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The ‘Lancelot-Graal’ Project

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 September 2014

Derek Pearsall
Affiliation:
Former Professor and Co-Director of the Centre for Medieval Studies, York, and Professor of English at Harvard University
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Summary

This essay describes the rationale for the pilot phase of a computer data-base of text and pictures that we hope will eventually form a Corpus of ‘Lancelot-Graal’ manuscripts, will present a model for manuscript analysis in general, and will have a range of other applications beyond the field of manuscript studies. An international team of Old French specialists (Keith Busby, Elspeth Kennedy, Roger Middleton) and art historians and manuscript specialists (Susan Blackman, Martine Meuwese, Alison Stones) are collaborating with technical consultants in information science and telecommunications (Kenneth Sochats, Guoray Cai) to create and use a searchable database of primary manuscript pages and secondary commentary linked to a searchable database of images. The specialists will use the database to generate a variety of products, both in the traditional form of books and articles, and in electronic form on the World Wide Web and CD-ROMs.

What we hope to learn is more about the intentions of the makers of the manuscripts and those (patrons? directors of operations?) who guided them in the choices they made. Our work to date shows that the choice, placement and composition of the illustrations varies very considerably from one manuscript to another, even among copies produced by the same scribes, decorators and artists. Certain manuscripts display at times a very surprising degree of careful attention to the nuances the text in that copy conveys. Illustrations showing the same episode in other copies will not necessarily present a comparably text-dependent picture. We are looking at which, where and how, in the hopes of moving a step closer to understanding why.

Type
Chapter
Information
New Directions in Later Medieval Manuscript Studies
Essays from the 1998 Harvard Conference
, pp. 167 - 182
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2000

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