Stefan Jänicke & David Joseph Wrisley

Abstract: Textual criticism consists of the identification and analysis of variant readings among different versions of a text. Being a relatively simple task for modern languages, the collation of medieval text traditions ranges from the complex to the virtually impossible depending on the degree of instability of textual transmission. We present a visual analytics environment that supports computationally aligning such complex textual differences typical of orally inflected medieval poetry. For the purpose of analyzing alignment, we provide interactive visualizations for different text hierarchy levels, specifically, a meso reading view to support investigating repetition and variance at the line level across text segments. In addition to outlining important aspects of our interdisciplinary collaboration, we emphasize the utility of the proposed system by various usage scenarios in medieval French literature.
VAST paper (pre-print)

The iteal prototype will be available soon!

Juxtaposed La vie de saint Marie l’Egyptienne versions: (1) full-line matches annotated as true alignments, (2) requesting 4-grams removes false positive alignment, (3) close reading of unrelated verse lines.

Juxtaposed Perceval versions: (1) distant reading shows a high similarity in the form of parallel lines and a few repetitions as diagonal lines, (2) meso reading of the repetitive verse line “Qui me dist que li ange sont”, (3) close reading reveals false positive alignment, (4) numerous full-line matches.

Juxtaposed Chanson de Roland versions: (1) few parallel and numerous diagonal lines in the distant reading illustrate the instability of versions, (2) examples of frontal half-line matches, (3) examples of posterior half-line matches, (4) close reading of verse lines containing the Duggan battle formula “si vait ferir”.