New Publication: ‘Digital Codicology: Medieval Books and Modern Labor’ by Bridget Whearty

Medieval manuscripts are our shared inheritance, and today they are more accessible than ever—thanks to digital copies online. Yet for all that widespread digitization has fundamentally transformed how we connect with the medieval past, we understand very little about what these digital objects really are. We rarely consider how they are made or who makes them. This case study-rich book demystifies digitization, revealing what it’s like to remake medieval books online and connecting modern digital manuscripts to their much longer media history, from print, to photography, to the rise of the internet. 

Examining classic late-1990s projects like Digital Scriptorium 1.0 alongside late-2010s initiatives like Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis, and world-famous projects created by the British Library, Corpus Christi College Cambridge, Stanford University, and the Walters Art Museum against in-house digitizations performed in lesser-studied libraries, Whearty tells never-before-published narratives about globally important digital manuscript archives. Drawing together medieval literature, manuscript studies, digital humanities, and imaging sciences, Whearty shines a spotlight on the hidden expert labor responsible for today’s revolutionary digital access to medieval culture. Ultimately, this book argues that centering the modern labor and laborers at the heart of digital cultural heritage fosters a more just and more rigorous future for medieval, manuscript, and media studies.

Bridget Whearty is an Assistant Professor at Binghamton University and a former Council on Libraries and Information Resources (CLIR) Postdoctoral Fellow in Data Curation for Medieval Studies.

Contents:

Introduction: “Embodied Books, Disembodied Labor”


1. “Scriptorium 2.0”


2. “Value and Visibility: Copying San Marino, Huntington Library, MS HM 111”


3. “Digital Incunables: Copying Lydgate’s Fall of Princes, ca. 1997–2017”


4.  “Interoperable Metadata and Failing toward the Future”


Coda: “Glitch”


Appendix: “Doing Digital Codicology: A Manifesto.”

Buy this book from Stanford University Press

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Published by Dr Julia Faiers

Julia Faiers received her PhD from the University of St Andrews in 2021. She wrote her thesis on the art patronage of Louis d’Amboise, bishop of Albi from 1474 to 1503, under the supervision of Professor Kathryn Rudy. Her postdoctoral research includes the nineteenth-century reception of medieval art and architecture, and late-medieval female art patronage in France. Julia gained a First Class Honours degree in art history at the University of St Andrews (1995). She won a British Academy Award to study for her MA in German Expressionism at The Courtauld under the supervision of Dr Shulamith Behr (1997), and spent almost twenty years working as a journalist before returning to academia in 2016.

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