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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.

Stephen G. Nichols, a medievalist, is James M. Beall Professor Emeritus of French and Humanities, and Research Professor at Johns Hopkins University. He has written or edited some 26 books on the Middle Ages, including Romanesque Signs: Early Medieval Narrative and Iconography, for which he received the MLA’s James Russell Lowell Prize. He holds an honorary Docteur ès Lettres, from the University of Geneva, and was decorated Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres by the French government. The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation awarded him its Research Prize in 2008 and again in 2015. Nichols co-directs JHU’s Digital Library of Medieval Manuscripts (, and co-founded the electronic journal, Digital Philology, A Journal of Medieval Culture, published by the Johns Hopkins University Press. He chaired the Board of the Council of Library Information Resources from 2008 to 2013, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, as well as of the Medieval Academy of America.