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Digital Editing of Medieval Manuscripts
Start date: Sep 1, 2014, End date: Aug 31, 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Digital technology is fast transforming the way we study, teach and communicate. At best, it is integrated into thematic courses, employing innovative teaching techniques and allowing the acquisition of transversal skills. Such training is quickly becoming a necessity, as students have grown to rely on digital resources, while ICT know-how is becoming quintessential for the job-market. However, there is a dearth of training opportunities to initiate advanced students into Information and Communication Technologies. Digital Editing of Medieval Manuscripts (DEMM) is a joint training programme between Charles University in Prague, Queen Mary University of London, the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, the University of Siena, the Klosterneuburg monastic library. It will equip advanced MA and PhD students in medieval studies with the necessary skills to work in a digital environment, through a year-long programme on editing medieval manuscripts and their online publication. A rigorous introduction to medieval manuscripts and their analysis will be accompanied by formal training in ICT and project management. The end of each one-year programme (to run thrice, on three consecutive years) will see the students initiated into practical work-experience alongside developers, as they will work on their own digital editions, leading to its online publication. This will enhance the students’ skill-set and the employability opportunities which ensue from it. At the core of the proposal is an initiation into advanced manuscript studies and ICT. The provision of formal training in this practical field will be complemented by work on a year-long project - an edition of an unpublished medieval text which would be edited critically, and then prepared for digital publication. In each university a team of five participants, supported by a Local Coordinator, will work together to prepare the editions. This will take place over a highly structured year: At the beginning of the year all participants will meet for training in medieval manuscripts and their editing (palaeography, philology, book history, practical editing, etc.). This will be followed by a term of work in each university, supported by cross-institutional collaboration using virtual collaboration spaces. During that time students will prepare their own edition, identify problems and potential solutions. At the beginning of the second term the teams shall meet again, this time for relevant training in ICT (HTML, XML, TEI, etc.). The following term would then be devoted to subjecting the edition to scrutiny, tagging and preparing it for publication. At the end of the year, both terms will come together to supply the basis for concerted work with developers. A week-long Hackathon will enable students to liaise with developers on the creation of their digital edition, based on their previous training and the work carried in the course of the terms. During that time, hands-on experience will be supplemented by training in project management from inception to delivery, with specific sessions on time management, practical project management, and presentation skills. This programme is unique in combining ICT and practical work, alongside training in medieval studies. Such innovative training will further the students’ core-studies, while equipping them with key transversal skills. Supported by local coordinators, students will take the initiative in leading their own projects; they will grow in experience and skills, acquiring the ability to work individually and as a team, to set realistic goals, manage time and resources, and liaise with external stakeholders. This skill-set is invaluable for working in projects both within and without academia, for scholars and entrepreneurs. The training programme would run thrice on three consecutive years. This will enable the consolidation of the programme and the training materials, as well as establishing substantial links between participating institutions. The programme is designed to outlive the length of the funding. A cadre of well-trained and cohesive students from across Europe would be established, and given means for future communication. Materials for all three training sessions would be refined during the three years of the programme, to be made into self-standing, freely available web resources. The texts at the core of the programme are one of the more substantial outcomes of the programme. By carefully editing texts and preparing them for digital publication in a highly stable format, these tangible outcomes would serve as an important outcome of the programme, not only boosting participants’ experience and CV, but also furthering scholarship.
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