ERC Starting Grant NOTA (no. 948152)

Note-taking and Notebooks as Channels of Medieval Academic Dissemination across Europe
PI: Alexandra BANEU
HI: Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania

Note-taking is a common intellectual practice. In academia, it is a universal endeavor that we share with students since the origin of the universities. Yet no one has focused on this practice as an original and independent object of research that, once investigated, will bring innovation and expand our knowledge of European intellectual history. Project NOTA is an ambitious enterprise, rooted in the discovery that decoding medieval notebooks produced in the context of late medieval universities will reveal invisible aspects of the process of producing scientific knowledge, of the European networking of scholars, and of the dynamic circulation of texts. Stemming from the Faculty of Theology during the 14th and 15th centuries, when paper invaded the university as an accessible material support, the student’s notebooks constitute the ideal laboratory in which we can investigate how knowledge was formed and disseminated by means of note-taking. It was one of the superior faculties, meaning that the note-takers had reached intellectual maturity, offering notes of better quality than those of students in the liberal arts. Proposing a unique corpus of Latin manuscripts, project NOTA will launch creative reflections on the motivation and the technical aspects involved in producing notebooks. The project will combine interdisciplinary approaches (doctrinal, codicological and paleographical) and will impact the present state of the art by showing the potential of data that can be obtained by deciphering the practice of note-taking. New concepts will be launched (classification of notebooks, technical practices), traces of unknown authors and texts will be identified, and connections between scholars, institutions and texts will be established, fully justifying the recognition of notebooks as a new subject in the field of intellectual history and as an element of cultural identity shared by universities all around Europe.

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