Between Reading and Viewing: Mapping and Experiencing Rome and Other Spaces

  • Klazina Staat (VU University)


This article focuses on a Carolingian manuscript now kept in the Stiftsbibliothek Einsiedeln (Codex 326 (1076)), containing a collection of mostly Rome-centred writings, among others, a series of walking routes through the city (the Itinerarium Einsidlense). The theoretical concepts of ‘affordances’ and ‘ergodic’ reading are employed to explore the meanings and functions of the Itinerarium in its original context of use (i.e., the Carolingian monastery). After an analysis of the particular form of the written text on the parchment folio, the article contextualises the form and affordance of the Itinerarium by comparing the text with two other Carolingian artworks from roughly the same time and geographical context: the Plan of St. Gall and a diagram of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre from an illustrated manuscript of Adomnán’s De locis sanctis. These sources resemble the Itinerarium through their ergodic approach to writing and reading, as well as their visual and meditational affordances. Subsequently, the Itinerarium is read in the wider context of the Einsiedeln collection, to explore how the ‘ergodic’ dimensions of the manuscript adds to the understanding of the meaning and function of the Itinerarium. Thus, the article highlights the importance to pay attention to the physical form of Latin script and the place of texts in the larger manuscript, in order to understand the meanings and functions of texts in particular contexts.

Keywords: medieval manuscripts, itinerarium, Rome, Plan of St. Gall, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, ergodic reading

How to Cite:

Staat, K., (2023) “Between Reading and Viewing: Mapping and Experiencing Rome and Other Spaces”, Journal of Latin Cosmopolitanism and European Literatures 8. doi:

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Published on
12 Jul 2023
Peer Reviewed