Biblioteca Philosophica Hermetica MS 1,
His castle falls on the duke who killed King Lancelot.
© Amsterdam, Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica, reproduced by courtesy of the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica
NEW: Comparative Pages
This describes the rationale for the pilot phase of a computer data-base of text and pictures that we hope will eventually form a Corpus of Lancelot-Graal Manuscripts on the one hand and on the other will present a model for manuscript analysis in general. An international team of Old French specialists, art historians and manuscript specialists are collaborating with technical consultants in information science and telecommunications to create and use a searchable data-base of primary manuscript text and secondary commentary linked to a searchable data-base of images. The specialists will use the data-base to generate a variety of products, both in the traditional form of books and articles, and in electronic form on the Web and CD-ROMs.
Roger H. Middleton, Lecturer Emeritus, French Department, University of Nottingham
Keith Busby, Professor of French, University of Wisconsin-Madison
M. Alison Stones, Professor of History of Art and Architecture, University of Pittsburgh
Susan A. Blackman, Ph.D. History of Art, independent scholar, Kansas City
Meuwese, Ph.D., University of Leiden, Research Associate University
Irène Fabry, Doctorant, Université de Paris
Director, Visual Information Systems Center, School of Information
University of Pittsburgh
Guoray Cai, Assistant Professor, Institute of Science and
Technology, The Pennsylvania
Jane Vadnal, M.A., Technical Assistant, School of
Information Science, University of Pittsburgh
Aims and Objectives
We are developing an approach that treats the manuscript page as a conceptual map whose constituent elements can be identified and defined, plotted, compared, contrasted, linked to each other in any number of possible combinations, and accompanied by commentary. What we hope to learn is more about the intentions of the makers of the manuscripts and those (patrons ? directors of operations ?) who guided them in the choices they made--in terms of text variants and the wording of rubrics; the types and places of minor initials in a hierarchy of decorative levels in relation to the text; the types and levels of illuminations, whether historiated initials, miniatures, or marginalia, their places and components; the episodes they depict and the particular narrative emphasis of each depiction.
Our work to date shows that the choice, placement, and
composition of the illustrations varies very considerably from one
manuscript to another, even among copies produced by the same scribes,
decorators and artists. Certain manuscripts display at times a
very surprising degree of careful attention to the nuances the text in
that copy conveys. Illustrations showing the same episode in other
copies will not necessarily present a comparably text-dependent
picture. We are looking at which, where and how, in the hopes of moving
a step closer to understanding why.
to GIS page
Our conceptual model is a unique application of a Geographical Information System (GIS) to associate information objects with the appropriate passages, illuminations and pictures in the manuscript, to assist the reader or analyst with exploring the manuscript further. These information objects can be sounds, text, images or other forms of information. These annotations will provide expert commentary, guides to characters or underlying themes and other information, to support the analysis and understanding of the manuscript. The attachments will underly the image of the manuscript so as to not interfere with its pictorial impression and interpretation. They will be summoned by "clicking" on parts of the manuscript or on buttons located outside the manuscript. We are not aware of any similar GIS application of the type we propose in existence today. We are also developing a web interface based on GIS concepts but using a MSACCESS data base linked to Active Server Pages. The prototype has been demonstrated at several Art-Historical, Medieval, and Information Science conferences.
Unravelling the links between and among the different types of information about the Lancelot-Graal is our narrow aim in this project, but as an intellectual exercise our tools and methodologies are generalizable to all kinds of other areas of conceptualization and analysis beyond the limits of humanities disciplines.
Medieval manuscripts are now inaccessible to all but a small audience of scholars. They are carefully preserved, with restricted access, in research libraries. Disseminating the contents of those originals while preserving them from direct handling is thus an important by-product of this project.
The structural principles which we are devising and appling to the study of these manuscripts, texts, and pictures will demonstrate a method of multi-layered analysis that will have wide application potential.
We consulted specialists at the Morgan Library and the J.
Paul Getty Museum for recommendations about the choice of film and
photographic methods, and drew from Alison Stones' experience
photographing in European and American libraries. Her photographs of
manuscripts are deposited at the Conway Library, Courtauld Institute,
London, and at the Photo Study Archive of the J. Paul Getty Center in
Santa Monica; her images of monuments can be consulted on http://vrcoll.fa.pitt.edu/medart,
developed by technical assistant Jane Vadnal. Transparencies were
prohibitively expensive and digitization directly from the manuscripts
was not an available option in 1996. Digitizing was done at the
University of Pittsburgh by graduate students working for academic
credit under the guidance of Alison Stones and Kenneth Sochats. We used
a Nikon 35mmslide scanner LA-1000, upgraded in Fall 2001 to a Nikon
Super Coolscan 4000, saving an archival version at 2400 dpi, together
with versions at 1500, 800 and 300 dpi. The latter were enhanced to a
limited degree in Adobe Photoshop, now using version 6 from Fall 2001.
Exact records have been kept for each scanned image describing the
enhancements. However, it is evident that scans of whole pages
made from slides produce poor results.
The technical structure is copyrighted by Ken Sochats, the commentary and analysis by individual or collective project authors, the images by the respective libraries.
Initial support came from the Central Research Fund of the University of Pittsburgh. The project has subsequently received research grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (January 1, 2001-December 31, 2002) and by Visiting Fellowships to Alison Stones by All Souls College Oxford (Fall 1999), Magdalen College Oxford (2001) and Corpus Christi College Cambridge (2002), and a Fulbright Fellowship to the École pratique des hautes études (2006), and from the American Council of Learned Societies (2009).
Summary of papers to date
Leeds International Medieval Conference, 1997: Kennedy, Meuwese, Sochats, Stones
London: Computers and the History of Art, 1998, Stones
Western Michigan Medieval Conference, 1999: Kennedy, Meuwese
American Association of Geographers, 1999, Cai, Stones
Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative, Hong Kong, 2000, Cai, Stones, Kennedy, Sochats
Leeds International Medieval Conference, 2001: Kennedy, Meuwese, Middleton
The Waynflete Lectures, Magdalen College, Oxford, 2001: Stones
Manuscripts and Facsimiles, Fidelity or Betrayal? University of Edinburgh, 2002: Stones
International Arthurian Conference, Bangor, 2002: Stones, Kennedy, Middleton.
University of Amsterdam Palaeography Seminar, 2002: Meuwese
'Franse handschriften en oude drukken in de BPH’, Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica, Amsterdam, 2002: Meuwese.
'Achtste Mediëvistendag van de Onderzoekschool Mediëvistiek: Terug naar de bronnen,' Utrecht, 2002: Meuwese.
'Symbolic Connotation in Profane Book Illustration’, colloquium: Dimensionen symbolischer Sinnstifftung in der vormodernen Gesellschaft, Münster, 2002: Meuwese.
'Visual Motif Transfer in Profane Illustrations’, International Congress: Manuscripts in Transition - Recycling Manuscripts, Texts and Images, Brussels, November 5-9, 2002: Meuwese.
'Seeing the walls of Troy: Troy, Lancelot, Guy de Machaut,' International Congress: Manuscripts in Transition - Recycling Manuscripts, Texts and Images, Brussels, November 5-9, 2002: Stones.
‘Roses, Ruse and Romance. Iconographic relationships among
the Roman de la Rose and Arthurian Literature’, Roman de la
Rose conference in Antwerp, April 10-12, 2003: Meuwese.
GIS Conference, California University of Pennsylvania,
September, 2003: Sochats and Stones.
New England Manuscript Group, September, 2003: Stones.
Manuscripta, St Louis, October, 2003: Stones.
Text and Image in Medieval England, University of Minnesota,
October, 2003: Stones.
International Arthurian Congress, Utrecht, 2005: Kennedy,
Groupe de Recherches sur l'iconographie
médiévale, Paris, 2006: Stones.
Harlaxton Conference, 2006: Stones.
ESRI International Users Conference, San Diego, June 2006: Sochats,
vulgate du Merlin,
École normale supérieure, Paris, 2007: Stones.
International Arthurian Congress, Rennes, 2008: Round Table
on Digitization, Stones, Busby, Meuwese
International Courtly Literature Conference, Cambridge,