KBR-ULB-UGent Digital Heritage Seminar: Mike Kestemont & Wouter Haverals

The KBR-ULB-UGent Digital Heritage Seminar: Digital Humanities Research 2020-2021, Part II. is a scholarly series on digital cultural heritage. This series is co-organized by KBR’s two labs: Camille (Center for Archives on the Media and Information) and the Digital Research Lab, in cooperation with Université libre de Bruxelles and Ghent University. In the second part of this series from May to June in 2021 we will virtually host three academic scholars in presenting their work on cultural heritage materials, digital methods and digital humanities. Dealing with a variety of topics, periods and methods, these talks will be held on MSTeams in English, with questions in French, Dutch or English. The target audience is scholars, but the general public is warmly welcome. Registration is required.

The third talk will be held on Tuesday 15 June (15:00 – 16:30), on Silent voices: A Digital Study of the Herne Charterhouse as a Textual Community (ca. 1350-1400) given by Mike Kestemont, Professor of Literature & Wouter Haverals, Post Doctoral Researcher, University of Antwerp, Department of Literature.

The Carthusian monastery of Herne has had a profound impact on the cultural history of the Low Countries, as a true hotspot in the production, negotiation and dissemination of vernacular literature for lay audiences, in a time where most written texts were still in Latin. In a short time span (ca. 1350-1400), the members of the community collectively copied a fantastic collection of 25+ Middle Dutch and Latin manuscripts, many of which contain unique texts.

The Herne monks, who took a monastic oath of silence, were unusually productive and modest scribes, as suggested by the remarkable lack of self-attributions in their material. It is somewhat anachronistic therefore that recent literary scholarship has almost exclusively focused on an elusive search for the identification of specific individuals in the monastery (such as the famous Bible translator of 1360). In this project, we propose to study the charterhouse as a tight textual community, driven by a shared goal.

To this end, we will focus on the scribal practice in the monastery, as a privileged gateway into the collaborations between the monks. Using stylochronometry we will study the evolution of the copying practice of the individual scribes and convergences therein. Because a significant share of these manuscripts are still inaccessible to the scholarly community, we will apply handwritten text recognition to produce diplomatic transcriptions that scholars can search, analyze and edit further.