LiMINA (Lost in Manuscripts. Ideas, Notes, Acknowledgments)

The project LiMINA (Lost in Manuscripts. Ideas, Notes, Acknowledgments) aims to establish a new research object, never explored by critics before: the limina. By limina we mean all the glosses, signs of attention, marginalia, notes of possession, amateur drawings, personal biographical annotations, Latin and vernacular short texts (literary and not) that are found in Medieval mss. This project will analyze the first coherent corpus of marks, writings and drawings in the margins, blank pages, interlinear spaces – namely, the limina of the Antica Vulgata (87 mss. from 1336 to 1355) – of the overabundant tradition (perhaps 800 mss.) of Dante’s Comedy to get information on medieval people, on their culture, on the reception of a masterpiece that contributes to define the western identity. 

The limina are traces, memories, reaction to “marginalisation”, response to a human instinct of self-affirmation and development of a cultural system. Through an interdisciplinary approach it will be possible to draw from them relevant information to understand the habits, interests, material conditions and psychological characteristics of Late-Medieval Italian people. 

The foundation of this project consists of the paleographic records of the manuscripts of the Comedy, which will include, for the first time, detailed descriptions of the traces left by readers and compilers in the marginal spaces of the page and the manuscript. The paleographical descriptions of the 87 manuscript witnesses of the Antica Vulgata will be integrated into the Manus Online Platform (MoL), where they will be searchable through a dedicated section for the project.

The main objective of LiMINA (financied Prin2022) are

1.1) to provide the scholarly community with a seminal methodological paradigm (new subject of study: limina; classification and functionalization of limina);
1.2) to offer to scientific community an open-access digital library (database and images archive based on the IIIF International Image Interoperability Framework, in collaboration with ICCU), useful to consult and to manage the large amount of data and images collected, to formulate relevant statistical hypotheses and to conduct cross-searches; 
2) to increase our knowledge of the culture, society, mindset and cognizance of medieval people, especially of the classes on which documentation is scarce;
3.1) to fill the gap in the study of reception, investigating, through a meaningful case-study, the dynamics between text and reader in the Middle Ages,
3.2) also starting to reflect on the very first “re-action” to the poem and its figures and episodes (from which an occidental canon and then a collective imagery of the Comedy has been created).

Scientific coordinators: Ciro Perna (Università della Campania Luigi Vanvitelli); Elisabetta Tonello (Università eCampus)

Research group: Luca Lombardo (Università di Bergamo); Mirko Volpi (Università di Pavia)

IT: Luigi Tessarolo

Institution and Library partners: Biblioteca Riccardiana di Firenze; Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana