Hi Everybody!

I moved to Ottawa from Aylmer, Ontario four years ago to pursue a History B.A. Honours at Carleton University. My areas of interest are quite wide-ranging as my previous courses include discussions on the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the Vikings’ arrival in Britain, France after 1871 and a thorough history of Russia. I prefer to engage with various areas, periods and approaches to history because this helps to broaden my view on the world. I found it fascinating to take two courses on late nineteenth/early twentieth century Ireland at the same time as I learned about similar events from a male-centred narrative alongside a neglected, less traditional female viewpoint.

I centred my fourth year on two seminars entitled American Madness and Digitizing Medieval Manuscripts. Though these classes sound incredibly different from each other their relationship to the present (along with my interest) links them together. Given mental illness’ awareness in our society I want to investigate exactly how people treated and understood mental illness in the past. The course’s specific focus in America feels suitable, as U.S. history—from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement—has been a reoccurring subject throughout my undergraduate degree.

Digitizing Medieval Manuscripts stood out due to the rising growth in digital history and my own personal aspirations for a graduate degree in Library Sciences. Through this course I hope to explore a new technological world and develop important skills to carry on after graduation. Additionally, my interest in the medieval significantly increased during my year in the United Kingdom where I investigated popular accounts of ‘ghost stories’ and religious vs. societal ideas around sanctity.

Finally, as an avid reader I love uncovering the ‘story’ within historical documents, events and people. I hope to one-day work in an environment (whether that is a library, a museum or an archive) in which I can surround myself daily with documents and artefacts that make history come alive.


Getting to know Trina

Trina Etmanskie

Aspiring teacher, current student.

My name is Trina and I am one of the students currently working on digitizing Medieval Manuscripts! This semester I have found myself discovering what lies behind the words in this manuscript. 

I am working towards finishing my undergraduate degree with hopes in starting a Bachelor of Education in September 2019. I am interested in learning new skills and techniques that I could apply to a classroom setting. My goal is to become an elementary school teacher in Ontario. My hope is that I can apply new, technological ways of research into the classroom even for those at a young age.

My academic interests are public history, understanding digital history as a tool for storytelling and introducing technology into the history classroom. My goal is to gain a knowledge base that will allow me to further my interest in education reform as well as utilize tools of digital history to inform and teach new, young learners. History is not of the past but of the present! With the correct tools, the young minds of tomorrow can truly grasp and understand the past in new lights.

My main area of study in my academics lays in the sphere of public history. It is interesting to begin to understand how we have displayed history in the public eyes. Although we can all view history (as it happens around us every moment) there are few moments that are preserved. Why do we choose these moments? And how do we preserve them? Further more, what does the way in which we preserve these moments say about us as a society?

I have knowledge using:



Languages such as Markdown and basic Javascript

“There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.”

– Jiddu Krishnamurti

Follow me along this academic journey as I work towards the task of discovering what medieval folio I have stumbled upon! I will be posting on Twitter and my blog with up to date information along this digital journey.

Twitter: @TEtmanskie

Here’s me!
Follow our Twitter to stay up to date with our journey: https://twitter.com/MdvlBook


About Me: Paige Bryenton

Hello, my name is Paige Bryenton and I am a 4th year History major with a minor in Medieval and Early Modern Studies at Carleton University. My educational interests surround  relationships and sexuality in the medieval era. I am also interested in the Roman Empire and 18th century Britain.

In my fourth year, I am trying to narrow down what I would like to study and I would like to specialize in after my undergrad. I have narrowed my scope to the medieval era, specifically relationships and sexuality. I am taking a course called Digitizing Medieval Manuscripts which I think will help build my knowledge of this field and the possible careers that could be in store for someone with a History degree.

Some hobbies I have include playing board games. Some favourites include Settlers of Catan, Lords of Waterdeep, and Mysterium. I also play Dungeons & Dragons and enjoy the fantasy culture surrounding that which ties into my love of history quite well.

Preparing for Week 2.

Our experiment has begun! Our Digitizing Medieval Manuscripts class met for the first time on September 10th and we got to know a bit about the fourteen of us. The students are mostly history students, but come from a wide range of backgrounds and preparations. I am super excited to be working with what looks like a super engaged group! From the constant notifications I’m getting from the various online resources we’ve set up on many different platforms, it’s clear that students are jumping right into the thick of things.

This week I want everyone to explore a bit. Instead of rushing to put up a hcommons.org profile, all should take a look at other profiles to see how others craft an image of themselves (e.g. their academic selves) online. If you want to see how others have theorized about online identity creation, take a look at the Pearson article in this week’s readings. Likewise, even if you’re already a Twitter aficionado, spend a few minutes each day reading through the twitter feed of the book history types to see how they write, discuss and interact with others. There is an element of both fun and seriousness in their endeavour, at times trying to entertain or amuse and other times to educate and advise. Your experience signing up for and exploring these two online spaces will provide the “primary source” of our discussion.

  1. For class on September 17th, try to identify one person on #medievaltwitter who has impressed you and be able to make explicit what about their style/ content resonated with you. Try also to find a profile on hcommons.org that helped you to understand its purpose.
  2. I find the twitter account @siwaratrikalpa particularly instructive about how #medievaltwitter can work. It is an officially anonymous feed, and students should read the explanation of their self-definition to understand why they remains anonymous and how/why they tweet about their research in the way they do. Ask yourself, for @siwaratrikalpa what is the point of twitter?
  3. Our readings this week ask us to reflect more generally on how academics (a catch-all term to describe professors, heritage experts, advanced degree students…) engage publicly on social media.
  4. Jesse Strommel’s post provides a strategy for how to develop a following. What is the key strategy he suggests? And if you were trying to build a following, what steps should you take on Twitter to be a good citizen and a follow-worthy tweeter.
  5. The “Manuscript the Tube” blog post from the British Library shows one successful way in which a large public heritage institution interacted with a large public (though largely academic). The goal was to be playful but also to get people using the digitized collection. What does this example show about social media use? What was successful and what not?
  6. Sarah Werner’s post (and please listen to her talk linked at the beginning of the post) dissects what not to do (i.e. what to do) in trying to increase public engagement with special collections. Figure out what you should take away from her ideas to craft your own strategy if you were a special collections curator.
  7. The two articles by Ricoy & Feliz and Pearson are more academic/ anthropological in their genre. Ricoy and Feliz are focussed on what makes Twitter useful for learning and what can make it problematic. Figure out what you should be doing to make the best pedagogical use of Twitter. With Pearson’s article, consider how being online allows choices in identity creation, and identify the advantages/ disadvantages of the “performing” identity on an online environment.

Good luck to all the students in getting prepared. I’m looking forward to an exciting discussion!

One week left…

I’ve spent much of the summer preparing for teaching this new course and all too quickly the beginning of school is threatening. I need to finalize the reading list still, I haven’t submitted the syllabus to the department and I am still putting together tutorials for the exercises we’ll be doing in class. So, I am somewhat panicking while also very excited to start a new class. My biggest fear is that tools will be updated in between me writing up exercises and us working on them – but I guess this is par for the course in DH.

The process of working on this course has challenged many of my expectations about what students should be learning and working on. This has changed how I think and work on things. For example, having been wedded to WYSWYG word processors since Word came into being (I still mourn WordPerfect’s blue background), I now have an appreciation for work with very simple text editors. Using Markdown or working with code (HTML, TEI) is easier than I thought it would be and offers a certain purity of expression where the author has much control over defining the meaning of text elements, not just its appearance. I have found myself far less obsessed with worrying about layout and the perfect font than I have been. Also, I find that I am more rational about the purpose everything in a document (or in the class) and how it all fits together.

There is still much work to be done before next week and still much work to be done over the course of the year to make sure everything stays on track, but I think overall this preparation has helped motivate me to try to do more. Each stage that I thought was insurmountable began to seem, with time and practice, to be straightforward and reasonable. I hope this course pushes me to embrace this field and keep going with it. I already have so many ideas of how to integrate this with my research….