Been there, done that: Art history as a model for the effect of technology on disciplinary development

Evidence of why it is useful to read outside your main areas of disciplinary interest…

I’ve been reading my way through Revisualizing visual culture (Ashgate 2010), on a number of titles I bought from the Ashgate stand at the the recent DH 2012 conference in Hamburg. Most of the chapter thus far have been relevant to work we are doing with the Visionary Cross project, especially now that we are starting to get usable 3D meshes (as time allows, I hope to post some other small posts about the various chapters in this and my other recent reading). Read the rest of this entry »


Bibles for students of literature

Many contemporary students do not know the bible particularly well. This can be because they come from non-religious families, or families whose religious background is not Judeo-Christian. But even many students from quite religious, Christian or Jewish backgrounds find their knowledge of the bible to be less good than they might wish for literary study. A student once gave me a great tip for those who feel you don’t know the bible well enough to recognise allusions to the major stories from the Old and New Testaments: buy a children’s bible. Read the rest of this entry »

The Old English Alphabet

Old English texts were copied in manuscripts by scribes. These scribes used an alphabet based on the Latin alphabet, but with some native additions and occasionally runes… Read the rest of this entry »

Basic Old English Grammar

Old English and Modern English can be deceptively similar from a syntactic point of view. In particular, word order frequently is the same in the two languages (though Old English is actually probably closer in some aspects of its word order to other Low German languages such as Dutch). This means that it is often possible to translate simple declarative sentences from Old English by simply looking up the meaning of each word in a dictionary… Read the rest of this entry »

The Pronunciation of Old English

The sounds of Old English should not prove difficult, with a few exceptions, for speakers of Modern English. It can be hard at first to get used to some of the spelling conventions, such as the fact that all letters—including final e—are pronounced; but on the whole Old English does not have many sounds that are not the same as in Modern English, and, in most cases, indicated by the same letters… Read the rest of this entry »

An Anglo-Saxon Timeline

This contains a link to an experiment in constructing a timeline of the Anglo-Saxon period using XML. It is very much a work in progress at the moment. The ultimate goal will be to have a synoptic oversight and index that will allow students to click on major events, persons, or cultural artefacts and then see how they fit in with other milestones. At the moment, the chart only includes Kings. And even then still in fairly rough fashion. Read the rest of this entry »

Transcription Guidelines

The following is a list of typographical conventions to use when transcribing medieval manuscripts in my classes. Read the rest of this entry »

How to Study Old English (or Latin or any other dead language) for a Test or an Exam

So how should you study in Old English class? Here are some tips I’ve compiled from personal experience and asking other scholars of my generation who have studied ancient or medieval languages (e.g. Latin, Greek, Old English, Old Frisian, etc.). Read the rest of this entry »

Insular Script

Here is a basic listing of letters in an insular script. The letters are from a manuscript of the early eleventh century. Read the rest of this entry »

Grimm’s Law and Verner’s Law Notes

This tutorial looks at Grimm’s Law and Verner’s Law. Read the rest of this entry »

The Ghost in the Machine: Revisiting an Old Model for the Dynamic Generation of Digital Editions

In 1998, a few months into the preparation of my electronic edition of the Old English poem Cædmon’s Hymn (O’Donnell forthcoming), I published a brief prospectus on the “editorial method” I intended to follow in my future work (O’Donnell 1998). Less a true editorial method than a proposed workflow and list of specifications, the prospectus called for the development of an interactive edition-processor by which “users will […] be able to generate mediated (‘critical’) texts on the fly by choosing the editorial approach which best suits their individual research or study needs” (O’Donnell 1998, ¶ 1). Read the rest of this entry »

Old English Metre: A Brief Guide

Although the Anglo-Saxons left no accounts of their metrical organisation, statistical and linguistic analysis of the poetic corpus has allowed us to come up with a good idea as to how their verse worked. Read the rest of this entry »
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