A Tale of Two Meetings

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Wow–so, last Friday, we (myself, Laura, Anna, and Professor Boeckeler) all took a little trip to Harvard to visit Houghton Library and to get an opportunity to take a look at some medieval manuscripts in order to prepare us for what we’ll be looking for in our own medieval manuscript! Additionally, we got the opportunity to meet with Professor Bill Stoneman, the Curator of Early Books & Manuscripts at Harvard, and talk with him about our project, our manuscript, and where we’re headed! For me, it was equal parts exciting and daunting; I’m so excited to get the chance to look closely at our manuscript, and start analyzing it for the goldmine of information that it contains (after all, it has only been given a basic description so far–there’s so much more to learn about this text)! At the same time, though, I can’t deny feeling a little overwhelmed with the sheer amount of information to be discovered, and how to discover it. There is a lot of specific terminology that accompanies research like this, and a lot of knowledge to be digested quickly. I have had no prior experience handling books like this one, and if there’s one thing that our meeting at Harvard taught me, it’s that I have a lot to learn before I get a crack at our manuscript!

Our second meeting that Friday, similarly, was very critical to the progress of our project. We met with some great grad students and faculty of the Digital Scholarship Group in Northeastern’s Snell Library in order to discuss the digital aspects of the project–namely, the website that we’re creating with the help of the DSG and their Toolkit system. The process of digitization is already being undergone for our manuscript–and while it’s being digitized, we are learning about how it will be stored in Northeastern’s super-secure Digital Repository and how the Toolkit interacts with the Digital Repository in order to create (with a little help from the good folks here at WordPress) our website! While at Harvard I was overwhelmed by my lack of experience in what I was learning, I found that the meeting with the DSG was just the opposite–learning how to operate the Toolkit and manage/customize the website felt like very comforting and familiar territory for me. Being very familiar (okay, probably too familiar) with the way that blogging works, it seems I’ve also acquired some experience with blog editing, basic HTML, and basic web design (good thing to know that all the hours I’ve spent blogging may have actually helped me with something). So, for me, the two meetings were kind of juxtaposed; the first that I found exciting but daunting, and the second which I found familiar and manageable. But this is good–there’s something I may not have experience in yet, which can be overwhelming, but there’s also something that I have a lot of experience with. It’s a nice balance, and I think being comfortable with the web aspects of the project will help encourage me to feel a little better about my inexperience with medieval manuscripts!

Exciting to keep working…now here’s hoping I can get through even one page of transliteration!

Lexi

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A Voyage in Miniature

Introductions

I’m Lexi Bond, and I’m an undergraduate student at Northeastern University. I just completed my third year here, I’m an English major, and I’m so excited to be working on this never-explored, entirely mysterious Prayer Book. Along with undergrad students Anna Smith and Laura Packard, as well as Professor Erika Boeckeler of the Northeastern English Department, I plan to take what I see “a voyage in miniature” into this extraordinary book.

A book is a world. And this book is a world that’s totally unexplored. No one knows where this book came from–and I don’t know how that happens, but I’m glad that it did, because that qualifies this manuscript as a bona fide mystery, and that, above all else, makes it pretty exciting.

My hope for this project is that we’ll take a voyage into this text; I really do believe that there is no object of study too small, and pretty much everything in the world contains a world of information to be learned. This book is one of those things, and kind of a big one, depending on what your scale is. It feels big to me. There’s a lot to be learned, both through direct contact with this preserved text, as well as through all the processes of digitization, transformation, and representation. There’s so many directions to go in with an artifact this detailed, well-preserved, and virtually unknown; the paths that we can take on our voyage into the micro-but-also-macro frontier of this manuscript are endless. There’s words, there’s illustration, there’s calligraphy, there’s illumination, there’s music, and, most importantly to me, there’s human spirit, all preserved for us in this text. I’m excited to get started on soaking up as much knowledge from both this text as well as from the processes that will make up this experience, and to chronicle that experience here–let’s start the voyage!

Lexi