“Zap! Why Intuition Matters in Academia” Research Colloquium by Dr. Erik Kwakkel

Tuesday, November 28 at 3:00 PT
Buchanan Tower, Room 1099


Zap! Why Intuition Matters in Academia by Dr. Erik Kwakkel


While the notion of intuition would perhaps seem unwelcome in the empirical arena of academia, it thrives in many Humanities disciplines. The study of medieval manuscripts, books before the application of printing, leans heavily on intuitive verdicts. The expert eye of the paleographer will recognize in the style of a scribe’s handwriting precisely when and where a manuscript was produced, sometimes with eerie precision. The source of this sensation is the shape of the handwritten letters. Zap! Looking at medieval handwriting, the experienced eye will be hit by an abundance of unsolicited information about the manuscript’s origins. This presentation shows how expert verdicts are derived from the general appearance of medieval handwriting and how variation in styles of handwriting can be captured in quantitative terms.



Erik Kwakkel, Ph.D., is Professor and Director of the UBC iSchool. He is the author of, among others, Medicine at Monte Cassino: Constantine the African and the Oldest Manuscript of his ‘Liber pantegni’ (Brepols, 2019, with Francis Newton) and Books Before Print (Arc Humanities, 2018). Widely recognized as an international expert in medieval manuscripts, Kwakkel held several major research grants and was appointed member of the Comité International de Paléographie Latine (CIPL).