Kylie Murray on ‘Boethius in Early-modern Scotland: from script to print and back again’

Kylie Murray, Junior Research Fellow and Tutor at Balliol College, Oxford travelled to Edinburgh for our first Centre for Book History luncheon seminar to give a lecture on Friday, October 2nd. Her enthusiasm for her subject was unmatched. Her lecture was nothing short of epic. It was, to draw on her title, a Hobbit-like adventure in the making.

Her lecture on Boethius in early modern Scotland: from script to print and back again advances the argument that Boethius texts were circulating in Scotland. Murray believes transcriptions of Boethius’ texts were copied by Scottish readers. She further believes these texts circulated by means of handing down the text from companion to companion in Scotland. One possibility she surmises is that the entrustment of the texts from generation to generation was part of a larger pedagogical movement. Evidence for this supposition is in the marginalia. Signatures and annotations by well-known Scottish residents are present in these margins. One commonality that links these owners of Boethius texts like John Vaus (1484-1539), David Black (c.1546-1603), James Stewart (1500-1544/5), David Rait (1592-1638) George Buchanan (1506-82), Peter Young (1544-1628), and Alexander Yule (c.1578-1612)—just to name a few Murray touches on in her lecture—is that they were all in the pedagogical world of early modern Scotland. The link between ownership and pedagogical use is a claim, Murray makes, because the tradition of Boethius in Scotland is not a common one.

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