A catalogue of digital editions: Towards a digital edition of Augustine’s de Civitate Dei

Greta Franzini (University College London)

Digital Classicist London & Institute of Classical Studies seminar 2013

Friday July 12th at 16:30, in Room STB2 Stewart House, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Video recording of seminar (MP4)

Audio recording of seminar (MP3)

Presentation (PDF)

The focus of my doctoral studies at the UCL Centre for Digital Humanities is the creation of a digital edition of the oldest surviving manuscript of S. Augustine's De Civitate Dei. The manuscript dates back to the early fifth century and most of the existing, scarce research we have predates the 1950s. Its much debated provenance and authorship, due to it being contemporary to Augustine himself, are as intriguing as its rare palaeographical features and marginalia. My research seeks to, firstly, examine best practice in the field of digital editions by collating relevant evidence in a detailed catalogue of extant digital editions. The catalogue records features, scope, philological as well as technological aspects of each edition and aims at becoming a collaborative scholarly endeavour for the benefit of the Digital Humanities community. Secondly (and consequently), lessons learnt from the catalogue will inform the production of an electronic edition of De Civitate Dei, which will include transcriptions of the text and the scholia, high-definition images, a short critical apparatus, as well as background information and links to relevant resources.

A catalogue of digital editions is greatly beneficial as it provides:

  • an accessible, unique record of which texts have had digital editions created and the historical period they belong to;
  • a data bank of features, tools, licences, funding bodies and locations;
  • an insight into past, present and future projects;
  • the possibility of viewing trends or patterns (e.g. what time periods are most covered or which institutions produce the largest number of digital editions);
  • a platform where collaborators can engage in live discussions and update information as it becomes available;
  • a means of identifying which areas need to be improved.

Interesting facts are already beginning to emerge: several projects, for instance, have not set up analytics as a means of studying usage; projects urging the digital reunification of manuscript fragments are often internally fragmented themselves, having split the project between institutions rather than centralising the material for easy retrieval and management; and TEI guidelines are not as widely adopted in the field of digital editions as we might think.

While initially collated for personal research purposes, I am developing the catalogue into a larger resource, available at: https://sites.google.com/site/digitaleds. Although initially curated by myself, a wider group of administrators is envisaged for a more reliable and smoother experience: regular and prompt updates, continuous support and wider outreach.

Once all the data has been collected and analysed, it will be possible to establish the state of the art in the field of electronic editing, draw up a best practice profile and make reliable inferences from which further research can stem and develop.

The ultimate aim of the catalogue is not only to be used as a project reference tool but also to bring together scholars in the field, thus systematically and collaboratively creating a unique bank of data which would figure alongside other prominent Digital Humanities resources such as centerNet, the Digital Classicist Wiki and the various associations (ADHO, ACH, ALLC, etc.).


The seminar will be followed by wine and refreshments.