School of Humanities and Sciences
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Roberta Bowman Denning Professor and Professor, by courtesy, of German Studies and of Comparative Literature
BioMy main research interests are in early medieval literature, the long history of information technologies, the handmade book, and cultural landscapes. I have published widely on medieval manuscripts--their materiality, contents and contexts of production and reception. Among various books and articles are the Very Short Introduction to Medieval Literature (OUP, 2015), Living Through Conquest: The Politics of Early English, 1020 to 1220 (OUP, 2012), Old and Middle English, c. 890-1450: An Anthology, 3rd ed. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), The Old English Life of St Nicholas (Leeds, 1997), Textual Distortion (Woodbridge, 2017 with Greg Walker). I was Principal Investigator of the AHRC-funded research project and ebook, 'The Production and Use of English Manuscripts, 1060 to 1220' (http://www.le.ac.uk/ee/em1060to1220/), which ran from 2005 to 2010; Principal Investigator of Stanford Global Currents, funded by the NEH, 2014-2016 (https://globalcurrents.stanford.edu/); and Principal Investigator of CyberText, funded by the CyberInitiative (2016-2018, https://texttechnologies.stanford.edu/research/cybertext-technologies). Each of these funded projects focuses on the uses of computational and digital tools to investigate the history of book production.
My current projects focus the History of Text Technologies from the earliest times (c. 70,000BCE) to the present day. I have just published Text Technologies: A History (with Claude Willan, Stanford University Press, 2019), which form the first of probably two volumes on this topic. I also co-edit the Stanford University Press Text Technologies Series. I research the hapticity and phenomenology of the handwritten book, and will be publishing The Phenomenal Book based on this work in 2020. This research also extends to a more modern period of the medieval, and to the work of artists, including William Morris, Edward Johnston, Eric Gill and David Jones. This work will appear as Beauty and the Book: Arts and Crafts to Modernism eventually. I am working on Salisbury's Manuscripts for the Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts in Microfiche Facsimile series. My major research networks involve colleagues at the Universities of Cambridge, Glasgow, Oxford, London, and the University of British Columbia, among others. Stanford Text Technologies collaborates widely with an international group of scholars, both on manuscripts from Western culture, but also manuscripts and inscribed objects from cultures around the world. Finally, a major new project will be called Landscapes of Immortality, and this will seek to incorporate landscape studies, layers of cultural activity, and concepts of immortality. This will form a short book to be published perhaps in 2021.
Professionally, I am keen advocate and critic of the use of digital technologies in the classroom and in research; and I am concerned about the ways in which we display textual objects and employ interpretative tools and frameworks online. With colleagues here and at Cambridge, we developed online teaching materials for Medieval Manuscript Studies, in a sequence called 'Digging Deeper'. I have been the Ida Beam Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Iowa, an American Philosophical Society Franklin Fellow, a Princeton Procter Fellow, and I'm a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, of the Royal Historical Society, and the English Association (and its former Chair and President). I serve as Editor for the OUP Oxford Bibliographies Online British and Irish Literature initiative, and I am General Editor of the OUP Oxford Textual Perspectives Series.