Among Digitized Manuscripts. Philology, Codicology, Paleography in a Digital World


Author: L.W.C. van Lit
Working with manuscripts has become a digital affair. But, are there downsides to digital photos? And how can you take advantage of the incredible computing power you have literally at your fingertips? Cornelis van Lit explains in detail what happens when manuscript studies meets digital humanities. In Among Digitized Manuscripts you will learn why it is important to include a note on the photo quality in your codicological description, how to draw, collect, and publish glyphs of paleographic interest, what standards (such as TEI and IIIF) to abide by when transcribing a text, how to write custom software for image recognition, and much more. The leading principle is that learning a little about computers will already be of great benefit.
Open Access
Download PDF

Prices from (excl. VAT):

L.W. Cornelis van Lit, O.P., is a postdoctoral researcher at Utrecht University and a friar of the Order of Preachers. His main expertise lies in medieval Islamic philosophy. He runs the online magazine The Digital Orientalist.


1 Manuscript World, Print World, Digital World
 1 Three Worlds
 2 Case Study 1: ABC for Book Collectors versus A Dictionary of English Manuscript Terminology
 3 Case Study 2: A World Without Whom versus Do I Make Myself Clear?
 4 Case Study 3: The Written, Printed, and Digital Koran
 5 Consequences for Digitized Manuscripts

2 The Digital Materiality of Digitized Manuscripts
 1 Stepping into the Digital World
 2 Larger Than Life Digitized Manuscripts
 3 The Intangible Aura of Material Manuscripts
 4 What Are Digitized Manuscripts?
 5 New Habits for Philologists in a Digital World

3 Digitized Manuscripts and Their Repositories, an Ethnography
 1 Old Collections in Europe
 2 New Collections in North America
 3 Major Collections in the MENA Region
 4 Notable Collections in Africa, the Levant, and Asia
 5 A Grand Comparison of the Quality of Digital Surrogates
 6 A Visual Comparison
 7 Difference between Professional and Amateur Photos
 8 The Future of Digital Manuscript Repositories

4 Paleography: Between Erudition and Computation
 1 The Variety of Digital Paleographic Experience
 2 Rise and Fall of Team Projects Funded by Grants
 3 Drawing Ancient Symbols on a Tablet

5 Philology: Standards for Digital Editing
 1 File Formats
 2 Encoding of Text
 3 Markup of Text
 4 Intermezzo: Using the Right Editing Tool
 5 Handling Images
 6 Archiving and Publishing

6 Cataloging: From a Dusty Backroom to the World Wide Web
 1 Field Research Workflow: From a Dusty Backroom to My Computer
 2 Web Development: From My Computer to the World Wide Web
 3 Structure: HTML
 4 Content: JSON
 5 Style: CSS
 6 Interactivity: JavaScript
 7 Productivity: Code Editor and Code Repository
 8 Quantitative Analysis of the Collection

7 Codicology: Automated Analysis Using Python and OpenCV
 1 Why Code?
 2 Description of Case Study
 3 Introduction to Python
 4 Introduction to OpenCV
 5 Step 1: Extraction of Images
 6 Step 2: Analysis of an Image
 7 Step 3: Running the Script over Large Numbers
 8 Results

8 A Digital Orientalist

Postscript. Among Digitized Manuscripts


Index of Persons
Index of Subjects
People working with digital photos of texts, especially handwritten documents such as manuscripts and archive materials.