26 March 2010

Documents meme

Following Dance and Notorious, here are a couple of mine.

First, the easy:


And here's a harder one:

Last week, I gave a presentation about my manuscript research for my colleagues. About ten people came (the departmental good sports, the junior faculty establishing face time, my writing buddy). My main focus was on the effort to determine how many hands commented in a particular manuscript. Afterwards, a twentieth-century specialist (it was nice of him to come) asked how I knew that the most frequent commenting hand was sixteenth century. I explained. "You mean, you can date something just by the style of handwriting?" he asked. I could almost see the wheels turning in his head. Yes, this is what I do. I'm not Ian Cunningham or even T.E., but I do have skills that most people don't.

6 comments:

Ink said...

Those are beautiful.

And I'm jealous of your handwriting superpowers! (Most of the stuff I've worked on has been typed...)

Janice said...

Awesome stuff! It'd take me about an hour to go through a document like that and start getting back into the swing of things. I need to dig up a few of my documents to share online -- the good, the bad and the illegible!

Dame Eleanor Hull said...

I know I'm among my people when we're all online on Friday night.

Narya said...

The closest I can come to this is deciphering my professor's handwriting after he died. He was trying to finish a book--or, actually, enough of it so it could be published--before he died of cancer (at 54 . . .). He would scrawl notes to himself (and his handwriting was notoriously bad, plus he was even more rushed for time, plus he developed his own set of abbreviations and notations), then dictate to me, when he was in too bad shape to do his own typing. The last chapter he dictated was less than two months before he died.
As I went through his papers, though, I found the notes for most of another (key) chapter, and I (with a little help from others) managed to get it figured out. And we were able to publish his manuscript, posthumously, despite its not-quite-complete state. it's nice to be able to live up to promises made at a deathbed.

Dame Eleanor Hull said...

I keep telling my students that there are present-day applications for these skills!

aepva said...

I'm no longer in academia but I finally found a good use for that skill...doing pro bono transcription work for genealogy sites. Now my fantasy life is complete; not only will I grow tomatoes on a remote farm in upstate New York, but on the days that I don't moonlight as a Miss Marple solving local criminal mysteries, I will transcribe documents that nobody else can read.

All I need to do now is figure out how I can afford to do it.