Monday, April 15, 2013

Describing, Analysing and Identifying Early Modern Handwriting: Methods and Issues

T. S. Eliot Lecture Theatre, Merton College, Thursday 25 April, 9.15-4. Organized by the Centre for Early Modern Studies and Merton College History of the Book Group, with the co-operation of the Bodleian Library Centre for the Study of the Book.

This one-day workshop will bring together leading early modern scholars, palaeographers and digital humanities experts from the UK, the USA, France and Italy to discuss current scholarly approaches to the description of early modern English handwriting and to explore the potential for the use of digital technologies in future collaborative work.
Although the past twenty years have seen a rapid growth in scholarship on early modern English manuscripts, the study of handwriting in the period still seems to be in its infancy. Methods of describing, distinguishing and identifying hands differ from scholar to scholar and, although the work of individual early modernists is often based on very substantial unarticulated ‘tacit knowledge’ about the dating and differentiation of script styles, little detailed work on the topic has been published. Most of the scholarship in the area focuses, in an ad hoc way, on high-status manuscripts and on the identification of hands associated with major figures. The workshop will explore the potential for future collaboration on more comprehensive and systematic ways of understanding the variation between different hands in the period. and specifically the possibilities for a new project which will aim to produce substantial publicly-available material mapping key elements in the development of English handwriting between 1500 and 1700.
There will be four sessions. Speakers in the first session will describe some of the challenges currently facing scholars working on early modern English handwriting. New ways of addressing these challenges will be described by the speakers in the second session, all of whom are involved in research applying digital technologies to palaeography. In the final formal session, a distinguished panel will discuss specific samples of early modern handwriting. Following the main sessions there will be a planning meeting to discuss potential funding bids, which will be open to any interested parties.
Registration here
Cost: £20, graduates £15

Draft Programme – subject to revision

9.15-9.30 Registration
9.30 Welcome
David Norbrook (CEMS), Julia Walworth (Librarian, Merton College)
9.35-10.45 Problems
Chair: Colin Burrow (Oxford)
Early Modern Handwriting in Theory and Practice
Jonathan Gibson (Open University)
From Hands to Heads: Chasing Elizabeth I's Scribes
Carlo M. Bajetta (Aosta)
English or French hands? The Case of Queen Elizabeth I's Letters in French
Guillaume Coatalen (Cergy-Pontoise)
10.45-11.00 Tea and coffee
11.00-12.30 Solutions
Chair: Daniel Wakelin (Oxford)
Forensic Handwriting Analysis
Tom Davis (Birmingham)
Digital Alphabets and Early Modern Hand Identification
Steven W. May (Sheffield)
Graphetic profiling and scribal identification
Simon Horobin (Oxford)
'I saw it on CSI...': Forming Digital Technology for Humanities Research
Julia Craig-McFeely (Oxford)
12.30-1.30 Lunch
1.30-2.45 Round Table
Chair: Gabriel Heaton (Sotheby's)
Peter Beal (Institute of English Studies, London)
William Poole (Oxford)
Heather Wolfe (Folger Shakespeare Library)
Henry Woudhuysen (Oxford)
2.45-3.00 Tea and coffee
3.00-4.00 Open project planning meeting
Chair: Giles Bergel (Oxford)
The workshop has been timed so that delegates can also attend one of Professor Richard Beadle’s Lyell Lectures, ‘Medieval English Literary Autographs 1: Fugitive Pieces’, in the same venue at 5pm.


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