Johannes de Sacro Bosco’s De Sphaera, from the Thirteenth through the Seventeenth Centuries

Johannis de Sacro Bosco, Textus De Sphaera, 1507. Newberry Ayer 6 S2.

Johannis de Sacro Bosco, Textus De Sphaera, 1507. Newberry Ayer 6 S2.

Research Methods Workshop for Early-Career Graduate Students
Friday, March 15, 2013

9 am - 5 pm

Room 101

Directed by Kathleen Crowther, University of Oklahoma and Peter Barker, University of Oklahoma
Center for Renaissance Studies Programs
Renaissance Graduate Programs

This workshop will focus on the Sphere (De sphaera) of Johannes de Sacro Bosco (c. 1200–c. 1250). Sacro Bosco, an Englishman who taught in the Arts Faculty of the University of Paris in the early thirteenth century, composed the Sphere sometime around 1230 as an introductory astronomy textbook for university students. The book became the basis for introductory astronomy lectures at universities throughout Europe from the mid-thirteenth to the end of the seventeenth century. As astronomy was part of the basic arts curriculum which all students had to complete before advancing to any of the higher faculties, a very high percentage of university-educated men were exposed to this text. Moreover, the Sphere was used outside of the university context and was translated into many vernacular languages. Thus a broad swath of educated Europeans, both men and women, were interested in and had access to Sacro Bosco’s Sphere. The book describes a model of the cosmos that was familiar not just to that small number of people who studied astronomy, but to poets, artists, writers, historians, physicians and farmers. Participants will discuss the contents of this text in order to elucidate the model of the cosmos shared by most medieval and early modern Europeans.

The Newberry’s collections include about twenty different editions of the Sphere, including five incunables, Italian and Spanish translations, and a mid-seventeenth-century version; workshop participants will have the opportunity to work with these books. In addition to analyzing its content, we will use the Sphere to introduce students to a variety of important topics in the history of the book: the changing features of printed books, the development of the printing industry, the different audiences for books in medieval and early modern Europe, and the relationship between images and text in printed books.

See the directors’ web pages: Kathleen Crowther, University of Oklahoma and Peter Barker, University of Oklahoma

Printable PDF flyer


8:30: Coffee

9 - 9:45: Obtain Newberry reader cards/library tour and orientation

9:45 - 11: Workshop session 1

11:15 - 12:15: Rare books “show and tell” session

12:15 - 1:45: Lunch break

1:45 - 3: Workshop session 2

3 - 3:15: Break

3:15 - 5: Workshop session 3 and conclusion

We encourage participants to plan to return to the Newberry the following Saturday morning, or arrive a day early (or both!) to explore Newberry materials on their own in the Reading Rooms (open 9 am - 5 pm Thursdays and Fridays and 9 am - 1 pm on Saturdays).

Faculty and graduate students of Center for Renaissance Studies consortium institutions may be eligible to apply for travel funds to attend CRS programs or to do research at the Newberry. Each member university sets its own policies and deadlines; contact your Representative Council member in advance for details.

Learn more about Center for Renaissance Studies programs for graduate students.

Cost and Registration Information 

Eligibility: Graduate students in a terminal master’s program and those who have not yet completed comprehensive exams in a PhD program in a range of disciplines are encouraged to enroll, including those studying classics, comparative literature, cultural studies, history, history of the book, history of science, literature in English or other relevant languages, manuscript and book studies, and other medieval and early modern disciplines. Participants will develop and fine-tune skills in research methods and theoretical approaches, through the lens of the multiple editions of a significant medieval text and its transmission and reception across four centuries. Enrollment is limited to 20.  Students from Newberry Center for Renaissance Studies consortium member institutions have priority, and fees are waived for them.

Prerequisites: No language prerequisites.

Enrollment is now closed.