[Humanist] 24.675 palaeotypography & palaeography

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Mon Jan 31 06:29:05 CET 2011


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 675.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Claire Clivaz <claire.clivaz at unil.ch>                     (47)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.672 a palaeotypographical/palaeographical
                question

  [2]   From:    Peter Stokes <peter.stokes at kcl.ac.uk>                     (62)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.672 a palaeotypographical/palaeographical
                question


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2011 10:12:35 +0100
        From: Claire Clivaz <claire.clivaz at unil.ch>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.672 a palaeotypographical/palaeographical question
        In-Reply-To: <20110127072019.2E6FADC191 at woodward.joyent.us>

Dear Willard,

As specialist of ancient NT Greek manuscripts, at a first glance, it seems really strange/odd to me to imagine to identify hands automatically...

A numerous of studies have recently demonstrated how the manuals of ancient paleography are influenced by assumptions of scholars: what is a «nice» or «scholarly» hand, for example, depends often on cultural points of view. Recent studies have for example demonstrated that scribes were able to change their writings in function of the demand of the clients.

But, as for any topic in the DH, I am sure that some colleagues could imagine this automatic comparison! I will consulte my colleague in Geneva, the famous papyrologist Paul Schubert on the question.

Best wishes, 

Claire Clivaz (Lausanne, CH)

Le 27 janv. 2011 à 08:20, Humanist Discussion Group a écrit :

>                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 672.
>         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
>                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
> 
> 
> 
>        Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2011 07:15:20 +0000
>        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
>        Subject: palaeotypography and palaeography
> 
> A question for the few here in the know about the study of old letterforms.
> 
> An old friend is studying the relationship between the x-height of 
> typographic letterforms and reading. In his pursuit of the question he's 
> become interested in the x-height of handwritten forms, and so would 
> like to know if anyone has done work in this area of palaeography. I 
> imagine that as part of attempting to identify hands automatically, or 
> to correlate mss images with transcriptions, data of the sort he could 
> use might have been collected? Or is this just wishful thinking?
> 
> Thanks for any suggestions.
> 
> Yours,
> WM
> -- 
> Willard McCarty, Professor of Humanities Computing,
> King's College London, staff.cch.kcl.ac.uk/~wmccarty/;
> Professor, Centre for Cultural Research, University of Western Sydney,
> www.uws.edu.au/centre_for_cultural_research/ccr/people/researchers;
> Editor, Humanist, www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist;
> Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, www.isr-journal.org.



--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2011 11:46:19 +0000
        From: Peter Stokes <peter.stokes at kcl.ac.uk>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.672 a palaeotypographical/palaeographical question
        In-Reply-To: <20110127072019.2E6FADC191 at woodward.joyent.us>

Dear Willard,

The question of proportions of x-height relative to other parts of the letter has been studied a fair bit on and off, particularly since Gilissen's controversial work in the '70s, but to my knowledge this is mostly regarding different styles of script and to some extent for distinguishing scribal hands. I have looked a little at proportions of x-height vs ascenders and descenders in the context of reading, partly because I have noticed that smaller writing from late Anglo-Saxon England tends to have significantly extended ascenders and descenders relative to x-height, and I have wondered if that may have been to enhance legibility (see 'Shoots and Vines', listed below).

I am not aware of much work on absolute measurements of x-height but I think it deserves more attention, particularly now that digitised manuscripts give little sense of scale. I have been thinking quite a bit about how scale affects automatic hand identification and also how one might scale images of handwriting so that different images taken with different resolutions, etc., can be displayed on the screen correctly in proportion to each other. Part of the problem is that accurately measuring such small distances in a library with a manuscript is quite difficult, very time-consuming, and potentially damaging to the manuscript unless done very carefully. Measuring from digital images is very much easier but requires very precise scale of the image relative to the original, something that is rarely possible in practice. It also assumes no distortion in the image, e.g. due to foreshortening as a result of the page not forming a perfectly flat plane parallel to the camera, not to mention the natural shrinkage and warping of parchment in different atmospheric conditions. (I wrote most of an article on this topic but never completed it; if there is interest then I would be happy to revive it.)

A small sample of references:

- P.A. Stokes, 'Shoots and Vines: Some Models for the Ascenders and Descenders of English Vernacular Minuscule', Quaestio 5 (2005), 98–109
- Léon Gilissen, L’expertise desécritures médiévales: recherche d’une méthode avec application à un manuscrit du XIème siècle: le dictionnaire de Lobbes (Codex Bruxellensis 18018) (Gand, 1973).
- M. Aussems, 'Christine de Pizan and the Scribal Fingerprint: A Quantitative Approach to Manuscript Studies' (MA Dissertation, 2006). Available at <http://igitur-archive.library.uu.nl/student-theses/2006-0908-200407/UUindex.html>
- A brief but useful discussion is also in A. Derolez, The Palaeography of Gothic Manuscript Books (Cambridge, 2003), pp. 6-9.
- I also have a few thousand such proportional measurements myself, categorised by types of script, which I've used for my own research and which I hope to make available as part of my current project.

Best,

Peter

--
Dr Peter Stokes
Research Fellow
Centre for Computing in Humanities
King's College London
Room 210, 2nd Floor
26-29 Drury Lane
London, WC2B 5RL
Tel: +44 (0)20 7848 2813
Fax: +44 (0)20 7848 2980





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