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Fall 2019

ENGL 3982S: Hargrett Hours 3.0

This fall’s courses brought together the two strands of courses — the materials analysis classes and the investigation of the Hargrett Hours — in one project. That project was, first, to identify the inks, pigments, and metals used to create the Hargrett Hours. Second, we used the discoveries that we made to interrogate the integrity of the manuscript itself, gathering data that could be used to further our understanding of the manuscript in four ways:

  1. With the exception of the calendar (discussed below), the manuscript appears to be executed by one scribe in a single campaign of work. Can we confirm this appearance by seeing whether the inks and decoration at the end of the manuscript are chemically consistent with those at the beginning?
  2. The calendar is in a different hand than the bulk of the manuscript. Does the calendar “go with” the bulk of the manuscript, chemically speaking? A different scribal hand appears randomly in the middle of the manuscript, and its ink color and general appearance seem to match that of the calendar. Are the inks the same between the calendar and the new scribal hand?
  3. The gold is wearing badly in some places (primarily the four-line initials used throughout the manuscript) but not others (especially the rinceaux borders and the four-line initials associated with the borders). Can we account for this difference via analysis of the materials used?
  4. The only decoration in the manuscript are foliate rinceaux borders that mark the beginning of each of the Long Hours of the Passion. Are the materials used in these borders consistent with those commonly used in fifteenth-century French manuscripts? The orange color used in the borders appears to be particularly corrosive, because it is bleeding through strongly onto the reverse of its leaves. Does that bleed-through correlate with a particularly corrosive or toxic colorant?

As occurred in the 2017 course, students researched methods of making different pigments as well as the chemical composition of those pigments. Then, after making a close visual examination of the manuscript, each student team developed a hypothesis about what colorants were used in different sections of the manuscript, depending on the research question they were pursuing. The manuscript was then examined via hyperspectral imaging as well as X-Ray Fluorescence by staff from the Special Collections Libraries and scientists from the Center for Applied Isotope Studies. With the help of Dr. Alice Hunt, students learned to interpret the data gathered by these investigative techniques and then considered how that data contributed to a better understanding of their research questions, as listed above.

Finally, students communicated their discoveries in a variety of different forms for different audiences, including blog posts on this blog and ultimately a page on the Hargrett Hours Edition site on the material analysis of the manuscript.

Student Co-Investigators

William Baldwin; Corie Bolt; Emily Cooley; Khayla Doby, Ashley Dolin; Georgia Earley; Johanna Hoover; Tricia Hyatt, Luke Jordan; Connor Ottem; Ceciley Pangburn; Leah Sample; Eliza Sarazua,; David Walker