John Rylands Library and English Language Studies

14 01 2014

Manchester Students from Linguistics and English Language are using high resolution images in LUNA to dual benefit: working with original documents allows them to find real-life examples of the linguistic history they have been studying, while editing those documents using LUNA enables the creation of searchable text to go with the images.

Small groups of dissertation students have been editing several folios each of previously unedited Middle English manuscripts in the Rylands Medieval Collection. They present the text of their chosen  extract, provide a glossary, and explore aspects of the language, handwriting or textual history. The exercise has proved enjoyable and rewarding, with some outstanding dissertations produced. The first such student has gone on to an MA and now a PhD involving Middle English.

A new venture this year sees students on the final-year course Modern English Language (1500-present) each editing a letter from the Mary Hamilton Papers as part of their coursework. This rich collection of eighteenth-century documents is the subject of research projects in Europe and North America on history, literature and culture. In addition to writing a linguistic commentary, our students have to produce a text marked up to modern encoding standards.

Most work, whether Middle or Modern English, is done with online images, but students visit Deansgate to get an even better sense of the originals – and the beautiful library which houses them.

David Denison

Smith Professor of English

Language & Medieval Literature



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