▶ Digital Approaches in Medieval and Renaissance Studies

"The technologies of the present enhancing the study of the past"

Workshop Organiser: Judith Siefring, Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford

Note: This workshop expects you to bring your own laptop. Please see our Laptop Guidance on the registration page for more information.


Scholars of the Middle Ages and Renaissance increasingly find themselves using the technologies of the present to enhance their study of the past. This workshop will explore various innovative approaches in the field, including both image and text-based materials, and will include the opportunity to view original artifacts from the age of manuscripts and early print.

The workshop aims to foster collaborative working, creative thinking and user-focused project development, and will offer plenty of opportunity for delegates to participate directly. The week will introduce delegates to topics including imaging (from DIY to multispectral), digital editing, TEI in theory and practice, IIIF and sharing cultural heritage, and social media approaches to medieval and renaissance studies. The workshop will culminate in a Mini-HackFest, where delegates will be encouraged to get creative with data and ideas that they have learned about during the week's activities.


Times Monday 20 July
Tuesday 21 July
Wednesday 22 July
Thursday 23 July
Friday 24 July
11:00 - 12:30

The Medieval and Early Modern Digital Landscape

Introduction Judith Siefring

The whole world in our heads: on DIY digital photography Daniel Wakelin
This session will consider one aspect of digital humanities in which most scholars can engage, with only minimal training or expense: digital photography by library users themselves - which I call "DIY digitization". I will at first reflect methodologically on the intellectual rationale for such DIY photography and on the ways that it shapes research questions. I will then consider some practical applications for such digital photography in research, especially in the study of medieval and early modern books, and teaching or seminars.

Exploring Early Print

Tracking the transmission of texts in the 15th century: the TEXT-inc database Cristina Dondi and Alessandra Panzanelli
The TEXT-inc database describes the content of 15th-century editions in great detail and systematically – main and secondary texts, and paratexts. It also identifies the various people involved in the preparation of the editions, to understand the social network surrounding the introduction of printing in Early Modern Europe.

TEI for Medieval and Renaissance Studies

TEI for manuscript transcription and description James Cummings
This session will briefly introduce the guidelines of the Text Encoding Initiative -- the de facto standard for the transcription and description of Medieval and Renaissance documents. Using TEI P5 XML researchers can learn how to mark up common textual phenomena found in manuscripts, and how to catalogue them either for larger collections or as part of a digital scholarly edition.

Digital Manuscripts

Building the Digital Manuscripts Toolkit: Images, Interoperability and Imagination Judith Siefring , Matthew McGrattan , and Monica Messaggi Kaya
This session will introduce the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF), a collaborative initiative which promotes sharing and interoperability of image-based cultural heritage materials. The session will focus in particular on the Bodleian Libraries' Digital Manuscripts Toolkit project.

Medieval and Renaissance Social Machines

The Long and the Short of it: a history of Social Machines David De Roure
Social websites, like Wikipedia and twitter, enable citizens to engage at scale – they are "Social Machines", connecting communities in a world of increasing automation. This talk will provide a contemporary lens on changing scholarly practice through the social machines of citizen science, and a longer view taking case studies originating in the seventeenth century.

Knight life & other medieval fun times: using social media to tell research stories Liz McCarthy
Medieval & renaissance studies are full of powerful stories, and they offer fantastic opportunities for engaging wider audiences. This session will take you through best practice & examples for using social media to share your research.
14:00 - 17:30 (inc. break)
14.00—16.00 [at the Bodleian's Weston Library]

Hyperspectral and other high end imaging and spectroscopic techniques to aid Humanities scholars David Howell
This session will describe the Bodleian's research team's use of advanced hyperspectral imaging technology to reveal hidden texts and to analyze material in the Libraries' unique collections. The session will introduce the new instrument (funded by the University of Oxford Fell Fund) along with Raman spectroscopy equipment developed by Durham University, as methods that allow researchers to find out more about Bodleian collections than is possible in 'normal' reading room investigations. One example will be a project (funded by the Leverhulme Trust) based in the Bodleian investigating Ferdinand Bauer's botanical and zoological paintings, considered to be among the finest in the world. It will include a demonstration using at least one of the methods currently being used.

Reborn digital: text, transmission, and technology Pip Willcox and Judith Siefring
Text is at the heart of many fields in the Humanities. This workshop session provides an introduction to methods and technologies of remediating analogue text into digital forms.

16.30—17.30 [at the Bodleian's Weston Library]

Digging into the Archaeology of the Book Alexandra Franklin
This session, run by the Bodleian Libraries' Centre for the Study of the Book, will look at items from the Libraries' collections, with an emphasis on the variety of forms and discussion of the implications of form for presentation of digitized content.
Tracking the distribution, use, and collecting of books in the 15th century and to the present: the Material Evidence in Incunabula database Cristina Dondi , Geri Della Rocca De Candal , and Matilde Malaspina
 The Material Evidence in Incunabula database is designed to record and search the physical evidence of books – ownership, decorations, binding, manuscript annotations, prices, etc –  in combination with their bibliographical details (author, title, imprint information), to track the distribution, sale, use, and collecting of early printed books in Europe and the US from the 15th century to the present.

Exercising ourselves "in the Analysis of many examples": the making of Early English Books Online Text Creation Partnership (EEBO-TCP) Pip Willcox
Early English Books Online is core to early modern studies, containing images and metadata of books printed in England or England between 1473 and 1700 on topics as diverse as travel writing, medicine, and fiction. SInce 2000 the Text Creation Partnership has been making TEI XML-encoded editions of these texts. This session introduces you to the principles and processes behind the project, and the future of the texts it created.

Trunk to tail: linking ElEPHãTs through the Semantic Web Kevin Page
The Early English Print in HathiTrust (ElEPHãT) project has created metadata resources to support scholarly exploration of dynamic 'worksets' that combine content from  EEBO-TCP and the HathiTrust digital library. This session providesan introduction to the principles and technologies behind this 'Linked Data' and how they have been applied within the context of early English print.
Theory into Practice: Converting the Bodleian Catalogue of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts to TEI Matthew Holford
 A major project is in progress to convert the online summary catalogue of the Bodleian's western medieval manuscripts from EAD (Encoded Archival Description) to TEI, and to build a new user interface. This session will explore some of the challenges that the project faces and which are likely to arise in real-world applications of TEI.

TEI Practical Session Judith Siefring , Matthew Holford , and James Cummings
Participants will be supplied with various documents related to medieval manuscripts and early printed books and will be asked how they would encode the documents in TEI and to identify the potential challenges involved

Page, Stage and Screen: Editing Early Modern Drama Online Eleanor Lowe
This session will explore the issues and possibilities presented by online editing of dramatic texts using TEI, with specific focus on the Richard Brome Online project.
Digital Manuscripts Toolkit Projects Showcase
This session will present the three Oxford projects funded by the DMT project, which will text the functionality of the developing Toolkit and demonstrate the potential of IIIF.

If we build it, will they come? The importance of user-driven development Judith Siefring
In this break-out session, delegates will be encouraged to engage directly with the user-driven development process for Digital Manuscripts Toolkit.

Group Discussion: So what do we want and when do we want it?
Following on from the previous session, this interactive session will encourage delegates to share their views on what users need from digital resources in the field of medieval and renaissance studies and to use this to formulate the fundamentals of digital project planning.
Maker Fayre: Engaging audiences with Early English data Liz McCarthy and Iain Emsley
This session will explore the ins and outs of running a hackathon with digital data or content. In the second part of the session, participants will engage in a mini-hackathon using Early English Books Online data, followed by a discussion of the experience.

There are 18 individual speakers in this workshop.


Workshop Venue: All of your sessions will be in Seminar Room 9 at St Anne's College, except those on Monday afternoon which will be held in the Weston Library Lecture Theatre. We'll make sure you know how to get between the two.

AM and PM Refreshment Breaks: All breaks will be in the Ruth Deech building, St Anne's, except Monday PM refreshments which will be at the Weston Library.

Lunch Arrangements: Lunch each day will be in the Dining Hall, St Anne's

Computers: Delegates on the Digital Approaches in Medieval and Renaissance Studies strand are required to bring their own laptops. No specialised software will be required, but ideally students will have standard Microsoft Office software installed including MS Word for note taking and an up to date web browser. Please see our information about bringing your laptop http://dhoxss.humanities.ox.ac.uk/2015/registration.html#LaptopGuidance

Presentations will largely be in Powerpoint. Most of the interactive sessions will be discussion-based and there will be some paper handouts. We anticipate working in groups for most of these interactive sessions. For the Friday sessions on hackathons and digital data, students will be given USB sticks with data pre-loaded.

Group Colour: Green

Site last updated: 2015-07-15 -- Image Credits -- Contact: events@it.ox.ac.uk