Nearly 15,000 lines and 225 works so far
February 27, 2023 7:24 PM   Subscribe

Old English Poetry in Facsimile. Per the about page: "A collaborative, open-access resource linking together moments of digital manuscript images, transcriptions, editorial annotations and translations of Old English poetry, to better allow people to study and explore these works." Quickstart video on YouTube (about 6m). The project uses the Digital Mappa platform to allow annotators to link to multiple items and viewers to compare them. The project should be complete sometime before 2030 and will include all the known manuscripts and works except Beowulf, which has been digitized to the standards of this project already.

What made this project particularly interesting is that they're approaching the language work from a perspective of description rather than prescription. The emphasis is on the heterogeneity of Old English as it was written rather than standardizing usage. This sort of collection of manuscripts and collaboration across institutions, especially with open access to the public, wouldn't have been possible before the web.
posted by gentlyepigrams (3 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
This is really interesting: thank you for posting it! It is really nice to be able to click through to the manuscripts and see the uncial or minuscule calligraphy.

The editors say that the site "privileges linguistic heterogeneity and description over standardization and prescription" but a look at their editions shows that this is a difference of degree and not kind. The OEPF edition divides the works into lines, indicates caesuras in alliterative verse, expands scribal abbreviations, transcribes "ƿ" (wynn) as "w" and "ʒ" (yogh) as "g", and corrects clear mistakes, in the same way as older editions.

Comparing the OEPF's edition of "The Seafarer" with Nora Chadwick's 1922 edition, both editions expand "ꝥ" to "þæt" (that), correct "seofedum" to "seofedun" (lament), correct "medd drince" to "medodrince" (mead-drinking) and so on. The first difference of editorial opinion that I spotted is on line 26 where OEPF keeps the manuscript "feran" (fare, go) whereas Chadwick gives the conjectural emendation "frefran" (comfort) with a note.
posted by cyanistes at 7:28 AM on February 28 [2 favorites]

Oh yay, I was hoping someone with real familiarity with the works would show up and talk about this effort! This is deeper than my academic knowledge really goes (my MA thesis was on the evolution of the maritagium into the fee tail in common law, and then I left academia in 1992, so well before a project of this kind would have been possible) but I'm so delighted and quite envious of those scholars who can actually take advantage of what the internet brings to medieval history.
posted by gentlyepigrams at 7:42 AM on February 28

I wrote my MA thesis on Old English verse, but sadly any expertise has long since atrophied. The best thing about OE poetry, from an academic perspective: there’s not very much of it.

I don’t have much to say about his project except that it looks great, and at a time when there’s a lot of gloom about the state of Google and Twitter and Amazon and whatnot, it’s good to see some old-fashioned internet knowledge-sharing.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 8:37 AM on February 28

« Older Covid Meetups   |   The cursed universes of Dana Sibera Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments