Creating a Digital Environment for Engaging Students, Teachers, and Researchers in Medieval Literature

Michael McGuire and Olga Scrivner (Indiana University)

Medieval literature in the digital community is in general underrepresented and when available often exists in less interactive and useable forms such as raw archived images. This is especially problematic for less commonly studied languages where fewer people are able to read and interpret the original text. Although underrepresented, Old Occitan language and literature is an important aspect of medieval French and more broadly European culture and history. Our project presents a novel visualization approach that can be implemented as a teaching and learning module or a tool for linguistic and literary studies. We reintroduce the 13th century romance Flamenca to the modern reader. Flamenca is often viewed as the most important and influential literary work in Old Occitan.

Our project includes a dynamically interactive and user-friendly interface. Specifically, users can view the Old Occitan text with corresponding modern French or English translations, digital images of the original manuscript, relevant annotations and notes, and basic linguistic information such as part of speech. This design enables users to selectively choose how to interact with the text to best suit their needs. This part of the project supplements the initial phase which involved digitizing the text and creating a linguistic corpus with morphological, syntactic, pragmatic and semantic layers. The corpus itself was designed specifically for use with computational linguistics research. Our current project makes the corpus more generally accessible for linguistics and in addition will be useful for other forms of digital scholarship including literary analysis, history, digital humanities, and translation studies.