Expert Meeting: The Digital Medieval Manuscript, School of Art History, University of St Andrews, 8 October 2021, 15:00-19:00 (BST)

This expert meeting will take place 8 October 2021, from 15:00-19:00 BST. It is hosted by Prof. Kathryn Rudy and Suzette van Haaren, School of Art History, University of St Andrews (Scotland). Panel discussions will centre on pre-recorded and pre-circulated talks.

In a single click, a tap or swipe, the medieval manuscript appears on our screens: thousands of pixels light up and the ancient book lies open before us, in our office rather than in the reading room. The digital images emulate the book-like object in a two page-spread, or even animate it with graphics that turn its pages. We move through a digital facsimile that is reminiscent of its physical counterpart, and simultaneously is strange and new. What we see is familiar: age-stained parchment, neat script, colourful miniatures and gilded details. But we do not feel the subtle flexibility and soft skin of the parchment between our fingers as we turn the page — instead we feel the hard plastic of our mouse or trackpad, or the glass of our screens. The digital manuscript facsimile is not a medieval manuscript. Yet, the digital is fundamentally connected to parchment pages inscribed, decorated and bound in the Middle Ages.

The digital medieval manuscript has become exceedingly important for how medieval parchment codices are handled, studied and preserved. Libraries, museums and rare book collections are increasingly digitising their material, making objects more accessible to a larger public. Medieval manuscripts are being handled much more in digital environments than they are in reading rooms. Critically examining the effects of digitisation is fundamental to understand how medieval manuscripts move through the world today. The digital environment poses new affordances and constraints, bringing up many practical and ontological questions and ideas surrounding the medieval manuscript and its digital counterpart.

We have invited experts in the field ranging from academics to digitisation specialists (and all overlaps imaginable) to talk about the digitsation of medieval manuscripts. The panel members have sent in videos. These will be available online from 1 October 2021 for everyone to watch.

During the expert meeting itself the panel members will engage in discussions surrounding their specific video topics. Audience members are encouraged to ask questions that contribute to the discussions.

Important details:
Papers will be uploaded on 1 October 2021 (website forthcoming)
The expert meeting is on 8 October 2021 from 15:00 to 19:00
Tickets are free, but reservations are compulsory

If there are any questions, please don’t hesitate to email Suzette van Haaren at

Regsiter for your place here.


Published by Roisin Astell

Roisin Astell received a First Class Honours in History of Art at the University of York (2014), under the supervision of Dr Emanuele Lugli. After spending a year learning French in Paris, Roisin then completed an MSt. in Medieval Studies at the University of Oxford (2016), where she was supervised by Professor Gervase Rosser and Professor Martin Kauffmann. In 2017, Roisin was awarded a CHASE AHRC studentship as a doctoral candidate at the University of Kent’s Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, under the supervision of Dr Emily Guerry.

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