About our Database

Posted by: MFLC Team 9 years, 4 months ago

By Bill Burgwinkle and Nicola Morato

During the first two years of the project, the team has focussed on narratives written between the second half of the 12th c. and the first half of the 13th century. These include the Arthurian prose cycles (the Lancelot-Graal, the Prose Tristan, and Guiron le Courtois) and the Matter of Antiquity (the Roman de Alexandre, the Roman de Troie, and the Histoire Ancienne jusqu'à César). Rather than justifying the coherence of the corpus from the point of view of the texts and their inclusion in categories and genres, our research work aims at highlighting some of the concrete dynamics of these respective textual traditions. For instance, all of them share at least four characteristics:

  1. a large number of manuscript witnesses;

  2. quick emancipation from the places and circumstances in which the texts were written;

  3. diffusion to almost all the main cultural centres and along most of the main cultural trajectories of Medieval Romance Europe and beyond;

  4. a deep and modelling presence and 'actuality' or relevance in European culture and society for at least three centuries.

The project database is one of our major outputs and is just now coming together and providing the data that is the result of our work on the manuscripts. The detailed descriptions it will offer will allow the consideration of single witnesses of our six traditions both as individual units and as part of larger ensembles of manuscripts. Each item is analysed from both codicological and textual points of view, with the aim of integrating diachronic and synchronic analyses. We try to provide detailed accounts of aspects such as material features (codicological and synchronic, but in the most interesting cases also diachronic), the history of the object (codicological and diachronic), texts witnessed (textual and synchronic), and models and sources (textual and diachronic). With the help of a group of seven young researchers (Ella Williams, Merryn Everitt, March Gutt, David Murray, Jess Stoll and Alex Stuart), we are gradually entering the information into this new type of database.

The design of the database, finalised by Jane Gilbert and Neil Jakeman after about a year of challenging team brainstorming, will be one major output of the project, and will be available for free online consultation from July 2014. The Department of Digital Humanities of King's College London is currently working on the user interface, and we are looking forward to testing it with the help of participants during the project’s second conference (to be held in Cambridge, April 10-12, 2014).

Cambridge conference CFP