Parker Library-Keio EIRI Conference

On Friday 9 September we hosted a very successful conference on ‘Text, image and the digital environment’ organised by Dr Satoko Tokunaga of the Faculty of Letters at Keio University who has also been a Visiting Fellow at Corpus this year. Satoko put together a really interesting programme and I thought it might be helpful to record a few notes about the papers on the blog.

The opening papers by Giles Bergel and Kiyoko Myojo addressed theoretical questions concerning the materiality of the text, distinctions between a text and a document, the process of copying, the nature of authorship, and the relationships between print and handwriting and between digital reproductions and original artefacts. Giles Bergel, whose research focuses on the long eighteenth century, illustrated his arguments with examples of lettering printed from engraved plates, including elaborately inscribed frontispieces and writing manuals which presented a scribal exemplar for students to copy. Kiyoko Myojo examined the textual history of the works of Franz Kafka, whose manuscripts were heavily edited by his literary executor Max Brod, and the potential benefits of digital editions.

In the next session, Satoko and Takako Kato described a new project that they are launching called ‘Caxton and Beyond’ which will provide a new census of individual copies of texts printed by William Caxton. They already have some interesting work on the rubrication of the various copies and plan to use the TEI Manuscript Description module, drawing upon Takako’s experience of using it for the Production and Use of English Manuscripts 1060-1220 project. James Cummings, a member of the TEI Technical Council, alluded to this in his Prezi talk concerning some upcoming developments in TEI. Since many people are using the Manuscript Description module to describe items that are not (or not wholly) manuscripts, a new TypeDesc tag is being added to the module, among other new features.

In the afternoon sessions, two ongoing projects and two libraries reported on their digital activities. Ben Albritton and Rob Sanderson talked about their Mellon-funded project which focuses on the development of interoperable tools which can be used to interact with texts and images held in various manuscript digitization projects, including Parker on the Web. These tools, using the Shared Canvas model, allow users to work with images from different collections side by side, including cool tools for working with medieval maps and transcription and annotation tools. Take a look at T-PEN on YouTube.

Peter Stokes talked about what palaeographers might want to do with digital images of manuscript pages and his Digital Palaeography project which is working with images of eleventh-century Anglo-Saxon manuscripts, including many from the Parker Library manuscripts.

DigiPal Project Homepage

(Note the image of St Jerome receiving inspiration on their homepage from CCCC MS 389.)

In the final session of the day, Joanna  Fronska of the British Library talked about the Royal Manuscripts project and the ongoing work to integrate data from the Digital Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts with the Digitised Manuscripts. The Royal project is both a cataloguing project and the opportunity to research and present an exhibition. Joanna gave us some tantalising details about what looks like being a sumptuous exhibition: Royal Manuscripts: The Genius of Illumination. It opens at the BL on 11 Nov and runs until 13 March 2012. No less exciting, particularly for those of us in Cambridge, Grant Young and Huw Jones laid out some of the treats in store with the launch of Cambridge University Library‘s Digital Library Initative. This will offer all sorts of new ways of displaying and interacting with digital versions of many of the library’s treasures. More about this when it launches in a few weeks’ time.

All in all, a great conference. Looking round the room, it seemed that almost everyone was wearing at least two hats – librarians, textual scholars, medievalists, (early) modernists and technical types – which made for a very informed and fruitful discussion.

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