The Global Medieval Sourcebook (GMS) is a free, open access, and open source teaching and research tool. It offers a flexible online display for the parallel viewing of medieval texts in their original language, in new English translations, and in their digitized manuscript form.
The GMS spans one thousand years (600-1600) of literary production across the medieval world (Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia). It contains primarily short texts of broad interdisciplinary interest in a variety of genres, and many of the texts have not previously been translated into English.
Medieval texts are frequently transmitted in multiple manuscript redactions. No two textual witnesses are exactly alike. For this reason, in the GMS, transcriptions of the original texts are based, where possible, on a single manuscript redaction. In some cases, multiple versions are transcribed and translated so that users may see the textual variation that is a common feature in medieval transmission. Transcriptions are presented alongside embedded, manipulable images of the manuscripts so that users have high-quality access to the source. Viewing the manuscript itself is of particular importance because manuscript quality, design, organization, and size are all meaningful categories of textual analysis.
For teachers, the project provides linked (by keyword, genre, language, etc.) groups of medieval texts, which may be assigned as course reading or used in the classroom. For students, the project allows for an immersive engagement in medieval text culture and the possibility to practice translation and transcription skills through the selective display of text and image modules. For researchers, all texts in the compendium are downloadable as TEI-XML files to allow for computational or other analysis.
The GMS was made possible by funding from the Roberta Bowman Denning Fund for Humanities and Technologies and funding and support from Stanford’s Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA). The GMS is housed in CESTA.
The transcriptions, translations, and commentaries in the GMS are produced and reviewed by scholars of Medieval Studies. We invite scholars from around the world to submit texts and translations for inclusion in the GMS. For more information on the submission process, click here.
The GMS is based on scholarly work, and all our online publications are subject to the standard scholarly peer review process.
The GMS seeks to make available a broad, and representative variety of texts along with information to help users situate these texts in a wider global literary and cultural context. By presenting curated texts from a panoply of medieval cultures, the GMS seeks to help scholars and students broaden their understanding of medieval culture.
Groups of texts have been selected with an eye to thematic or generic units (e.g., sermons, parody, descriptions of Jerusalem, etc.). We will continue to develop and expand these collections according to traditional and emerging teaching and research areas. Topics for collections are proposed by team members and external scholars, and approved by the editorial board comprised of faculty and graduate student affiliates.
The GMS also provides scholars with the opportunity to publish primary material that pertains directly to their research projects. Submissions from external scholars are peer reviewed and thoroughly vetted before publication. To submit a text, click here.
Currently we are working on texts in the following languages: Old and Middle High German, Middle Low German, Medieval Dutch, Old and Middle French, Old and Middle English, Medieval Italian, Medieval Latin, Old Spanish (including Aljamiado), Medieval Hungarian, Chinese, Arabic, and Persian.
How to Use the GMS
For each text in the compendium, the GMS offers a brief introduction, a transcription from a manuscript or edition of the medieval text, images of its manuscript source (where available), and a new English translation. Users can choose to display transcriptions, translations, manuscript images and critical notes in whichever combination and positioning they prefer. We hope that this will facilitate use of the site for paleography and translation practice.
The introduction to each text is written by a researcher in the field and aims to be scholarly yet accessible, providing a commentary on the text's cultural context and transmission history as well as its content and the scholarly conversation around it. We provide brief bibliographies as a starting point to further research. In order to reach non-specialists we have focused our selected bibliographies on English-language literature. In many cases, however, the majority of scholarship on the texts featured in the GMS is not in English. We have not attempted to cover or synthesize this scholarship comprehensively.
Texts are searchable by genre, author, period, language, and keyword, to allow users to both find specific material and browse areas of interest to discover new material.
Additionally, with teachers and students in mind, we are including a few audio files of specialists reading the texts in their original language.
The GMS uses open source software that has been customized for the project’s purposes. The main web page where users can browse texts, read about the project, and send submissions, uses the Drupal Content Management System. The reading environment uses Versioning Machine, “a framework and an interface for displaying multiple versions of text encoded according to the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) Guidelines.” Our team has customized both Drupal and Versioning Machine to work together through the development of a custom Drupal module that allows texts uploaded to Drupal to work in Versioning Machine. We have also extensively modified Versioning Machine to support a greater range of the TEI guidelines and to change the user experience. All software used in the GMS is freely available in our Github repository.