Novel approaches to Digital Codicology

May 10, 2023 - May 12, 2023

Centre d’Études Supérieures de la Renaissance (CESR)
59 rue Néricault Destouches
37000 Tours


Despite the advancements in digitization, the study of books as objects, for the most part, still relies on autoptic investigations because traditional digitization transmediates only limited information regarding an object’s materiality. Autoptic observations are not always possible, and this has become even more evident and relevant with the pandemic crisis of Covid-19. While significant progress has been made in accessing written heritage through digitization efforts (IIIF, TEI), the digitization of the material features of books is still lagging and at the experimental phase. The availability of great numbers of textual data has permitted the development of distant reading techniques to discover patterns in texts and the utilization of artificial intelligence to read manuscripts (HTR) and printed books (OCR) en mass. The availability of digital data on the materiality of books would extend these practices to the book as an object. Recently, some projects have brought forward novel approaches to the digitization of material features of books but we lack a comprehensive methodology capable of bringing it together in a coherent research field: digital codicology. In the first two and a half days of the event, eminent scholars at the forefront of material digitization efforts will present their research. The last half-day will be dedicated to a round table and a working group to discuss and set the groundwork for a white paper on what digital codicology is and still needs to become the overarching field we foresee.



digital methodologies, digitization, written cultural heritage, modelling, heritage science, Artificial Intelligence, manuscripts, bibliography, musicology


Please find here the booklet of abstracts of the conference.



This event is partly funded by the Équipex Biblissima+, Cluster 4 (Traitement approfondi des systèmes graphiques et analyse des documents).
Biblissima+ benefits from the French ministry ANR support (Agence Nationale pour la Recherche) under the "Investissement d'Avenir Programme", grant # ANR-21-ESRE-0005.

This project has received funding from the European Union's EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020 under  theGrant Agreement No. 787282.  The European Research Agency is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains. 




Centre d’Études Supérieures de la Renaissance (CESR) :
59, rue Néricault Destouches - 37000 TOURS - FR

The conference venue is unique. Located right next to the basilica of St Martin in the old city centre of Tours, the Centre d'Études Supérieures de la Renaissance (Centre for Advanced Studies in the Renaissance) is a teaching and research institution which welcomes students and researchers seeking initial or supplementary instruction in all aspects of the Renaissance. The Centre was initially constituted in 1956 on the basis of a library and a documentary archive, supplemented by a collection of photographs and databases. It is now a venue for multi-disciplinary instruction, which, in association with the various Faculties of the University, has responsibility for teaching and research in History, History of Art, Literature, Languages, Musicology, and Philosophy. It currently leads a large research programme dedicated to the cultural regional heritage (Intelligence des Patrimoines). As a research centre it brings together fifty or so researchers committed to the investigation of the "civilization of the Renaissance" from Petrarch to Descartes. Participants will be welcomed in this exceptional surrounding blending Middle Age and Renaissance cultures and will have the opportunity to discover French cuisine and wines.

Day 1: Wednesday, 10th May 2023 - Paris Time (GMT +2)

  • 8:30 Welcome coffee & registration
  • 8:45 Official opening (Sophie Gabillet, Elena Pierazzo & Alberto Campagnolo)

Session 1: Modelling and metadata

  • 9:00 Peter Stokes - Modelling Manuscripts in Theory and Practice
  • 9:30 Patrick Andrist - Prototype of a new generation database for the integrated study of manuscripts
  • 10:00 Sonja Schwoll - ResearchSpace - from Conservation Documentation to documenting Book Structures
  • 10:30 Coffee break

Session 2: Heritage Science

  • 11:00 Marie Elisabeth Boutroue  - De l'analyse des matériaux à la représentation des données : le cas des encres anciennes
  • 11:30 Zina Cohen & Ira Rabin - Unveiling the use of writing materials in Carolingian manuscripts
  • 12:00 Sarah Fiddyment & Matthew Collins (ONLINE) - What do we do with biocodicological data?
  • 12:30 Holly Wright - Linking our data together: Challenges and Opportunities
  • 13:00 Fenella France - From Materiality to Visualization
  • 13:30 Lunch break

Session 3: Remote session (USA)

  • 15:30 Abigail Slawik (ONLINE) - Using the Open-Source Paper Studies Suite to Identify Mouldmates in Leonardo's Papers
  • 16:00 Dot Porter (ONLINE) - Radical potential for the digitization of premodern manuscripts
  • 16:30 Bill Endres (ONLINE) - Digitization and Digital Codicology: 3D Renderings, Affect, and Leverage
  • 17:00 Bridget Whearty (ONLINE) - A Codicology for Digital Books: Approaching Medieval Manuscripts On Screen and In the Flesh
  • 18:30 Public lecture in French: Anne-Marie Turcan-Verkerk - Un témoin muet et pourtant si éloquent : le manuscrit médiéval
  • 20:00 Wine & cheese cocktail

Day 2: Thursday, 11th May 2023 - Paris Time (GMT +2)

Session 4: Book culture and Digital Practices (I)

  • 9:00 Elena Pierazzo & Alberto Campagnolo - What a carve-up! A new codicology-based method for highly perturbed textual traditions
  • 9:30 Jiří Vnouček - Observing beast & craft on manuscript folia
  • 10:00 Lieve Watteeuw - Characteristics of the 14th century Bible of Anjou. The combined use of Multi Light Reflectance Imaging and MA-XRF to identify materials and techniques

Session 5: Book culture and Digital Practices (II)

  • 10:30 Coffee break
  • 11:00 Orietta Da Rold - Some Experiments with Digital Imaging and Medieval Paper
  • 11:30 Alicia Fornés & Kevin Roger- Computer Vision methodologies applied to musical documents
  • 12:00 Mike Kestemont (ONLINE) & Wouter Haverals - Manuscripts in Order: Charting the Evolution of Scribal Practice in the Herne charterhouse (c. 1350-1400) through Stylochronometry
  • 12:30 Dominique Stutzmann (ONLINE) - Computer Vision and codicology at large scale: looking at (many) books of hours and cartularies
  • 13:00 Lunch break

Session 6: Book culture and Digital Practices (III)

  • 15:00 Serena Crespi - Exploring Florence’s 17th-century manuscript culture through quantitative analysis and distant reading
  • 15:30 Gleb Schmidt,  Shari Boodts Riccardo Macchioro - Codicological descriptions of sermon manuscripts. An experiment in layout analysis combining YOLO and Kraken.
  • 16:00 Suzette van Haaren - Reflecting on digital codicology as method
  • 16:30 N. Kıvılcım Yavuz - Manuscript Metadata and the Potentials of Digital Codicology
  • 17:00Coffee break
  • 17:30 Keynote: Matthew Driscoll  - Getting physical: The origin, development and future of <physDesc>

Day 3: Friday, 12th May 2023 - Paris Time (GMT +2)

Session 7: AI and Computational Codicology

  • 9:00 Evina Stein & Martin Tamajka (ONLINE) - QVIRE: investigating the structure of medieval manuscripts with the help of AI
  • 9:30  Hanna Busch - Manuscripts, Metadata, and Machine Learning:  How to train an Artificial Paleographer?
  • 10:00 Giuliano Giuffrida - Digital Libraries and digital codicology: the exploitation of the Vatican Apostolic Library's FITS archive
  • 10:30 Coffee break
  • 11:00 Rachel Di Cresce and Melissa Moreton - Making the Book Visible: Visualization Tools and Descriptive Terminology

Session 8: RoundTable

  • 11:30 RoundTable - Digital codicology: present and future
  • Marilena Maniaci (online); Matthew DriscollJudith Schlanger (online)
  • 12:15 Concluding remarks (Elena Pierazzo & Alberto Campagnolo)
  • 12:30 Lunch break
  • 14:30 White paper preparation
  • 16:30 Conclusions

LE STUDIUM Loire Valley Institute for Advanced Studies (IAS) and the Centre d’Études Supérieures de la Renaissance are dedicated to creating a safe, respectful, and collegial conference environment for the benefit of everyone who attends events in their respective framework and premises, and for the advancement of research and scholarship. There is no place in LE STUDIUM Loire Valley (IAS) events and at CESR for harassment or intimidation based on race, religion, ethnicity, language, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, physical or cognitive ability, age, appearance, or other group status. Unsolicited physical contact, unwelcome sexual attention, and bullying behaviour are likewise unacceptable. 

If you experience or witness any inappropriate behaviour, if you have any concerns, or if you simply want to discuss this further, then please do not hesitate to contact the conference organisers, Elena Pierazzo, Alberto Campagnolo, Sophie Gabillet and Aurélien Montagu, who of course will treat any discussions in strict confidence.

Partners of the event