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Regarding the Medieval Book
Lecture by Kathryn Starkey
Given at Stanford University on April 28, 2014
Introduction: When I started working on medieval literature back in 1992 scholars were still working primarily with editions – edited and cleaned-up print versions of texts. Many of the editions went back to the 19th century, when it was common practice to combine versions of texts from different medieval manuscripts, in order to come up with a standard version that scholars deemed free of ‘contamination.
However, what hooked me on medieval studies was my fascination with the material documents themselves: their feel, their smell, their creaking bindings, the specific and idiosyncratic redactions of texts they contain, and the marks of use on their pages. Fast forward 22 years and it is no longer unusual to work with manuscripts. In particular digital resources have made them accessible and made it possible for scholars to work with medieval texts without recourse to a printed edition.