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Digital medieval manuscripts

Bridget Whearty and Astrid Smith in the digitization lab

As the CLIR postdoctoral fellow in Data Curation for Medieval Studies at Stanford I work primarily with data about large collections of digitized manuscripts and fragments. For example, I have helped to make our teaching collections more easily discoverable in Searchworks. I've also been bringing together partner institutions' descriptive metadata to feed a specialized manuscript search environment. 

In practice, I write code to transform batches of 70, 300, 500, or 1000+ manuscripts at a time: I've gotten very comfortable thinking of medieval manuscripts in the tens, hundreds, and even thousands. But the truth is that these large batches of digital-medieval manuscripts I curate are built of unique, single objects. Single objects that, just like the physical objects they grow from, are made by individual people, in particular environments, under specific institutional, financial, and social pressures. 

In order to better understand the process that leads to the creation of a digital-medieval book, I recently followed the digitization of a fifteenth-century book of hours, Stanford University Libraries, M0379, from the request for digitization, through the slow hard work of taking the images and hours of post-production labor, to its arrival in Stanford Digital Repository (SDR). 

We're pleased to announce the release of Version 1.6 of Parker on the Web, the sixth incremental site release since the launch of Version 1.0 in Fall 2009.

Version 1.6 constitutes a major improvement in the availability of journal article citation live links. Selected article citations in the Parker bibliography are now live links to digital versions of those articles, enabling Parker on the Web subscribers to quickly navigate to the full-text scholarly resources and thus expedite their research. Approximately 1200 live links are now available in the bibliography. This functionality requires an institutional subscription to each vendor's journal database. This new feature is only available to Parker on the Web subscribers.

The image depicted above is from Parker Manuscript 8, with the accompanying explanation of significance, below, provided by Christopher de Hamel, Parker Librarian, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge University.

The month of May was the traditional time for love, in medieval custom and romantic literature.The earliest surviving Anglo-Norman love-song is a chance survival of part of a mid-thirteenth-century parchment sheet which was re-used as a flyleaf at the end of a later manuscript of the Speculum historiale of Vincent of Beauvais. It preserves a polyphonic setting for three voices, opening approximately, ‘Would you hear the said story, how Guyot wastes his effort, for his lady love, who is too distant from him? [Night] and day he goes imploring her not to be unkind’, with the refrain, “Mes amerousette, / Douce camousette, / Kar éez pité / De vos amourettes”, ‘My dearest love, Sweet snub-nosed one, Take pity on your lover!” Parker Library MS 8, fol.i, verso.

 

Digital Production Group takes great pride and pleasure in our role supporting the Library's many beautiful and informative exhibitions. The current exhibition is just that, displaying an array of startlingly colorful and detailed medieval manuscripts from the University's collection.

Please read more below, cross-posted from Special Collections.  See also the recent article in the Stanford University News, Medieval exhibition spotlights Stanford Libraries' manuscript collection.

Scripting the Sacred: Medieval Latin Manuscripts

Scripting the Sacred, part one of a two-part exhibition of Western European manuscripts and fragments, showcases the medieval experience of reading. The exhibition will open Monday, September 17, in the Peterson Gallery and Munger Rotunda of Green Library, and continue through January 6, 2013.

Studying these texts involved not only the absorption of knowledge, but also practices of interpretation, identification, and devotion. By focusing on the exercise of reading, this exhibition explores "scripting" in diverse forms: scribal activity, scripted performances, and inscribed divine things (res divinae).

Throughout the Middle Ages, the Bible remained the paradigmatic text for reading and studying. The exhibited biblical items highlight different preferences pertaining to legibility. Indeed, scribes designed manuscripts to guide, assist, and sometimes challenge readers, as medieval versions of biblical commentary and patristic works exemplify. The liturgical genres on display contain written and visual markers that instruct readers in the proper performance of the Mass, music, and specific feast days. The text portion of the liturgy helped stage the clergy's ceremonial duties. Liturgical fragments with musical notation assisted ritual actors in the memorization of stylized speech. Both components show how customized manuscripts promoted reading aloud. Miniature prayer books and books of hours demonstrate a late medieval trend toward privatized and personalized lay devotion.