Two on-line projects on the early Celestina: HSMS-DLOST and TeXTReD

The Early “Celestina” Electronic Texts and Concordances exist in CD-ROM since 1997 but, despite their native digital format, they have not been made available on-line until the past year. Concretely in 2015 the Hispanic Seminary of Medieval Studies added Celestina to their list of available corpora at the Digital Library of Old Spanish Texts (HSMS-DLOST), and the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Wisconsin has only needed a few months to take advantage of this and launch their own website devoted to the early texts of Celestina as part of its own project TeXTReD.

Sin título 1The Early “Celestina” Electronic Texts and Concordances includes semi-paleographic transcriptions of all extant exemplars of the Comedia, of all known editions of the Tragicomedia in Castilian through 1530, and of the unique extant manuscript witness, totalling twenty-one transcriptions. In the HSMS-DLOST, these serve as a basis for interactive indexes (alphabetical, frequency, and reverse alphabetical) and concordances, their purpose being allowing scholars to do “detailed stylistic, lexical and textological studies to analyze more closely the questions of authorship and the relationship between Comedia and Tragicomedia printings”. Therefore, they serve a highly specialised function and are oriented towards a scholar audience.

Sin títuloBy contrast, the TeXTReD project sacrifices the interactivity of the HSMH-DLOST. It exclusively provides transcriptions, indexes, and concordances, in plain text, but it adds a visual component: besides the transcriptions, the indexes, and the concordances, of the HSMS-DLOST, the TeXTReD website provides links to digital facsimiles of some (three) of the transcribed texts; more specifically, those kept in the Hispanic Society of America. Moreover, there are digitisations of additional editions of Celestina kept at the Hispanic Society, in Spanish and in Italian, of the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries, not relevant for the Early “Celestina” Electronic Texts and Concordances but still interesting for anyone working on Celestina. However, all this features are completely independent and there is no option for visualising text and facsimile simultaneously, therefore, this site is very interesting as a resource for teaching and/or research materials, but not a research tool in itself.

In conclusion, the TeXTReD project is particularly oblivious to the possibilities of Digital Humanities, while the HSMH-DLOST project takes advantage of the possibilities of linking contents, but is too static and does not include any visual component. However, despite these defects, both projects are a good point of departure and provide useful materials for further research and, above all, for future digital editions of Celestina.

Celestinesque Website:

mainlogoDespite it having been on-line since long, I absolutely had forgotten to write a few words on this interesting on-line project launched and directed by Enrique Fernández Rivera (University of Manitoba), to which this blog has contributed some of its visual resources. Born with a similar purpose as, for example, the projects Banco de imágenes del Quijote: 1605-1905 or Iconografía del Quijote, and probably as a direct consecuence of the Biblioteca de obra: La Celestina of the Biblioteca Vitual Miguel de Cervantes virtually having been abandoned, aims to gather together as many on-line visual resources on Celestina as possible, including woodcuts, engravings and illustrations of ancient and modern editions of the text, but also depictions of celestinesque motifs in visual arts, generally speaking. This includes any form of painting, but also sculpture, stage adaptations and an interesting section on varia, in which coasters alternate with lottery tickets or high-school stop-motion animations.

The site, developed with Omeka, has a quite intuitive interface and, although its design could be improved with time and technical support, for an almost personal enterprise it is more than enough. Actually, I feel only the high amount of unnecesary intermediate steps to access certain collections could be criticised but, from my own experience with other content managements systems, I suspect this is related to how Omeka displays certain information by default. Other questionable aspect would be the lack of source attribution, not only because most images already were available on-line, the main contribution of being making all of them accessible -and searchable- in one place, but because users wanting to use the images with commercial purposes and, therefore, obliged to ask for the corresponding permissions do not know whom to address. Finally, being conceived as a mere repository, it lacks image, comparison and annotation/commentary tools, which, in any case, most users will not miss.

Due to the limited extent of its collections and its strictly informative character, is obviously better as a teaching resource than a research tool, however, it could become more useful with some private and institutional support. Individuals contributing their own images or pointing to some already existent ones would be of great help, however, the greatest boost this project should come from libraries (and museums) digitising and making freely available more content. In any case, it is an excellent initiative and I personally invite everyone to use it and keep it updated and alive.

Work in progress: Bibliographical database on Celestina

It has been long since my last post and, since summer is a time for personal projects, I would like to comment on a current ongoing project of great interest for “celestinistas”: a searchable on-line database of celestinesque bibliography.

Database frontpage.
Database frontpage.

Unlike the bibliographies of Lilian von der Walde Moheno1and A. Robert Lauer2, HTML-based and conceived as a traditional list of recommended readings, this new project is inspired by on-line library catalogues and aims to serve as an useful research tool, as well as as a digital alternative to and a backup of Joseph T. Snow’s impressive bibliography on the topic3 and Celestinesca‘s “suplementos bibliográficos”. Therefore, on its current stage, the purpose of this project is to create a database record for each bibliographical item in both, Snow’s and Celestinesca‘s bibliographies. This proves a tedious and long work, as there are more than two thousand and only slightly more than ten per cent have been introduced in the database by now, but the amount of records keeps growing and it is very likely that the database will be complete by 2015.

Records 1-5 (from 325) in table view.
Records 1-5 (from 325) in table view.
Records 1-8 (from 325) in list view.
Records 1-8 (from 325) in list view.

After some failed attempts at self-programming of the frontend and much fighting with the otherwise very useful database interface builder Xataface, it was decided to use the web-based customisable bibliographical database RefBase, which covered most of the needs of the project. Not only does it offer an excellent, almost fully customisable search tool, and several results views, but it does also offer the possibility to save and export bibliographical records directly to your computer or bibliographical software. Moreover, it allows users to keep track of the latest bibliographical entries thank to its RSS feed, and to access directly on-line items.

Simple search form.
Simple search form.

At present, this is a one-person project but should you be interested in participating or knowing the public URL, please contact me.

1Walde Moheno, Lilian von der (website), “Bibliografía: La Celestina” <> (25/07/2014).

2Lauer, A. Robert (website), “Bibliografía celestinesca” <> (25/07/2014).

3Snow, Joseph T. (1985), “Celestina” by Fernando de Rojas: An Annotated Bibliography of World Interest 1930-1985, (Madison: Hispanic Seminary of Medieval Studies).

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