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  • Digital PhilologyA Journal of Medieval Cultures
  • Stephen G. Nichols and Nadia R. Altschul

A journal for a watershed era in premodern studies, Digital Philology recognizes the transdisciplinary nature of medieval arti-facts. To this end, it seeks articles representative of the broad spectrum of humanistic subjects that enriched this period: philosophy, history, art history, theater, rhetoric, music, and literature, to name but the most prominent. This perspective is consonant with our title, which evokes critical concepts of innovation and continuity.

The German theorist Peter Szondi understood philology as analytic reflection on critical studies in order to demonstrate the singularity of artistic representations. Our colleague William Egginton completes Szondi’s thought by noting that philology unites imaginative artifacts with their historical context by revealing the epistemology that establishes that connection, while identifying the object as a distinct phenomenon. When one adds to these concepts the fact that the Middle Ages were a period of profound reflection on language, on vision, on art, and on the technologies of representation, then the dynamic resonance of the term for our journal begins to emerge.

Our title also recognizes the consonance between digital and conventional scholarship. Rare books, manuscripts, documents, and other resources are now available online for serious research—and increasingly so. Unlimited access does not simply affect the way we consult primary materials, however; to the extent it multiplies material available for consultation, it introduces issues of “data mass.” Increased data, in turn, creates the opportunity to propose new research protocols, new questions, new hypotheses, fresh ways of seeing; in short, new dimensions for philological inquiry.

While DPh expects to participate in the evolution of digital research in early modern scholarship, it recognizes the ongoing contribution of innovative studies that are not based on electronic resources. In other words, “digital” also connotes the ubiquity of technology in research. [End Page 1] Finally, Digital Philology is as much an aspiration as it is a title. It expresses our conviction that early modern studies derive vitality from the constant interrogation of tradition by innovation and of innovation by tradition.

Stephen G. Nichols
Johns Hopkins University

The digital humanities has created a vast array of medieval archives that expand to unsuspected quantities the visual, aural, and textual materials at the disposal of scholars working in most locations where medieval studies is practiced. A core intellectual mandate of Digital Philology is to foster scholarship that crosses disciplines by upsetting traditional fields of study, national boundaries, and periodizations. Another mandate is to provide a research forum for the interpretation of this magnitude of newly available data, for the examination of digital resources and their capabilities, and for theoretical discussions of digital humanities as a field of inquiry. This journal developed from a deep-seated conviction that the drive for ever more extensive digitization and mark-up must be accompanied by interpretative research, complementing a known philological tendency to convert the perfected artifact into an end in itself. It is our belief that the task of research will usher in the time when the digital humanities will ask radically new questions that can only be asked and resolved in digital environments. Today, digital media allows us to do the work we have done for generations in better ways; in time, digital environments will allow us to think beyond our current purview. Digital Philology aims to be at the forefront of this conversation. [End Page 2]

Nadia R. Altschul
Johns Hopkins University

Stephen G. Nichols
Johns Hopkins University
Nadia R. Altschul
Johns Hopkins University


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