Current Issue Article Abstracts

Spring 2021 Vol. 6.1

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The Digital Compilation and Restoration of Herculaneum Fragment P.Herc.118
Christy Y. Chapman, C. Seth Parker, Ali Bertelsman,  Kristina Gessel, Hannah Hatch, Kyra Seevers, James H. Brusuelas, Stephen Parsons, W. Brent Seales 

Ancient documents pose many challenges for the scholars who painstakingly study and elucidate them. Natural deterioration occurs over time, erasing words and sentences that were once apparent. Water and fire damage can render text completely unreadable. Wrinkles and folds obscure content essential to meaning. Thankfully, old and new imaging methods can today be combined to rescue “lost” text and make it once again accessible to scholars.
Using computer vision techniques like registration, historical images that often represent the most faithful record of the original content of a document can now be combined with those produced by newer technologies, like spectral imaging and 3D modeling. The result is a diachronic digital compilation that enables new scholarly discoveries. Using the collection of fragments from an opened ancient scroll from Herculaneum, PHerc.118, the work outlined in this paper prototypes a process that capitalizes on the best of old and new images to create a single, definitive digital model for scholarly study.


Square Minuscule in the Age of Cnut the Great
Kevin Kiernan 

Beowulf scholars wishing to eliminate a late date for the poem have embraced David Dumville’s stringent position that, although the scribes almost certainly copied the manuscript in the early eleventh century, it is “in the highest degree unlikely” they copied it after 1016. There is no obvious nor expressed justification for limiting a scribe’s life or career to the year Æthelred died and Cnut the Great became king. Dumville’s argument was that he could find no examples of Square minuscule that anyone could prove was written after 1013. In his exhaustive Catalogue of Manuscripts containing Anglo-Saxon, Neil Ker cautiously avoids such narrow dating ranges for undated manuscripts, relying instead on thirty-year or (more often) fifty-year dating ranges. By his system, Ker classified more than two dozen scribal hands as late types of “square Anglo-Saxon minuscule.” Analyses of Ker’s examples of early eleventh-century Square minuscule prove that scribes maintained the script type throughout the reign of Cnut. Some examples suggest that the scribes most likely copied Beowulf in the first half of his reign.


Perspectives on Digital Catalogs and Textual Networks of Old Norse Literature
Katarzyna Anna Kapitan

Taking its point of departure in the network analysis of manuscript contexts of Old Norse texts, based on data collected from digital catalogs of Nordic manuscripts, this article examines the possibilities and challenges of the digital manuscript studies. Through a close examination of a single Old Norse text and its genre affiliation in the extant manuscripts, the present study reveals the limitations of the application of network analysis to similar cases and identifies the contemporary digital cataloging practice as the main limitation. From the point of view of automated data extraction and from the perspective of new research questions that could be answered through digital data analysis, this article emphasizes the importance of systematic and comprehensive digital manuscript cataloging for further developments in the field of manuscript studies. It discusses some of the key features of manuscript description and suggests crowd-sourcing cataloging as a potential solution to some of the challenges the digital cataloging projects face today. 


Visual Arguments and Entangled Ethnographies in the Boxer Codex
Miguel Ibáñez Aristondo 

This article examines the Boxer Codex (BC, ca. 1590), which is a manuscript that contains illustrations and narratives describing ethnic groups of the western Pacific islands and continental Southeast and East Asia. The article examines the codex in relation to early modern costume books by examining the role that images played in the creation of ethnographical knowledge. Divided into four parts, the first and second sections examine the opening foldout drawing and the first account of the codex, which both deal with the native people of the Ladrones Islands. The third part put the codex in dialogue with other Iberian manuscripts and it focuses on cases that incorporate images made by native artists. The last section analyses how the codex depicts costumes and body ornaments to fabricate ethnic and gender distinctions. After analyzing the relationship established between images and words, I argue that visual depictions in the Boxer codex played the role of visual arguments that enabled the author to fabricate and make visible ethnic differences.


A New Model for Manuscript Provenance Research: The Mapping Manuscript Migrations Project
Toby Burrows, Doug Emery, Arthur Mitchell Fraas,  Eero Hyvönen, Esko Ikkala, Mikko Koho, David Lewis,  Andrew Morrison, Kevin Page, Lynn Ransom, Emma Cawlfield Thomson, Jouni Tuominen,  Athanasios Velios, Hanno Wijsman 

Since it was awarded a Round 4 Trans-Atlantic Platform Digging into Data Challenge grant in 2017, the Mapping Manuscript Migrations project has been working to develop and test a methodology to link disparate datasets from Europe and North America with the aim of providing large-scale analysis and visualizations of the history and provenance of medieval and Renaissance manuscripts.
 Guided by a set of research questions identified at the outset of the project, MMM developed an innovative Linked Open Data model and dataset which unifies three separate manuscript-related databases in a semantically consistent way, together with the workflows for transforming the institutional data contributions into the common structure. The dataset has been made available through a Linked Open Data service hosted by the Linked Data Finland platform and the MMM semantic portal.
 The aggregated data can be queried and visualized at scales ranging from a single manuscript to a total of more than 216,000 manuscripts as a group. Visualization tools developed in the portal show how the manuscripts have traveled across time and space from their place of production to their current locations, where they continue to find new audiences. 


The following report summarizes our methodology and results, and lays the groundwork for further research using our processes.

Carolingian Structures of Logic and Learning: The Evidence of University of Pennsylvania Libraries LJS 101
Christine E. Bachman 

This paper presents preliminary research into how manuscript LJS 101, held in the Lawrence J. Schoenberg Collection of the University of Pennsylvania Libraries, represents a collective enterprise in its making and in its contents. The evidence of the texts, script, and decoration show that the manuscript was not only made, but also used within a larger community over an extended period of time. The inclusion of Boethius’s early sixth century translation of and commentary on Aristotle’s De Interpretatione alongside shorter texts, such as a sample letter and definitions of words, transforms the manuscript into a useful handbook for studying the first three subjects of the medieval liberal arts – grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic – within an instructional environment of teachers and students. The making of the manuscript also reflects the work of several individuals. At least two distinct phases of work can be identified, the hands of several scribes can be distinguished in the text and annotations, and the diagrams and decoration reflect diverse sources that may relate to the varied visual vocabulary of different artists. In these ways, the texts, script, and decoration of LJS 101 exemplify the community and combined efforts involved in Carolingian systems of education and manuscript production.


The Aachen Inscription: A Draft Dedication Written in Hebrew on an Early Modern Ream Wrapper
Louis Meiselman 

Annotation about a newly cataloged manuscript at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries with an inscription about leaders and institutions in Aachen, Germany during the first decades of the 18th century. Some historical background and manuscript material cited. Includes photos and script analysis.



L. W. C. van Lit. Among Digitized Manuscripts: Philology, Codicology, Paleography in a Digital World
Kelly Tuttle 

Beatrice Alai. Le miniature italiane del Kupferstichkabinett di Berlino
Bryan C. Keene 

Tamara Atkin and Laura Estill, eds. Early British Drama in Manuscript
Jonathan Walker 

Eric Kwakkel and Francis Newton. Medicine at Monte Cassino: Constantine the African and the Oldest Manuscript of His Pantegni
Andrew J. M. Irving