Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations: Symbolizing the Elements That Create Manuscripts and Their Structural History with VisColl 2.0

Alberto Campagnolo, University of Udine and
Dot Porter, Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies, Penn Libraries

April 23, 2021 - 1:00 pm to 2:15 pm @ Zoom
Quires within quires: diagram and photograph of unbound spine.

The ultimate working unit of the codex is the gathering structure known as the quire, a group of folded (or single) leaves bound together with other quires to form the text block. This structure, characterized by a limited number of elements and variations in their spatial arrangement, is fundamental to the study of the codex format for manuscript books. Traditionally, gathering structures are described in highly formalized alphanumerical formulaic representations, referred to as collation formulas. It is customary to include these formulas in paper-based and online catalogues. For what concerns manuscript studies, however, there are no actual standards, and different catalogues and scholars use their own set of rules and practices, making broader analysis difficult. In addition, the information density of collation formulas hinders the immediacy of their interpretation.

In this lecture, creators Dot Porter, SIMS founding member and Curator of Digital Research Services, and Alberto Campagnolo, book conservator and adjunct professor at the University of Udine, will present a new version of the online collation modeler VisColl to address these challenges. VisColl 2.0, with its new interface VCEditor, has been updated to model complex structures, with quires, subquires, and a variety of attachment methods, also through an intuitive graphic interface that guides the user and permits data input without knowledge of the XML data model behind it.

A recording of this lecture is available on the SIMS YouTube channel.