The third Coffee Break Conference, “The Study of Asia: between Antiquity and Modernity,” recently held in Cagliari (13th–15th June), hosted a panel on Cybernetic Sources—The Historical Sciences in the Age of Digitization. On this occasion, Dr. Formigatti delivered a speech analyzing the advantages and shortcomings of a digital catalogue vis à vis a traditional catalogue in book form. Particular attention has been devoted to the encoding of information according to the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) standards, and to the drawbacks of its highly hierarchical organization schema. A major issue arising from the application of these standards is that cataloguers are often forced to adapt definitions developed for Western manuscripts—whatever this might mean—to manuscripts belonging to altogether different cultural traditions. However, also the positive aspects of a digital catalogue have been dealt with, such as the digitization of manuscripts, the increased ease of cross referencing information within collections and the open character of digital texts, a feature that allows the constant improvement of catalogue entries.
Manuscript Add. 1004, Tamil Rāmāyaṇa Dr Eva Wilden (Ecole Française d’Extreme Orient, Paris–Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures , Hamburg) will give a talk on “The Afterlife of a Mackenzie Manuscript or How Tiruvaḷḷuvar Brought the Cankam to England”, on Thursday 31 May 2012, 12.00 am, room 7, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies.
On Monday 28th May, Dr. Vincenzo Vergiani, Dr Daniele Cuneo and Dr Camillo Formigatti presented the project at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (FAMES) Research Day.
On Friday 25th May, Dr Daniele Cuneo and Dr Camillo Formigatti presented the project at the STIMW – The Sanskrit Tradition in the Modern World conference held at Manchester University with the paper: “A Sanskrit Treasure Trove in East Anglia.”
Florinda De Simini will held a lecture with the title “Preliminary observations on a critical edition of the Śivadharma corpus: the Nepalese tradition,” on Thursday 24 May, 12 pm, in room 314, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies.
Religious environments and the use of manuscripts:
a case study from Indian religious traditions
Since its inception, modern Sanskrit scholarship has looked at manuscripts as a major repository of classical Indian textual knowledge and used them for the production of critical editions. However, little attention has been paid to other traditional usages of manuscripts in ancient and modern times. On the basis of the textual evidence provided by Sanskrit juridical and religious works, Florinda De Simini (Università di Napoli “l’Orientale” / Università degli Studi di Torino) will discuss an important aspect of Indian manuscript culture, namely the production, correction and recitation of manuscripts for ritualistic purposes, trying to situate this topic in the broader context of textuality and traditional hermeneutics. The lecture will be held on Tuesday 22nd May, 5pm, rooms 8-9, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies.
Prof. Nalini Balbir (Université Sorbonne nouvelle – Paris 3) will be in Cambridge on Tuesday 20 March to meet with Dr Vergiani and the project staff, in order to discuss the possibility of a collaboration for the cataloguing of the important collection of Jaina manuscripts kept in the UL.
Burkhard Quessel, Curator of the Tibetan Collections at the British Library, will meet with the project team on Monday 19 March to discuss some of the issues arising from the use of the TEI 5 module for the cataloguing of South Asian manuscripts.
Prof. Francesco Sferra (Istituto Universitario Orientale, Napoli) will visit Cambridge on 12-14 March 2012 to examine some of the manuscripts in the UL Sanskrit collections and discuss the interest of these sources for future research with the project team.
On this occasion, he will also deliver a lecture, “Apropos of Some Late Indian Buddhist Manuscripts kept in the Cambridge University Library”, focusing in particular on some manuscripts of the Kālacakra tradition. The lecture will be held on Tuesday 13 March, 5pm, room 7, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies.
Dr. Andrea Acri (National University of Singapore & Australian National University) will visit Cambridge on 5 March 2012 to examine some of the Javanese and Balinese manuscripts in the UL collection. On this occasion, he will also deliver a lecture, “Rare Old Javanese Manuscripts in the UK,” focusing on some early (ca. 16th century) manuscripts of Javanese provenance kept in the Asian manuscript collections of the Cambridge UL, the Oxford Bodleian Library, and the British Library.