Universiteit Leiden

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Lecture | Studium Generale

Living Texts

Tuesday 21 May 2024
Lecture in Dutch
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden
019 and online

How users added their knowledge to medical texts

"Work texts," meaning books that were used in daily routine, such as practical legal treatises, instruction texts for magical and medical treatments, were not only a source of knowledge for physicians but also a notebook for their own observations, findings, recipes, and treatments. Users added their comments in the margins and empty pages of the books they consulted in the course of their work. When copying the books, these later additions were sometimes copied with the text of the work itself, resulting in a variety of new versions that were further adapted during use. In this lecture, we will examine a striking example from the UB collection: a book written by 13th-century Yemeni physician, al-Sanawbari, about diseases, injuries, and conditions, and how they can best be remedied with certain foods, medicines, and treatments. The text became a gathering place for a plethora of information. We will examine which kinds of texts were added to this book and what this tells us about the use and function of this text.

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