Editing Glosses as Networks: Exploring the Explorative Edition

Research output: Working paper/discussion paperPreprint


Creators of digital editions have historically been among the early adopters of computational tools in the humanities. It is surprising, therefore, that digital editions have been very slow in accepting the distant reading paradigm, which has been widely embraced as a fruitful approach for studying textual collections. In this article we make the case that digital scholarly editions should become explorative editions: while maintaining philological accuracy, they can and
should include interactive tools that help the reader study and work through the edition's riches.
We use the example of the early medieval glosses to the first book of Isidore's
Etymologiae and argue that a network representation is better suited than the traditional stemma to represent the relations among manuscripts that carry these glosses. Then we proceed to show that an edition of these glosses
can use interactive network graphs to provide high-level overviews of the
information that the edition contains. The graphs provide access points into the edition as well as ways to explore the relations among the manuscripts, Isidore's text and the glosses. We also discuss several examples where interactive network graphs could help in the study of other types of texts.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages27
Publication statusPublished - 29 Sept 2023


  • codicology
  • digital humanities
  • digital scholarly editions
  • distant reading
  • early middle ages
  • explorative edition
  • Isidore of Seville
  • diffusion of innovations
  • historical network research
  • Latin paleography
  • manuscript studies
  • medieval studies
  • medieval Latin
  • network analysis
  • Network visualisation


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