Take Note

An exploration of note-taking in Harvard University Collections
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Interactive Exhibition

15. P. Vir. Maronis Georgica

How a sixteenth-century student took notes

Virgil

Paris, France, 1542-67

The second part of a tract volume of short texts of Latin classical authors printed in Paris ca. 1560 with wide margins and interlinear spacing for student annotations. This Sammelband (or collection of works bound together) contains 22 works, all school editions of ancient texts, published for the use of students in the Paris colleges in the 1560s.This volume was formed and annotated by M. de Mallians, a student at the Jesuit Collège de Clermont, who would likely have been 14 or 15 years old, mastering Latin rhetoric in the last year or two of preparation before studying philosophy in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at the University of Paris. At the end of his notes on this work Mallians provides a colophon indicating the date (eve of the Ides of January 1566, that is Jan 12, 1566) and the name of his teacher: M. Venegas.
The printed text and the student notes are all in Latin, the language of instruction. Between the lines of Virgil's poem the student offers an interlinear Latin paraphrase of the ancient text, with synonyms for difficult words. In the margins, Mallians offers a rhetorical and cultural gloss on selected expressions in the text (copied in red whereas the comments are in black ink). These red catchwords were added after the fact, as is clear from their absence from the last page of this text. It is unclear whether the student recorded the bulk of the notes directly in class, or took notes in class on other sheets of paper and copied them over afterward into his book. Given the use of dictation in other teaching at the University of Paris (as is evident from the great similarity between class notes taken by different students in the same class), it is likely that these notes too were taken under dictation in the classroom.

Latin.
Paper.
. *FC5.A100.B565v .
HOLLIS Catalog: 003855997
Keywords: 
blank books, marginalia

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ryanski1@aol.com's picture
Submitted by ryanski1@aol.com on

M. de Mallians a student at the Jesuit College de Clermont not only took excellent notes but in doing so he himself joined the ranks and illustrated a definitive visual catalog of information to accompany his Sammelbad and Virgil's poetry. De Mallians' note taking implicates the importance of robustness and integrity through exhaustive and comprehensive attention to detail that must have been encouraged by school teachers in fourteenth century Paris, France.

Brendan Ryan

The Brendan Ryan Company
Houston, Texas

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