MS Ff.1.17.1, fol. 3v

Digging Deeper 2 launches today

Numerous classes are held in the UL every year introducing students to the delights and challenges of working with medieval manuscripts. Undergraduates and postgraduates studying English, History, Classics, Music and ASNC in Cambridge have the opportunity to handle the medieval books in our collection and they seem to appreciate the privilege. But what about those studying elsewhere – or those who have an interest in manuscripts outside formal study and would like to learn more?

One possible opportunity is a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) called Digging Deeper. This free course, conceived by Professor Elaine Treharne of Stanford University, was largely filmed at the ULDigging Deeper and features several UL manuscripts and staff. Part 1 of the course (Making manuscripts) took place over 6 weeks from January to March and Part 2 (The form and function of manuscripts), which stands alone, launches today and runs for 5 weeks.

The aims of the course are to give an insight into medieval book culture and to look at the ways manuscripts are interpreted, conserved and made available today. Digging Deeper 2 has introductions to musical manuscripts, including a couple newly added to Cambridge Digital Library, and to non-Western manuscripts. Conservation issues are explored by UL conservators Jim Bloxam and Shaun Thompson and finally there is a look at the challenges and opportunities of working with manuscripts in a digital environment.

Screenshot from Digging Deeper 1

Screenshot from Digging Deeper 1

Each week of the course features sequences filmed in the libraries at Cambridge or Stanford, readings, quizzes and short assignments, including manuscript transcription exercises. There is also a forum for participants to share ideas and experiences; almost 5000 people signed up for the first course from 100 different countries.

No prior knowledge of manuscripts is required for either course. To sign up for Digging Deeper 2, go to, where it’s also still possible to access the first course.


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