The Assignment


Elsi Vassdal Ellis*
Bellingham, WA
Western Washington University/EVE Press

Title: Ars Liborum | Liber: Id Quod Cupimus and Timemus

Number of Copies in Edition: 10
Size: 6-11/16 x 9-7/8 x 1/2 inches
Numer of Pages: 144

Medium: Royal Complements 100# cover, Astroparche Aged 70# text, red thread

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Additional Artists

Elsi Vassdal Ellis (editor), Laura Belzer, Kate Gould, Richard Yust, Christian Opfer, Erin Jensen, Melissa Williams, Nicole Phipps, Jake Massine, Marjorie Steele, Kristin Kohles, Elizabeth Wood, Anna Jensen, Mark Scoville, Alana Dittrich, Julian Thralls

The Assignment

In this Honors course I used the characters in Eco's "The Name of the Rose" to examine the history of medieval illuminated manuscripts as well as the use of fiction as historical text. The other textbooks for the course were: "The Key to 'The Name of the Rose" by Haft, White and White, "Medieval Art" by Sekules, and "The Civilization of the Middle Ages" by Cantor. Students were required to write a traditional term paper in the style used by William of Baskerville in his conversations. They then transformed the term paper into a bound medieval manuscript.

I didn''t want the students to leave the class without a meaningful collective experience they could refer to at a later date or use in another class. To accomplish this the students were required to contribute to a class manuscript, documenting the various assignments and discussions which took place throughout the quarter. The master manuscript file was placed on a computer they could access at any time. Each chapter contains a summary of the discussions of the class session in the primary column. In the outer and tail margins the students added comments. Photographs of their altered books (as homages to Adelmo of Otranto) and finished medieval bindings were included in the manuscript. This collaborative manuscript also provided them a second binding experience, something a little more practical.

The dimensions for this collaborative manuscript are those of the average medieval manuscript. The edition was inkjet printed on Astroparche Aged 70# text using an Epson 2400. InDesign was the page layout program. The limp cover is 100# Royal Complements Red with a blind embossed pattern on the front cover. The spine has a strip of the Astroparche laminated to it to provide contrast. The butterfly stitch was used to sew the sections to the cover with three sections were sewing station. The covers have full flaps. Inside the back flap is a CD with various student files, PDFs of the lectures, their books.


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