Voices from the Beinecke Library

NEW SCHOLARSHIP: Kyle Conrau-Lewis on Medieval Indices

"Medieval Indices: Unlikely Leisurely Reading," by Kyle Conrau-Lewis in The Census, Yale Program in the History of the Book

FROM "Medieval Indices: Unlikely Leisurely Reading," by Kyle Conrau-Lewis: "What is an index? The “index” is in some ways a misleading word for medieval manuscripts. With a modern book, the reader consults the index, looks up a key term and then locates the relevant pages or chapters in the main text, but this is not necessarily a good model for medieval reading. When scribes labelled the “indices” in their manuscripts, they usually described them more broadly as tabulae (sometimes also repertoria or inventaria, ‘aids for finding’), terms which also encompassed various other textual apparatus from tables of contents to lexica and glossaries to concordances and synopses. By using the term “index,” do bibliographers risk anachronism, imposing modern expectations of the back-of-the-book index on a premodern book?"


Kyle Conrau-Lewis is a PhD candidate in the Classics department. His dissertation is titled ‘The Ferment of Knowledge: Classical Historiographical Miscellanies’ and examines how compilations of Greco-Roman histories circulated in the ancient world and were transmitted in manuscript. He is interested more broadly in pre-modern text-culture and ideas of excerption, miscellany and paratext.


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