Chasing Krüger’s Dream: Studying the Transmission of Classical and Medieval Manuscripts Using Lattice Theory and Information Entropy
Paper by John Hessler
Given at the Library of Congress on September 27, 2012
New computational techniques show how modern digital philology is changing the way we think of the transmission of medieval manuscripts through space and time. Using the notes of the classical philologist Paul Krüger, whose manuscripts were recently rediscovered in the Law Library of Congress, complex three dimensional visualization techniques will be used to show how the medieval manuscripts making up the Codex of Justinian are spatially and temporally related to each other. The talk also highlights how these new techniques give scholars the tools to postulate what the structure of missing and destroyed manuscripts might have been–changing the face of even the most traditional of the humanities, classical philology.
Excerpt: This is probably one of the most difficult talks of all the conference presentations that I had ever had to give simply because I’m dealing with multidisciplinary pairing of subjects here that–that is archaic and idiosyncratic to say the least. And it goes from Roman law which is difficult enough to talk about to the transmission, the technical aspects of the transmission of medieval manuscripts to the details of very, very difficult collection of Paul Krueger collection to interpret in the Law Library, and if that wasn’t enough I somehow have to get all of you to understand the algebraic structure of Galois Lattice. Now I’m going to take this kind of gently at the beginning and then from what rest on the surface we’ll kind of plunge into the depths and we’ll see if anyone is–is drowning when we get into the material in a little bit deeper. So I’m going to start with kind of talking about how the Paul Krueger archive came to be rediscovered and then we’ll talk in detail a little bit about what’s in those archives, and then a little bit about Roman law and Justinian’s codex and some of the methods that–that scholars in the past have used to try and reconstruct manuscripts, and then we’ll move on to the–to the more technical aspects and the technique. Those of you who are interested in the Krueger archive, I put some pre-prints of a paper that I published in the Law Library of Journal on the back table back there. It gives a much more detailed representation of what’s in the archive. So if you’re interested, on the way out just you can take one. Now those of you who know my work and have known my work over the last 8 or 10 years, know that I have spent a great deal of time in places like Algeria and Tunisia and Sicily, basically studying the remains of Roman surveying. And there’s really two aspects of that. There’s the textual aspect, this is the beautiful view of Tipasa where there’s a lot of Roman surveying that took place. And what I’ve been doing is I’ve been looking at the comparison of the corpus agrimensorum which is the 6th century text on Roman surveying, it’s a collection of Roman surveying.