Written in the Margins (exhibit)

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This project examines Latin marginalia in Martial’s epigrams and Vergil’s works from Oberlin’s Special Collections. Both of these texts, a manuscript and early-printed edition respectively, date from the 15th century and are examples of important stages in book history. By examining marginal notes, scholars are able to understand how readers interact with—and respond to—the texts they study.

Because of the damage sustained to the Martial manuscript during Hurricane Sandy in 2012 before Oberlin’s acquisition of the manuscript in 2014, and its subsequent digital-scanning conducted at the University of Mississippi, I was able to isolate the Latin marginalia by adjusting various levels of brightness, color, shadows, etc., in the digital images of the manuscript.

In the early-printed collection of Vergil’s works, the analysis of marginalia was much more straightforward. This copiously annotated work showed a reader very engaged in textual, metrical, and literary manners.

The readers of these works, specifically those who chose to write in the margins, give us a window into the study of Latin and how scholars engage with seminal texts of Latin literature.


This project, which uses scientific methods to understand Latin manuscripts and early-printed editions, demonstrates how Library Science brings together ancient and modern.

This project was awarded second prize for 2019, which was shared among three projects that were similar in that the final project was intended to be shared with a broad audience through digital, audio and/or print media.

To link to the exhibit page, please click on the blue button above.

Nominating Faculty

Christopher Trinacty, Classics