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Occupying Space in Medieval and Early Modern Britain and Ireland


Edited By Gregory Hulsman and Caoimhe Whelan

This collection offers a range of interdisciplinary viewpoints on the occupation of space and theories of place in Britain and Ireland throughout the medieval and early modern periods. It considers space in both its physical and abstract sense, exploring literature, history, art, manuscript studies, religion, geography and archaeology. The buildings and ruins still occupying our urban and rural spaces bridge the gap between the medieval and the modern; manuscripts and objects hold keys to unlocking the secrets of the past. Focusing on the varied uses of space enriches our understanding of the material culture of the medieval and early modern period. The essays collected here offer astute observations on this theme and generate new insights into areas such as social interaction, cultural memory, sacred space and ideas of time and community.
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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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