This lecture will investigate the lives of medieval manuscripts and fragments that date from the late sixth century to the fifteenth century, tracing their survival to the present day, when increasing numbers exist online in digital format. The benefits to scholars of digitization are incalculable, especially in a time of global pandemic when it is impossible to view manuscripts in person. But what do we see when we work with manuscripts and fragments in online form only? What are the advantages and what are the challenges of new technologies for viewing books produced by hand as new forms of data? This lecture is a call to maximise the opportunities of the digital environment, while being aware of the essential skills and expertise required to make the most of access to these incredible resources. Participants can expect a rich and diverse range of images and ideas as we look at how manuscripts become data, and data becomes new knowledge.
About the Speaker: Elaine Treharne, MArAd, PhD, FSA, FRHistS, FEA, FLSW, is the Roberta Bowman Denning Professor of Humanities, Professor of English, and Robert K. Packard University Fellow in Undergraduate Education at Stanford University. She is a medieval literature and manuscript specialist, with expertise in the long history of human communication and archival studies. She has published over thirty books and sixty articles, mostly focused on Early English texts in their manuscript contexts, and also on the digital aspect of early textuality. She directs Stanford Text Technologies, which investigates the potential of data analysis for the study of historical knowledge production. She is interested in the record of human experience: how it is transmitted, who is remembered, and how the past is memorialised. Her newest books include Text Technologies: A History, with Claude Willan (Stanford University Press, 2019); the Cambridge Companion to British Medieval Manuscripts, ed. with Orietta Da Rold (CUP, 2020); and Perceptions of Medieval Manuscripts: The Phenomenal Book (OUP, 2021).