Old light on new media: medieval practices in the digital age
Medieval texts often survive in a fragmentary and rather confusing manner, making their analysis complex and challenging. New digital editions are constantly developed to help scholars in this task. However, the Middle Ages can offer unexpected assistance for modern media. Medieval textuality can assist in creating a model for presenting texts in the digital media, which would be more flexible, more adjustable and more consistent with the historical reality of medieval reading. Looking to the Middle Ages as a source of inspiration, it is possible to see a number of shared characteristics: there is not one correct text but rather a multiplicity of texts and variants; the reader/scribe takes part in adjusting the text (or creating a new one out of it); texts are not simple linear sequences of words, but instead they operate within complex networks with other texts, images, and often an implicit mental image. These aspects will be presented and discussed together with medieval manuscripts and modern digital editions.
Eyal Poleg is an Early Career Fellow at the the School of History, Classics and Archaeology, as well as a Departmental Lecturer at the University of Oxford and Oriel College. He enjoys exploring medieval manuscripts, especially in remote locations, and finds in them evidence of heresy, ritual and book history. Taking part in a project on Manuscript Studies in an Interoperable Digital Environment, he develops new digital interfaces for consulting medieval manuscripts. He has published widely on the medieval Bible, as well as on the crusades, and currently writes a book on the Skins of Beasts: A Different History of the English Bible 1230-1613.