Through an innovative collaboration between Miami University’s Walter Havighurst Special Collections and the Richard and Carole Cocks Art Museum (RCCAM), students enrolled in the Global Book Lab course gained the opportunity to study a number of rare manuscripts and artifacts through a unique hands-on approach. This Spring Semester, guided by a team of experts, student lab members gained the opportunity to explore, curate, display, and write about ancient manuscripts and other rare artifacts in the university collection. This interdisciplinary sprint course was provided through the College of Arts and Sciences, and supported by a Humanities Center grant, and supervised by Professor Anna Klosowska, Special Collections Librarian Rachel Makarowski, and Richard and Carole Cocks Art Museum Collections Manager and Registrar Laura Stewart.
The course included teaching that focused on a number of rare books and manuscripts in Special Collections and at RCCAM, including items on exhibit as part of the student curated exhibition, Experiencing the Divine: Devotional Practices of Islam, Judaism and Christianity. A selection of objects on view included early Islamic Koranic texts from the 13th century, Ethiopian manuscripts, and items on loan from the Cincinnati Skirball Museum at Hebrew Union College.
As a recent Humanities Center article about this program noted: “The course is an exciting and unique opportunity for students to learn about diverse cultures and ancient writing systems. Students in the class report gaining valuable skills and knowledge while fostering a deeper understanding of the importance of preserving and sharing our collective cultural heritage.”
Interdisciplinary teaching and research is an important part of the Art Museum’s mission as a teaching museum that engages in a dialogue with and about global visual culture. Through our collection of over 17,500 objects, we are also able to provide access to artworks and text-based artifacts related to book arts, including rare books and manuscripts, and integrate them into courses that span Miami University’s collections and interdisciplinary teaching and learning. RCCAM provides access to dozens of Miami University courses each year through its collections on exhibit, in storage, and online, providing unique learning opportunities and enriching student experiences.
All photos by Scott Kissell, University Communications and Marketing.
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