Visual Thinking and Diagrammatic Images in Medieval Manuscripts
The main question I ask is in what way people think differently by means of images than through words or numbers. I explore visual thinking by a close study of medieval manuscripts and approach the material through cognitive science, bringing relevant insight from recent neurobiological discoveries related to vision and cognition. I address the central question by examining manuscript page layouts, diagrams, diagrammatic images and the visual language formed through the process of manuscript transmission. The research reveals the individual thinking behind specific examples and outlines a history of thinking patterns. I examine the role of visual thinking and of the emerging thinking patterns in the creation and transmission of scientific and philosophical knowledge.
The main objectives of the project include the complex study of manuscripts, the comparative study of diagrams/diagrammatic images, the establishing of a diagram typology. The context within which the project is set is the history and philosophy of science. Within that the centre is the study of the role of images in the medieval creation and passing down of knowledge, explanation of concepts and shaping of philosophical inquiries. In connection with that, I aim to outline a history of the role of images in medieval manuscripts of scientific, philosophical, and encyclopaedic texts and study the use of diagrams within the context of cognitive science.
I brought the project to the Central European University in order to link my research with teaching. The longer term aim of the project is to set up an international interdisciplinary regional centre for manuscript studies with workshops and conferences.
As part of the project, I teach two courses at the Department of Medieval Studies within the fields of medieval history and philosophy of science and manuscript studies and supervise a PhD student.
As part of the organising work, during the first year of the project (1 September 2009 – 31 August 2010) I have set up a Specialisation in Medieval Manuscript Studies within the Department of Medieval Studies curriculum and organised a one-week Summer School in Medieval Codicology and Palaeography (Latin and Greek) for summer 2011 with a sequel in 2013 within CEU’s Summer University scheme. The Specialisation was launched during the second year of my project in the 2010/2011 academic year and the Summer School took place in July 2011. During the third year, in the 2011/2012 acedemic year, I had organised a two-day workshop, 'Medieval manuscripts: visual layout and cognitive content in cross-cultural perspective', which was held at CEU in March 2012. More on the workshop at
The aim of the Specialisation in Medieval Manuscript Studies (2010/2011 – 2014/2015) was to provide an introduction to codicology and a practical training in the basic skills of palaeography and textual criticism, combined with a wide range of courses that offer students an opportunity to develop a broad understanding of the various ways in which manuscripts were used in the Middle Ages and can be studied today.
The first Summer School in Medieval Codicology and Palaeography took place on 18-23 July 2011. The aim of the one-week Summer School was to provide practical training in basic skills of Latin and Greek palaeography, combined with codicological and diplomatic lectures with a new approach toward manuscript studies, based on the latest trends in research. A one-day workshop and visits to manuscript holding libraries complemented the seminars and lectures. A second Summer School in Medieval Codicology and Palaeography followed on 15-20 July 2013. More on the Summer University at http://www.summer.ceu.hu/node/160 and at http://www.summer.ceu.hu/codicology-2013.
The two-day workshop, 'Medieval manuscripts: visual layout and cognitive content in cross-cultural perspective', held at CEU in March 2012 asked the question of what way characteristics of language, techniques of script and the physical production of manuscripts on the one hand and cognitive aspects of design and use on the other related to and impacted on each other. The range included Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Indian and Armenian manuscripts. The workshop looked at various genres and though focusing on the Middle Ages, it allowed for chronological flexibility when it was called for. The main aim of the workshop was to bring together for a comparative study scholars with an expertise in the physical and intellectual aspects of manuscript production of different book cultures. See more on the workshop at http://medievalstudies.ceu.hu/events/2012-03-30/medieval-manuscripts-visual-layout-and-cognitive-content-in-cross-cultural-perspec.
The project met the threshold and was accepted for the ERC Starting Grant at the 2007 round but due to lack of financial means, funding was eventually not available. The present project, on a personal scale, is now supported by the MAG Zrt ERC_HU.