Catalog of Insular Book Arts

The essays linked below represent the work of students in their first three weeks of a first course on medieval art. Some are art history majors, but most are not… in fact, among their number are interior design students, several potters, and a math and statistics major. They chose their own folios to write about (they had to submit a preliminary proposal to avoid duplication), and they had several opportunities for revision.

The assignment prompt was as follows:

This short writing assignment corresponds to one of the most common types of art history and museum writing, the catalog entry. The goal of the catalog entry is to briefly and clearly convey the significance of the work under consideration in terms of both formal (artistic) and contextual (historical) issues. Its length is 500-700 words

Use The Chicago Manual of Style,Book (Links to an external site.) and employ end notes (not in-text citations). You should write this in Word and save it on your hard drive and/or the cloud, so that you don’t lose data.

In this catalog entry, you will:

  • Fully identify the manuscript (including collection and shelf number, place and date of origin) and folio number. Provide a digital image of the folio you are discussing, and if necessary, detail views.
  • Include a brief, overall summary of the folio’s contents and appearance
  • Discuss formal elements such as color, composition, motifs
  • Identify stylistic properties and provide at least one or two contextual comparisons (illustrate these, please)
  • Identify iconographic elements (if appropriate), or (if discussing a text page), paleographic properties
  • Briefly refer to literature as it pertains to the particular description of this folio
  • Provide a few suggestions for further reading (no fewer than three, no more than five) using correct bibliographic citation

Upload your edited and illustrated catalog entry as a .doc, .docx, or .pdf here. I will suggest any required edits (due February 2) prior to posting it on the course blog.

And the rubric looked like this:

Criteria Ratings Pts
On time

This area will be used by the assessor to leave comments related to this criterion.
5.0 pts
Full identification of folio

Name or description of manuscript, repository, shelf number, folio. Date and place of production
This area will be used by the assessor to leave comments related to this criterion.
5.0 pts
Visual description

Full visual description of the folio, including technical identification of scribal or artistic style and materials
This area will be used by the assessor to leave comments related to this criterion.
5.0 pts
Analysis

Visual analysis and comparison to other visual examples, which must be illustrated.
This area will be used by the assessor to leave comments related to this criterion.
5.0 pts
Historical contextualization

Discussion of the historical context for the work
This area will be used by the assessor to leave comments related to this criterion.
5.0 pts
Literature

Reference (in text) to key works of scholarly interpretation and at least two bibliographic sources.
This area will be used by the assessor to leave comments related to this criterion.
5.0 pts

Olivia Brock, Incipit to St. John, Book of Kells

Katya Fullmer, Symbol of Matthew, Echternach Gospels

Catelyn Schmidt, Virgin and Child, Book of Kells

Oakley Thorn, St. John, Lindisfarne Gospels

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