The latest from Archive Journal is a Special Issue on Digital Medieval Manuscript Cultures. In their introduction to the essays, Michael Hanrahan (Bates College) and Bridget Whearty (Binghamton University-SUNY) outline key questions and concerns present in the issue:
More than two decades into the ‘incunabula’ period of digitization, as digital manuscripts are regularly incorporated into research, teaching, and outreach, we must treat them with the same rigor that we apply to physical manuscripts and analyze their creation, reception, and reuse. Doing so is important not just for fostering a more rigorous and more just present and future for medieval studies; these emerging methodologies can be extended beyond the medieval period to enrich the ongoing study of text technologies more broadly. At the same time, taking digital manuscripts seriously requires us to consider questions that we would never need to ask of their physical medieval exemplars. Questions such as: What is the relationship between physical materials and their digital representations? What can we do with the digital manuscript that we cannot with the physical book? What do we lose when we work primarily, or even solely, with digital manuscripts? What are the ethics of digitized labor? Who are digitized manuscripts really for? Why do we digitize?
Our authors reach across disciplinary boundaries, traditional academic careers, and any perceived senior/junior faculty divides. They include leading critics of digitization, scholar-librarians who have been involved in groundbreaking digital projects for decades, early career professionals who have always lived in “the digital age,” and collaborative teams that bring together established scholars and practitioners with undergraduates and nonacademic volunteers.
The issue contains six articles, all of which will be of interest to those engaged in similar digitization projects or research endeavors relating to medieval manuscripts and beyond. They are:
- “The Digital Archive, Scholarly Enquiry, and the Study of Medieval English Manuscripts,” by A. S. G. Edwards
- “Why Do We Digitize? The Case for Slow Digitization,” by Andrew Prescott and Lorna Hughes
- “Digital Manuscripts as Sites of Touch: Using Social Media for ‘Hands-On’ Engagement with Medieval Manuscript Materiality,” by Johanna M. E. Green
- “Recovering Lost Texts: Rebuilding Lost Manuscripts,” by Julia Craig-McFeely
- “Remix the Medieval Manuscript: Experiments with Digital Infrastructure,” by Michelle R. Warren, Bay Lauris ByrneSim, Laura Braunstein, with collaborators (in alphabetical order): Monica Erives, Logan Henderson, Deborah Howe, Divya Kalidindi, Scott Millspaugh, Benjamin Patrick, Emily Ulrich, Qingyu Wang, and Jennifer Zhong
- “Julian of Norwich and the Digital,” by Elizabeth Robertson