The Medieval Reader: A Platform for Digitally Enhanced Reading in Manuscript Culture Featuring the Libro de buen amor

Emily Francomano (Spanish & Portuguese) · Round 5

Professor Emily Francomano began this project began with the following questions: "how can we take advantage of digital tools to deepen our and our students’ understanding of medieval literature and the manuscript cultures that preserve it? Specifically, how can we use a digital environment to make complex and multilayered medieval works, such as the fourteenth-century masterpiece the Libro de buen amor (Book of Good Love) accessible and teachable?"

ITEL funding has supported the creation of a digital platform combining the best practices of editing and translating medieval texts for student use with a responsive interface to draw students into the world of medieval manuscripts and texts. They seek to create a working prototype of what will be an open access, multilingual, and interactive teaching edition of the Book of Good Love supported by a flexible platform that is scalable and can be used for creating editions of other works.

The Book of Good Love is a playful compendium of songs and stories concerning love. In the introduction, the narrator, Juan Ruiz explains that there are many possible ways to read the book because it is simultaneously a spiritual guide, a manual for love, and a primer for writing verse. What each reader gets out of the book, he cautions, depends on what he or she puts in. Ruiz concludes the collection with an invitation to readers to make changes, additions, and interpretive glosses. It is an ideal work for this project because it embodies the key concepts we seek to teach about reading in medieval manuscript culture: “open works” that require interactive and ethical close reading, and glossing, which turns readers into writers. Further, the Book of Good Love reflects the multi-confessional culture of Medieval Spain, where Christians, Jews, and Muslims lived side-by-side.