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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter April 1, 2021

Holistically Modelling the Medieval Book: Towards a Digital Contribution

Peter A. Stokes
From the journal Anglia


The book has long played an important role in medieval and indeed modern culture, being at the same time a carrier of texts and images, a sign potentially of wealth and/or education, a site of enquiry for modern scholarship for literature, history, linguistics, palaeography, codicology, art history, and more. The ‘archaeology of the book’ can tell us about its history (or biography) as well as the cultures that produced and used it, right up to its present ownership. This multidimensionality of the object has long been known, but it has also proven a challenge to digital approaches which (like all representations) are by their nature models that involve conscious or unconscious selection of particular aspects, and that have been more successful in some aspects than others. This then raises the question to what degree these different viewpoints can be brought together into something approaching a holistic view, while always allowing for the tension between standardisation and innovation, and while remembering that a ‘complete model’ is a tautology, neither possible nor desirable.

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Published Online: 2021-04-01
Published in Print: 2021-03-04

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