Edited By Gregory Hulsman and Caoimhe Whelan
Textuality in Transition: Digital Manuscripts as Cultural Artefacts (Johanna M. E. Green)
← 64 | 65 →JOHANNA M. E. GREEN
Textuality in Transition: Digital Manuscripts as Cultural Artefacts
Mouvance and the medieval manuscript
The increase in digitisation of medieval manuscripts has brought with it a number of heated debates relating to audience, purpose and (often financial) justification. One particularly controversial discussion which appeared in the Times Literary Supplement on 7 June 2013 asks:
is digitization a good thing for those of us who study or edit the book in its various material forms? […] The convenience of ready accessibility is beyond dispute, and one can see that there may be circumstances in which scholars do have a need for some sort of surrogate, whether of a complete manuscript or of selected bits. But the downsides are in fact many. One of the obvious limits of the virtual world is the size of the computer screen; it is often difficult for viewers to take in the scale of the object being presented. It is also difficult to discern distinctions between materials such as parchment and paper, and between different textures of ink. Often we can’t tell what the overall structure of the work is like, how many leaves it has, and whether it contains any cancel leaves; and we can rarely be confident that the colours have been reproduced accurately. Are digital surrogates not really just a new, more expensive form of microfilm? […] A willingness to trust surrogates is a willingness to abandon scholarly responsibility.1
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