Shout Out to Remix

On July 29, 2019 by Michelle Warren

Thanks to Jay Satterfield, head of Rauner Special Collections Library at Dartmouth, who shared the news that the Dartmouth Brut and the Remix project have been featured in the latest press release from Les Enluminures! They are celebrating their 1000th manuscript acquisition. We are so lucky that Jay was brave enough–and resourced enough–to purchase #53 back in 2006.

Here’s what Sandra Hindman, founder of Les Enluminures, has to say:

“TM 53 is now known as The Dartmouth Brut Chronicle, Dartmouth College, Rauner Special Collections Library, Codex MS 003183, which presents a unique version of the Middle English prose history of Britain (FIG.3). Further study on the manuscript, including a scholarly conference devoted to it in 2011 and the publication of the proceedings in “Digital Philology” in 2014, have led to new findings on this copy. 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. However, the Dartmouth Brut’s omission of four chapters after the death of Arthur establish it as an idiosyncratic text unique in the recension and one that offers a singular perspective on the history of Britain. The manuscript includes more than two hundred and fifty annotations by three readers over several centuries, revealing a sustained interest in the text as a primary source for facts and to teach English history to one of its subsequent owners.

One of the most interesting consequences of the ongoing study of the Dartmouth Brut has been the creation of a digital surrogate of the manuscript and an exploration of the implications of the surrogate in a project called “Remix the Manuscript.” (FIG.4). Remix the Manuscript is an experiment in how digital technologies affect access and understanding of material culture. As people invent new tools and interfaces, the earlier ones become obsolete, and the very nature of archives changes. The project explains that its intention is to study the “process of processing .” One document (e.g., the Brut Chronicle) becomes an expandable database, prompting greater understanding of how technology shapes historical information. Elaborating on the idea of “remix,” the project stresses that a (the) chronicle text itself is a remix of sources whose structures can be explored with data processing tools, reflecting the spirit of the research project – an ongoing narrative of events, questions, and detours. Far from being the definitive stand-in of an object, a digital reproduction depends on the software and hardware, which themselves determine what we can see and what even counts as information. Remix the manuscript thus confronts head on the study of the manuscript in the Humanities in digital times.”




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