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Circolwyrde 2006: New Electronic Resources for Anglo-Saxon Studies


Edward Christie, Columbia College

Circolwyrde is an annual OEN feature which considers digital resources that have been developed or substantially revised in the past year or so, or that have not been mentioned in previous surveys. The title Circolwyrde is a hapax legomenon from Byrhtferth's Manual that means "mathematician" (literally "the state or event of cycles"). Carl Berkhout reinvents the term as "computer" in his neologized lexicon of Old English technology terms (Circolwyrde Wordhord, http://www.u.arizona.edu/~ctb/wordhord.html), and thus renders it an apt embodiment of Anglo-Saxon digital resources. Circolwyrde's coverage has no pretensions to comprehensiveness, and the author welcomes notices of any other new or substantially revised electronic materials or commercial products. Please send any such notices to Edward Christie at ejchristie@ccis.edu.

Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture (http://www.dur.ac.uk/corpus/index.php3), housed in the Archaeology Department of the University of Durham, "is a project to identify, record and publish in a consistent format, the earliest English sculpture dating from the 7th to the 11th centuries." A major project of the British Academy between 1981 and 1999, the project received additional support from the AHRC in 2003 which will allow it to continue until 2009. Online access to CASSS includes a searchable database and a collection of digitized images from the published volumes of the project.

Codices Electronici Sangallensis (CESG) (http://www.cesg.unifr.ch/en/) has added many new images to this virtual library since it was reported last year; facsimiles of 131 manuscripts in the Abbey Library of St. Gall can now be viewed online.

A Digital Facsimile of Oxford, Bodleian Library MS. Junius 11 (Bodleian Library Digital Texts 1), edited by Bernard Muir with software by Nick Kennedy, was published in 2004 by the Bodleian Library. It contains extremely high resolution images linked to searchable transcriptions, translations of each poem, equipped with realistic zoom technology, and including detailed discussion of the manuscript and its illustrations. As Murray McGillivray notes, this facsimile represents a "major step up" for digital editing. McGillivray's detailed review in Digital Medievalist 2.1 (2006) can be found online at http://www.digitalmedievalist.org/article.cfm?RecID=14. Information on Muir's other projects, including the Latin palaeography teaching software Ductus, a digital edition of Eadmer of Canterbury's twelfth-century Life of St. Wilfrid and a forthcoming instructional video on The Making of a Medieval Manuscript, can be found at http://www.evellum.com/.

Daniel Paul O'Donnell's book and CD-ROM Cædmon's Hymn: A Multi-media Study, Edition and Archive appeared in 2005 from D. S. Brewer (http://www.boydell.co.uk/43840448.HTM). It easily fulfills its promise as "an essential resource for students of the poem." Cædmon's Hymn is the most textually complex poem in the corpus of Old English; O'Donnell's work provides the first comprehensive literary and historical examination of the poem in over thirty years and the first complete textual study and edition in nearly seventy. It offers new critical texts and a textual archive with transcriptions and facsimiles of all medieval witnesses. The edition also offers a model for the integration of digital and print scholarship: a print volume contains the complete introductory study and essential versions of the critical and diplomatic texts; the accompanying CD-ROM supplements the text of the print volume with color digital facsimiles and interactive tools for advanced critical and textual work.

Edition Production and Presentation Technology or EPPT (http://beowulf.engl.uky.edu/~eft/eppt-trial/EPPT-TrialProjects.htm) is a result of earlier projects led by Kevin Kiernan such as the Electronic Boethius and ARCHway (Architecture for Resarch in Computing and the Humanities), this software platform "generalizes" the editing tools used to create the Electronic Boethius. Anyone who wishes to create digital editions may now integrate image and text with XML and make them ready for presentation using this platform. A variety of independent image-based projects are currently being used to test the generic value of the EPPT editing tools. Among these are other projects of digital Anglo-Saxonism, the Visionary Cross Project and the Digital Vercelli Book (http://islp.di.unipi.it/bifrost/vbd/). EPPT is a marvelous tool that simplifies the production of any number of future projects and has applications in a broad range of digital editing situations, from cuneiform tablets to incunabula and beyond.

The Visionary Cross Project (http://www.visionarycross.org/) is directed by Catherine Karkov (Miami University Ohio), Daniel Paul O'Donnell (University of Lethbridge), and Roberto Rosselli Del Turco (Università degli studi di Torino) with James Graham (Multimedia, University of Lethbridge) and Wendy Osborn (Mathematics and Computer Science, University of Lethbridge). It will create a multimedia edition of a group of related artefacts associated with the Visionary Cross tradition in Anglo-Saxon England: The Bewcastle, Ruthwell, and Brussels Crosses, as well as the Dream of the Rood poem and the Vercelli Book. The project attempts to use digital advances to facilitate the serious study of these artifacts as both "individual works of art and parts of a larger cultural tradition."

The UCLA Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies is home to two new projects of potential interest to Anglo-Saxonists. With the St. Gall Monastery Plan Virtual Reality Project (http://www.stgallplan.org/index.html), Professors Patrick Geary (UCLA) and Bernard Frischer (Director of the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, UVA) are producing a digital model of the well known "Plan of St. Gall" (Codex Sangallensis 1092r) created in the first quarter of the ninth century. The plan will be accompanied by a database of Latin, German, and English texts related to ninth-century monasticism. The project is housed at UCLA's Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, and funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. For further information about the project visit the CMRS website at http://www.cmrs.ucla.edu/projects/st_gall.html.

A Web-based Morphological Analyzer for the Study of Old Icelandic Language and Texts (Project Test Page http://dev.cdh.ucla.edu/~curban/) is a project led by Dr. Timothy Tangherlini (UCLA) which seeks to "develop automated disambiguation routines" and apply them to both diplomatic and standardized editions of a test text: the Fornaldar sögur ("Legendary Sagas"). As it grows, the project will develop a larger lexical database from the standard dictionaries of Old Icelandic, create orthographic normalization routines to enhance the effectiveness of searches, and expand the number of digitized texts to include the majority of Old Icelandic prose. Currently the test site is rudimentary, but the project promises to provide a powerful and time saving tool. For further information about the project, visit the UCLA CMRS website at http://www.cmrs.ucla.edu/projects/old_norse.html.

The Online Old English Paradigm Project (OOEPP) (http://homepages.wmich.edu/%7Eg1laing/ooepp/index.html) is a supplementary resource designed to guide students through the foundations of knowledge of Old English language. The OOEEP project consists of multiple online sample quizzes covering pronouns, nouns, adjectives, and verbs; it offers neither grammatical nor technical instruction, but assumes that students can master these concepts through the use of available resources. The goal of the site, still under development, is to help train students to learn the proper inflexions, vowel mutations, and basic paradigm patterns necessary for success in a college-level introductory Old English course. Each quiz section has two modes: the standard paradigm progressing through all the forms, and an assessment paradigm that asks for forms in a random order and appearance.

Learning with the online Thesaurus of Old English (http://libra.englang.arts.gla.ac.uk/oeteach/oeteach.html), now at the University of Glasgow, presents this pedagogical project edited by Carol Hough and Christian Kay and funded by the Higher Education Academy English Subject Centre. The project contains fourteen introductory learning units: four that contextualize the project by explaining what can be learned about culture by examining its lexicon, as well as describing Anglo-Saxon life and language, and a further ten units that focus on specific semantic fields associated with concepts like death, family, food, and landscape. This project forms an excellent guide to making good use of the Thesaurus of Old English.

Many of the research projects sponsored by the Medieval Institute and Western Michigan University, such as Old English Online Editions, can be accessed online (http://www.wmich.edu/medieval/research/). These include editions of Wulf and Eadwacer, and a particularly useful framed site that allows comparisons between Ælfric's Old English Passion of St. Edmund, Abbo of Fleury's Latin version, and the Anglo-Norman Passeun de Seint Edmund (http://www.wmich.edu/medieval/research/rawl/edmund/index.html). Additionally, this site provides a fully digitized online facsimile of Elizabeth Elstob's early eighteenth-century edition of "An English Saxon Homily on the Birth-day of St Gregory," an important document in the history of Anglo-Saxon studies both in that it was the first published by a woman and intended for a female audience, and in that it demonstrates the polemical uses of Old English homilies to demonstrate the antiquity of Anglican doctrine. The comprehensive and always-useful online Bibliographies of Anglo-Saxon History (Simon Keynes), Anonymous Old English Homilies (Janet Bately), and the Battle of Maldon (Wendy Collier), can also be found here.

Tony Jebson's Online Edition of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle has moved to a new domain (http://asc.jebbo.co.uk/). This site provides a brief but excellent overview of the manuscripts and transmission of the chronicle, literary editions of MSS A-H, philological editions of MSS B & C, as well as a composite of the common stock that makes excellent use of hyptertext possibilities to provide readable apparatus. In particular, the chronological diagrams and MS Excel spreadsheet tracing the various scribal hands provide informative representations of the complex details of the Chronicle's construction. Although, as the comprehensive progress descriptions indicate, there is still a great deal of work to do, the online edition is growing steadily. Simple and functional, it will no doubt become an important and reliable online tool as well as a meaningful addition to the study of the Chronicle.

An Interactive Map of Anglo-Saxon England (IMASE) (http://www.ccis.edu/faculty/ejchristie/IMASE/IMASE_splash.htm) is a prototype project, designed by Edward Christie primarily as a reference tool for students, based on Simon Keynes' "Map of Southern England ca. 1000." Place names on the map are linked to documents that outline the history of the locations and draw attention to the significant people, events, and documents associated with them. Using the map as an index to information helps students develop a coherent picture of the geography of late Anglo-Saxon England and thereby understand more clearly the movement (of information or armies) from one side of the country to the other. The place descriptions will ideally be written by a mixture of expert contributors and students, so that the map provides an opportunity for students to collaborate on research or alternative class room assignments. As the project develops, more maps, links to images, collections, and other online databases will be added. If you are interested in contributing, or have students who would like to contribute, by writing the document associated with a particular place please contact Eddie Christie at ejchristie@ccis.edu.

Another project in its early stages is an online edition of King Alfred's translation of Augustine's Soliloquies (http://web.ubc.ca/okanagan/critical/faculty/treschow/soliloquies.html) by Michael Treschow (Okanagan University College, Kelowna, BC) and Heather Enns (Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto). This edition-in-progress—at present more a concept than a usable resource—presents a brief introduction, diplomatic transcriptions of portions of the two surviving manuscripts (London, BL Cotton Vitellius A.xv and BL Cotton Tiberius A.iii), a critical edition and translation of a portion of the text in both manuscripts, and sample transcriptions of two Latin MSS. Translations of the Old English texts are also provided. "One of the great benefits of internet publishing," the authors claim, "is that the editors need not wait for the completion of the entire work to make certain portions available." It is hoped that more setions of the manuscripts will be added soon; the project seems well-designed and carefully produced, and would clearly be a useful addition to the growing number of digital editions of Old English texts.


Important Indices

Most of the following resources are not actually new, but because of their utility each year's Circolwyrde ends with such a list. Though dozens of Anglo-Saxon hyper-indices may be found on the Web, few are as comprehensive or as mindfully updated (i.e. less "dead" links, though this seems to be inevitable to some degree) as those listed below. If you are looking for a particular aspect of Anglo-Saxon language, history, culture or literature, start with these trusted indices.

Digital Medievalist (http://www.digitalmedievalist.org/), the web community for medievalists working with digital media continues to grow and thrive as a source for news, articles, and international communication in the field.

The Old English Pages are now a part of the Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies (ORB); the Anglo-Saxon section of ORB (http://www.the-orb.net/encyclop/early/pre1000/asindex.html) contains original essays, a substantial list of on-line texts and editions, and a broad range of teaching materials, other indices, and Old English Societies. ORB encourages submissions, and directs users to http://orb.rhodes.edu/text/about.html for further information.

Ansaxdat (http://www.mun.ca/Ansaxdat/), the full-text database for the Listserv discussion group ANSAX¬NET, allows one to search through thousands of postings from the past fifteen years for specific discussions of Anglo-Saxon studies.

The online journal The Heroic Age maintains a sizable list of Anglo-Saxon links (http://members.aol.com/heroicage1/as.htm), ranging from scholarly to local levels, and including hyperindices of bibliography, history, archaeology, literature, education, art, manuscripts, religion, projects and journals.

The Labyrinth Library, Old English Literature (http://labyrinth.georgetown.edu/; choose "Old English" and "All fields") provides a basic, but lengthy, set of Old English links. The Labyrinth's alphabetical index to Old English poetry (http://www.georgetown.edu/labyrinth/library/oe/alpha.html) provides quick access to almost all Old English poems. Additionally, Labyrinth has indexed its resources in a database, allowing for quick and concise searching of its architecture.

Though the Teachers of Old English in Britain and Ireland (TOEBI) Web Resources Page (http://www.toebi.org.uk/) includes textual and cultural catalogues similar to the indices described above, TOEBI's strength lies in its list of on-line teaching materials.

Continuously updated and ever growing, the Humbul Humanities Hub (http://www.humbul.ac.uk) "aims to be UK higher and further education's first choice for accessing online humanities resources." Searching on "Anglo-Saxon" or "Old English" reveals hundreds of records for relevant on-line resources, all annotated by a Humbul reviewer.

Simon Keynes's "Anglo-Saxon Index at Trinity College, Cambridge" (http://www.trin.cam.ac.uk/sdk13/asindex.html) is an extensive and well-maintained collection of links that deserves a place on any list of first-resort references.