WN@tL: “A Library of Stains: Using Multispectral Imaging to Analyze Stains in Medieval Manuscripts”

April 25 - 7:00PM - 8:30PM
UW Biotechnology Center, 425 Henry Mall, Room 1111, Madison, WI 53706
Cost: Free


Heather Wacha, postdoctoral fellow in data curation for medieval studies, Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR); and Leah Parker, PhD candidate in English, UW–Madison

About the talk

The Library of Stains project is a pilot study that uses multispectral imaging to gather scientific data from stains found on parchment, paper, and bindings. The data will provide a new way for researchers, conservators, librarians, and the public to approach and access information concerning the material makeup of medieval manuscripts and the environment in which they were used. The team consists of three CLIR postdoctoral fellows in data curation for medieval studies: Alberto Campagnolo, Library of Congress; Erin Connelly, Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies; and Heather Wacha, University of Wisconsin–Madison. This talk by Wacha and Parker will trace the one-year project from its beginnings and highlight its conception, imaging process, data analyses, and preliminary results that reveal new information about the stains found in special-collections manuscripts from the UW’s Memorial Library and the University of Iowa.

About the speakers

Wacha is a CLIR postdoctoral fellow in data curation for medieval studies at UW–Madison. Her research focuses on women’s economic activities during the 12th and 13th centuries in Picardy, France, and incorporates material evidence found in the documents she uses as primary sources: charters and cartularies. She is associate editor of Virtual Mappa, a collection of 11 medieval maps from England published in Digital Mappa, a digital environment created by Martin Foys, a professor of English at the UW. Wacha also teaches an undergraduate course on the history of the book at the University of Wisconsin iSchool and works with iSchool graduate students on digital humanities projects centered on the history of the book.

Parker is a UW–Madison PhD candidate in English, with specialties in early medieval English literature and disability studies. She is currently completing her dissertation, “Body Eschatology: Disability, Death, and the Afterlife in Early Medieval England,” and she has essays forthcoming in the Journal of English and Germanic Philology and a volume on Disability, Monstrosity, and the Posthuman in the Medieval and Early Modern World. Her work also encompasses manuscript studies through the analysis of scribal errors, handwriting, textual transmission, manuscript illumination, and now stains.

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