Lives of a Medieval Book in the Digital Dark Ages


ACLS Fellowship Program


Comparative Literature


This project investigates the many lives of a single medieval book across 800 years. This manuscript passes from luxury status symbol to pawn of religious polemic to disparaged romance before being caught up in the dramas of twenty-first century digital culture. The catalyst for this lively history—a book that contains a unique English translation of a French romance about the Holy Grail and King Arthur—resides in Parker Library, in Corpus Christi College at the University of Cambridge, and also on the digital platform “Parker Library on the Web.” “Lives of a Medieval Book in the Digital Dark Ages” brings together philology, media theory, information studies, and the digital humanities to expose the impact of research infrastructure on understandings of historical documents. The result is a method for literary history that accounts for the layering of text technologies—from scribes and print to photography and computer code.