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Sharing the Love, Round Two: Road Trip to Young Harris College

In the thick of the semester, it’s easy to get blinders on. Assignments to write, assignments to grade, deadlines to meet. It’s easy to loose sight of the privilege of our semester’s work: studying unique, beautiful, handmade books that are hundreds of years old. This has been a rare, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that most university students don’t get, so I’ve treasured this semester’s partnership with Young Harris College and the chance to let students beyond UGA experience these books.

On Fall Break weekend, I had the joy of showing the MITC manuscripts to the community at Young Harris College. Daniel Helbert — who brought some of his students to UGA to see them a few weeks earlier — invited me, Jason Hasty as the manuscript’s escort, and five of the MITC manuscripts to the top floor of the lovely Zell and Shirley Miller Library in YHC’s Rollins Campus Center. We spent a delightful afternoon showing students, faculty, and library staff these books, thinking about the way that each was carefully designed for its particular form of worship or study.

Five books sit on book rests and pillows on tables
Setting up on the top floor of the Zell and Shirley Miller Library

The students were energetic and engaged throughout. The Office of the Dead, with its blinged-out cover and heavily worn pages, was an immediate hit.

Students stand around a book with metal on its cover
Young Harris students gather around the Cologne Office of the Dead
People look down at a book with metal fittings on its cover, while one woman wearing gloves points to those fittings
Dr. Camp points out features of the Office of the Dead’s cover to students and librarians
A book with dark lettering and colorful initials, the edges of its pages are very dirty.
The Cologne Office of the Dead (Les Enluminures TM 644) and its worn, dirty pages

Some students had studied medieval illumination recently in an art history class, so we had a grand time decoding the saints and their attributes in the Book of Hours and the Psalter.

One woman holds open a book while other people look down at it
Dr. Camp talks over the illumination in the Book of Hours with Young Harris students
Two hands hold open a medieval book with colorful miniatures and decorations.
The miniature of the Annunciation from the Book of Hours (Les Enluminures BOH 159)

They had such smart questions about the books’ materiality as well as their contents and the lives they’d lived after their original construction.

It was a beautiful weekend to visit North Georgia, and the Young Harris campus was gorgeous. Many thanks to Daniel Helbert and the librarians and archivists who welcomed us so warmly to their campus, to the YHC Arts and Assemblies fund for supporting the visit, and to Kat Stein for approving the road trip. Let’s do it again soon!

photographs courtesy of Jason Hasty and Nathan Camp