Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2021

Publication Title

Digital Philology: A Journal of Medieval Cultures


Comparative Literature Program


The Middle English prose Brut chronicle survives in nearly two hundred manuscripts. This corpus has been the subject of extensive study for more than a hundred years. The most recent research, however, has turned out to be the most fragile. In 2017, the multiyear digital humanities project “Imaging History: Perspectives on Late Medieval Vernacular Historiography” disappeared from the live Internet, only a decade after its publication. We describe the website’s lifecycle as well as our progress so far in creating a new dataset for the Brut corpus, “Re-Imagining History,” part of the ongoing project “Remix the Manuscript: A Chronicle of Digital Experiments.” Because the dataset is relatively small, we are using it to explore ongoing challenges in manuscript studies related to discoverability, interoperability, and sustainability. Our research questions address the interface between digital data and manuscripts themselves. How do catalogue and database structures impact research outcomes? How can we ethically represent the relative authority of disparate sources? How can we enable users to discover things they don’t already know? How do we plan for longevity and growth? We combine social, technical, and historical factors in order to account for “digital things” as complex networks of relationships. By laying bare the data design process, this essay deepens the dialogue between medieval studies and critical infrastructure studies.



Original Citation

Warren, Michelle R. and Neil Weijer. "Re-Imagining Digital Things: Sustainable Data in Medieval Manuscript Studies." Digital Philology: A Journal of Medieval Cultures, vol. 10 no. 1, 2021, p. 111-134. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/dph.2021.0005.