Medieval Latin Manuscript Transmission in a Digital Environment: The Elbing Convent Library and its Hypertexts
Principal Investigators: Lucie Doležalová, Charles University, Prague; Gábor Farkas Kiss, ELTE University of Budapest; Rafał Wójcik, University Library, Poznań; Eyal Poleg, The University of Edinburgh.
Description: The project has two principal aims. The primary core of the project is exploring the application of digital resources to four case studies (one by each investigator) on textual transmission of specific and widely diffused texts (two of them found in the Elbing convent library). Two of them (Summarium Biblicum and Interpretationes nominum hebraicorum) are biblical tools frequently used by preachers, while the other two (Historia passionis and Nota hanc figuram...), although closely linked to the Bible as well, tie-in with personal and communal meditation and devotion. Most importantly, each of these texts was extremely popular and widely diffused throughout the late Middle Ages.
Despite the fact that each of them exists in several medieval versions, recensions, and appropriations; however, there are no modern critical editions, attesting to a gap between their wide diffusion in the Middle Ages, and an all-but-complete neglect in the modern era. This side of the project would examine the problems arising from editing texts in a digital environment, with multiple pictorial and textual variants, e.g. where images are inherent part of the text, but iconographically they vary from one manuscript to other; or the problem of presenting critical opinion on disfigured word-forms, false etymologies, and inaccurate meanings within an edition.
Our primary aim is not documentary history; we do not intend to merely update the library catalogue and describe in detail the contents of the library, although this will certainly be one of the side-products of our research. Instead, we take the case of a particular late medieval convent library as a starting point of an inquiry into late medieval devotion, text transmission, and intellectual history.
The contents of the collection thus directly concern the relationship of the university, itinerant preachers, and monastic communities. Although this part of our research concerns the history of medieval libraries, too, its primary focus would be to provide an occasion to examine the possibility of looping two parallel interfaces of digital presentation: the Parker on the web, and the editions and studies connected to it. Potentially, we would like consider the feasibility of a text-based digital reconstruction of a medieval library, both in its philological and socio-historical context.