Visualizing Signs of Use in Medieval Manuscripts

Friday, January 22, 12:00-1:15 pm
Strozier Library 107K [map]

From Concept to App: Visualizing Signs of Use in Medieval Manuscripts

Digital Scholars is pleased to welcome Dr. David Johnson to discuss a new web-based data collection tool that makes the forensic “layering” of glossed manuscripts (such as those produced by the “Tremulous Hand of Worcester” in 13th-century England) more visible. This tool, nicknamed “The Tremulator,” offers solutions both historical and historiographic. Firstly, readers of medieval manuscripts left all kinds of traces of their interest in the contents of the books they read, including marginal and interlinear annotations, glosses, translations, corrections, and various aids for readers who came after them. Yet keeping track and making sense of this wide variety of signs has often proven difficult, until a collaboration between paleography and digital technology inspired this particular tool using a touch-screen device. Secondly, whereas other digital paleographic tools (such as DigiPal) do facilitate the often tedious task of collecting data, “Tremulator” makes it possible to catalogue, visualize, and share that data in useful and interesting ways, making the inscription practices of medieval texts more viable for cross-disciplinary study in neurological science, computer informatics, and manuscript genetics, among other areas.

Dr. Johnson will discuss its inception and development from a concept to an app. Archivists, digital historians, and scholars and teachers of any period, practice, genre, or tradition should find this discussion useful, as it bears on other recent discussions about how much of a field’s technological identification can (or should) reasonably rest in perceptions about a manuscript’s “signs of use.”

Participants are encouraged to bring electronic tablets or laptops, and to browse the following resources in advance:

  • Johnson, David F. “Who Read Gregory’s Dialogues in Old English?” The Power of Words: Anglo-Saxon Studies Presented to Donald G. Scragg on his Seventieth Birthday, ed. Hugh Magennis and Jonathan Wilcox (Morgantown: 2006), 173-206. [in Bb org site]
  • Thorpe, Deborah E., and Jane E. Alty. “What type of tremor did the medieval ‘Tremulous Hand of Worcester’ have?” Brain: A Journal of Neurology10 (Oct 2015): 3123-27. (open-access at Oxford Journals

Participants are especially encouraged to explore the home page for “DigiPal” [], as well as the “Introduction to DigiPal’s Framework” [], where they can find an intricate (and interactive) description of how some online tools model and read the outputs of England’s various 11th-century scribes.

We hope you can join us,



1 thought on “Visualizing Signs of Use in Medieval Manuscripts

  1. Pingback: Digital tools: facilitating the analysis of glossed medieval manuscripts | FSU Digital Scholars

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