CTI Textual Studies Q & A

L i t e r a t u r e

Q What resources are available on the Web for the study of Middle English language and literature?

A The following selection of resources should provide a start:

Electronic Texts

The Electronic Text Center at Virginia encodes all its texts in SGML and then converts them to HTML for delivery over the Web. They have around 40 Middle English texts for downloading. Most originally came from the Oxford Text Archive. They can also be searched by word/phrase and limited to specific authors and years. Find them at http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/. The Piers Plowman archive (Hoyt Duggan) is also located at Virginia.

Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies (ORB) at http://orb.rhodes.edu/ (maintained by Carolyn Schriber) is one of the best gateways to online resources for medieval studies. Useful for teaching purposes, perhaps, is the online medieval source book (of texts etc) and the ORB encyclopedia. The Internet Medieval Sourcebook, attached to the ORB, is also worth looking at (though it is aimed at historians).

The Labyrinth server of medieval texts and history (Georgetown) has a page of links to online Middle English texts, sorted by author. The Labyrinth, like ORB, is also a recommended gateway to medieval resources on the Internet including a page of links to images on the Web. Go to http://www.georgetown.edu/labyrinth/library/me/me.html.

The Voice of the Shuttle has an extensive collection of medieval texts (in english as well as other languages). These are available at: http://humanitas.ucsb.edu/shuttle/eng-med.html.

There is a very pleasantly arranged online anthology of Middle English texts at http://www.luminarium.org/medlit/ (complete with medieval music of dubious origin - it really has to be seen to be believed but probably not on a Mac). Also includes secondary sources pertaining to individual authors and even some audio readings (an excerpt from the Pardoner's Tale in RealAudio, for example).

The TEAMS (The Consortium for the Teaching of the Middle Ages) have placed online a selection of Middle English texts (http://www.lib.rochester.edu/camelot/teams/tmsmenu.htm). The goal of the TEAMS Middle English text series is to make available to teachers and students texts which occupy an important place in the literary and cultural canon but which have not been readily available in student editions.

Text Analysis Tools

For a range of text analysis tools to work with any texts you download please consult the section on this topic at http://info.ox.ac.uk/ctitext/enquiry/.

Hypertext & Teaching Editions

Chaucer's Book of the Duchess: A Hypertext Edition at http://www.acs.ucalgary.ca/~scriptor/duchess/start.htm (ed. Murray McGillivray). Not a vast amount of material here, though there are: transcriptions of 3 mss; texts of the main French & Latin sources; and a frames-based facility to compare texts/transcriptions.

You may be interested in the online essay by Mary Wack, Chaucer in 2001 at http://www.arl.org/symp3/wack.html. She writes, "Last year I taught an experimental course nicknamed 'Electronic Chaucer' that may offer a glimpse of the sorts of resources to be found in Chaucer classrooms in 2001. I'd like to briefly indicate some of the electronic tools I used, including an image archive, and then discuss some of the issues of publishing such an archive."

You may also find the William Langland homepage, provided by Lawrence Warner at the University of Pennsylvania, useful. This has links to electronic versions of the A and B manuscripts, as well as extensive commentary and contextual information about Langland and 14th century England. The homepage is available at: http://dept.english.upenn.edu:80/~lwarner/piers.html.


The Middle English Compendium at http://www.hti.umich.edu/dict/med/ (University of Michigan) offers access to, and interconnectivity between, three major Middle English electronic resources: an electronic version of the Middle English Dictionary, a HyperBibliography of Middle English prose and verse, based on the MED bibliographies, and an associated network of electronic resources, including a large collection of Middle English texts. The corpus is fully searchable and has hypertext links to the full text and metadata. The search engine, for example, allows one to locate works and mss in a particular dialect (making use of LALME dialect references).

The Geoffrey Chaucer web site at Harvard (http://icg.harvard.edu/~chaucer/) includes a section on language and linguistics. The Glossarial Database of Middle English (http://icg.harvard.edu/~chaucer/tools/) aims to be a collection of fully and uniformly tagged electronic texts, comprised of all the major works in Middle English. Each word in these texts is tagged with the headword under which it appears in the Middle English Dictionary, with its part of speech (according to the MED), and, where appropriate, its inflection. Such a text can be searched for any part of the word or its tag. If you can't get the one at Harvard to work then go to the one at Michigan (http://www.hti.umich.edu/english/gloss/).

I have included The Perseus Project (Tufts University) here because it offers the best online functionality in terms of attaching grammatical and dictionary information to online texts. Admittedly the majority are in Greek (though a Latin dictionary and texts are now available). They are also working on a Renaissance Sources Project. Perseus is particularly good at keeping the study of ancient culture and literature relevant by dedicating special pages to topical events. Has to be seen to be appreciated (http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/).

A comparative view of linguistic searching online can be obtained from the British National Corpus (go to http://sara.natcorp.ox.ac.uk/).

(MF, FC)

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HTML Authors: Mike Fraser, Frances Condron
Document created: 30 November 1997
Document last modified:30 March 1999

The URL of this document is http://info.ox.ac.uk/ctitext/enquiry/lit06.html