While on the subject of digital databases, a project at my own university this week launched a collection of images and information concerning representations of the Crucifixion in Ireland between AD800 and 1200. The site, COIRP, is in its infancy but the team aim to update the images and categories in the near future. This should prove to be a great resource for art and cultural historians of the early medieval period.
The project, Christ on the Cross, has been studying how Irish art and literature represented and dealt with Christ’s crucifixion, both in an aesthetic and liturgical sense. The database takes its name from the Irish word for “body”. At the launch, Jenifer Ní Ghrádaigh, one of the investigators, said it was a play on corpus, the Latin for “body” but which is also shorthand for the figure of Christ on the cross as well as a body of work. Initially, they had tried to avoid puns related to corpus, but it was too suitable to ignore. They then managed to make it an acronym of sorts: Corpus Of Irish Representations of the Passion.
I was at a conference organised by CotC last year, Croch Saithair: Envisioning Christ on the Cross in the Early Medieval West, that was fascinating and intense. I look forward to seeing what else will come from the project.
The online database launched recently by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is exactly the kind of thing that historians and public alike need and deserve. By digitally preserving the president’s archives and recordings, the library has opened up the material to the professional research and enthusiast for free. While I appreciate that the museum and library have other revenue sources that mean it doesn’t need to charge for accessing the database, it is also fully in keeping with the trend in information access and storage, as the director acknowledged.
“For young people today, if it isn’t on the Internet, it doesn’t really exist,” said library director Tom Putnam. “I hope this brings him alive to a new generation of Americans. [It offers] a fuller sense of the man.” It took four years to digitize the artifacts, photos and videos, and the process is ongoing, said Mr Putnam.
I would definitely recommend having a poke around at what’s available. I really like how the images are not only high-resolution, but automatically zoom in a separate pane as you move the cursor over them.
If you or someone you know is contemplating a PhD, you might want to consider this offer from King’s College London. To quote from the blurb:
the topic of the PhD will be palaeography, conceived as the study of medieval handwriting, in the context of Digital Humanities
Given that palaeography is in decline, bringing in the digital element, as this studentship does, could see it live on in a new form, and certainly help to disseminate the subject. So please spread the word!