Tag Archives: treeoftexts

Announcing Stemmaweb

The Tree of Texts project formally comes to an end in a few days; it’s been a fun two years and it is now time to look at the fruits of our research. We (that is, Tara) gave a talk at the DH 2012 conference in July about the project and its findings; we also participated in a paper led by our colleagues in the Leuven CS department about computational analysis of stemma graph models, which was presented at the CoCoMILE workshop during the European Conference on Artificial Intelligence. We are now engaged in writing the final project paper; following up on the success of our DH talk, we will submit it for inclusion in the DH-related issue of LLC. Alongside all this, work on the publication of proceedings from our April workshop continues apace; nearly all the papers are in and the collection will soon be sent to the publisher.

More excitingly, from the perspective of text scholars and critical editors who have an interest in stemmatic analysis, we have made our analysis and visualization tools available on the Web! We are pleased to present Stemmaweb, which was developed in cooperation with members of the Interedition project and which provides an online interface to examining text collations and their stemmata. Stemmaweb has two homes:

http://treeoftexts.arts.kuleuven.be/stemmaweb/ (the official KU Leuven site)
http://byzantini.st/stemmaweb/ (Tara’s personal server, less official but much faster)

If you have a Google account or another OpenID account, you can use that to log in; once there you can view the texts that others have made public, and even upload your own. For any of your texts you can create a stemma hypothesis and analyze it with the tools we have used for the project; we will soon provide a means of generating a stemma hypothesis from a phylogenetic tree, and we hope to link our tools to those emerging soon from the STAM group at the Helsinki Institute for Information Technology.

Like almost all tools for the digital humanities, these are highly experimental. Unexpected things might happen, something might go wrong, or you might have a purpose for a tool that we never imagined.  So send us feedback! We would love to hear from you.

Report on ‘Methods and Means’ workshop

The workshop “Methods and means for digital analysis of ancient and medieval texts and manuscripts”, held on 2-3 April in Leuven and Brussels, was by any measure a resounding success.  We had 40-45 attendees on each day of the workshop; the good attendance resulted in some stimulating discussion after each of the paper sessions.

We began the first day with a set of papers on palaeography and manuscript digitization moderated by Juan Garcés. Ira Rabin (Berlin) presented cutting-edge work on the application of infrared imaging to the chemical identification (and therefore, in many situations, the provenance) of the ink used in medieval manuscripts. Daniel Deckers (Hamburg) followed up this contribution with a look at a range of methods for manuscript imaging, adding ultraviolet and multispectral methods to the infrared method proposed by Rabin. Ainoa Castro Correa (Barcelona) rounded out the session with a presentation of her database of Visigothic palaeography; a lively discussion followed all three papers.

The second session, moderated by Torsten Schaßan, saw a pair of presentations by Patrick Andrist (Fribourg) and David Birnbaum (Pittsburgh) on the topic of manuscript descriptions and cataloguing. Andrist proposed a cataloguing model for online (and print) use that is more suited than common current models for the accurate capture of information, including dating, for the different parts that might comprise an entire manuscript.  Birnbaum discussed the analysis techniques that he has applied to the catalogue descriptions of medieval Slavic manuscripts.

Session three, moderated by Tara Andrews (Leuven), focused on stemmatology – that is, the attempt to recover the history of transmission of a text based on the manuscripts that survive.  Jean-Baptiste Camps and Florian Cafiero (Paris) presented the techniques that they have developed to handle translations within a text tradition; Philipp Roelli presented a neo-Lachmannian method aimed at the automatic identification of Leitfehler, or ‘significant error’ that can be used to reconstruct a text stemma.

Session four, moderated by Aurélien Berra (Paris), concerned statistical and stylistic analysis of texts.  Armen Hoenen (Frankfurt) presented his research into creating a statistical model for scribal error and showed its application in the case of Avestan manuscripts.  Karina van Dalen-Oskam (Amsterdam/Den Haag) demonstrated the use of stylistic analysis applied to the Rijmbijbel of Jacob van Maerlant, not only to examine the ways in which a text was adapted by its various scribes but also to show the effect that modern edition has had.  The paper was followed by a lively discussion that returned to the theme of stemmatology and its uses in the cases of popular and fluid medieval texts such as the Rijmbijbel. The final paper, presented by Mike Kestemont and Kees Schepers (Antwerp), demonstrated the application of stylistic methods to distinguish distinct ‘voices’ in the collection ‘Ex epistolis duorum amantium’, which provides scientific support for the hypothesis that the letters did indeed have two authors.

The first day of the workshop was rounded out with a discussion, led by Joris van Zundert (Den Haag), on the nature of textual scholarship and whether there is any justification for non-digital text edition.  Participants were asked to take five minutes at the end of the discussion to write down what, in their opinion, were the most important points arising from it. A consensus developed over the course of the discussion that, while paper editions are still necessary, digital methods in a variety of forms have become indispensable to well-prepared text editions. There remains a great deal of question and debate, however, on the subject of publication forms, acceptance and use of standards for data formatting, and sustainability of the digital products of scholarship.

Day two of the workshop was hosted by the Royal Flemish Academy in Brussels. We began the morning with the fifth session, on existing databases for textual analysis and presentation, moderated by Karina van Dalen-Oskam. Eugenio Luján and Eduardo Orduña (Madrid) presented their work on a database of palaeo-Hispanic inscriptions, many of whose scripts remain undeciphered to the present day; the database raises a number of issues for encoding and representation of text that we do not yet have the ability to read.  Nadia Togni (Geneva) presented a database, BIBLION, centered on the representation and display of Italian “giant bibles” of the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Francesco Stella (Siena) gave an overview of the state of the art of digital publication, and presented the publication of the Corpus Rhythmorum Musicorum in this context.

We returned to the subject of stemmatology for session six, moderated by Joris van Zundert. Alberto Cantera (Salamanca) discussed the coherence-based model for ascertaining text genealogy as it applies to the tradition of Avestan religious texts, and Tuomas Heikkilä (Helsinki) discussed the transmission and readership of the Life and Miracles of St. Symeon Treverensis.

Sessions seven and eight, moderated respectively by Caroline Macé (Leuven) and Tuomas Heikkilä, looked at aspects of inter-texual analysis, taking us from scholarship of a single text or corpus to the investigation of relationships across disparate texts.  Charlotte Tupman (London) presented the work of the multi-institutional ‘Sharing Ancient Wisdoms’ project on tracing the provenance and transmission of gnostic sayings throughout medieval literature, including Greek and Arabic works.  Samuel Rubenson and Benjamin Ekman (Lund) presented their work on a database of the Apophthegmata Patrum (sayings of the church fathers) as transmitted throughout medieval Christian literature.  Linda Spinazzè (Venice) presented the Musisque Deoque project and discussed the ongoing research into intertextual aspects of their corpus of medieval Latin poetry up to the Renaissance.  Finally, Maxim Romanov (Michigan) discussed his work on the analysis of public sermons in the Islamic world, as reported in Arabic chronicles.

The organizers of the workshop (Caroline Macé and Tara Andrews) closed the event with a presentation of the Tree of Texts project, wherein we seek to derive an empirical model for textual transmission in the Middle Ages based on the statistical analysis of a variety of texts in several different languages.  It then remained only to thank the speakers and attendees for their enthusiastic participation. The workshop was an excellent showcase for the wide variety of analysis methods and techniques being applied to the study of medieval texts.

Registration and programme for 2-3 April workshop

We are happy to announce that the 2-3 April workshop, “Methods and means for digital analysis of ancient and medieval texts and manuscripts”, is now open for registration.  The workshop will take place at the Leuven Faculty Club on the first day, and the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium (KVAB) on the second day. (Click on the links for specific directions to the venues.)

The workshop is sponsored by the Tree of Texts project, Interedition, the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium, and the KU Leuven Faculty of Arts.  Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors, registration is free and includes coffee and sandwich lunch, but please be sure to register before 26 March in order that we have accurate numbers for catering.


By air: The best airport to fly into is Brussels National (Zaventem); from there, the easiest way to reach Leuven is by train.  Direct trains run about twice per hour and cost €5.40; the trip takes about 25 minutes.

By train: From the east / Germany, the best connection is probably via Liège; otherwise via Brussels.  Intercity trains between these two cities run every half hour and stop at Leuven.


The train station is on the east side of the city center, and the bootcamp and most hotels are walkable from there.  Otherwise you can get a taxi in the square in front of the station.


The second day of our workshop will be hosted by the Royal Flemish Academy in Brussels. We have arranged coach transportation from Leuven that morning; we will meet at 8:15 on the Martelarenplein, which is the large plaza outside the train station (thus across the street from those of you staying in the hotel La Royale.)


Your best best is to use a website like http://www.booking.com/ to find a hotel. There are several hotels in Leuven across the spectrum of price ranges; please do contact the organizers if you need specific advice.



2 April 2012 – Faculty Club, Leuven

9.00 – 9.30: Coffee and registration

9.30 – 10.00: Welcome (Frederik Truyen) + Introduction by the organizers (C. Macé / T.

10.00 – 11.30: Digitisation and Palaeography | Chair: Juan Garcès
Rabin, Ira – Ink identification to accompany digitization of the manuscripts
Deckers, Daniel – Special imaging techniques for reading palimpsests and damaged manuscripts
Castro Correa, Ainoa – The application of digital tools in the study of Visigothic script in


12.00 – 13.00: Cataloguing and Codicology | Chair: Torsten Schaßan
Andrist, Patrick – Electronic catalogues of ancient manuscripts: between the wishes of the
libraries and the needs of manuscript science
Birnbaum, David – Quantitative Codicology: An analysis of the formal descriptions of medieval Slavic miscellany manuscripts


14.30 – 15.30: Tradition and Genealogy I | Chair: Tara Andrews
Cafiero, Florian / Camps, Jean-Baptiste – Genealogy of Medieval Translations? The Case of the Chanson d’Otinel
Roelli, Philipp – Petrus Alfonsi or on the mutual benefit of traditional and computerised


16.00 – 17.30: Style and Statistics | Chair: Aurélien Berra
Hoenen, Armin – Letter similarity and ancient manuscripts – the meaning of
vowel/consonant awareness
van Dalen-Oskam, Karina – Authors, Scribes, and Scholars. Untangling the knot with
computational help
Kestemont, Mike / Schepers, Kees – Stylometric Explorations of the Implied Dual
Authorship in the Epistolae duorum amantium

18.00 – 18.45: Discussion session: Should textual scholarship be fully digital? | discussion prepared and led by Joris van Zundert

3 April 2012 – KVAB, Brussels

9.30 – 10.00: Welcome (Dirk Van Hulle) + Introduction by the organizers (C. Macé / T.

10.00 – 11.30: Primary Sources | Chair: Thomas Crombez
Luján, Eugenio / Orduña, Eduardo – Implementing a database for the analysis of ancient
inscriptions: the Hesperia electronic corpus of Palaeohispanic inscriptions
Togni, Nadia – BIBLION: A data processing system for the analysis of medieval manuscripts
Stella, Francesco – Digital models for critical editions of medieval texts and the Corpus Rhythmorum Musicum


12.00 – 13.00: Tradition and Genealogy I | Chair: Joris van Zundert
Alberto Cantera – The problems of the transmission of the Avesta and the tools for Avestan
text criticism
Tuomas Heikkilä / Teemu Roos – Tracing the medieval readers of Vita et miracula s.
Symeonis Treverensis


14.00 – 15.00: Inter-textual Analysis I | Chair: Caroline Macé
Tupman, Charlotte – Sharing Ancient Wisdoms: developing structures for tracking cultural
Rubenson, Samuel – A database of the Apophthegmata Patrum


15.30-16.30 Inter-textual Analysis II | Chair: Tuomas Heikkilä
Spinazzè, Linda – Intertextual research with digital variants in Musisque Deoque: a case
Romanov, Maxim – Public preaching in the Muslim World (900-1350 AD)

16.30 – 17.15: Discussion session: How many types of “textual scholarship” (new, old,
historical, artefactual, genetic…)? | discussion prepared and led by Caroline Macé

Closing of the workshop by the organizers (C. Macé / T. Andrews)

Workshop: Methods and means for digital analysis of ancient and medieval texts and manuscripts

Leuven, 2-3 April 2012 

This workshop aims at mapping the various ways in which digital tools can help and, indeed, change our scholarly work on “pre-modern” texts, more precisely our means of analyzing the interrelationships between manuscripts and texts produced in the pre-modern era. This includes the history of textual traditions in a very broad sense, encompassing several fields of research, such as book history, stemmatology, research on textual sources, tracing of borrowings and influences between texts, etc.

We welcome researches in any field of textual scholarship carried out on any ancient or medieval textual tradition in any language (Latin, Greek, “vernacular” / “oriental” languages…), using computer-aided methods of analysis.

Possible topics are: stemmatological analysis of manuscript traditions, digital palaeography / codicology, analysis of relationships between texts, textual history, textual criticism…

This workshop is seen as complementary to the Interedition ‘bootcamp’ to be held in Leuven in January 2012 (see http://www.interedition.eu/ for more information).

To participate in the workshop, please submit a short abstract (preferably in English) (300-500 words) to Tara Andrews (tara.andrews@arts.kuleuven.be) by 15 December 2011. As we seek to encourage the participation of early-stage researchers (PhD students or post-doctoral researchers), a limited number of bursaries are available to cover travel expenses. If you wish to apply for one of these, please submit an additional statement motivating your application (main criteria are importance of this workshop for your current research and absence of other possible funding). Abstracts and applications for bursaries will be evaluated by the scientific committee. The result of this evaluation will be made known by 1 February.

The language of the workshop is primarily English, but we may consider other languages.

Please note that we intent to publish the papers presented at this workshop as a book. If your abstract is accepted, you will also receive some guidelines for the publication.

The Tree of Texts project is a CREA (“creative research”) project (3H100334), funded by the KU Leuven from 1/10/2010 to 30/9/2012) with Caroline Macé as promoter and Tara Andrews as main researcher. The project is focused on the field of text stemmatology, and the aim is to arrive at an empirical model for variation in medieval text traditions.

The goal of Interedition <http://www.interedition.eu> is to promote the interoperability of the tools and methodology used in the field of digital scholarly editing and research. Equally, Interedition seeks to raise the awareness of the importance of sustainability of the digital artifacts and instruments we create.

Tara Andrews (K.U.Leuven), Aurélien Berra (Université Paris-Ouest), Thomas Crombez (Universiteit Antwerpen), Juan Garcès (Göttingen Centre for Digital Humanities), Tuomas Heikkilä (University of Helsinki), Caroline Macé (K.U.Leuven), Torsten Schaßan (Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel), Frederik Truyen (K.U.Leuven), Dirk Van Hulle (Universiteit Antwerpen), Joris van Zundert (Huygens Institute).

Upcoming events: bootcamp and workshop on text analysis

The Tree of Texts project will be hosting two events in 2012 focused on research, methods, and tools for the analysis of classical and medieval texts.  The first event, a development bootcamp, will run from 11-14 January 2012.  The second, a workshop targeted at scholars and researchers, will take place in early April 2012.  Both of these will be funded in whole or in part by the COST action Interedition. Stay tuned for calls for participation, and information on bursaries, for both events.