Spring 2018 Student Scholar Brett Stine discusses his experience researching and presenting on his topic “Ancient Authors, Sacred Fathers, and Peter Comestor’s Historia Scholastica: A Medieval Approach to Ancient History Through the Collection of The Remnant Trust.”
This last spring, it was my privilege to be the first Remnant Trust Student Scholar. As an aspiring researcher in ancient Greek and Roman texts, as well as their reception, the Student Scholar program proved to be a great source for academic growth and development. I gained a wealth of background knowledge in the areas of medieval university education and historiography; I was able to work weekly with rare books and manuscripts; and I learned how to make my research approachable and accessible for a broad audience.
[Leaf from Peter Comestor’s Historia Scholastica, MS 727 2a]
The Student Scholar project I developed is entitled “Ancient Authors, Sacred Fathers, and Peter Comestor’s Historia Scholastica: A Medieval Approach to Ancient History Through the Collection of The Remnant Trust.” It centers on a medieval author, Peter Comestor, and his work the Historia Scholastica. The Historia Scholastica manuscript [featured above] proved to be an excellent center for the display, not only because it is a beautiful book, but because Peter and his peers were heavily influenced by Greek and Roman authors. Throughout the term, I enjoyed learning more about Peter and his influence on early medieval University education, as well exploring how Greek and Roman authors were utilized to write his universal history.
Alongside historical knowledge, I had many opportunities to expand or sharpen professional, technical skills that are invaluable, but often difficult to pick up in a regular classroom. For instance, though I had worked in special collections libraries before, the opportunity to spend an entire semester in the Remnant Trust’s collection was a unique opportunity, especially for a student in the middle of West Texas. I was also given extended time to research and read medieval Latin handwriting (known as paleography), a notoriously difficult skill to acquire without manuscripts to work on. In this copy of Peter Lombard’s Sentences [below], you can see how difficult Latin handwriting can be to decipher.
[Leaf of Peter Lombard’s Book of Sentences, MS 682 1b]
Finally, I gained experience working side by side with library staff to learn the many faucets that go into creating an academically sound, yet publically accessible, book display and public lecture. I was also able to utilize my prior experience digitizing manuscripts and benefit from those skills in both my display and my presentation.All in all, the Student Scholar program was a wonderful experience that I know will provide me with invaluable skills and experiences going forward at Texas Tech and beyond.
*Check out the Remnant Trust website for more information on The Remnant Trust Student Scholar Program. Applications for the Spring 2019 student scholar program are due on October 15, 2018.
[Leaf from one of Cicero’s Orations, MS 698 156b]
[Leaf from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, MS 267 3a]
Project Thank You’s:
I want to thank The Remnant Trust and Texas Tech University Libraries for making the Student Scholar Program possible. Several staff and faculty were Instrumental to my work. Bruce Commack, Associate Librarian in the South West Collections/Special Collections Library, worked with me on multiple drafts of my original proposal, all the way up to editing and proofreading the plaques for the display. Any virtues in the display are largely due to his kindness and feedback. Alex Root and Malorie Kreighbaum of the Remnant Trust were incredibly gracious and helpful as they let me invade their space in the office every Thursday morning, answered my many questions, and even let me take over a full desk to digitize manuscripts. Dr. Donald Lavigne both alerted me to the Student Scholar program, and was gracious to let me utilize him as a faculty advisor. Finally, I want to thank the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM) for allowing me to utilize a copy stand. Without their generosity, the display would have lacked in both quality and versatility.