Thanks to the generous support of the College of Liberal Arts and the Vice Provost for Research and Innovation at the University of Nevada Reno, the next stage of my research includes a "Big Data" project on Medieval English Manuscripts and the textual networks that they sustain.
In essence, the project aims to make the kind of corpus studies approach I lay out in my dissertation/book research on Piers Plowman accessible for other Medieval English Vernacular Manuscripts. In examining the entire network of texts a specific corpus contains we can get a more comprehensive sense of late medieval literary cultures. Within the parameters of these textual networks, we can start to see trends among things that circulate together and that circulate in particular locations at different times.
What I hope to uncover in this work is a multiplicity of changing and layered literary cultures of the Late Middle Ages in England.
Mapping Medieval English Manuscript Networks
Materiality of Manuscript Inscription
An additional dimension undergirds my work as I try to engineer a theoretical framework for talking about both the materiality of the inscription process and its significance.
My argument relies on both medieval sources and contemporary theory. In medieval texts I will be drawing on discussions of sacramentality, the trope of Christ as a book, and medieval meditation and memory processes. From contemporary theory I draw upon several strains of new materialism and a number of scientific apparatuses that advance my inquiry into elements of the manuscript object itself: parchment, quill, ink (of course), (but also) agentic assemblage, conative bodies, and structural or chemical vitality.
As these projects develop and can be shared, more information will become available. Experiments done in collaboration with Dr. Jason P. McClure, chief scientist at Princeton Instruments
Crowd sourced bibliography on manuscript materailty compliments of The Material Collective:
Laser Backscattering on Parchment Surfaces
Julian of Norwich's Revelations of Divine Love
My next project takes a similar approach to look at Julian of Norwich, a fourteenth century mystic whose 16 visions also survive in long and short versions. The short text exists in only one manuscript, a Carthusian compilation dating to 1413. The long text, on the other hand, is only extant in three seventeenth- and eighteenth-century manuscripts copied by English recusants in exile on the continent.
Much of my work to date has been on mapping and understanding the link between the Late Medieval mystic and scribes and the Early Modern Benedictines. At right you will find two works in progress that try to keep track of the movements of the English Benedictine Congregation.