"In the fall of 2016 an international scholarly conference accompanied the exhibition Beyond Words: Illuminated Manuscripts in Boston Collections. The speakers were chosen because of their expertise and because they were known to have research underway pertaining to important manuscripts in the exhibition. The aim of both exhibition and conference was to provide a broad overview of the history of patronage and book production over the course of the High and late Middle Ages, to the extent that the eclectic holdings of Boston-area institutions permitted. Most of the papers delivered at the conference have been collected as essays in this abundantly illustrated volume which, while still linked to the exhibition, now has an independent purpose.
Just as the essays cover a wide range of topics, all relating to the history of the book, but also, inter alia, to the history of law, liturgy, literature, and libraries as well as to devotion, theology, and art, so too the approaches adopted by the contributors are as varied as the materials they study, ranging from paleography, codicology, and provenance research to painstaking reconstructions of historical patterns of patronage and the interpretative strategies of authors and artists. What results is not simply a wealth of fascinating insights into individual illuminated books, their makers, and their readers, but also an indication of how much remains to be learned about the materials to which the exhibition served as no more than an introduction."