This November I went on a research trip to Paris to look at manuscripts at the Bibliothèque Nationale. I examined two manuscripts of Fulco of Orléans’ Latin commentary on Ovid’s Ars Amatoria, a school text that was commonly used in the region around Paris during the 12th century. It was my first time looking at manuscripts in situ, and the learning curve was steep: I looked at two useless microfilms that were dark in the gutter area of the page, making it impossible to transcribe every other column of text; I then ordered one manuscript whose pages were broken off at the edge, so that the outer column of text was unreadable, but finally found another version of the text which I successfully transcribed. It was a fantastic opportunity to work with a text which has never been published in a full edition, and to see the physical manifestation of this text, on pages about the size of a paperback novel, written in two tiny columns of text, neatly ruled and corrected, each page copied out by a different scribe. I will be using my transcription in my dissertation, which examines the ways in which twelfth-century teachers dealt with the sexual content which was abundant in the Latin texts they inherited from their Roman predecessors. Commentaries like Fulco’s give us a glimpse into the twelfth-century classroom, to see how these texts were being explained to their young readers.
Emily Blakelock, PhD Candidate, Centre for Medieval Studies