From the Early Middle Ages onwards, surviving books which record texts for the Mass show often surprising creativity and energy on the part of their scribes and compilers. The Mass Book tradition was an extraordinarily complex and dynamic one. Ancient and traditional texts were preserved for generations in the sacramentaries and missals, but we can also track the continual addition of new compositions, often meeting urgent needs of the day. The tradition of the Mass Book was, thus, continually updated and reworked over the centuries, and the differences between two manuscripts, even those produced at around the same time and belonging to the same “type”, are often striking. Most surviving manuscripts are identified today as descendants of the Roman, Gregorian Sacramentary, but the vast majority have never been comprehensively analyzed. Nor have Mass Books been widely permitted to contribute to our understanding of the medieval organization of books. Many such books present us a testimony of a widespread dynamism of the scribes and compilers working with liturgical material, and a challenge to scholars to examine the sacramentary tradition in new ways.
The potential is particularly acute for the “mixed sacramentaries" that represent the majority of manuscripts produced between 850 and 1200. Immense scholarly effort has established underlying, Roman sources. Nevertheless, we still lack coherent categorization of the manuscripts, and any account of how and why these traditions were remade outside Rome over the centuries after the reception of the Gregorian in the Carolingian period, and its initial supplementation. The remaking of the texts of the Mass Book was undertaken at many scriptoria simultaneously, across the Latin West, resulting in the vast range of manuscripts. This conference aims to bring together experts to study them. We hope to establish new methods and practices to get to grips with these complex and largely unstudied books, reflecting on them as a whole, within their context. We can use these sophisticated manuscripts as a means of tracing mutual interrelationships, creating possible networks of manuscript influences, as well as establishing the working processes and motivations of individual compilers and patrons who organized them, and uncovering the traces of later users. We hope to reflect on the medieval organization of knowledge more broadly, of which Mass Books of this kind are a particularly compelling and evocative testament. Numerous international experts have agreed to participate in what is certain to be a stimulating exchange that will continue the increasingly exciting new developments in the study of liturgical manuscripts. Professor Éric Palazzo has agreed to give a keynote lecture.
We welcome expressions of interest from scholars who would like to present a study on the “mixed sacramentaries” from around 850 to 1200, including continental and Anglo-Saxon manuscripts. Local studies of a single center, comparative treatments, or studies of single manuscripts as examples, are ideal suggestions, as would be the incorporation or development of a single rite or text tradition. We request a suggested title and abstract of c.250 words with a brief CV.
Please send these by February 15, 2023, to Paweł Figurski and Arthur Westwell.