Middlebury

MiddLab

For thousands of years, the written word contained only streams of capital letters, with unseparated words and sentences. Punctuation appeared in only rudimentary forms in the early centuries A.D., and was invented specifically to prevent those who read aloud in church from misreading on misinterpreting a passage of the scriptures. Spaces between words did not appear until the 700s A.D., after the development of the Carolingian Miniscule and the establishment of Benedictine rule, and it was not until the 1100s that they became common place. Suddenly, readers no longer needed to mumble through passages to discern their meanings, and began to read as we do most commonly today: in silence. The new written form inspired the first alphabetized glossaries, made books more compact and personal, and made literacy a more widespread goal. But it also triggered a sense of independence and empowerment as yet unknown in medieval society, causing a rise of critical thinkers and skeptics, and, in turn, inciting fear of heresy in the church. Indeed, without punctuation and the space between words, would we have the same capacity for questioning that we do today?

People

Melissa Hirsch
Researcher

Louisa Burnham
Sponsor & Associate Professor of History

Related Links

Downloads

A MiddLab Project

Hope Walks into a Bar Looking for Change

Learn more about Intensive English Programs at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

One of the presenters for TEDxMonterey was Kelley Calvert, a MIIS alumna and faculty member. Kelley spent the summer of 2009 on a cross-country road trip exploring the nation for signs of hope and change. This was no ordinary journey; she traveled via a twenty-year-old retrofitted biodiesel Jetta. This adventure has inspired her book, Hope Walks into a Bar Looking for Change, a fast-moving tale on the open road that attempts to learn if hope can emerge from change. The cross-country journey and the process of documenting her experience inspired her TEDxMonterey talk where she encouraged participants to add their hope to her online map.

People

Kelley Calvert
Author, Assistant Professor & Writing Center Director

Lynn McDonald
Postgraduate Fellow in the Teaching & Learning Collaborative

Related Links

Downloads

Sites DOT Middlebury: the Middlebury site network.