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Digging Deeper: An Augmented Learning Course

By Elaine Treharne (Stanford), Orietta Da Rold (Cambridge), Benjamin Albritton (Stanford), Suzanne Paul (Cambridge)

Filmed on location in Stanford University Library Special Collections and in Cambridge University Library


Course Description

This project will provide introductory training for students, scholars, and those interested in cultural heritage, in how to interpret manuscripts from about 500 CE to the modern period.

Manuscripts, simply by virtue of being handmade, non-printed textual objects require reading and interpretative skills that are not obvious, even to the highly literate. The material supports, the methods of production, and the nature of scribal activity are complex, initially alien, and highly indicative of key moments of historical significance.Online training in codicology and palaeography barely exists, and the team members are expert practitioners of these rare skills. As such, we are able to offer a novel and significant set of augmented learning materials that will make a genuinely positive difference for students and other participants throughout the world.

Our team involves internationally renowned scholars and librarians, with experience in British, American and continental European modes of textual investigation and analysis.This range of competencies will bring a large and diverse audience to our product, including librarians, those in an academic context, and a casual browser interested in book history, family history and the mystery of the ancient book. During the course of the exploratoria, we’ll provide for all participants a set of multilingual glosses to the key terminology required in the broad field of Manuscript Studies.

What is particularly significant and innovative in our plan is to work within a repository setting to show participants the manuscript book in its real setting (an often highly formal and anxiety-inducing environment for the uninitiated) while concomitantly examining and reflecting on the use and abuse of the digital universe. Moreover, our ‘Interpreting Medieval Manuscripts’ will be the first major building block in a potential set of Online Book Historical assemblages of enquiry and teaching. Its flexibility of form (as small segments, single whole lecture+distant hands on investigations, and programmatic sequences) is one of its major strengths and will be one of its main appeals to busy participants and casual observers.

Project Team
  • Benjamin Albritton (SUL, Stanford)
  • Orietta Da Rold (Department of English, Cambridge)
  • Kenny Ligda (Department of English, Stanford)
  • Suzanne Paul (CUL, Cambridge)
  • Colin Reeves-Fortney (Producer, VPOL, Stanford)
  • Andy Salterelli (Project Management, VPOL, Stanford)
  • Elaine Treharne (Department of English, Stanford)

Funded by The Vice-Provost for Online Learning, Stanford University


Program of Exploratoria

I. How are Manuscripts Produced? 

  1. The Materials
  2. The Quire
  3. The Folio
  4. Mise-En-Page
  5. Scribal Practices
  6. Binding

II. How are Manuscripts Interpreted?

  1. The Date
  2. The Localisation
  3. The Texts
  4. Users of the Book
  5. Digital Images: Opportunities
  6. Digital Images: Limitations