Video/Audio Open Access

Distant Gatherings: A Text-Case for Digital Manuscript Collaborations

Morreale, Laura

The restrictions imposed by COVID19 have challenged all who work in academia, and particularly those who work with material sources like medieval manuscripts, to reconsider normal practices of research exchange and how they might transfer to the online environment.  Rather than slavishly replicating previous in-person formats which are invariably less effective when staged virtually, we have the chance instead to think creatively about how to capitalize on the digital medium, to investigate why people already willingly dedicate so much of their time to computer-based forms of communication. By identifying and co-opting what makes some kinds of virtual exchange successful, we can inspire new forms of academic exchange that re-invent rather than mimic older forms of teaching, research, and learning.

My talk features a long-term research project focused on the humanist text, Deiphira, a series of manuscript-based transcription events that took place from May to October of 2020 (the La Sfera and Image du Monde Challenges), and a discussion how we might transfer these well-received techniques to future academic and manuscript based gatherings. I also explain the essential components of what makes such events so compelling, and report on the status of the event that took place concurrently with the conference, a three-day group project to transcribe and prepare for publication a digital version of La Pelerinage de Damoiselle Sapience, a text housed at University of Pennsylvania's Rare Book and Manuscript Library, MS 660.

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