University of Galway
Irish Research Council

Global and Local Scholarship on Annotated Manuscripts (GLOSSAM)

GLOSSAM is a four-year research project (2022–2026) based in Classics at the University of Galway, directed by Dr Pádraic Moran. The project is funded by the Irish Research Council Laureate Awards.

The GLOSSAM project will enhance our understanding of reading, education, scholarship, and knowledge transfer in the pre-modern world, by creating new narratives, conceptual frameworks, digital tools and methodological models for the study of glosses.

Glosses are the paratexts transmitted between the lines and in the margins of manuscript books, micro-texts that control how the central texts were read and interpreted. Glosses are as ubiquitous as books themselves. Recent research has discovered that they are a truly global phenomenon, found throughout the literate cultures of Europe, the Middle East, and South and East Asia. The potential now exists to create a new narrative for the history of glossing in an expanded global context.

The project has five components: G1G2L1L2M

Component G1

A global conceptual framework

The project's first global objective is to articulate a new conceptual framework for the entire field of global glossing, encompassing Europe, the Middle East, and South and East Asia. This will be carried out in collaboration with expert members of the Network for the Study of Glossing.

The result will be a new, multi-authored Handbook of Glossing. The Handbook will integrate general theoretical perspectives with regional overviews and disciplinary approaches.

Led by: Principal Investigator Dr Pádraic Moran

Component G2

A new digital infrastructure

The second global objective is to develop an open-access tool to facilitate data sharing and knowledge generation. This will be a stable, sustainable, accessible and citable publishing system, built around open-data standards, to allow all researchers in the field of glossing studies to publish their primary sources in open-access, peer-reviewed publications.

We will also create a set of tools for analysis and visualisation, incorporating best practices from machine learning and Natural Language Processing (NLP), in order to facilitate knowledge generation using new methodologies from Digital Humanities.

Led by: Researcher in Computer Science (details to be confirmed)

Component L1

A survey of Irish glossed manuscripts

The first local case study will reveal the full extent and nature of glossing in one cultural region, namely Ireland in the period from c. AD 700 to 900, including the activities of Irish-trained scholars working abroad.

The result will be a full descriptive catalogue of glossed Irish manuscripts (in both Latin and Old Irish), based on the corpus of manuscripts established in Manuscripts with Irish Associations.

Led by: PhD Researcher Chiara Corongiu (2022–26)

Component L2

The European glossing tradition on Priscian

The second local case study will reveal the role of glosses in the transmission of knowledge in Europe, by focusing on the glossing tradition on one text, namely the sixth-century Latin grammar of Priscian. This encyclopaedic text was the pinnacle of the Graeco-Roman tradition of linguistic and literary study, and an important conduit for knowledge of Classical literary culture.

The work will involve surveying 25 manuscripts dating mainly from the ninth century. It will achieve results much more comprehensive and systematic than has been possible before, thanks to the new digital resource described under component G2.

Led by: Postdoctoral Researcher Dr Mary Sweeney (2023–25)

Component M

A new narrative for glossing in Ireland

This unifying component will translate the specialised research above, by contextualising the results within a broader cultural history, in order to demonstrate their significance beyond the field of glossing. A first-ever monograph on Latin book culture in early medieval Ireland will treat glossing as its central evidence, drawing extensively on the research from L1 and L2. It will further be informed by comparative international contexts, outlined in G1.

Led by: Principal Investigator Dr Pádraic Moran