RBMS 2020
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RBMS thanks Jonathan A Hill, Bookseller for sponsoring this Sched.
Wednesday, June 24 • 2:30pm - 4:00pm
Active Learning for Paleography Instruction in Special Collections and Beyond

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Sponsored by Bibliographical Society of America

Whether needed to decipher a 16th-century letter, marginalia in an early printed book, or the address on a 20th-century envelope, the ability to read handwriting is a vital tool for special collections professionals and the communities we serve. Paleography is not only a technical skill necessary to navigate many collections but also has broader implications when integrated into historical and literary research. While published editions of archival material offer educational and research benefits, manuscript research (through physical or digital methods) offers further avenues of analysis, including study of contextual physical clues and the ability to uncover voices missing from most editorial selections. As elementary schools increasingly forgo the teaching of cursive and many doctoral programs in History or English do not require coursework in paleography, students across disciplines are turning to archives & special collections professionals to provide expertise and instruction in paleography. In this seminar, four presenters—with experience teaching in special collections settings as well as in the English and history classroom—will introduce a range of methods to engage learners with paleography, with a focus on early modern English scripts. We will first give a brief presentation on the history and importance of paleography instruction in enabling researchers across disciplines to access and use unpublished sources. Then, we will break into groups to demo instructional modules, from the traditional to the complex, with an emphasis on active-learning approaches that encourage students to become invested partners in skills development. These will include the unique opportunities that gamification brings to paleography instruction. Finally, we will encourage a broad discussion on different pedagogical approaches, challenges, or successes of teaching paleography in a special collections setting, whether developing stand-alone workshops or partnering with faculty. Questions to be considered might include the following: In an academic setting, whose ‘job’ is it to teach paleography (the librarian, the faculty member, the students themselves)? Is paleography an integral component of primary source literacy? How can paleography instruction be effectively integrated into instructional sessions or courses whose focus is not skills-based? How can librarians and archivists partner with faculty in paleography instruction? How can institutions use paleography-based events to foster community? Attendees will leave the seminar with ideas and resources to host events and workshops to introduce or add to paleography instruction at their home institutions.


Heather Wolfe

Curator of Manuscripts and Associate Librarian for Audience Development, Folger Shakespeare Library

Julie Fisher

Postdoctoral Fellow, American Philosophical Society

Matthew Carter

Assistant Director, University Writing Center, University of North Carolina Greensboro

Wednesday June 24, 2020 2:30pm - 4:00pm
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