Retrieving the textual environment of the "Old English Bede": a digital remediation of Cambridge, Corpus Christi College MS 41

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O'Connor, Patricia
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University College Cork
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This thesis advocates for the digital remediation of the textual environment of Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 41 (CCCC41). CCCC41 is an early-eleventh-century manuscript witness of the Old English Bede (OEB), the vernacular translation of Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica (HE). In addition to this important ecclesiastical history, CCCC41 contains unique textual evidence for creative and intellectual scribal engagement: Old English charms, homilies, a fragment from the Old English Martyrology and an extract of the wisdom poem Solomon and Saturn as well as Latin charms, masses, prayers and offices for the liturgical season were added to the manuscript’s margins shortly after the composition of the central text. Although the marginalia of CCCC41 continue to excite scholarly attention, the current representation of the marginalia in print and digital format has not been able to accurately convey the complex textual configuration within this manuscript. This thesis first highlights how the current forms of representation have adversely affected critical opinion on the relationship of these marginal texts to the OEB. Furthermore, through its examination of the marginalia of CCCC41, this thesis demonstrates how research on this remarkable manuscript could be better served by a new digital edition that enables researchers to incorporate the marginal texts in a reading of the OEB. A digital remediation of CCCC41 prompts urgent questions, namely: what was the function of the margin in medieval culture and what has prevented scholarly print editions and previous digital scholarly editions from faithfully representing the reality of medieval texts such as CCCC41? These questions are answered in Chapter Two’s interrogation of scribal, print and digital technologies. Lastly, this thesis proposes a freely accessible digital documentary edition to provide future researchers with a much-needed accurate and faithful representation of CCCC41’s textual environment. To justify this thesis’ decision to retrieve CCCC41’s textual environment in a digital documentary edition, Chapter One adopts a New Philological approach to illustrate the inherent value of reading the marginal texts alongside the OEB. The critical evaluation of text technologies in Chapter Two sustains this thesis’ argument that a digital documentary edition of CCCC41 is urgently needed. By elucidating the role of the margin in medieval culture and critiquing the limitations of editorial practice in scholarly print editions, Chapter Two shows how digital scholarly editions are better equipped to provide a scrupulous representation of all manner of scribal activity. Moreover, by marshalling a range of digital languages, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, JSON and XML, Chapter Three outlines how this interdisciplinary approach to CCCC41 enables a digital transcriber to accurately encode and, therefore, convey the complicated page layout of the manuscript. In reconciling the marginalia with their original textual environment by complying with the TEI Guidelines, this thesis reflects the reading habits of the early medieval community that produced and engaged with CCCC41 and in doing so, greatly expands our knowledge of the reading and scribal practices in late Anglo-Saxon England.
Digital scholarly editions , Digital documentary editions , Marginalia , Corpus Christi College, Cambridge MS 41 , CCCC41 , Medieval manuscripts , Old English , Latin , TEI-XML , Margins , Old English Bede , Charms , Martyrologies , Homilies , Ecclesiastical history , Digital humanities
O'Connor, P. 2019. Retrieving the textual environment of the "Old English Bede": a digital remediation of Cambridge, Corpus Christi College MS 41. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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