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Medieval Studies Collection Development Policy This statement addresses topics related to the history of pre-modern Europe and the broader Mediterranean world, as well as an increasing number of studies that concern interregional and intercultural interaction. Other areas of the world are covered in more depth by other collection policy statements.

Accordion List

Since the nineteenth century, the University of Pennsylvania has been a major center for the study of the Middle Ages, including all areas of the Latin West but also East Asian, Islamic, andJewish histories, cultures, and literatures. This long tradition has built rich resources for pursuing specialized study and research, notably in the Van Pelt, Museum, and Fisher Fine Arts Libraries, the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies located within the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, and the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies. In addition to the regular departmental curricula, a deep commitment to interdisciplinarity fosters broad interaction across academic communities: active programs of lectures, colloquia, working groups, and exhibitions bring together faculty, staff, and students frequently throughout the academic year. 

Medieval Studies at Penn continue to thrive following the establishment of a new Graduate Certificate in Global Medieval & Renaissance Studies and a new undergraduate minor in Global Medieval Studies in 2017/18. Eleven Penn departments contribute to the undergraduate interdisciplinary program, which allows students to explore the premodern world as an interconnected whole, and as the basis and necessary precondition of the modern. The program is broad both geographically and temporally; it includes Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, and in the latter part of the period even the New World, from Late Antiquity to 1700 CE.

1. Chronological

Circa 500 to 1500 CE.

2. Formats

Print and electronic volumes. Monographs are generally print preferred. Periodicals are e-preferred. However, content will be purchased in any format as conditions require.

3. Geographical

Western Eurasia/Europe and adjacent regions (Eastern Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East). Many other sectors of the global medieval world are covered by area studies collection development policies.

4. Language

Typically, the Libraries acquires publications in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese, and to a lesser extent in Dutch, Greek, Russian, Hungarian, Polish, Czech, and other Slavic Languages. Specific acquisitions in less commonly read languages are also considered from time-to-time, if they support specific teaching or research needs.

5. Publication Dates

While the prevailing emphasis is on recent materials, in the past few years a number of legacy collections have been donated to Penn, with non-duplicate materials retained. Much material produced between the 1920s and 1990s remains unavailable online, especially that produced in languages aside from English and by smaller publishers, rendering print copies invaluable for specialized research.

6. Method of Publication

While the field of medieval studies remains closely linked to traditional modes of publication (scholarly articles and print monographs), new Open Access publications and e-publications are becoming increasingly prevalent. For several decades now, specialized databases—some of which are openly accessible and some of which are available via subscription only—have allowed researchers to query large corpora of texts and archival documents. Subscriptions to these resources are also a priority for the Medieval Studies collection.

In addition to the Libraries' major approval plan (GOBI) for both university and trade publications in the U.S. and the UK, there are smaller approval plans in place for German (Harrassowitz), French (Amalivre), and Italian (Casalini) language material. These are supplemented by slip plans from the same vendors. Journals such as Speculum are scanned for book reviews, publication announcements, and “books received” lists. Faculty recommendations and donations also help enrich the collection.

For the chronological period extending from circa 500 to 1500 CE various geographies and cultures are handled by other funds. Area studies funds purchase material connected to Africa, East and South Asia, Latin America, Jewish Studies, the Middle East, and the bulk of material relating to Slavic speaking countries. Classical history covers much of the preceding period (i.e. late Antiquity). Apart from Early and Middle English, which is covered by the Albert C. Baugh fund, material relating to European vernacular languages and literature is covered by language-specific funds. In addition, archaeological, anthropological, and/or ethnographic treatments of historical subjects are purchased by Anthropology and Archeology.

The Medieval Studies bibliographer works closely with colleagues in the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts and the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies to support reference and research needs relating to pre-modern codices and documents held within Penn’s special collections. More than fifteen regional repositories, including the Free Library of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, have holdings of original medieval manuscripts, and Penn’s collecting activities in this area also serve to facilitate research related to these important regional holdings.