Haley Clark, Class of '10, recalled a day last spring when she and others in Professor Janice Mann's medieval art class visited a lower-level room in the Ellen Clarke Bertrand Library, where they found a sea of hidden treasures.

With special instructions on how to the handle fragile and rare materials, Clark and her classmates leafed through fine facsimiles of the famed Book of Kells and Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales as well as single, original manuscript leaves from the Book of Hours in the environmentally controlled LaFayette Butler Reading Room of Special Collections and University Archives.

"The one I remember the most is The Canterbury Tales, because there is so much narrative that goes into it," said Clark, a double major in economics and art and art history from Greenwich, Conn. "There is so much symbolism behind each small character and drawing. We learned about how the illustrations were important for explaining the story."

Mann incorporates materials from the special collections into the medieval art class, "Cave Paintings to Cathedrals," and an art history survey class. The facsimiles, in particular, allow students to examine and interact with the materials on a real scale and to get a sense of what the books are like - without traveling to Trinity College in Dublin or to the British Museum, where the original manuscripts are kept.

The Special Collections and University Archives preserves and provides access to unique and rare materials to support teaching and classroom work and to enhance the learning experience at Bucknell. These materials include original manuscript leaves and fine facsimiles, artists' books, and other rare books such as a recently acquired herbal — a book on the history of plants — with woodcuts.

 

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