Hi, Emma Dove here. Along with Lauren Kim, I’m one of the two makers of Digitized Devotion. It’s 2022, almost a year after the release of Digitized Devotion Version 1, and I’m working on a dissertation about – you guessed it – books of hours.
I wouldn’t have landed on a dissertation topic without Digitized Devotion. Bringing together and analyzing such a large dataset helped me realize just how many hundreds of dissertations have yet to be written about books of hours. It also helped me recognize patterns, such as the repeated appearance of two texts that I’d never heard of before, but sounded intriguing: the “Hours of the Conception of the Virgin” (sometimes called the “Hours of the Immaculate Conception”) and the “Hours of the Compassion of the Virgin.” If you search for these two texts on this website, you’ll notice just how many manuscripts in this limited dataset come up – 13 containing the “Conception” and 6 containing the “Compassion.”
Not all that much has been written about these texts, yet they appear in a significant number of surviving books of hours. They also speak eloquently to the themes of identity, lay spirituality, and religious reform that are at the center of my dissertation. As part of my dissertation project, then, I’m creating the first of what are called “editions” of these two texts. I’ll start by transcribing them from the oldest, best preserved manuscripts I can find. Then, because they’re mostly in Latin, I’ll translate them. And then finally, if time allows, I’ll compare the original transcriptions to other manuscript versions to create a “critical edition,” noting variations, seeking common sources, and eventually creating a stemma – a diagram that shows the relationships of various manuscript versions to others.
These editions are works in progress, but I’d like to share that progress here as part of an expanded version of Digitized Devotion – as an example of what can come from datasets like this one.