I intend to explore aspects of a pre-modern Mediterranean text network through the lens of digital scholarship. The text is the Mukhtar al-Hikam wa Muhasin al-Kilam an eleventh- century Arabic compendium of Greek wisdom fragments composed in Fatimid Egypt and its translations into “European” languages—Spanish, Latin, French, Occitan and English. I have argued that the circulation of this text in early humanistic circles provides an important alternative strand of Greek thought for vernacular culture.
I presented some impractical musings about the network in a paper at the Oxford Medieval French seminar, particularly about an open annotated space for both edition and digitized manuscripts. I used it as a case study in a course on digital editorial theory at the Leipzig Digital Humanities summer school, where I explored how medieval text transmission realities might inform contemporary digital editorial practice.
Composed of 100+ manuscripts, in 6 languages with significant multi-text problems that accompany its transmission, it is not significantly digitized. And my current goal is neither to digitize it, nor to craft a digital edition. Instead, I would like to curate select parts of it, in particular those parts of it which are already digitized or can be done so with ease.
Incidentally, the largest parts of the tradition are those that are the least known, the Latin and the middle French. It is in Middle French that the manuscript tradition “explodes,” and where the circulation of this text reaches the highest degree of court sociability. I would very much like to think more about these two contexts where materiality, circulation and reuse coincide. I would also like to examine the larger patterns of ownership and production. I am not sure exactly what form this will take (probably a content management system like Omeka or Islandora, mapping, PCA of the text the larger traditions, a prosopographic study...???). I am thinking about this digital project as a way of exploring and opening up this larger textual tradition about which we know so little.