This is a compilation of shorter pieces and collected resources related to the practice of learning in higher education, looking particularly at the practice of learning by writing in public.
The title comes from the Wikipedia entry for the Commonplace Book, an informal on-the-go scrapbook that was once a way of people keeping track of little things that mattered to them. One version of this was the zibaldone of the 15th century, about which Wikipedia has this lovely stuff to say.
During the course of the 15th century, the Italian peninsula was the site of a development of two new forms of book production: the deluxe registry book and the zibaldone (or hodgepodge book). What differentiated these two forms was their language of composition: a vernacular. Giovanni Rucellai, the compiler of one of the most sophisticated examples of the genre, defined it as a “salad of many herbs.”
Zibaldone were always paper codices of small or medium format – never the large desk copies of registry books or other display texts. They also lacked the lining and extensive ornamentation of other deluxe copies. Rather than miniatures, zibaldone often incorporate the author’s sketches. Zibaldone were in cursive scripts (first chancery minuscule and later mercantile minuscule) and contained what Armando Petrucci, the renowned palaeographer, describes as “an astonishing variety of poetic and prose texts.” Devotional, technical, documentary and literary texts appear side-by-side in no discernible order. The juxtaposition of gabelle taxes paid, currency exchange rates, medicinal remedies, recipes and favourite quotations from Augustine and Virgil portrays a developing secular, literate culture. By far the most popular of literary selections were the works of Dante Alighieri, Francesco Petrarca and Giovanni Boccaccio: the “Three Crowns” of the Florentine vernacular traditions.These collections have been used by modern scholars as a source for interpreting how merchants and artisans interacted with the literature and visual arts of the Florentine Renaissance.
So this is commonplace collection of thrown together bits and pieces, assembled for students I’m working with at the moment, and open to anyone to share. If you’re looking for Music for Deckchairs, it’s over here.
- Translation of Giacomo Leopardi’s Zibaldone published (theguardian.com)