• The Rise of the Quotation Sign in the Latin West and Changing Modes of Reading Between the Sixth and the Ninth Centuries

    Evina Steinova (see profile)
    Early Medieval, Late Antiquity, Medieval Studies, Textual Scholarship, Writing Systems
    Paleography, Books, History, Manuscripts, Intellectual life, Idea (Philosophy)
    Item Type:
    Marginalia, Western manuscripts, Cultures of citation, Annotation, History of citation, Palaeography, Book history, Manuscript studies, Intellectual history, History of ideas
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    The twelve volumes of the Codices latini antiquiores provide a rich trove of data about the earliest methods of citation-marking in the Latin West. This data indicates that citations from the Bible began to be marked in Christian books by the fifth century. Originally, the preferred method of such marking was by indentation of cited material, but in the sixth century, a different method – the use of a special symbol placed in the margin next to the line containing citations – gained a foothold. Several such symbols were used between the fifth and the ninth century in the Latin West, reflecting conventions characteristic of specific regions, scriptoria and scripts. By the end of the eighth century, one such symbol, a vertical flourish resembling the modern letter S, prevailed as a result of its adoption by the users of Caroline minuscule. Carolingian scribes were responsible for uniformization of citation-marking practices in the Latin West and also for their widespread adoption as a book feature so that it can be estimated that more than half of the manuscripts produced in the Carolingian scriptoria were equipped with S-shaped flourishes. The development in the Carolingian period was a culmination of long dynamic development of citation-marking practices in the Latin West, which seem to reflect different reading strategies and attitudes of distinct groups of book users.
    This article was published in Scriptorium 72:2 (2018), 123-166.
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    Journal article    
    Last Updated:
    4 years ago
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