Week 8 Recap Blog: Final

A Brief Introduction:

     In week 8 our class began the design process, laying the groundwork for our eventual finished manuscript.  We were able to define such clear headings and themes throughout this week’s work due to our class’s drive to set and meet deadlines.  In this way, our class once again conforms to modern expectations in the work world and prepares us for future project oriented work.  Our process mirrored that of corporate business process and involves team brainstorming, feedback, and final presentation of the proposed designs.  The class brainstorming day summarizes our literary analysis work and identifies themes associated with the poems. We also discussed what we wanted to accomplish with our manuscript.  The second day focused on getting feedback from the different teams on possible designs.  On Friday, the design team  presented the final design ideas and allowed the class to give input and opinions on which design would fit our project best.  The following post records and commentates this process with each day’s agenda indicated by a distinct section.

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Incorporating Themes and Thinking about The Book’s Role After Completion

A little collaboration

In the beginning of the week, the class was still expanding on the beginning stages of our Modern MS Codex project. We discussed the plans for the next couple class meetings, which included the presentation and decision of design ideas this week, with fall break, papermaking, and content selection next week. Dr. Wharton asked the class questions to get us thinking about what themes seen throughout Chaucer’s shorter poems were ones that we wanted to draw into focus when creating our manuscript. These questions were relevant to the selection of content and although that is the job of the editors, it is important for each person in the class to present their ideas in order to participate and collaborate with teams effectively.

Brainstorming Associated Themes

     Multiple people in the class spoke about what they thought the themes in their poems were and we wrote all of these themes down. The themes that we decided were the most relevant were complaint, humanism, morality/moral conflict, romance/courtly love, humor, form/process, rejection, pain, religion, debate, history, and attribution problems. We then decided which poems related to each of these themes.

Theme

Poems that use this Theme

Complaint

Merciles Beaute, Complaint D’Amours, Complaint to His Scribe, Complaint of Mars

Humanism

Complaint D’Amours, Complaint of Mars

Romance/courtly love

Merciles Beaute, Complaint to His Lady,  Rosamunde

Form/process

Complaint to His Scribe, Truth

Pain

Merciles Beaute, Complaint to His Lady

Church

Complaint of Mars, Fortune

Attribution problem

Merciles Beaute, Proverbs

Desire

Merciles Beaute, Complaint D’Amours, Complaint to his Lady

Moral conflict/morality

Gentillesse, Fortune

Humor

Rosamunde

Rejection

Merciles Beaute, Complaint to His Lady

History

Complaint to His Purse,  Lak of Stedfastness

Debate

Fortune

 

Manuscript Goal Discussion

Deciding which themes are the most relevant or which ones we as a class would like to cover in the manuscript sets the stage for the flow and overall message of the manuscript. What is a book without a theme? How can we take medieval themes and provide a modern interpretation of them? This second question is perhaps the most relatable to one of the main issues that we are covering in this course.

Since one of the goals of this course is to invoke thought about the role that medieval culture plays in a contemporary society, it is very important to consider the modern receptions of these specific themes. As a class, we are modernizing a manuscript; we are taking a medieval art form that represents a certain period of time and making it our own to represent this period in time. In using extensive collaboration, we are also able to cover the ideas of many in order to represent a general reception of Geoffrey Chaucer and medieval studies by students at Georgia Tech. This collaboration also provides us with experience working in focus groups, which is very much an important real world application. That is also another concept that this course is intended to address: successful collaboration.

     Class on Monday ended with a discussion about what it was that we wanted to happen to the book when we had completed it. A few ideas were offered and discussed, but no plans were made. This portion of class was more about getting us thinking individually about what we wanted for this project over the long term. The main idea that seemed to be consistent amongst everyone in the class was to make the book relevant or useful to others, either within Georgia Tech and/or outside of it.

     The ideas that followed that were more focused on how we could keep the book “alive” even after it has been completed. One of the ideas included adding the book to the Georgia Tech library or artists’ library at SCAD since the book may offer a reception history; how people viewed Chaucer/Chaucer’s work or criticized him during a certain period of time. Another big idea was to create a way for others to add to the book when it is done by leaving blank pages at the end, incorporating a way to remove and/or reattach pages, or by making it digital or at least by adding digital components in order to connect the book to a much broader audience via the internet.


Consultations with Design Team

Dr. Wharton’s “Modern MS Codex” project aims to intertwine Medieval/Chaucerian studies with the modern project work flow. Despite Chaucer’s large impact on English literature and society,our class, with the help of Dr. Wharton, has discovered that the subject of our studies is not the key to our academic development but rather the process we use to learn the material. By mirroring our design process after one that would occur in a modern law or consultation firm, our class learns how to work together to complete a business goal.  

Consultation Theory

     In order to successfully relay our message, we must translate mere ideas into a rational process that we can strategically work through. Although a project starts with theory, inspiration, and free thinking, a team must eventually begin to judge design aspirations based upon their likelihood of effectively fabricating into a finished product. Therefore after the design team had a chance to brainstorm general ideas and establish a project framework, Dr. Wharton gave the editorial, transcription, and fabrication team an opportunity to give feedback on these ideas.

Feedback Process

     The design team decided to separate so as to address each of the teams individually about the design team’s general concepts. By approaching these consultations individually, the design team introduces a sense of vulnerability, which allows the other groups freedom to speak their opinions of the designs. This process proved effective and the following opinions were formulated by each of the teams:

An example of a QR code

The Editors:

  The editors’ main focus of concern revolves around length and organization of the manuscript. The size and length of the book will eventually set guidelines for how many essays, poems, and background information the class can include in the text. The design team presented the idea of the index being a map that charted the essays as the book transitioned from theme to theme. This ideas proves intriguing but also thought intensive. As a result, the editors concluded that to successfully transition, we will need to insert introductory paragraphs and pictures as buffers between essays. Also, we will only include six essays representing the range of themes. To minimize extra pages and incorporate technology, the design team suggested using QR codes to reference blogs and other relevant essays.

A map of Georgia Tech’s campus

The Fabricators:

The map used in The Canterbury Tales

The fabrication team’s consultation focused on how they could effectively represent the design team’s as well as their own ideas in the actual fabrication of the book. The designer and fabrications group were largely in agreement on how the book should look. After some deliberation, the fabrication team concluded that the book should include the following: QR codes, handmade paper, leather binding, sewn pages, map in front of either Georgia Tech or Canterbury (still to be decided), and a leather imprint on the cover.The Scribes:

A more feminine medieval script

     The transcription team focused on content as well as more detail oriented design.  The team was not concerned with general volume of content, but more specifically, content that would need manual transcription.  Their work would be the most time and detail intensive, and their consultation reflects their complexity.  The following table outlines the issues addressed in the consultation:

Issue

Detail

Amount of Content

What was reasonable to be handwritten – titles, poems

Subject of Content

Poems, excerpts, margin notes

Style of Handwriting

Handwriting based on theme – more feminine for romance poems

Illuminations

Visual interpretation and media – hand vs. computer

Technology

Integration of technology into book and placement of this technology, specifically in terms of QR codes

Linkage

Codes can link to online sources, translations, videos, other poems aligned with themes

Layout

When book opened, poem on left page and essay begins on right

Digital Text

Computer generated text will differ from that of handwritten text

Custom Font

Computer generated font inspired by a person’s handwriting

Paper

Paper size affects amount of content and paper medium affects writing materials

Design Deliverance

After collecting feedback from individual teams, the design team assessed the suggestions and proceeded to deliver, via powerpoint, their three finalized options on Friday.  The most pressing detail for the general design focuses upon tradition versus modernity.  Therefore, the designers created three designs themed as the following: traditional, contrasted, and modern. The details of these three design differ greatly in order to provide the class with a variety of options to consider for our Chaucerian manuscript.

Presentation of Designs

An example of a leather-bound book

Traditional

The traditional design will align with the general public’s idea of a Medieval manuscript.  The manuscript will be tabloid size and oriented landscape-wise. Another characteristic that differentiates it from the others is its gesso cover as opposed to the others, which are leather bound. We would make the titles using complex calligraphy and frame them with hand-drawn branches that intertwine. Also, the images included in this design would be traditional. For this design, the original poems by Chaucer would be placed on the left page, while the essay written by class members would be placed on the opposite page. Both pages would be split into two columns to allow for content. The traditional design recognizes the beauty of the Medieval manuscript and incorporates this same elegance in our modern interpretation.

Contrasted

The contrasted design blends tradition and modernity by keeping the manuscript’s details simplistic. In this design, the basic shape of the book would be oval with a fine leather, fabric, or traditional modern cardboard covering. Also, in order to transition between poems fluidly, we would insert a foreword, or transitional pages, which comprises of a picture and a paragraph describing our choices for poems and themes. The contrasted idea also plans to make use of a custom font possibly created off of the handwriting or a classmate and QR codes used to link to the essays. However, the original poems would be handwritten in a medieval script. This design offers a simplistic modern twist on the traditional manuscript style.

Modern

The modern design uses present imaging and digital resources to add a twenty-first century flare to the Chaucerian subject and Medieval art-form of book-making. The example cover of the book uses an image of a Medieval bell tower, referencing the Tech tower, but is wordless. This usage of imagery and digital resources highlights this design. Inside the book, there would be a map of either Georgia Tech or Canterbury that folds out and also acts as a table of contents for the remainder of the book. The use of fold out pages would be continued throughout the book in order to have space for the longer poems and/or essays. The map would continue along the bottom of each page in order to guide readers through the book. QR codes would also be included. However, they would be written or designed in a way that depicts the initial letter on the page and then linked to relevant outside sources. As in the other designs, the poems would be handwritten, the essays would be typed, and there would be a foreword in order to link themes. It was also suggested that the author of the essays used signs their essay at the end.

Final Feedback

After the design team introduced their design concepts, the class discussed the designs; things we liked, things we didn’t like, etc. We then each ranked our preferences and offered an explanation on why we like one design over another. Dr. Warton discussed what she thought was done well about the presentation as well as what concerns she had in terms of mixing content with designs and/or themes. Of course, there are still questions to be answered. Some of those questions include:

  • Which design did we decide on as a class?
  • How many poems are we going to include?
  • If we use a map, will it be of GaTech or one like that from The Canterbury Tales?
  • How many pictures should we include?
  • How much of the detail work is going to be handwritten or typed?

Overall, this week provided a good start to creating our manuscript. Although it has not yet been declared which design we will be using, we do now have a solid foundation of what this project is about.

-Sarah Burke and Amalie Erwood
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