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  • Dame Philology’s Charrette
  • Charlotte Ritzmann
Approaching Medieval Textuality through Chrétien’s Lancelot: Essays in Memory of Karl D. Uitti. Ed. by Gina L. Greco and Ellen M. Thorington. Tempe, Arizona: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2012. <>

This volume adopts an interdisciplinary perspective, inspired by the Princeton Charrette Project. This project, begun under the direction of Karl D. Uitti, offers a database of the eight manuscripts of Chrétien de Troyes’s seminal romance, Le chevalier de la charrette. In addition to the manuscripts, transcriptions are available, and the digitization allows for immediate textual comparisons, as well as searches for specific rhetorical figures, designed for scholars in various fields. Dame [End Page 300] Philology’s Charrette both reflects on the project and applies its experimental, dynamic avenues of research to its analyses of the romance. It is a very well-organized, ambitious volume treating different philological and literary approaches to a medieval text: in focuses on how to use digital and non-digital methodologies in a complementary fashion. Taking the example of Le chevalier de la charrette, as its starting point, the volume illustrates several methods of criticism and study. It tackles a variety of questions ranging from problems of translation, to what work has been undertaken in the context of digital philology thus far; from the uses of technology as a tool and a way of opening up new avenues of research, to the future of philological studies; from the digitization work that has been done for the Princeton Charrette Project to how it can be successfully applied to other texts in the medieval corpus. After discussing the specificity of scholarship on the Charrette, and in particular how new technologies have affected it, the volume successfully demonstrates how these new findings can be applied to a variety of works. Sixteen distinguished scholars have contributed to this volume. The collection is divided into an introduction by the editors, five sections, and an afterword. The introduction clearly states the goals of the project undertaken in this volume and offers an excellent overview of the articles and how they complement one another. It also stresses how Dame Philology’s Charrette relates to and continues Uitti’s Charrette Project, foregrounding experimentation and emerging criticism based on computer-assisted research.

The first section, “Le chevalier de la charrette: An Introduction to the Romance,” and the second section, “Translatio: Contextualizing the Romance,” deal with several literary and philological analyses of the text, through different angles and themes. The articles in these first two sections are not based on the use of digital tools. Peter F. Dembowski provides an overview of Chrétien’s romance, invaluable to a reader unfamiliar with the text, focusing on the character of Lancelot and notions of heroism. John V. Fleming, Lori Walters, and Grace Morgan Armstrong, in Part 2, analyze the text from three different angles: Fleming explores the ambiguity of childhood vs. adulthood, “earnest and game” (35), Reason vs. Love; Walters investigates La Charrette as reflecting Christian, crusading ideologies; and Armstrong studies the rewriting of specific episodes from the Charrette through the prose romance La quête du Saint-Graal. Thus, the articles belonging to the non-digital tradition also reflect the interdisciplinary, dialogical impulse behind the Charrette Project. [End Page 301]

“Weighing Words: The Language of the Charrette” (Part 3), analyzes two specific formal aspects of the text with the aid of digital technologies: the rich rhyme patterns in Ellen M. Thorington’s article, and the evolution of the use of the demonstrative ce in the study by Christine Marchello-Nizia and Alexei Lavrentiev (translated by Dorothy Stegman). These two articles respond to some extent to the articles in Part 2, especially Thorington’s essay, as it discusses the same episode on which Armstrong focused—that of the Sword Bridge. Thus, the reader is offered continuity as this section successfully provides a link between the non-digital analyses that opens the volume and the specific discussion of the Princeton Charrette Project (and other similar digital projects) elaborated in the next part.

“Historical Perspectives on Digital Philology” gives a brief yet comprehensive overview of what began and still...


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pp. 300-303
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