Thresholds and reflections

The first of the month; the first day of a new job. Personally and professionally I stand at a threshold: my first postdoctoral post, and a new location, away from ‘home’. Professionally, I hope that the project will provide a new item in the toolkit for studying medieval ‘texts’ (I use the term in its broadest sense), starting with those of Machaut as the case study. Personally, the family is going to have to do without Maman quite regularly, and vice versa. Maman, though, is going to be very busy indeed the weeks she is in Kristiansand.

As a first task on the new project, I have created this website. It has been a learning curve to say the least. In a few hours I have gone from wondering how on earth blogs work to having my own, together with a fancy menu bar, a couple of nice pictures, and even a twitter account. It was not without its hiccoughs – on more than one occasion I hovered over the command ‘delete blog’, with only WordPress’s (genius) last-gasp appeal to ‘find another solution’ saving me from wiping it out and starting again. This was not because I was ready to throw in the towel; it was because I just wanted to do the virtual equivalent of scrunch the paper into a ball and start on a clean sheet. An action I have seen my four year-old make in frustration on numerous occasions. (My two year-old still prefers to throw everything onto the floor when the laws of physics intervene in his plans.)

But this is not written on paper, nor on parchment. It is on the Internet, which, for better or worse, has its own ways of doing things. More precisely, it makes us do things in different ways. It is the exploration of these different ways in relation to Machaut studies that I hope to explore in this blog, and through the project. What does it mean for the reader’s reception of a manuscript text to see it on a screen as opposed to on parchment? How do its new bedfellows on the portal, or database, influence our reading of them all? The manipulation of the text, through annotation tools, through collaboration, creates new texts – glosses -; how do these in their turn affect the reader’s view of the manuscript? How do all of these multimodal elements combine? These are just a few questions with which I’ll be grappling over the next two years.

I therefore invite you, colleagues, friends, surfers, all, to join me on this journey. This blog will convey  thoughts as they are thought, papers as they are written, reflections as they are glimpsed.

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