Skip to content

Repository for the book Among Digitized Manuscripts by L.W. Cornelis van Lit (Leiden: Brill, 2020)


Notifications You must be signed in to change notification settings


Repository files navigation

What is Among Digitized Manuscripts ?

This is the repository for the book Among Digitized Manuscripts: Philology, Codicology, Paleography in a Digital World by L.W. Cornelis van Lit, (Leiden: Brill, 2020). For more info look here, for the book itself look here, stay in contact with the author on Twitter here or surf to his personal website

Click on the badge to go to the stable, citable release: DOI

_Want to be stay informed about exciting developments in digital manuscript studies? Sign up here

The folders of this repository...

In this GitHub repository you will find all kinds of files, links, references, and so forth related to the book. Folders starting with Ch relate to the different chapters of the book.

The folder Links and DOIs contains links to the resources mentioned in the chapters, as well as all the references used in the book that have a DOI.

  • For an interactive version of the links, click here
  • For an interactive version of the references and their digital object identifiers, click here

Folders in addition to this contain information that is part of the Live Appendix of the book but are not part of the repository in the strict sense, which was compiled at time of publication and is archived at Zenodo and should be referenced in publications: With a Live Appendix I mean that in this GitHub repo things have evolved and expanded over time, giving more space to additional resources that did not make it into the book but are noteworthy nonetheless.

The book at a glance

This handbook provides a conceptual and practical toolbox for anybody working with digital photos of texts rather than the artifact itself (or the plain text contents of it). The core question it answers is, now that we have digitized such a dizzying amount of manuscripts, what to do with it? In short, the chapters discuss the following topics:

  1. The difference between a text existing in a material manuscript, a printed publication, or a digital document.
  2. What happens when we have a hybrid form: a material manuscript represented as a digital document? And, in particular, how can we describe and evaluate the digital aspects of a digitized manuscript?
  3. The application of such an evaluation to twenty leading repositories, to better understand the variety of digitization we can encounter.
  4. Arguing for self-sufficiency and small-scale use of technology since large projects tend to die ungracefully. This chapter also includes instructions how to redraw glyphs as vector shapes to assist in advanced analysis.
  5. Describes the workflow from getting the textual content out of a manuscript into a computer, and all the perils involved.
  6. Using web development technology to publish results both interactively and graphically. I discuss this by detailing from start to finish how to catalog an uncatalogued collection.
  7. Learning to program, specifically with Python. Readers will be introduced to writing custom image recognition and analysis software.
  8. In the conclusion I once more make a case for the self-sufficient humanities scholar who can use technology to their own liking and I further argue that what is now perceived as a division between ‘digital humanities’ and ‘classical humanities’ would ideally cease to be as digital methods become part and parcel of our daily workflow.
  • There is also a Postscript in which I share some of my own experience working with digitized manuscripts, including an explanation of the title of the book.

Good to know...

What this book is not:

  • Is not a mere catalog of the state of the art of all aspects of manuscript studies
  • Does not give a list or directory for all possible tools and technologies (this GitHub Repo will in due time)
  • Does not explain how to digitize artifacts
  • Does not cover plain text analysis

What this book is

  • An argument in favor of the lone scholar, working with tools free to use
  • Explains the shift in mindset necessary to use technology proficiently
  • Argues that the aura of digitized manuscripts is not less or more than the aura of the material artifact, just different
  • Encourages you to keep learning, especially using the extensive literature already available on coding

For more of my work in the Digital Humanities, look here