Remix the Manuscript is an ongoing experiment in how digital technologies affect access and understanding of material culture. As people invent new tools and interfaces–and earlier ones become obsolete–the very nature of archives keeps changing. And so does what we think we know about the past.
The Dartmouth Brut Chronicle (Rauner Codex MS 003183) is a unique version of the Middle English Prose history of Britain. Nearly two hundred related copies of this chronicle exist today, each recounting Britain’s history from the arrival of Brutus from Troy (hence the name Brut) through the reign of King Arthur to various endpoints in the fifteenth century. The Brut narrative remained popular and even authoritative into the eighteenth century.
The Dartmouth Brut is thus part of a well-documented corpus of manuscripts, which will facilitate comparative projects on textual transmission, cultural geography, and modern archives. Other manuscripts in the corpus have also been digitized, so we can test principles of interoperability between archives. The chronicle text itself is something of a remix of sources whose structures can be explored with data processing tools. The chronicle genre, moreover, reflects the spirit of the research project—an ongoing narrative of events, questions, and detours.
The spirit of remix emphasizes process as much as product. It involves multiplicity and serendipity. It repurposes old things in new forms. Remix the Manuscript will include many different types of digital and material outputs, from textual analysis to artistic collage. Over time, we will explore the porous distinction between analysis and art that characterizes the humanities in digital times.
Project Principal Investigator: Michelle R. Warren, Comparative Literature Program.