Geographies of Orthodoxy

This upcoming weekend is the Geographies of Orthodoxy conference, June 10-13, in Belfast. Here is the conference program.

“Geographies of Orthodoxy: Mapping Pseudo-Bonaventuran Lives of Christ, 1350-1550” is an epic, exciting project coming out of Queen’s University, Belfast, but with scholarly participation from around the world. The website is a model forum for the research and collaborative interrogation of a specific field. The project team calls for ‘engaging with the academic community‘ in order to produce a body of knowledge instantaneously accessible and commentable by contributors anywhere. Under ‘Scholarly Issues,’ for instance, see the excellent article “‘Hospitable reading’ and Clerical Reform in Fifteenth-Century London” by Stephen Kelly and Ryan Perry, and the proceeding discussion between the authors and Nicholas Watson, Fiona Somerset, and Michael Sargent.

I’m particularly excited to see what happens with their project database ideas, especially the ‘Survey of Scribal Hands’ – crowd-sourcing the mapping of manuscript production and scribal identification is a brilliant and obvious next step in bringing Middle English studies into the world of new media. Ryan Perry writes:

We are planning to add scanned samples of scribal forms from manuscripts within the corpus, and thus to allow the scholarly community to compare and identify the hands found in the database with the habits of scribes in books beyond our Middle English pseudo-Bonaventuran corpus. The interactive structure of the database will allow our users to advance possible scribal matches and thus further enrich the database’s ability to situate the production of Nicholas Love’s Mirrorand other Middle English pseudo-Bonaventuran translations within the macrocosm of fifteenth century ‘manuscript culture’.

….It is hoped that by providing samples of the scripts within the Middle English pseudo-Bonaventuran corpus that many more identifications will emerge through the engagement of the scholarly community with the Geographies of Orthodoxy database. No doubt, in a corpus as substantial as this, there is the potential for the scribes sampled in our survey to be identified in a number of other textual productions.

Not a simple undertaking. I look forward to seeing how they will make the database a reality.

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