Chants, Hypertexts, and Prosulas

Luisa Nardini, University of Texas at Austin

Chants, Hypertexts, and Prosulas is a companion website for a forthcoming book on prosulas from medieval southern Italy, which display the multicultural influences of an area with a highly diversified population. Romans, Byzantines, Lombards, Normans, Franks, Jews, and Muslim were present in the region at different times and with different political roles. They left their marks on cultural production, including the music used for the rites of the Latin Church. Women, and in particular nuns, were active participants in this musical and liturgical production.

Studies in musicology have been increasingly recognizing the role of nuns in the creation and diffusion of music. Earlier medieval Benedictine nuns, however, are generally neglected. This poster presentation, thus, intends to highlight the role of the Benedictine nuns of the monasteries of St Peter Inside and St Peter Outside the Walls in the city of Benevento in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. My research shows that nuns were composers, scribes as well as as active participants in the social and cultural life of the city and in constant contact with their male counterparts. This is demonstrated by exclusive borrowings from manuscripts used at male establishments. Based on multiple evidences these borrowings can only be explained by positing the notion of a ‘diffused' scriptorium within the city for which books could be borrowed among several institutions. This also drastically changes the commonly accepted narrative of the scriptorium as a self-contained space in which (mostly) monks worked in isolation copying from a single source.