On platforms

I do not yet feel clear about whether one of the platforms introduced today—Omeka, Drupal Gardens, and Scalar—is solely appropriate for the project. Capabilities that the eventual platform will need include the following:

• The various elements for study—script, image, decorative motifs, textual sources and general manuscript catalogue information—all require separate areas of the site, as well as an area in which terms can be set to pull from across these discrete bodies of material for comparison, mapping, and possibly visualization.

• The separate areas must each offer the possibility for participants’ comments and working assessments.

• The site probably requires an inbuilt Viewer capability similar to the Courtauld Gothic Ivories or the Stanford Mirador to facilitate work of comparison.

• Some maps may be static, to illustrate fixed historical points, but others will primarily be useful for demonstrating movement across time and place, and for comparing categories derived from the primary elements of study.


At the moment, then, it looks to me as though Omeka-style collections would be suitable for the individual working areas, provided that flexible comment and comparison are possible; but I am not sure about the functions that would need to work cross-collection and generate various types of presentation and combinations.

Source: On platforms

Illuminating Tenth-Century France: thinking toward sources

A beginning set of issues to think through:

• Re. identifying primary sources and providing a basis for collaborative study/the presentation of results.

—   Sources currently available in digital repositories (e.g., Enluminures, library sites) will be unevenly represented regarding amount of material (full ms, excerpts, script only, illuminations only), quality of reproduction, amount and quality of metadata.

—   We will need a consistent minimum standard for the material included that will support both the presentation of conclusions and the ongoing evaluation of examples. Whenever possible, a full manuscript should be available; this will require either linking to an extant digitization or working with repositories to acquire one.

—   Every manuscript must be represented by its full range of scripts, images and decorative elements. Metadata must include measurements, material description, and binding information. In most cases, an initial source for descriptive data will be found in extant catalogues, but all require verification and most likely expansion.


• Re. compiling bibliography and providing on-site reference material.

—   A running bibliography, modifiable by participants, and grouped by category, is essential.

—   Is it possible to include the text of relevant studies for easy reference, e.g., chapters in de la Borderie, Cambridge Medieval History, Celtic Encyclopedia; catalogues of Bischoff, Lowe, & Co.?


• Re. textual sources/textual evidence for non-extant sources.

—   As above, is it possible to provide editions of desiderata for review? (e.g., charters, inventories, saints’ lives, chronicles)

—   Textual sources require their own section, with material for historical essays and lost monument evidence held separately.

Source: Illuminating Tenth-Century France: thinking toward sources

Intro to “Rebuilding the Portfolio” Project

Illuminating Tenth-Century France

Tenth-century France is off the art-historical map, although France largely defines studies of the ninth century, and then again the eleventh century and beyond. The Vikings provide the standard grounds for this gap: tenth-century France was ravaged by invasions, which slowed artistic production and created a messy landscape of people fleeing, taking refuge, emigrating, and returning home. We do, in fact, have a drastically under-studied corpus of manuscripts loosely attributed to tenth-century France: books traveled too, as did scribes and illuminators. Much of this record is only cursorily catalogued, and it is scattered through libraries in a great many countries. This state of affairs is daunting, but also offers an enormous opportunity for collaborative scholarship. Faced with tracking the provenance of manuscripts from this period and sorting out the jungle of elements in both text and image that define the material record, a digital platform seems a promising way forward. A corpus must be gathered; varying factors of script, layout, image, text, and book-construction must be weighed, compared, and coordinated with historical geography. If the movements of people and things have been grounds for despair in attempting to account for tenth-century French manuscripts using traditional methods, they may also be the key to understanding this fascinating corpus when framed by new approaches to mapping, spatial- and data analysis. Beginning with the training at George Mason this summer, I aim to develop a digital environment for tackling tenth-century France that cultivates international collaboration, supports the training of students, and relies on the rigorous study of primary materials.

Source: Intro to “Rebuilding the Portfolio” Project