beyond. I cite my own experience as a graduate student as only one example.
Paleography is not simply an arcane auxiliary science, despite its reputation as a "Hilfswissenschaft." It is as basic to the training and practice of historians as mastery of DOS or UNIX might be to a computer scientist. In light of the interest in new media and the history of media, there is at present a surge of interest in the history of writing that has produced exciting, seminal scholarship across a wide range of disciplines, not only history, but also art history, classics and, not least, the new and fascinating field that focuses on the history of reading. Needless to say, one cannot seriously study the history of reading, with all it entails, unless one can read older forms of documentation, which is precisely where paleography comes in. Moreover, without the perspective on the past provided by the study of old media, the study of new media becomes far, far less meaningful.
To eliminate the study of paleography in Great Britain, which is, in effect, what your decision will cause to come about, would -- pardon my bluntness -- represent an unforgivable act of cultural iconoclasm, nihilism, philistinism and shortsightedness. Indeed, your assault on the Humanities in general seems part of a program to reduce King's to a pauper or, perhaps, something closer to a vocational school. That said, should you reverse your decision or at least make a concerted effort to find any way possible to forestall it, you will earn the lasting gratitude of a large group of students and scholars worldwide.
To coin a phrase: do the right thing!
Francke Professor of German Art & Culture, Harvard University
|Rijcklof HOFMAN, Membre d'APICES|
Dear Prof. Trainor,
The news that the Board of Kings College London
considers to discontinue the Chair in Latin Palaeography came
as a great shock to me, and I have no doubt that this opinion
is shared by all scholars engaged in any aspect of Classical or
Mediaeval studies worldwide.
It would be a great shame to abolish the only Chair
in this field in the British Isles. Although I realize that the
Chair in palaeography in Leiden, the Netherlands, was discontinued
a decade ago, I must nevertheless stress that the vacant second
Chair in the Netherlands, at Groningen University, will be advertised
shortly. It strikes me as somewhat odd that no Chair in palaeography
would be left in the entire UK, when a small country such as the
Netherlands realizes the relevance of this subject, and decides
to refill the vacant position.
I very much hope that you will reconsider your original decision, and that David Ganz, one of the worlds foremost palaeographers, will be allowed to continue in holding this Chair, which is so vital for the proper understanding and editing of Classical and Mediaeval texts.
Dr. Rijcklof HOFMAN
Magni Opera Omnia
|John LOWDEN, Membre d'APICES|
Dear Prof. Trainor,
I write as chair of the British Library Project Board for the on-line Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts. Prof. Ganz has been a member of this Board for six years (I calculate), during which time the Project has gained major funding from the Getty Trust and AHRC. David has given of his time and unrivalled expertise most generously in substantial editorial work to assure the scholarly standing of the Catalogue.
David may be a somewhat unworldly person, but his reputation internationally would make any faculty grateful to have him on board. His subject, palaeography, contrary to appearances, is distinctly worldly: it provides the indispensable scholarly foundation on which most of our knowledge of the pre-modern world is based. Palaeography has long been a jewel in the crown of history teaching and research in London, a jewel which our non-London-based and international colleagues regard with admiration.
In my judgement a decision to terminate Professor Ganzs contract, and to abandon the chair of palaeography, will not only damage humanities teaching and research internationally as well as nationally, but will specifically gravely damage the academic standing of Kings College.
I would ask you, therefore, to reconsider the action which I understand you have proposed.
Prof. John LOWDEN
Courtauld Institute of Art
|Laura L. WILLIAMS, Membre d'APICES|
Dear Professor Trainor,
I am writing to protest the cutting of funding for the Chair in Palaeography. This action is eerily reminiscent of a common occurrence in a paleographer's life: seeing materials that have been discarded because their owners could not read them or understand their worth.
The nature of the materials of our field, the variable characteristics of hand-written books, means that paleography is not a mechanical field: scholars of different backgrounds and training will approach the materials differently. It is the combined efforts, over time, of scholars from varying intellectual traditions that yield understanding as complete as it can be. This is why the loss of even one center for training paleographers is a disaster for the field: there isn't one standardized approach that consistently applies always and everywhere.
By eliminating this position, you are saying, "Our understanding of the past is complete. We know everything about the materials we have discovered, and no new materials will be discovered. Existing interpretations are correct and sufficient, and will never need reconsideration. Great Britain's role in interpreting the past has ended."
This short-sighted action at King's College will have a world-wide impact on the field far into the future.
Laura L. WILLIAMS