The Mysteries of Medieval Multimedia

I am Anna Smith, and I am currently studying graphic and information design and English at Northeastern University. Having just completed my freshman year, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to research as fascinating an artifact as the Prayer Book so early in my academic career. I cannot wait to discover what lies within the manuscript’s ancient pages, and I hope that our findings and preservation efforts jumpstart a long and fruitful journey towards understanding this intriguing text.

The practice of studying and preserving artifacts such as the Prayer Book is invaluable in the Digital Age. As we veer toward digitally-accessible media, it is easy to overlook physical relics, though they have influenced our modern world in profound ways that we may not even realize.

With this project, I hope to not only uncover information about the historical context of the Prayer Book, but to understand how these findings fit into a modern study of English and even graphic and information design. Even at a glance, this book shows that the visual representation of information was important to writers even before the term”graphic design” existed. Just as a white billboard adorned only with 24 point Times New Roman font is unlikely to turn any heads, a collection of prayers and music scrawled on stray sheets of parchment would likely have been cast aside centuries ago. The ornate illuminations and illustrations and even the practical yet aesthetic design of the book itself provide insight into the artistic techniques of the time and show that graphic design has been relevant for ages.

In many ways, the Prayer Book is the ultimate piece of medieval multimedia. From prayers to music to art, this compact artifact contains a wealth of information, all waiting to be discovered by those who dare to venture forth into its pages. With that in mind, I can’t wait to begin the process of unlocking these mysteries and preserving them for years to come!


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