cod. 1006225

Academic year 2023/24
1° year of course - Second semester
Academic discipline
Paleografia (M-STO/09)
Discipline linguistiche, filologiche e metodologiche
Type of training activity
30 hours
of face-to-face activities
6 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit

Integrated course unit module: CLASSICAL TRADITION AND PALEOGRAPHY

Learning objectives

The course aims to introduce students to paleography with references to classic diplomatics. It wants to encourage the head-on contact with the written sources of the past and to show the essential contribution of paleography to historical and philological studies.

Knowledge and understanding

Students will develop knowledge and comprehension competence in the field of paleography thanks to the use of different sources (traditional facsimiles and digital reproductions of manuscripts now available on-line, etc.) regarding foundation topics and advanced research in this field.

Applying knowledge and understanding

At the end of the course students should be able to recognize, read and describe the various kinds of writing of Latin manuscripts, from the origins to 15th century.

Comprehension and problem-solving skills will be reinforced and applied to new or unfamiliar topics, belonging to wider or interdisciplinary contexts related to their field of study.

Making judgements

Students will be able to collect and interpret data to determine autonomous judgements in in the field of paleography, including cross-cultural and interdisciplinary thinking on cultural, scientific and ethical topics connected to the judgements expressed.

Students will be able to integrate their knowledge, manage complexity and make judgements based on limited or incomplete data.

Communication skills

Thanks to the specific focus on communication competences connected with the history of writing students will be able to convey information, ideas, problems and solutions to specialists and non-specialists.

Students can make conclusions clearly and through the support of their knowledge. They will also be able to explain the reasons for their conclusions.

Learning skills

Thanks to the general scaffolding of the course which puts processes related to the writing’s history in different historical and social contexts at the centre, students will develop learning skills useful to continue studying autonomously and in a self-directed way in lifelong learning education.



Course unit content

Historical “excursus” about the Latin writings of manuscripts from the ancient times to invention of printing. References to codicology and diplomatics. Reading and analysis of various writing with the help of traditional facsimiles and of digital reproductions of manuscripts now available on-line.

Full programme

Introduction to the discipline. Technical terminology. Brief introduction to codicology. Origin and development of Latin writing: the earliest examples. Writing and codices in the 1st-8th centuries: capital script; cursive capital script; uncial script; semiuncial script; cursive and semi-cursive minuscule script. System of abbreviations. Writing and codices in the 8th-12th centuries: "pre-Carolingian" scripts; Beneventan script; Visigothic script; Merovingian script; Carolingian script. Writing and codices in the 13th-14th centuries: Gothic script and cursive Gothic script. Writing and codices in the 15th century: humanistic book script and cursive script. Brief introduction to diplomatics.

To take the exam as a non-attending student, please contact the instructor directly: tel. 0521.90 6693; email:

Students who already have 6 or 12 CFUs (ECTS credits) in the same SSD M-STO 09 "Paleography" must agree on an alternative program with the instructor.


1. Manuale:

Giulio BATTELLI, “Lezioni di paleografia”, IV ed., Città del Vaticano, Libreria editrice Vaticana, 1999, ISBN 978-88-209-2689-2, e successive ristampe (in testa al frontespizio: Scuola Vaticana di Paleografia, Diplomatica e Archivistica).

In addition:

- Frank T. COULSON, "Punctuation", in "The Oxford handbook of Latin palaeography", edited by Frank T. Coulson and Robert G. Babcock, Oxford, Oxford University press, 2020, ISBN 9780195336948, pp. 5-8.
- Frank T. COULSON, "The citing of manuscript shelfmarks: a modest proposal", in "The classical World" 82, 1988, pp. 31-34.
- Armando PETRUCCI, “Breve storia della scrittura latina”, nuova ed. riveduta e aggiornata, Roma, Bagatto Libri, 1992, pp. 132-133 (le tre leggi di Meyer sulla gotica).
- Paolo CHERUBINI, “La scrittura latina”, in “Breve storia della scrittura e del libro”, Roma, Carocci, 2004, e successive ristampe: 2005, 2006, 2008, (Le bussole, 142), p. 71 (legge di Zamponi sulla gotica).

2. Further readings (at least one book among the following):

Armando PETRUCCI, “Prima lezione di paleografia”, Roma-Bari, GLF editori Laterza, 2002, and following reprints (Universale Laterza, 811; Prime lezioni).


Giorgio COSTAMAGNA, “Perché scriviamo così. [Invito alla paleografia latina]”, Roma, Il centro di ricerca, 1987 (Fonti e studi del Corpus membranarum Italicarum. 1a ser., Studi e ricerche, 26).


A. C. DE LA MARE, "A Palaeographer’s Odyssey", in "Sight & insight. Essays on art and culture in honour of E. H. Gombrich at 85", edited by John Onians, London, Phaidon, 1994, ISBN 0714829714, pp. 88–107.

3. Materials distributed during the course.

4. A list of supplementary and optional (but not compulsory) readings will be supplied during the course.

Teaching methods

The didactic activities will be conducted in the Socratic heuristic mode. Dialogic dialogue with the classroom will be privileged, also in order to bring out any foreknowledge on the topics in question by the students.

The slides used to support the lessons will be uploaded on a weekly basis on the Elly platform. To download the slides, the students need to register for the online course. The slides are considered an integral part of the teaching material. The not attending students have to contact the Teacher.

Students who have 6 or 12 credits in the same S.S.D. M-STO 09 “Palaeography” have to agree an alternative program with the teacher.

Assessment methods and criteria

For the purpose of evaluation, a final oral exam is planned to assess knowledge of the history of Latin writing and the ability to recognize, read, and describe various types of scripts, both book scripts and documentary scripts, from their origins to the 15th century.

The exam consists of one or more questions on the history of Latin writing, as well as reading and analysis of one or more selected plates chosen by the instructor.

Evaluation criteria: clarity of presentation, language proficiency and use of specialized vocabulary, ability to rework content, interdisciplinary connections, relevance of answers to the questions asked.

A passing grade will be achieved with correct answers to 60% of the questions, respecting the aforementioned criteria. The grading scale is based on a thirty-point system.

Other information

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