Parallel Glosses, Shared Glosses, and Gloss Clustering: Can Network-Based Approach Help Us to Understand Organic Corpora of Glosses?

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Glossing was an important element of medieval western manuscript culture. However, glosses are notoriously difficult to analyze because of their triviality, fluid nature, heterogeneity of origin, complex transmission histories, and anonymity. Traditional scholarly approaches such as close reading and the genealogical method often do not produce satisfactory results, especially in the case of gloss corpora that are highly organic, i.e., display the traits listed above to a significant degree. This article outlines a method for analyzing the organic corpora of glosses based on their treatment as networks. The theoretical model for the proposed method is the co-occurrence network, a network model in which relationships between entities (nodes) are established based on certain shared properties or constituent elements (edges). In the case of corpora of glosses, glossed manuscripts are assumed as nodes, and the glosses that specific manuscripts have in common constitute the edges between them. Since gloss parallelism can arise through different processes, including randomness, the article describes two strategies that reduce such noise so that the transmission of glosses can be effectively examined. The method is demonstrated on a representative corpus – the early medieval glosses to the first book of the Etymologiae of Isidore of Seville.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-100
Number of pages65
JournalJournal of Historical Network Research
Issue numberSpecial Issue
Publication statusPublished - 09 Nov 2023


  • Middle Ages
  • medieval studies
  • medieval book
  • manuscript studies
  • manuscript transmission
  • medieval Latin
  • palaeography
  • glossing
  • medieval annotation
  • Carolingian manuscripts
  • Isidore of Seville
  • network analysis
  • historical networks
  • historical network research
  • computational humanities
  • data analysis
  • digital editing
  • diffusion of innovations
  • transmission
  • history
  • history of knowledge


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