The Association for Computers and the Humanities will be sponsoring two sessions at the 2006 convention of the Modern Language Association, in Philadelphia from 27 through 30 December: see below for the details.
We also offer a guide to all digital humanities sessions at the convention.
Although the 2006 convention is now in the past, this information will remain available, as a record of what went on. Similar information for many other years is available via the main page on ACH MLA sessions.
Digital Medievalism and the Single Scholar
Thursday, 28 December 2006, 1:45–3:00 p.m., Grand Ballroom Salon K, Philadelphia Marriott
Presiding: Dorothy Porter, Collaboratory for Research in Computing for Humanities, University of Kentucky.
“The Whole World on My iBook: The Cotton Anglo-Saxon Mappamundi Project”, Martin Foys, Hood College
Though the Cotton Anglo-Saxon mappamundi (British Library MS Cotton Tiberius B.V. pt. 1, f. 56v), one of the oldest detailed English maps of the world, has been in the past described as “famous and oft-quoted,” and “justly famous,” it has actually received little of the discussion one might expect of a map of such status. This paper will discuss the development of the Digital Edition of the Cotton Map (DECM) project for the British Library, which aims to create a comprehensive edition of the Cotton Map as a common resource for scholars and students to examine its matter, form and background, and to serve as the foundation for new scholarship and critical approaches. Like the Bayeux Tapestry Digital Edition before it, this electronic edition envisions a more efficient, intuitive and powerful architecture of study, wherein users will be able to navigate the map at any desired level of magnification, call up with a single click specific information about a particular inscription or image, and cross-reference details to a wealth of contextual information such as textual sources and analogues, images of other medieval mappaemundi, background essays, bibliographic items, and encyclopedic entries for each geographic feature of the map. This presentation will showcase a working prototype of the DECM, address the contingencies of developing such docucentric projects without substantial financial or institutional backing, and consider the specific difficulties of designing electronic editions for visual, as opposed to textual materials.
“Saints, Technology, and the Art of Collaboration”, Amy Ogden, University of Virginia
The paradoxical nature of academic collaboration is that it makes research both more and less productive and efficient. The different perspectives of multiple researchers can help to ensure that a project is useful to a broad audience, and a group effort naturally allows for the division of labor that permits more rapid advancement. At the same time, different perspectives can lead to disagreements and to a breadth that stymies progress. For the scholar who has a small project and a strong sense of purpose, collaboration may seem not only unnecessary, but even detrimental, involving a surrender of control and loss of the project’s integrity. Nonetheless, small projects are, in many ways, the ideal environment in which to explore modes of effective collaboration. Such projects do not need to involve many people and the collaborative aspects can develop out of the original vision of the project rather than shaping it from the beginning. The project director can therefore reap the benefits of collaboration while limiting the amount of control she or he turns over to others and therefore the difficulties that can ensue from multiple approaches.
Focusing on my own Lives of the Saints: The Medieval French Hagiography Project and on a few similar small projects at the Institute for Advanced Technologies in the Humanities (IATH), I will present a range of collaborative efforts that involve minimal or no funding. Although IATH’s support is invaluable for these projects, the underlying principles of the efforts I discuss should be widely applicable.
“Reflections of a Digital Antiquary”, David Radcliffe, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
For most of its history, the study of medieval and renaissance literature has been an amateur pursuit. Amateur antiquaries tended to be trained philologists: college fellows, clergymen, and gentlemen of independent means with strong ties to the universities where books and manuscripts were deposited. Digital antiquaries working today are similarly tethered to universities, often professors whose work extends beyond the professional pale. Now as then, antiquaries respond to the stigma attached to supposedly trivial subjects by pursuing commercial and self-publication. It remains the antiquary’s business to make hidden knowledge accessible and ephemeral knowledge permanent. While digital publication makes it easy to get obscure knowledge out, it makes it harder to render it permanent since digital media are themselves so ephemeral. For the earlier success is to be repeated, much will depend on the willingness of antiquaries to master the ways of alternative publication and libraries to archive their work.
Editing’s Cultural Work: Building the Electronic New Variorum Shakespeare
Saturday, 30 December 2006, 12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., 308, Philadelphia Marriott
Presiding: Alan Galey, University of Alberta
- “Past is Prologue: Early Electronic New Variorum Shakespeares”, Paul Werstine, University of Western Ontario
- “How Does the Scholar Think? ModelingEditorial Work in the Electronic New Variorum Shakespeare”, Julia Flanders, Brown University
- “Electronic Monuments: The Digital Variorum and Theories of the Archive”, Alan Galey, University of Alberta