MMSDA Lecture 2: Book Conservation and DH

In addition to the public lecture by Arianna Ciula (reported here previously), a second public lecture will also be held as part of the Medieval and Modern Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age programme (MMSDA). This lecture will be given by Alberto Campagnolo, a book conservator and Digital Humanities specialist. The title and details are as follows:

Books as Objects of Use and Objects of Meaning. Book Conservation and Digital Humanities

Where: Little Hall, Sidgewick Site, Cambridge.
When: Monday 2 May, 5:30–6:30pm, followed by a drinks reception.

Books are objects in primis. They do contain important written information, but their physicality is also a silent witness that needs to be read, and preserved. Traditionally, for museum objects, the balance between their meaning and their usefulness tends heavily towards the former. When it comes to books, things get more complicated, as these artefacts are both regarded as meaningful per se, and useful (for one needs to access and preserve the text they contain). Often in the past, the usefulness of the artefact book outvalued its own meaning as artefact. Modern book conservation strives to keep the balance as even as possible, but this means that there is — and there should be — a limit to what book conservators can do, scalpel at hand, physically on books. These physical limits can be overcome with the collaboration between conservation and digital humanities, and this is where the magic happens: the artefact can be saved for its own meaning, and its usefulness can be enhanced through digital means.


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