Digital Edition

Doing Things With History, Rebooted

Although Who Murdered Chaucer? certainly tests the boundaries of academic scholarship, it is still recognizably what academics and their publishers call a “monograph.” Similarly, the work you did on the literary and historical analysis essays and even the recap blogs looks a lot like what goes on in more conventional medieval studies classrooms. As you’ve discovered over the course of the semester, ours is not a conventional medieval studies classroom, however. For one thing, this course is offered by the School of Literature, Media, and Communication, which is part of the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts at Georgia Tech. Unlike medieval studies courses offered in more traditional academic units, like history or English departments, this class is intended for students working in STEM fields or interdisciplinary majors such as STAC, CM, and management. For that reason, in addition to teaching you about literature and history, this course is designed to teach you about the media in which literature and history are transmitted and preserved, as well as where literature fits as a mode of communicating ideas and knowledge.

You have already applied your knowledge about the history of the book, of manuscript production and handwriting, and the creation and dissemination of editions of Chaucer’s work to create your own modern manuscript edition of some of Chaucer’s shorter poems. In this project, you will take the work you have done up to this point, on the literary and historical analyses, on the modern ms codex, on the recap blogs, and use it as material for creating a digital edition of Chaucer’s shorter poetry.

In addition to furthering your understanding of media and communication, this project is also designed to investigate how the study of literature and history can serve as a springboard for creativity. By presenting you with a “problem” for which you must design a “solution,” this project provides an opportunity to consider how the study of alternative methods, processes, and ways of knowing from history might help us in our efforts to “think outside the box.”

Screenshot of Walters Museum manuscript and rare books exhibit homepage

Finally, your collaborative work on this project will help you hone strategies for communication, cooperation, and evaluation that you can apply in the non-academic workplace.

Digital Edition Project Description

In this project, you will create a digital edition of some or all of Chaucer’s shorter poems. As we discussed in class, your digital edition might evolve through the application of one of three general design approaches:

  1. You might create an online “exhibit” of the manuscript you’ve created.
  2. You might create an extensible, online knowledge resource about Chaucer’s shorter poems that includes digital images/a digital facsimile of the manuscript you’ve created.
  3. You might create an ebook edition of Chaucer’s shorter poems that includes digital images/a digital facsimile of the manuscript you’ve created.

Regardless of which general approach you choose to take, the final product must meet the following general guidelines:

  1. The edition must include an introduction or about page that describes the edition and what it contributes to the fields of textual studies, medieval studies, and Chaucer studies.
  2. The edition must include digital images of every page in your ms codex and at least one image of the book as a whole.
  3. The edition must include revised versions of some or all of the literary and historical analysis essays.
  4. The edition must include annotated transcriptions of the poems collected in your ms codex.
  5. The edition must include links to reference items in your collaborative Zotero bibliography.

The class will be divided into four teams. The Design Team (designers) will have one week to come up with three alternative design concepts, which they will present to the class on Wednesday, November 14. The Editorial Team (editors) will select poems and essays to be included in the edition, craft copy for the introduction or about page, and they will revise, annotate, and edit the poems and essays, preparing “final copy” by Wednesday, November 28. The Multimedia Team (mm team) will create high-quality images of the ms codex and work with the editors to create or identify additional Creative Commons licensed or open source multimedia content for inclusion in the edition, delivering all necessary files by Wednesday, November 28. Once they have the final copy and multimedia content, the Production Team (webmasters) will upload and format content, completing the edition by Wednesday, December 12.

Although each group will have primary responsibility for one key deliverable, the groups should coordinate their work. The designers, editors, and mm crew will probably work together closely during the content preparation and production stage, and the editors, mm team, and webmasters will need to work together during the production stage. All four groups should also, however, be in regular consultation with each other and with me to make sure the final result is something of which we can all be proud.

We will have two technology workshops during the course of the project, one in class on Friday, November 9, and another in class during the week of November 26. Teams and individuals may also need to meet with me or with Alison Valk outside of class time in order to receive supplemental technology instruction.

Project Stages

Remember all assignment stages must be completed in order to avoid receiving an unsatisfactory grade for an incomplete assignment.

The book will be completed in four stages, each with its own deliverable. Each group will have primary responsibility for one deliverable:

  • Stage 1: Designers’ presentation of 3 alternative design concepts (in-class Friday, November 16)
  • Stage 2: Editors’ submission of final copy (Final Copy by class time Wednesday, November 28)
  • Stage 3: MM Team’s submission of multimedia content (delivered by class time on Wednesday, November 28)
  • Stage 4: Webmasters’ publication of digital edition (By midnight Wednesday, December 12)

Stage 5: Each student will post a response (as a comment) to the individual reflection prompt by or during the exam period on Wednesday, December 12.


Points for each student will be awarded as follows:

  • Up to 75 points for individual contributions based in part on self- and peer-assessment
  • Up to 100 points for group contributions based on an evaluation of each group’s deliverable and reflection
  • Up to 75 points for class contributions based on an evaluation of the MS as a whole

I will use the following criteria in assessing individual, group, and class contributions:

  • Response to the rhetorical situation: Does the work creatively engage and apply disciplinary knowledge (i.e., of medieval history, Chaucer studies, textual studies), take into consideration the needs of a public audience, and contribute substantively to the creation of a unique and well-crafted literary artifact?
  • Effective use of medium/media: Does the work show an understanding and take advantage of the affordances of digital media and the publication platform?
  • Careful presentation and design: Does the work either comply with, or strategically manipulate standard conventions of design/communication/digital production as they were outlined and discussed in class, during the workshops, and in the texts? Does it exhibit careful attention to detail and craftsmanship?
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  1. [...] textual practice and the cultural work that was and is performed by the medieval codex. The second phase of the project tasked students with digitizing and creating an online edition of their manuscript. [...]