Date of this Version
Documentary Editing, Volume 23, Number 2, June 2001.
ISSN 2476-1796 (electronic); ISSN 2167-1451 (print)
The dilemma of studying the Tapestry is twofold. In traditional editions of the textile, the discursive limits of the printed page require either a sacrifice of narrative fluidity for detailed resolution, or the converse. Put another way, in a printed edition, "readers" of the Tapestry either are given the document in gloriously detailed, high-resolution plates that fragment the textile's continuity, or are faced with small-scale reproductions that capture large narrative blocks but lack any comprehensive magnified detail. Additionally, since its rediscovery in the 1720s and like any complex and canonical narrative expression, the Tapestry has generated hundreds of scholarly books and articles across a wide range of disciplines, from academic approaches of history, art, and literature to discussions of material crafts, sailing vessels, medieval horses, and even neurosurgery. Again, the obdurate boundaries of print hinder the relation of such critical materials to the specific parts of the Tapestry upon which they comment. In traditional reproductions, the Tapestry, itself a collocation of word and image, must of necessity be spatially divorced from any texts of substantial commentary, for, like the Tapestry, one may pack only so much logos and imagos into a finite material space.
Hypermedia authoring, however, poses an interpretative alternative. The Bayeux Tapestry Digital Edition (hereafter BTDE) creates a more effective architecture of document display and scholarly annotation through a customized application of Macro media Director, a multimedia authoring software environment. This application will nun on Windows or Macintosh operating systems, on any computer of relatively recent technical vintage, and it contains provisions for translating its content to a World Wide Web-friendly format.