Friday, August 11, 2017

Roman de la Rose Digital Library at Kalamazoo IMC 2018

We are seeking submissions for the following session at the International Medieval Congress in Kalamazoo, Michigan, May 10-13, 2018:

The Roman de la Rose: The Evolution of Digital Research
Sponsor: Roman de la Rose Digital Library; Johns Hopkins Univ
Contact:           Tamsyn Mahoney-Steel
110 Chesley Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21206
Phone: 310-910-5883

Since its inception over 20 years ago, the Roman de la Rose Digital Library has been enabling scholars to produce high-quality research based on over 130 digitized manuscripts of the famous 13th-century narrative by Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun. We are now about to launch our latest version of the site, featuring an International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) compliant viewer that will support enhanced interaction with manuscript images.

We are seeking submissions that present scholarship based on digitized images of the Roman de la Rose, or that offer a theoretical take on using such images for researching or teaching the narrative, its miniatures, or its manuscripts. How has the Rose Digital Library been used in research and teaching? What scholarship has resulted from being able to access this wealth of digitized images? How has being able to compare multiple images led to a greater understanding of medieval literary and artistic, and in what ways might such comparisons skew or obscure understanding if we are not mindful? How might such a resource be further developed to enhance our appreciation of this important narrative and promote new avenues of investigation?

Abstracts for papers of 15-20 minutes or any questions should be sent to Tamsyn Mahoney-Steel (  The deadline for submissions is September 15 2017. The submission guidelines and the required Participant Information Form are available at

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Website Launch: The Archaeology of Reading in Early Modern Europe

Niccolò Machiavelli, The Arte of Warre (London: s.n., 1573), Princeton University Library

Last July we reported that the Johns Hopkins University’s Sheridan Libraries, in partnership with University College London’s Centre for Editing Lives and Letters (CELL), and the Princeton University Library, had been awarded a $488,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to implement “The Archaeology of Reading in Early Modern Europe.” 

They can now announce that their website is up and running. This new digital humanities research initiative is exploring historical reading practices through the lens of manuscript annotations preserved in early printed books. Winston Tabb, Sheridan Dean of University Libraries and Museums, explains: “Renaissance readers left us a wealth of material to investigate. This kind of deep discovery work would not be possible without the combined expertise of an international team of humanists and technologists bringing a broad range of expertise together, and we look forward to sharing what they uncover with the world.”

The project builds upon several decades of humanistic research that has focused upon the Printing Revolution of the sixteenth century, and the widespread practice by active readers of leaving often dense, interpretive manuscript annotations in the margins, and between the lines, of the books they read.  This diverse evidence of annotation provides a considerable range of unique and largely untapped research materials, which reveal that readers—much as users of the internet today—adapted quickly to the technology of print: interacting intimately, dynamically, socially, and even virtually with texts. 

This body of primary source material is among the largest, least accessible, and most underutilized of original manuscript sources from the early modern period, due to the fact that they are almost entirely uncatalogued, or undercatalogued, by major research collections throughout the world.

Principal Investigator, Dr. Earle Havens, the William Kurrelmeyer Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts at the Sheridan Libraries, observes:“There are so many parallels between our project, and the digital world of information that we live in today. These notes reveal a largely unvarnished history of personal reading within the early modern historical moment. They also embody an active tradition of physically mapping and personalizing knowledge upon the printed page. The added practice of referencing and cross-referencing other works in these marginal annotations also allows us, like those early readers, to engage with the presence of ‘virtual libraries’ within the space of a single book.”

The history of reading remains a rich area for research, as scholars seek to better understand these reading habits and strategies, though it has remained a particularly daunting task when conducted in a purely analog context, particularly with books that literally contain thousands of notes. By treating marginal annotations as large sets of data that can be mined and analyzed systematically in an electronic environment, the project team will create a corpus of important and representative annotated texts with searchable transcriptions and translations in order to begin to compare and fully analyze early modern reading by a number of dedicated Renaissance readers and annotators.

Over the next several years, The Archaeology of Reading team will integrate the digital humanities expertise of CELL and of the Sheridan Libraries’ Digital Research and Curation Center, as well as the collections of the Princeton University Library and other major repositories in the US, the UK, and Europe. The initial phase of the project is focusing on the transcription and translation of a select number of heavily annotated books, and the allied adaptation of the open-access Shared Canvas viewer to maximize user interaction with these complex, composite early modern texts through a publicly available website.

Consult the project website at, or

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Images unavailable temporarily

We apologize, but due to some technical issues, manuscript images are temporarily unavailable. The website works, but you will be unable to see manuscript images in the various viewers. Images will gradually come back online over the course of a few weeks. We will update this post with more information as it becomes available.

Thank you for your patience.

Update on 11/6: About 60% of the images are available now. We expect all the images to be available by 11/18.

Update on 11/14: All of the images are available.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

September 2014 Updates

Rose site users, we are delighted to announce that we have added another manuscript to our repository, Bibliothèque municipale de Grenoble 608, aka Grenoble 608. This 16th-century handwritten codex is chock full of illustrations – 88 pen and ink drawings, with light coloring in places, adorn the manuscript’s 143 paper folios. These fascinating depictions, which are somewhat amateurish in their execution, are accompanied by at times less-than-perfect scribal work. It seems the product of a smaller purse than some of the illuminated Rose manuscripts, which makes it perhaps all the more alluring as an object of study. Was it copied hurriedly for a middle-class, middle-income household? Did the first owner pen the drawings themselves?

Image: Grenoble 608 ff. 13v-14r (orig. 11v-12r)

We have made some other small updates to our site to respond to requests and fix bugs in the system: the provenance of the Ferrell manuscript has now been corrected thanks to feedback from Peter Kidd (you can view his blog on Medieval Manuscripts Provenance, which includes a post about the Ferrell Rose here). Some users had noticed some problems with viewing the transcriptions that are available for some of the manuscripts – the Javascript problem, which was the culprit, has now been fixed.

Our project to tweet a modern English version of the Rose continues, you can follow us @RoseDigLib #RoseRom.