Visualising Textuality - New Interfaces to Historical Texts

The Würzburg Saint Matthew (UB Wü, 8th century AD, Irish provenance) is an intriguing object of study of textual practices of pre-Charlemagne scholarship with its glosses (interlinear and marginal) as well as commentaries (on parchment slips. It is a challenge for nowadays editors and researchers: different layers of writing (strata) have been identified; the arrangement (mise-en-page) of both, glosses and commentaries in relation to the Gospel text and to each other conveys important information that is not easy to follow as the “intertexts” cross the logical segments of the text and the physical boundaries and dimensions of the document pages; and the texts themselves, especially the commentaries, have their own history, using, varying and referring to other commentaries such as Eusebius, Jerome or Isidor, who also refer to other commentaries and biblical texts etc. Cahill summarizes that the Würzburg Matthew is a “complicated jumble and not a tidy bundle”. His statement applies to all levels of investigation: the physical (document), the logical (texts and contexts) and the level of space and time.

The project “Visualising Textuality – New Interfaces for Historical Texts” aims at creating a digital knowledge environment to interactively visualise and analyse the textual space and its semantic relations.

Partners: National University of Ireland, Galway (Prof. Dr. Daíbhí Ó Crónín), Royal Irish Academy, Dublin (Dr. Anthony Harvey), University Library Würzburg (Dr. Hans-Günter Schmidt), University of Victoria (INKE project)

Funded by the EU FP7 Marie Curie Scheme (European Reintegration Grant)


Codicology and Palaeography in the Digital Age (KPDZ / CPDA)
A research initiative together with the colleagues from the IDE. So far, we have published two anthologies on state-of-the-art research in these two areas, organised an international symposium (Munich, 2009) and won a grant from the European Science Foundation for an "Exploratory Workshop".
Hyperspectral Imaging
Hyperspectral Imaging is a joint project with the An Foras Feasa Insitute at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. This research initiative emphasises the "computing"-aspect of Humanities Computing by working with hyperspectral scanning technol-ogy towards various research problems in the Humanities, e.g. classification and ideally dating of inks in manuscripts.

Scholarly Editing

Genetic Editing

The international workgroup on Genetic Editing in a Digital Framework. In this project, we analyse, if, when and how texts can be marked-up for the creation of genetic editions and develop such a TEI markup-schema for use by the community.

Past activities: an international symposium in Paris, workgroup meetings in London, Würzburg, Oxford; presentations in Ann Arbor, Göteborg, Brussels, Wien, Zadar.

Publications: White Paper (An Encoding Model for Genetic Editions)

Partners: Elena Pierazzo (King’s College London), Lou Burnard (Oxford University), Fotis Jannidis, Gregor Middell (Univ. Würzburg)

Further Information: Website

Kundige Bok

The kundige bok digital edition, together with its critical and methodological introduction. Kundige bok is a 15th century manuscript dealing with regula-tions for everyday life ("Burspraken") in the North German town Göttingen. The statues (the text) were revised almost annually, producing a large number of deletions, additions, transpositions and comments. The exact analysis of these text layers can produce new knowledge about historical and linguistic aspects of late medieval Göttingen and about legal history in general. Textual basis for such research would be a scholarly edition of the codex. However, creating such an edition without any loss of information turned out to be impossible by conventional means. Due to the nature of this material, all text layers have to be regarded and represented equally which conflicts with the restriction of print-based publication. The idea of the project is therefore to fully exploit the features of information technology in order to interact with the user and create a dynamic output to visualise the evolution of text and law (its written and oral form).

Project Summary in English

Full Introduction (in German)

Digital Edition

TEXTE programme
TEXTE (Transfer of Expertise in Technologies of Editing) was a research programme, funded by the EU FP6, at the National University of Ireland, Galway. It aimed at creating prototype digital editions from various fields, covered by a group of four to six scholars. Besides my own work on the kundige bok edition, I supported my colleagues creating editions of the cor-respondence of Irish Painter James Barry (1741-1806), Irish song- and chapbooks from the 19th century, the Dublin Penny Journal (19th century) and the work of Irish poet and songwriter Thomas Moore (1779-1852).

Digitizaion / Digital Humanities

Text Encoding Initiative (TEI)
I am co-chair of the Special Interest Group on Manuscripts Encoding of the TEI consortium. The group aims at bringing together users of the TEI to further develop encoding guidelines and practices for transcriptions and editions of handwritten material.
Smaller Pieces
If time permits, there are some smaller ongoing digitization projects like the Plücker letters, Hertha Koenig and the Paul Ehrlich Nachlass.