Thélème at Penn

Hosted by Bailiwick of Ivyeinrust - Philadelphia, PA

Event date: August 20th, 2016

Event Last Modified: August 16th, 2016

Event details

Fay ce que vouldras

In Gargantua, Rabelais describes the Abbaye of Thélème as an utopical place of free learning.  For one day, the Rare Books Library of the University of Pennsylvania will welcome the free learners of the SCA.  In the same spirit as the voyages of discovery previous event please come and talk about your research, your failed attempts, your successes and get feedback on those and ideas for future projects.

Please see the event website here

We have three classrooms available.  One is dedicated to the book as object.  Inspired by the context of the library, we would like to have a track fully dedicated to the making of the books (making parchment, paper, ink, preparing pigments, calligraphy, printing, bookbinding…).  The two other rooms have at this point no specific theme.

The format of the day is as follows:

- Lecture-style presentations with a question-and-answer session at the end; presentation slots are one half-hour, with fifteen minutes of presentation and ten minutes of question-and-answer.  Those presenters who are comfortable with a longer presentation are welcome to request two adjoining slots, for a forty-minute presentation and fifteen minutes of question-and-answer.  There are a finite number of slots, and we will start adding classes on a rolling timeline as we receive and review proposals.  Please send any and all proposals to Mistress Lissa Underhill at

- A poster session.  There is some space available for poster display.  If there is interest, there will be a hall set up to display poster-size presentations of research topics (either hanging or free-standing trifolds).  There will be an hour during the day while the posters are attended by their authors; the room will be open throughout the day for interested folks to walk through and read at their leisure.  There is no limit on the number of poster slots.  Please send any and all poster proposals to Mistress Lissa Underhill at

- Manuscript interaction room.  This is the rare books library and, with advance warning, Penn’s manuscript relevant to the classes will be available to peruse.  There is only room for us to pull about 8 books.  So, early requests and ones that tie a manuscript to a class will get priority.

For more information see:

- Breakout area and lounge space for conversation and further exploration of topics that caught your interest during one presentation or another.  Also feel free to bring your favorite reference books to show others.

Because we will be presenting our research with all the modern tools of the presenter's art, this demo is in modern dress.  The interested general public is encouraged to attend. 

Site Opens: 10:30 am
Site Closes: 5 pm

Event Location

Kislak Center for special collections, rare books and manuscripts at Van Pelt Library, University of Pennsylvania
3420 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA  19104
Google Map

The event site is accessible per the East Kingdom Accessibility Porter's Checklist.


The main entrance to the library faces the inside of the 3400 block below Walnut Street.  From the intersection of 34th & Walnut, there's a path that leads southwest into campus.  As soon as the path opens up into a green space, you'll look toward the right and you'll see a sculpture of a broken button ( ) that is in front of the stairs into up to the library's main entrance.

Once you go through the glass doors, you'll present a photo ID to the security guards

Driving Directions: 
From WEST via 76 East - exit at 30th Street Station, at the light turn right, curve around the train station to the left.  At the third light, you'll want to be in the right lane to go straight across Market Street.  Turn right onto Walnut Street - after 33rd, start looking for a parking spot or follow directions to the parking lot of your choice ( recommended)

From EAST via Benjamin Franklin Bridge to 676 West.  Exit at 30th Street Station and follow directions above. 

Public Transit Directions:
If coming by Train - 30th Street Station is equally close to the library as the University City station that usually requires switching SEPTA trains and getting off at 33rd & South (OTOH, it's right by the University Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology, if you'd like to include that in your visit) From 30th Street Station it's three-quarters of a mile to walk to the library.  Or you can leave the building and head to the entrance to the subway at 30th & Market.  Take the subway-surface trolleys (11, 13, 34, or 36 - but NOT the 10) west to the 36th street & Sansom Avenue stop.  Then walk south (toward to bookstore, Cosi, and Urban Outfitters), cross Walnut Street, keep walking south into campus, until you cross a wide path off to your left.  Follow that path until you see the broken button sculpture and the library behind it.

If coming by Greyhound or Peter Pan bus, ask directions to the 11th street entrance to the Market-Frankfort Line ( ).  Get off at 34th street.  Head south to Walnut street, and then follow the walking directions in the driving directions.

Within the city - Aside from being convenient to the MFL and trolleys, the library is also easily reached by the 21 and 42 buses, both of which stop at 34th & Walnut.

Campus map - including parking and local restaurants
More on parking at Penn -

Registration Fees

The event is free. 
Donations will be accepted

Parking in UPenn lots on a weekend is a $12 flat rate for the day.  There is also paid street parking.

The event is easily reachable by public transportation.

There is no feast.
At this point, we do not plan to serve food but the University of Pennsylvania is surrounded by eating places (restaurants, food court, food trucks…).

Prices will range from $8-$30, and we'll have a restaurant guide at registration.

Make Checks Payable to: event is free

Contact Information

Event Steward:

Brunissende Dragonette (mka Mathilde Poussin)
Tel:  215-474-7684 (Leave a message.  No call after 10 pm)

Send Reservations to:

No reservation needed. 

Other Contact Information:

Van Pelt Library accessibility information -