Field D: Formatting Contents
Written Artefacts are not just containers. Their contents are always formatted according to conventions, which are shaped by the interplay of materials, social and economic settings and cultural patterns. Generally, contents span the whole range of literary, religious and scientific interests as well as practical concerns. Beyond writing, these are realised in various formats, including sketches, maps, diagrams or musical notations, found in no less varied written artefacts, from inscriptions to books to research diaries. According to particular choices and expectations, a specific content is formatted into a material version realised individually in each written artefact; it is selected and visually organised, copied, expanded or changed by individual intervention, or even erased. Formatting is therefore never neutral, but always culturally and materially determined.
Complex written artefacts use complex formatting types and are motivated by complex contents or complex practices or by both. They can be multilingual, multilayered or multigraphic, or, in fact, all at the same time, including different kinds of graphic representations and different language systems. In many cases these artefacts are the only available evidence for practices involved in their production and use; in other cases, they complement what literary sources tell us. Thus, complex written artefacts can provide a new and more precise understanding of cultural production in the process of transmission and fruition. Formatting Contents will investigate the role of formatting in the production, dissemination and deletion of contents: Do (culture-specific) types of formatting exist, which are used only for certain types of content or for related practices? How are they used to re-format contents and how are possible changes related to changes in cultural patterns or social settings? Is there a functional differentiation between different types of written artefacts such as manuscripts and inscriptions? How are contents erased from manuscript cultures and what happens to contents that are perceived as no longer up to date?
D1 | Multilingual written artefacts will study the side-by-side placement of multiple scripts and languages in inscriptions and manuscripts. Such formatting practices may be interpreted as traces of navigating across multiple linguistic boundaries or even between various cultures.
D2 | Multigraphic written artefacts focuses on those written artefacts in which pictorial and graphic elements other than script play an equal or dominant role, such as maps or diagrams or the iconic qualities of various scripts.
D3 Multilayered written artefacts attends to the various types of formatting practices, adding or deleting content or even combining written artefacts, such as codicological units in a composite.