Chants and Hypertexts




Nardini, Luisa

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Chants and Hypertexts is a companion website for a forthcoming book that is a study and edition of a substantial body of liturgical music from medieval southern Italy, that of the prosulas of the Proper of the Mass included in the so-called Beneventan manuscripts. This repertory is significant under many points of view. It allows us to detect the many 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 all left their marks on its cultural production, including the liturgical music used for the rites of the Latin Church and women, and in particular nuns, were active participants in this musical and liturgical production. Although studies in musicology have been increasingly recognizing the role of nuns in the creation and diffusion of music, the role of earlier medieval Benedictine nuns (at least up until the late 13th century) is 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 not only that the nuns were able to compose and transcribe their own chants, but also that they were 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 multiple manuscripts that were used at male establishments within the same city. Based on cultic, archeological, and paleographical evidence 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 notion 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. In addition to “tearing down” the wall of the representation of female creativity in the Middle Ages, this website also tackles the questions of “ethical collaboration” by being fully transparent about its contributors. This is why the website has an “About the team” section (still under construction) in which all collaborators and editors are listed. In addition, each entry of the website, whether an image, a transcriptions, or an annotation will also be individually signed. This way the website will show its commitment to give full voice to the artists, regardless of their gender, of the past and to the scholars and technicians of today.


Digital Frontiers Poster Session


liturgical music, Medieval Southern Italy, Benedictine nuns, chants


Nardini, L. (2019). Chants and hypertexts. [Conference poster]. Digital Frontiers Annual Conference, Austin, TX, United States.


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