It has come the time for me to leave the Executive Board (having finished my third and last possible biannual term). For the last five years, after a first year as vice-director, I have tried my best to fill the big shoes of my predecessors as Board Director.
I have seen the community grow and become ever more engaged, both in the DistList and through social media, and, last year, I’ve introduced the student and early-career sub-committee as a means to foster collaboration with and involve in DM a number of talented scholars at the beginning of their careers, with all their energy and stimulating ideas.
I now leave the Direction of DM in the very capable hands of Lynn Ransom. Lynn is Curator of Programs at the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscripts Studies at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries and, since 2008, she has directed the Schoenberg Database for Manuscripts. Lynn joined DM in 2016 and has been an invaluable member of the Executive Board since the very beginning.
This year, we also say goodbye to a number of longstanding members of the Board: Franz Fischer, who will carry on his role as Editor-in-Chief of the Digital Medievalist Journal, Mike Kestemont, and Georg Vogeler.
It has been an exciting six-years, and I am looking forward to all the good work that the new board, under Lynn’s direction, will undoubtedly do.
Farewell to you all and good luck to Lynn and the new board.
Digital Diplomatics 2020 will bring together selected leading and upcoming experts in the study of Digital Diplomatics and related fields, to facilitate a productive exchange on the state and the future of the field. The conference will include expert panels, lightning talks, and a poster session, which is currently open for submissions. We are soliciting posters on any subject related to the study of charters and computing, including:
Machine Learning for Digital Diplomatics
Linguistic Corpora for Digital Diplomatics
Digitally Mediated Archives for Diplomatics
The Future of Diplomatics
If you recall, a couple of years ago, we ran a community survey to better understand our constituency, and its interests and expectations. We have used the survey results to guide our decisions and better represent the DM community. A significant issue that was highlighted by the survey was a certain lack of participation by part of (post-)graduate students and early career researchers.
We have decided to tackle the problem by instituting a new subcommittee of students and early career scholars to work in parallel to the Executive Board, aiming at engaging with their peers and help the board in its activities.
We have invited 8 outstanding and enthusiastic candidates to be part of this first instalment of the subcommittee. I will work as a liaison between the two boards to guarantee active communication and collaboration between the two boards.
If the experiment will be successful—and I am confident it will!—we would like to call on the community once more to update the bylaws and make the subcommittee an official branch of DM, with regular calls for nominations and elections, as it is for the Executive Board.
Allow me, therefore, to introduce the members of the subcommittee (in alphabetical order):
Hannah Busch: PhD candidate studying the application of Artificial Intelligence for the study of medieval Latin palaeography, at Huygens ING, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Nathan Daniels: PhD candidate in History at Johns Hopkins University, studying Parisian guilds, urban space and topography, with related interests in digital editions of historical texts, linked open data, and mapping.
Selina Galka: currently finishing the Joint-Masters-Degree in German Medieval Philology and studying the MA “Digital Humanities” at the Karl-Franzens-University Graz.
Tessa Gengnagel: PhD candidate at the University of Cologne, with a background in History and Latin Philology of the Middle Ages and an interest in digital scholarly editions of non-textual materials.
James Harr, III: PhD student focusing on medieval media studies, petitionary networks, and material semiotics in the Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media program at North Carolina State University.
Aylin Malcolm: PhD candidate studying medieval literature and science, including digital editions of scientific manuscripts, at the University of Pennsylvania.
Caitlin Postal: PhD student caught between medieval literature, material culture, temporality, and digitality at the University of Washington.
Daniela Schulz studied History and English in Cologne, with a focus on medieval history, and also received some training in what’s now commonly called “Digital Humanities”. She is writing a doctoral thesis focusing on the digital edition of an early medieval Roman law text.
Much of my work in digital manuscript studies has been informed by a simple question: is this something I can show to my parents? I am the only person among my family and childhood friends to pursue graduate studies in the humanities, and when others take an interest in my work, I try to provide resources that do not depend on specialized knowledge or institutional subscriptions. This question can also be framed in broader terms for scholars interested in public engagement: how can we make our research accessible and engaging for nonspecialists? How can scholars working on the material culture of previous periods demonstrate the relevance of such studies now? And how can digital resources enable us to learn from communities outside the traditional bounds of academia?
I recently confronted these questions while examining a late-fifteenth-century astronomical anthology, written in German and Latin close to the city of Nuremberg, and now identified as Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, LJS 445. This codex, which you can see in my video orientation below, is remarkable for its inclusion of material from three incunables, making it a clear example of the transmission of knowledge from print to manuscript.
My own fascination with LJS 445 began when I opened it for the first time and saw a charming sketch of a man on the first page. Turning to the second folio, I was struck by its whimsical doodles of gardens and doors. What were these doing in a book dealing mostly with astronomical calculations and predictions about the Church?
Detail of fol. 2r of LJS 445.
My non-medievalist mother knew the answer immediately. “They’re children’s drawings,” she observed, pointing out the uneven writing and repetition of common motifs, such as trees. And turning to the 1997 catalogue description by Regina Cermann, I found that she was right: this book can be traced to two of the sons of a Nuremberg patrician, Georg Veit (1573-1606) and Veit Engelhard (1581-1656) Holtzschuher. Veit Engelhard left numerous marks in it, including the year “1589” (fols. 95v, 192r, and 222v), suggesting that he inscribed this book when he was around eight years old. Thus began my efforts to find out more about the contents and uses of this book, from its faithful copies of print editions to its battered and often mutilated constellation images. Perhaps my favourite discovery occurred as I was reading German genealogical records, when I came across an engraving of Veit Engelhard as an adult.
This digitized portrait of Holtzschuher is from the Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel. It was also printed in Die Porträtsammlung der Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel, vol. 11, ed. Peter Mortzfeld (Münich: K.G. Saur, 1989), no. A 100058, p. 266.
To make this remarkable manuscript more accessible to the public, I created a digital edition of it using Manicule, a web application built by Whitney Trettien and Liza Daly. Manicule, which is available on GitHub at https://github.com/wtrettien/manicule, allows scholars and students to create accessible, dynamic web editions of manuscripts and other rare books. It offers three modes of entry into a digitized text: a “Browse” function, whereby the viewer scrolls through pages of the facsimile alongside marginal notes written by the editor; a series of editor-curated “Tour Stops,” which provide commentaries on pages of particular note; and a “Structure” view, which draws on Dot Porter’s VisColl data model to depict the physical makeup of the manuscript, including missing, inserted, and conjoint leaves. Manicule can be downloaded and deployed on Mac OS systems using the instructions on the GitHub repository; Whitney is also available to provide advice and resolve issues.
The finished edition of LJS 445, available at aylinmalcolm.com/ljs445 under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, is a true collaboration. In writing the text and creating the digital resource, I have built on the labours of many other researchers, including Regina Cermann; Whitney Trettien and Liza Daly; Dot Porter, whose tools for generating a collation model and image list are also available on the VisColl GitHub repository; and an entire digitization team at the University of Pennsylvania, from photographers to data managers and programmers. The result is also an evolving resource that can be adapted and augmented as new information about this manuscript emerges. Please feel free to contact me at malcolma[at]sas.upenn.edu if you have suggestions or queries, and I hope that you’ll enjoy exploring this unique manuscript.
Digital methods are by definition at the border of Medieval Studies. This bold statement is primarily justified by the observation that the application of digital methods is triggered by a research community outside Medieval Studies, i.e. Computer Science and New Media Studies. Therefore, in its interdisciplinary nature digital medieval studies is a border-crossing discipline and breaks up traditionally developed scholarly silos and institutional borders. The experimentation with and application of new methods and technologies challenges traditional perceptions and research approaches. Another kind of digital borders are “metadata borders”. For example, digital cataloging standards create unintended, and sometimes intended, borders and boundaries that prevent data-sharing and linking.
In the light of this proposition the Digital Medievalist will take the opportunity of next years’ general IMC theme (“Borders”) to discuss cutting edge and “border-crossing” digital methods and technologies and/or borders and boundaries caused by digital methods. Topics may include current research in machine learning, computer vision, 3D modeling, IIIF, multispectral imaging, Handwritten Text Recognition, Linked Data and distant reading, etc. Machine learning, for instance, poses specific problems for Medieval Studies, as its success depends on the availability, findability, reusability, and accessibility of large amounts of data. Similar issues exist with the application of other digital methods to medieval material and the session(s) “Digital Borders of Medieval Studies” will be the place to present and discuss them.
The Digital Medievalist community invites the submission of proposals for 20-minute papers covering a topic relating to the session title and focusing on the application of digital methods and technologies for current and future research in the field of Medieval Studies.
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