English Manuscript Rolls 1200-1600: A Collaborative Digitization

This project, which runs throughout 2016, has three major aims:

  1. to build a network of graduate students working with medieval manuscript rolls and/or digital humanities
  2. to train graduate students in collaborative digital textual editing through hands-on group projects involving editing and editorial decision-making and TEI encoding
  3. to create online digital editions of five manuscript rolls

The creation of a digital rolls collection, with accompanying searchable transcription and commentary, is the energizing goal of the project.  Through this collaborative effort of resource creation, the project seeks to connect graduate scholars, train them in the paleography and codicology of manuscript rolls, equip them to tackle the challenges of creating digital facsimile and scholarly editions, and so encourage their participation in collaborative research, textual editing and analytic commentary on manuscript rolls.

The project explicitly encourages interdisciplinary connections between paleography, literature, art history, history and language study. It will seek to address some ongoing questions of rolls research. (E.g. How do form and content interact in rolls? What is their social status? How are we to understand and tackle the codicologial challenges of manuscript artifacts that rest so uncomfortably under the label “codex”? What digital tools are best able to render rolls research accessible, adaptable and interactive?) This inquiry will extend beyond the immediate ends of the project to enrich the continuing work of beginning researchers.

In addition to a panel at the International Congress of Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo, the project has organized two graduate workshops in 2016, focusing on teaching the principles of XML and the Text Encoding Initiative, as well as the paleography and codicology of rolls.

Workshop dates are:
11-12 March 2016, Yale University
18-19 November 2016, Yale University

Project organizers are working to develop an interface for the presentation of the digitized roll images, text and commentary that will be the product of these workshops; these online editions will constitute the project’s final and lasting product.

For more information, please contact digitalmanuscriptrolls [at] gmail.com

This project is generously supported by a grant from the Graduate Student Committee of the Medieval Academy of America.