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From Parchment to Cyberspace

Medieval Literature in the Digital Age


Stephen G. Nichols

From Parchment to Cyberspace argues the case for studying high-resolution digital images of original manuscripts to analyze medieval literature. By presenting a rigorous philosophical argument for the authenticity of such images (a point disputed by digital skeptics) the book illustrates how digitization offers scholars innovative methods for comparing manuscripts of vernacular literature – such as The Romance of the Rose or texts by Christine de Pizan – that reveal aspects of medieval culture crucial to understanding the period.

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List of Illustrations


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Figure 0.1. Critical edition of Roman de la Rose, showing multiplicity of manuscripts it purports to represent.

Figure 0.2. Manuscript Folio (leaf/page) as complex hand-written and -painted artifact. Christine de Pizan composing poetry. London: British Library, MS Harley 4431, fol. 4r. Paris 1406–10.

Figure 0.3. Fleshing and removing hair from a cowhide in preparation for making manuscript parchment.

Figure 0.4. Polishing dried cowhide with pumice stone to make it smooth enough for painting and lettering.

Figure 0.5. Example of Lyric Insertion and surrounding huitains (95–96) in a bilingual edition of Villon’s Testament. [François Villon, Oeuvres completes, edition établie par Jacqueline Cerquiglini-Toulet avec la collaboration de Laëtitia Tabard (Paris: Gallimard, 2014), pp. 96–97.]

Figure 0.6. Bi-folio from Le Testament Villon, Paris: Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS fr. 20041, fols. 113v–114r. ← xi | xii →

Figure 0.7. Example of Lyric Insertion and surrounding huitains (“95-½ of 99”) in Paris: Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS fr 20041, fols. 131v–132r. Paris, 15th century.

Chapter 1

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