Project


Ege 48, U of S
Overview

One of the most significant types of technological change, now and in the past, involves ways in which information is created, transmitted, stored, processed, used, and conceptualised. Textual information, in particular, has had a profound impact on human societies ever since writing, in its many forms, became a powerful expression of what we might, today, call code: systems of symbols and rules that handle information.

Today, computer code is transforming the world around us so dramatically that many have, with justification, claimed that we are experiencing a 'digital revolution'. The anxieties and hopes that accompany such far-reaching technological and social change have revealed the usefulness of looking at the past in order to understand the present and to create the future. An important but surprisingly neglected historical period for investigating such issues is the Middle Ages. In that stretch of about a thousand years, people in Europe discovered, invented, and developed technologies and practices of information and communication that we still use today. A particularly rich record is that of medieval England, from the first English runic inscription in the fifth century to the first English printed documents in the fifteenth. Thus this project focusses on English texts, c 500 - c 1500.

Untitled, Marcin Wichary
The words code and information are modern terms, but they are still helpful concepts for understanding medieval text. The Medieval Codes project works toward a better understanding of how medieval texts are coded. Many different ways of understanding navigation, language, and intentions are implicit in medieval reading practices; modelling medieval text as code is a way of exploring how medieval people handled textual information. To a great extent, the project builds on the work of scholars in the traditional disciplines of paleography, codicology, textual studies, historical linguistics, and the like; but it also creates connections with the ideas and methods of scholarly disciplines that have more recently emerged, such as book history, information design, media studies, and digital humanities.

The objectives of the Medieval Codes project are:
  1.  to model medieval English text as code;
  2.  to identify the challenges that medieval people confronted in their encoding processes, and to learn, by analogy, from their solutions,
  3. to provide a theoretical framework and develop methods by which medieval manuscript studies can inform the study of recent and emerging information and communications technologies.
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A better understanding of the processes by which information was encoded, transmitted, and read in the Middle Ages will benefit medievalists, aid book historians in understanding manuscript cultures, and inform our post-print world of similar practices in existence before the rise of print culture. Modelling text as code will strengthen and clarify the theoretical basis of the digital humanities. Greater sensitivity to pre-print medieval textual codes will inform the development of more versatile tools for editing and publishing digital texts.

This project therefore both builds on and goes beyond historical approaches to textuality, information, and communication, exploring ways in which medieval textualities – medieval codes, in the language of this model – created the initial environment for information processing in Western societies, and how that environment is being challenged and enhanced by digital codes today.


Team

Current

Yin Liu is an associate professor of English at the University of Saskatchewan, with research and teaching interests in medieval English literature, history of the English language, and digital humanities. For enjoyment, she reads the Oxford English Dictionary, or looks around for piles of snow to stand in.

Brittany Pickering has an MA in English from the University of Saskatchewan. Her interests include books (for reading and admiring), movies, animals, baking, fishing, and gardening. Her research for the Medieval Codes project was supported by a generous grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada, and she continues to contribute to the project as a volunteer researcher.

Tristan B. Taylor completed his MA at the University of Kent in Medieval and Early Modern Studies and is now a PhD candidate at the University of Saskatchewan. His research interests include Anglo-Latin hagiography and mystical theology. His current research is on the production and dissemination of the Life of Thomas Becket. He has no hobbies. His work for the Medieval Codes project is generously supported by SSHRC.

Melissa Reid is currently undertaking a double Honours BA in History and Classical, Medieval, and Renaissance Studies (CMRS) at the University of Saskatchewan. She enjoys consuming stories (whether they are in the form of books, television, or movies), cuddling with her cat Abraham Lincoln, and taking naps. She worked on the Medieval Codes project as a volunteer with the Museum of Antiquities at the University of Saskatchewan, and is now supported on the project by SSHRC.

Hailey Mullock is an Honours English student at the University of Saskatchewan, and her second home is the library at St Thomas More College, where she is known as the Library Lurker. Her work for Medieval Codes was supported by a USRA grant from the University of Saskatchewan Undergraduate Research Initiative, and by SSHRC.

Madison Taylor is an Honours English student at the University of Saskatchewan. She is (un)gainfully employed as a typography and print culture geek, and moonlights as a bookseller. Her work for Medieval Codes is supported by SSHRC.

Julie Maseka is a Honours English student at the University of Saskatchewan with a passion for all things Shakespeare. In her spare time she enjoys pizza and wine with a side of Netflix. Her work for Medieval Codes, like that of so many others, is supported by SSHRC. Thank you, SSHRC, and the taxpayers of Canada.

Jon Bath is Director of the Humanities and Fine Arts Digital Research Centre (DRC) at the University of Saskatchewan. He loves old books and new bicycles.

Past

Danielle Grant did her Masters in English at the University of Saskatchewan. She enjoys medieval texts, Canadian literature, and getting caught in the rain. Her research for the Medieval Codes project was supported by SSHRC and by a generous grant from the College of Arts and Science Interdisciplinary Centre for Culture and Creativity (ICCC).

Ben Neudorf completed his MA in English at the University of Saskatchewan. His research for the Medieval Codes project was generously supported by the U of S Summer Student Employment Program (USTEP) and the College of Arts and Science Interdisciplinary Centre for Culture and Creativity (ICCC).

Christina Fowlie-Neufeld has a double Honours BA in Classical, Medieval, and Renaissance Studies (CMRS) and English at the University of Saskatchewan. She loves all things medieval and English and dreams of seeing all things medieval and English in person. She worked on the Medieval Codes project as a volunteer with the Museum of Antiquities at the University of Saskatchewan.

Megan Dase completed an undergraduate degree in Classical, Medieval, and Renaissance Studies at the University of Saskatchewan, and Master's degree in Medieval Studies at KU Leuven in Belgium. She enjoys devouring all fruits, playing with her pet rabbit Radagast, and musing about future travel adventures. Her work for the Medieval Codes project was supported by SSHRC.

Courtney Tuck completed a double honours BA in History and in Classical, Medieval, and Renaissance Studies (CMRS) at the University of Saskatchewan. She also works on community outreach and programming for the Museum of Antiquities at the University of Saskatchewan. She is pursuing her MA in History, focussing on the topic of memorialization and perceptions of afterlife in ancient Roman society. Courtney spends most of her down-time at home with her partner, Luke, and their trusty dog, Mabel. Her work for the Medieval Codes project was supported by SSHRC.

Corie Wiebe was a Medieval Codes researcher while working toward her MA in English at the University of Saskatchewan. She enjoys reading, medieval English, and cats. Her research for the Medieval Codes project was also supported by SSHRC.

Jennifer Mainprize completed her undergraduate degree in Linguistics at the University of Saskatchewan with the intention of pursuing Speech Pathology. She loves to study dead languages and has an insatiable desire to travel the world.


Contact:

Yin Liu
Department of English
University of Saskatchewan
9 Campus Drive
Saskatoon, SK  S7N 5A5
Canada
+1-306-966-1835