The 298th meeting of the NY Comics & Picture-story Symposium will be held on Tuesday,  February 23, 2021 at 7pm ET. ONLINE PRESENTATION VIA ZOOM. Please email comicssymposium@gmail.com to register for this event. Free and open to the public.

Marlene Villalobos Hennessy on “Book Miracles in the Middle Ages”

Medieval exempla and saints’ lives recount numerous stories in which the codex plays a central role.  The arm of a saint glows in the dark with a numinous light so that he may copy manuscripts well into the night.  The Virgin Mary appears to point out errors in a text, or supplies parchment to a scribe.  Books fall into a river, only to emerge miraculously unscathed, or they leap from the flames to avoid burning.  One doubting priest near Hailes Abbey finds the letters in his service book dripping with blood.  This essay will survey a range of medieval narratives and images from painting and manuscript art that demonstrate how books were often believed to be alive and endowed with indwelling personality. 

Marlene Villalobos Hennessy is an Associate Professor in the Department of English at Hunter College, City University of New York, where she teaches classes on Medieval Literature and the History of the Book.  She has published numerous articles on late medieval British manuscripts and religious culture and is the editor of English Medieval Manuscripts:  Readers, Makers and Illuminators (London and Turnhout: Harvey Miller/Brepols, 2009).  She has a forthcoming reference work entitled An Index of Images in English and Scottish Manuscripts from the Time of Chaucer to Henry VIII, c. 1380 – c. 1509. Scottish Manuscripts & English Manuscripts in Scotland. Fascicle I: National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh (Turnhout: Brepols/Harvey Miller Publishers, 2021). She is also working on a book-length project, Blood Writing: Manuscripts and Metaphors in the Late Middle Ages.  

Saint Dominic and the Albigensians.