The Material Forms of the Past and the ‘Afterlives’ of the Compositiones variae

Recovering, Conserving, and Exhibiting the Personal History of an Early Medieval Manuscript

in The Explicit Material
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Abstract

The Compositiones variae, a late eighth-century manuscript pamphlet and the earliest surviving medieval collection of artisanal recipes, is thought to reflect workshop practice and to transmit practical information in a neutral, transparent way; however its layout and contents indicate that it was not a how-to book. This essay examines the unique physical structure of the Compositiones variae and its context to enrich and deepen notions of textual integrity and authenticity, to expose the tangled yet meaningful interrelationship of text and context, and to clarify its influence on interpretation and on curatorial and conservation decisions that impinge directly on the exhibition of the manuscript.

The Explicit Material

Inquiries on the Intersection of Curatorial and Conservation Cultures

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