Workshop: Meaning of Proportion
When: Fri, 24.11.2023 2:30 PM until Sat, 25.11.2023 1:00 PM
Where: Warburgstraße 26, 20354 Hamburg
Meaning of Proportion: Extravagant Formats and Sizes of Manuscripts in the Tradition of Book Religions
Proportion and format can be considered as fundamental features of books, especially of manuscripts. Presently, though, this evidence seems to attract less attention, a trend seemingly due to the advancement of digitisation. In fact, the increased availability of visual material online, so beneficial and stimulating to manuscript studies, tends to diminish scholarly awareness of varieties of dimension, as digitised codices are generally assimilated, hence uniformed, to the size of the screen.
Yet, size and format of handwritten books are seminal for their visual organisation, often being related to the status of such documents while indicating the socio-economic conditions of their formation as well as their symbolical standing and functional purpose, pointing thus also to customers and users and their practices of reading.
The workshop focuses on manuscripts of Christian, Jewish, and Islamic traditions, being typically based on previous revelations in form of scriptures. This emphasis seems to stand to reason, as these ‘religions of the book’, as they are often called, offer particularly insightful evidence of extravagant sizes and proportions in the field of scriptural and ritual books. We know small formats of biblical manuscripts and likewise of the Koran, but also giant Bibles, oblong books of Christian liturgy or square Korans, not forgetting the Jewish tradition of recording scriptural tradition on scrolls.
The workshop will thus aim at discussing factors that determined the choice of outstanding dimensions or proportions used for books, while also taking into consideration aspects such as coincidences, aesthetical biases, and semantical messages equally having a share within such formation processes.