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 The Latin Paleography Network is an international and interdisciplinary platform for professionals who have an academic interest in Latin writing, and its historical forms and roles.  

The Network focuses on the history of Latin writing, its distinct forms and their esthetic changes, important for dating undated historical material. The scope of the Network also includes the history of the social context of writing, including the history of "writing manufactories" such as scriptoria, chanceries or important schools. The variety of the disciplines represented by the members, including paleographers, epigraphers, researchers of cultural history, art historians, codicologists, classical philologues, guarantees an interdisciplinary approach. The Network encompasses different generations of scholars as well as "national" educational systems, which is also a guarantee for a broader perspective.

Rationale

The development of feudal and early-capitalist societies before the end of the 19th century was based on the ownership of land and colonies. By the 20th century, industrial production had become the propelling force of Euro-American culture. In our contemporary postmodern age, the most important indicator of social development is the quick transfer of information. Therefore, in the past few years, the phenomenon of writing, as a primary information carrier has attracted the attention of academics in the social sciences and the humanities. An understanding of the historical evolution of Latin writing and its forms is a prerequisite for the correct interpretation of this modern-age phenomenon. Paleography therefore, as a historical discipline focused directly on causalities in the history of writing and written culture, has much to contribute to attempts to determine the future development of our society.

Goals and objectives

The main goal of the Network is to create and develop a contact group of academics primarily from Central and Eastern Europe, who will maintain regular contact and inform each other about their academic research and results. It is expected that the Network will establish strong links between academics from both Western and Eastern Europe, and contribute to the development of the discipline in the region - from Germany and Austria through the countries of Central Europe to Russia and the Balkans.

The significance of the Network lies in the shift it generates in academic relations, from bilateral connections based on personal contacts to an academic network and extensive cooperation between participants from several reputable institutions in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and other regions. The activities of the Network will bring together academics from Slavonic and Hungarian speaking countries and scholars from Western Europe who usually do not speak the languages of the Central and East European region. The international context provided by the Network will also support research on interregional relations. The Network will offer members opportunities for cooperation such as exchange of literature, invitations to in-country activities or literature reviews. These are important especially for East European academics, who have less extensive opportunities to work with colleagues from Western Europe or the United States.

Research on the development of Latin writing across the borders of contemporary states can contribute to a better understanding of cultural and historical problems that our region faces today. The international composition of the group will guarantee that issues which reach across state borders are discussed from several perspectives.

This project also aims to facilitate the transfer of skills and information between "national schools." It is hoped that, through this process, groups with more advanced research results or techniques will stimulate and assist with the professional development of other members.

Since the terminologies and nomenclatures used by paleographers in Central and Eastern Europe vary, the chief objective of this project is to define essential standards in the terminology and nomenclature of writing styles, forms, types and elements. One of outputs of the 2002-2003 academic year will be a dictionary of paleographic terminology in five languages. In the autumn 2003 semester, this will be followed by a discussion, either in electronic or paper form, about the united nomenclature of writing types.

The concrete outputs of the Network, such as the collection of converging terminology and nomenclature, will be disseminated among the members, who will then implement them at their home institutions. The impact of the results on students and the interested public will be all the greater, as these institutions are among the most prestigious in their countries.

Every official meeting of the Network has been and will take the form of a workshop open to the interested public. This, we hope, will inspire other colleagues and students and reach out to a wider public and academic community. By contributing to an understanding of history of Latin writing and written culture, which are important cultural-historical phenomena and a part of our common European heritage, the project is expected also to benefit the larger region’s higher education and society. Understanding the development of writing as an important information medium can also help us plan for the future.

Communication

The main channels of information will be the Network’s own group email and this webpage. The page includes information relevant for members and interested academics outside the Network, such as summaries or full-text proceedings and papers, links to organisations, institutions and scholars with a similar academic orientation. The webpage also hosts a discussion forum for the members of the Network.

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