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Virtues, Vices, and Vectors: Digital Tools and the Study of Medieval Sermons
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of History. Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Centre for Medieval Studies.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6891-8024
2019 (English)Other (Other academic)
Resource type
Text
Physical description [en]

Posted at Scandias (ISSN 0036-5483) Blogg DigHist – Perspectives on Digital History. An academic blog series.

Abstract [en]

In May 2018, a workshop was held at Malmö University on the subject of Digital History, bringing together Scandinavian scholars from a number of history disciplines. The purpose of the workshop was to discuss ontologies of digital history from different perspectives and can be seen as a first step taken in order to engage critically with this growing field and to create an inter-Scandinavian network. These scholars are active within, for instance, digital pedagogy, public history, history, and literary history.

In order to share the results of this workshop with a wider audience, a series of academic blog posts will be published every Friday for the next six weeks. These posts all engage with various aspects of the ontology of the digital and the “digital turn”: from a more general overview of the opportunities it provides, to its potential to bridge divides between disciplines and promote further understanding, and examples of practical applications in terms of new research methodologies. Questions are raised such as: how can digital media enable other forms of research communication than the book or article? How is the way scholars communicate their research shifting in response to new forms of digital media? Can digital methods promote cooperation between academic disciplines?

This text focuses on the methodological, theoretical and critical aspects of using digital tools in the study of medieval source material. With the increase of digitized historical texts, databases with user-friendly search functions, and digital projects (or TRCs, Thematic Research Collections) with a mixture of research tools and a variety of archival material, the possibilities for historians have multiplied. That so many medieval texts have been transferred into digital formats in the past few years is an obvious advantage for medieval studies. Everyone is grateful that we can now find critical editions and high-resolution manuscript images straight from our own computer screens, and do the time-consuming research right at home, instead of travelling to different libraries and archives across the world. Not only can we now download a text and do the traditional close reading (often) for free, but we can now also manipulate the data that would have been near impossible with printed texts. This is what brings us to using digital databases as tools in the study of medieval sermons – not just as a deposit for texts in an electronic format.

The digitized text itself allows for a re-evaluation of how we pose our research questions and calls for a critical discussion of the nature of our sources and the knowledge we gain from them. Although the process of making medieval texts available in a digital format is not complete (will it ever be?), [1] great accomplishments have been achieved in recent times that have made it possible to shift from the phase of reassembling and collation to one where scholars can use this new material in analyses that differ from ‘traditional’ methods of close-reading. In this respect, the methods that have been developed within Digital Humanities (reaching back to 1960s humanities computing, with its roots in the late 1940s) offer new and promising prospects for historians.

Place, publisher, year, pages
Lund: Scandia , 2019.
Keywords [en]
Digital history, digital tools, medieval sources, methodology, source criticism
National Category
History
Research subject
History
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-167353OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-167353DiVA, id: diva2:1299511
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 1579701Available from: 2019-03-27 Created: 2019-03-27 Last updated: 2019-04-08Bibliographically approved

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