From codex to apps: the medieval manuscript in the age of its digital reproduction


  • Anna Cappellotto University of Verona



Digital Scholarly Editing, Digital Facsimile, Text Materiality, Editorial Theory, Manuscript Studies


Scholarly digital edition (DSE) projects of the last few years have enhanced the role of the digital facsimile as a standard and necessary part of the edition. This is the result of a well-known discussion, which started with the questioning of traditional editorial theory and practice and led to the need to reassess the material and historical dimension of texts. In the meanwhile, big GLAMs’ digitization projects produced a proliferation of primary sources and the first attempts to exploit the digital facsimile in DSEs saw daylight. Manuscript surrogates can be integrated in different ways in edition projects: often handled as merely ‘accessory’ materials, they generally function as ‘additional’, i.e. enriching, components of the DSEs. Although most editions are still text-centred, in few but very remarkable cases digital images can become a truly ‘constitutive’ part of a project. This happens thanks to standardization efforts (TEI, IIIF) resulting in new forms of editing that revolve around the potentiality of digital manuscripts: paradoxically, the more immaterial the edition becomes, the more it seems to be able to focus on the material quality of texts.





Scholarly literature

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DSE & DH projects

• Andorfer P., K. Zaytseva, and G. Franzini. 2018. Catalogue of Digital Editions:

The Web Application. Zenodo.

• Canterbury Tales Project:

• Christine de Pizan: The Making of the Queen’s Manuscript (London, British Library, Harley MS 4431):

• Edition Visualization Technology (EVT 1.3 and 2):

• Fernández Riva, G., and V. Millet. 2018. Der Arme Heinrich - Digital. heiDATA.

• IIIF - International Image Interoperability Framework. n.d. Accessed 11 August 2020.

• Kiernan, K., ed. 2015. Electronic Beowulf. Online Fourth Edition.

• Medieval Nordic Text Archive (MENOTA) – Public catalogue:

• North, R., B. Bordalejo, T. Jones, and P. Robinson, eds. 2020. CantApp: The General Prologue. An Edition in an App. Scholarly Digital Editions. Saskatoon.

• Parzival-Projekt – Home:

• Šimek, J., ed. 2015. Thomasin von Zerklaere: Welscher Gast. Text-Bild-Edition ›Welscher Gast Digital‹. Heidelberg Universitätsbibliothek.

• The Auchinleck Manuscript:

• The Ruthwell Cross:

• Van Hulle, D., and V. Neyt, eds. 2015. Beckett, Samuel. Krapp’s Last Tape / La Dernière Bande: A Digital Genetic Edition. Brussels: University Press Antwerp:

• Versioning machine 5.0:

• VisColl:




How to Cite

Cappellotto, A. (2020). From codex to apps: the medieval manuscript in the age of its digital reproduction. Umanistica Digitale, 4(9), 1–18.