The Renaissance in Bits and Bytes

Saturday, January 5, 2013: 12:10 PM
Nottoway Room (Sheraton New Orleans)
Monique O'Connell, Wake Forest University
The organization of information has long been closely connected to ways of understanding and knowing the past, a primary concern of many Renaissance thinkers.  Over the past forty years, practitioners of Renaissance history have often experimented with new technologies for organizing and presenting archival and textual data; not all of these experiments have been successful, but those that were—such as David Herlihy and Christiane Klapsich Zuber’s Florentine Catasto of 1427 project—have changed the field in significant ways. More recently, digital archives have overcome many difficulties of preservation, access, paleography, and language and opened up new possibilities for Renaissance scholarship and pedagogy.  There are two broad categories of digital initiatives underway now: digital archives reproduce physical archives, reveal previously hidden connections among collections of documents, and allow new kinds of textual analysis.  Innovative ways of presenting the results of Renaissance research have the potential to interest multiple audiences in scholars’ work. The overall aim of this paper is to provide an overview of projects currently underway as well as suggest some “best practices” for future digital work.