What’s a Digital Medievalist?

Since 1992 my personal business card has described me as a Digital Medievalist.

It’s the best way I know to describe my training, my occupation, and my interests.

I am trained as a medievalist. I started studying medieval English literature as an undergraduate, and continued to emphasize things medieval and philological during graduate school. My UCLA doctoral dissertation concerns medieval English and Celtic literatures (specifically Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Sir Orfeo, the Mabinogi and various medieval Irish texts).

My life as a digital medievalist began in 1989, when I was hired to turn a scholarly reference book, Richard Lanham’s Handlist of Rhetorical Terms, into a digital book. People are sometimes puzzled by the idea of a medievalist working so very closely with digital technology, but the combination of digital technology and medieval studies isn’t as unusual as you might think. We medievalists are surprisingly technologically savvy; there’s a lot you can do with a scanner, some manuscripts and a computer. Look at the amazing work started by the CURIA project and continued by CELT at the University of Cork. They are digitizing and electronically distributing texts in Irish, English and Old Norse, including the medieval Irish texts digitized and parsed by CURIA. Or the more recent Irish Scripts on Screen (ISOS) project, where you can see high quality digital images of the major Irish manuscripts.

Though my academic training predisposes me to work in the realm of codices and manuscripts, my professional life has largely been in the silicon realm. I’ve earned most of my living as a multimedia producer and digital technology consultant in the humanities. I have worked on CD-ROMs and Expanded Books™ from the Voyager Company and Calliope Media, and advised on a number of scholarly multimedia and hypertext projects. I worked with faculty and graduate students in UCLA’s Humanities division to promote teaching with technology, and attended to the care and feeding of over six hundred class web sites a quarter, and incorporated digital technology and multimedia into online and off-line pedagogy. If instructional technology interests you, you might want to check out my technology blog. I have also consulted for firms instituting technology use policies, researched intellectual property rights, and worked on various aspects of Internet use and policy implementation. I’m the technical editor, author, or co-author of consumer books about AppleScript, iLife, iOS and Macintosh technology in general.

Celtic Studies Resources began in 1997. Because of my interest in teaching with technology, Content Management Systems (and Learning Management Systems) I started blogging in 2002. I created Scéla; a blog about things Medieval and Celtic.

In my free time, I am the Webmaster and an Admin for Absolute Write, a forum for writers of all sorts. I’m also the Web master and Managing Editor for The Greenman Review. This page of links will give you some ideas about my favorite ways to avoid work.

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