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Authorship and the Computer: An Anonymous Piece of Late Medieval Devotional Literature

Authorship and the Computer: An Anonymous Piece of Late Medieval Devotional Literature

By Veronica Lawrence

Historical Social Research / Historische Sozialforschung(HSR), Vol. 14:4 (1989)

Introduction: The project described in this paper was undertaken as a result of the author’s Ph.D. research into the writings of an early sixteenth-century Bridgettine and author of devotional literature, Richard Whitford. Work on the establishment of his canon prompted the author of this paper to begin investigations on the ways in which the computer might be used in the establishment of authorship. Obviously, it is not always necessary to resort to the computer when questions of authorship arise. Frequently, discrepancies in style, preoccupation, dating and other textual characteristics arc so glaring that it becomes relatively easy to say that a particular text was not written by a particular author. It is much more difficult to prove the authenticity of a text or to come to a verdict when disparities exist side-by-side with tantalising similarities.

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