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1. Meet the Class

No readings. Come prepared to meet your classmates, talk about yourself, and look at some medieval manuscripts.

2. Establishing an Online Presence: Blogs and Twitter

This class is devoted to considering how and why you might want to develop an online presence as an individual, but also as heritage institution. We’ll dip out toes into the online world by signing up for an profile, preparing to write blog posts and beginning to Tweet.

3. What Kind of Website Does Your Project Need?

In recent years, there have arisen so many platforms for hosting DH projects that it is difficult to know which to choose. We will be looking at how WordPress and Omeka function –the two main platforms we will be using this term- and how they differ (for better or worse) from their alternatives. Since our work largely focusses on being descriptive/ analytical, it is handcrafted, and our data is neither structured nor large, our work is not conducive to working with other platforms.

Examples of Blogs to peruse:

Examples of Omeka Sites to peruse:

4. Keeping Track of Your Project with GitHub

At the core of many DH projects is the belief that data wants to be free. But, most DH project require lots of labour and usually many people collaborating together (and using expertise/ tools developed in previous projects). Github is a platform built to allow collaboration on projects, but its ethos is grounded on the idea that users share their work and their experience. In this work, transparency about collaborative work (and the problems which arise) is key to moving forward. In this class we will talk about the issues of engaging in larger scale DH projects (i.e. more than one or two people) and will ask students to work some more with Github.

And try to make sense of what these githubs are doing:

Last minute addition for future reading (completely optional): In particular:

5. Writing Supports

This week marks a transition in the class away from our brief introduction to some digital tools, towards a more in-depth understanding of medieval manuscripts and how they are put together. “Writing Supports” is the term used to describe the material on which text is written. Our discussion, therefore, is to understand what people write on (paper, parchment, stone, wax, banana leaves etc.) and how that affects how texts are constructed.


There are lots of videos online about paper and parchment making. Check out this one about Japanese paper making. The British Library's Medieval England and France, 700-1200 online exhibition has a number of high quality videos about the making of quills, ink, pigments, vellum and more.

Generally for a good introduction to manuscripts, read the themed articles of the Medieval England and France exhibit on "making manuscripts".

Digitized Examples:

6. Paleography: How to differentiate historical fonts, type, hands, and scripts

Paleography is the study of “old” ways of writing. Scripts go in and out of fashion, and thus how something is written allows us to date it with some certainty and often identify its origin. In this class, we will briefly explore the history of medieval Western European writing to get you thinking about distinctive features that help identify scripts of the folios we have in our collection.

Your starting point should be a blog post by Yvonne Seale (follow her on Twitter) entitled, "A Beginner’s Guide to Digital Palaeography of Medieval Manuscripts". It lists loads of good resources, including Enigma, self-described as intended for "Unpuzzling difficult Latin readings in medieval manuscripts" (i.e. gives you most likely potential readings from the letters you can read).

Complete exercises here:

7. Reading Abbreviations

Reading medieval manuscripts is difficult for modern readers due to a complex use of abbreviations and codes (much like you yourself use).

8. Codicology: Understanding and Describing manuscript features

  • IMS, chp. 4 and 5 p. 49-81.

  • A gentle Introduction to Codicology by Dr James Freeman, Cambridge University Library.

  • Erik Kwakkel, "The Architecture of the Medieval Page,"

  • Sandra Hindman and Ariane Bergeron-Foote, Binding and the Archeology of the Medieval and Renaissance Book (available on slack).

  • Medieval & Early Modern Manuscripts Bookbinding Terms, Materials, Methods, And Models (available on slack).

To get a sense of how the printed page needs multiple orientations on a single side before being cut into folios, check out this blog post from the Firestone Library at Princeton. Recto side can be printed out, as can verso. Put the two together and you have a signature/ quire.

And try to understand the codicological description of Saint Cuthbert's Gospel (shelfmarkL "Add MS 89000"; i.e. the 89000 manuscript added to the general collection after its initial catalogue was created. It became part of the British Library collection only in 2012):

9. Genre: Liturgical Manuscripts

Gentle introduction to medieval liturgical books and liturgy from Thomas Kelly's EdX course:

For reference:

10. Cataloguing & Provenience

Digitized Manuscript Project (with well developed prose description)

Working with Fragments:

11. Working it Out

No readings. During class time, students can meet with the professor one-on-one to get help with their final project.

12. Putting it Together

No readings. Debriefing the term/ teleconference with Tuija Ainonen, of the British Library.

13. The Theory of the Digital

What is the difference between a manuscript and a digital version of it? This class welcomes students back and begins our focus on digitization in earnest. Our first question should be, what makes a digital project, digital? When we turn a manuscript into 1's and 0's, what do we do to it? What do we gain, or lose?

Example of a well-funded and successful digitization effort (links are to both sites of the same project). This project will be object of continuing discussion this term.

14. The Promise or the Possibilities of the Digital Humanities

Scanning or photographing manuscripts is one thing, but manuscripts can be represented or reproduced digitally in a myriad of ways. This class is intended as a brainstorming session for potential exhibitions people might want to develop and to explore the idea of the digital humanities as a gateway into diverse intellectual and creative interactions with texts. Our goal in class is to come up with a set of criteria of what makes for good DH project, related of course, to medieval manuscript studies...

Think pieces:


Case studies:

15. Capturing Medieval Manuscripts

How to capture medieval manuscripts? This class asks students to consider how people go about imaging, reproducing and creating facsimiles (both physical and digital) of medieval manuscripts.

The Department of Canadian Heritage has developed a number tutorials and sets of guidelines to help Canadian heritage institutions with the process of digitization.

  • Please take a look at the Digital Imaging guide to understand imaging terminology.

  • but spend most of your time and focus on completing the Capture Your Collection: Small Museum Tutorial. Keep in mind that images of all the folios have been photographed, and are already available through a IIIF server online. The exercises are useful tools for your to reflect on the process outlined, but not necessary to complete for our purpose.

For more narrative/visual depictions of the digitization process, please see the following:

  • Quick overview of image file types here.

  • (Optional) The debate about image standards continues. Here is one detailed study evaluating using RAW image files as an archival standard. Michael Bennett and Barry Wheeler, "Raw as Archival Still Image Format: A Consideration"

16. Using IIIF and Mirador

On Omeka, we’ve already been using IIIF Images. This class we will look at how we can use IIIF to present images, but also how IIIF and its linked software allows scholars to productively study/ interact with medieval manuscripts.

What is IIIF and how uses it?

  • Check out their github (also here) and see participating institutional members of the IIIF Community (i.e. what libraries and museums use IIIF)

  • For an introduction to IIIF, see their training manual. Read this introductory section. Reads parts 2.2-2.4, so that you understand the difference between an Image API and a Presentation API. This is a 5-day training session - feel free to make your way through the, at times, very detailed exercises, but know we will only be asking you to interact with images, not figure out how to present and serve them...

  • Poster: Lisa McAuley, “Benefits of the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) Featuring Medieval Palimpsest Manuscripts,” Digital Initiatives Symposium, May 2, 2017, which draws on work being done for


  • Sarah Ann Long, “Review: International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF); Gallica; e-Codices: Virtual Manuscript Library of Switzerland,” Journal of the American Musicological Society 71, no. 2 (August 1, 2018): 561–72,

Examples of IIIF Implementation

17. Online Annotations

The development of annotations offered by and Mirador allows an intellectual engagement/ process not usually visible, but very helpful in the creation of knowledge. Too many annotations or unhelpful annotations, however, have the potential to negatively impact a project. We will explore the questions of how to encourage productive collaboration and how much access you want to make to the general public for your online material.

18. Online Exhibitions

What are the best practices for creating online exhibitions of archival/ medieval material? How does the digital environment offer new ways of exhibiting material? What are the strengths and weaknesses of online exhibits?

19. Encoding Medieval Texts

In this class we will be looking at the guidelines for encoding medieval manuscripts developed by the TEI (Text Encoding Initiative). Shawn Hawkins (College of the Humanities) will be coming to talk to us about his ongoing collaboration to develop a digital edition of a fifteenth-century commentary on the Roman poet Catullus.

  • Andrew Dunning (UofToronto) has put together a brief post about how to author digital critical editions, including LaTex, Classical Text Editor and TEI.

  • To work with TEI, he also has written out a useful starting guide, including who to install Atom on your computer (which you have already).

  • For a sense of what TEI is about take a look at Lou Burnard's short Open Edition What is the Text Encoding Initiative: How to add intelligent markup to digital resources . All in, this text runs to 114 pages, so read from the "Introduction" until the end of "Varieties of textual structure". Please read the whole thing if you get intrigued.

  • For a medieval specific TEI guidelines, please take a look at the Digital Latin Library's Guidelines Webpage or as a repository on Github.

  • In class and for homework, you will begin your first TEI edition by following this DLL training session.

20. Accessibility and Durability for DH Projects

In this class, we will consider how to foreground accessibility in developing online exhibitions. Also we will be considering the issue of dead sites – what happens to your site after you stop maintaining it and how to ensure the information you have work so hard on does not disappear into the ether…

  • Dene Grigar and Stuart Moulthrop, "TRAVERSALS: A Method of Preservation for Born-Digital Texts," in Routledge Companion to Media Studies and the Digital Humanities, 351-361.

  • Elizabeth Ellcessor, "A Glitch in the Tower: Academia, Disability, and Digital Humanities" in Routledge Companion to Media Studies and the Digital Humanities

  • Creative Commons vs. GNU Information Licence: Read selection from Free Software, Free Society: Selected Essays of Richard M. Stallman, Second Edition:

  • Last ditch conservation strategy: for physical items

21. One-on-one work with the professor I

No readings. During class time for these two weeks, students will meet with the professor one-on-one to get help with their final project.

22. One-on-one work with the professor II

No readings. During class time for these two weeks, students will meet with the professor one-on-one to get help with their final project.

23. Student Presentations I

No readings. During class time for these two weeks, students will meet make formal 20 minute presentations of their work to the class.

24. Student Presentations II

No readings. During class time for these two weeks, students will meet make formal 20 minute presentations of their work to the class.

25. Final Class

No readings. Debriefing the term.