Introducing the Oxford-BYU Syriac Corpus – A Presentation at the #msuglobaldh Symposium

Today I’ll be giving a lightning talk presentation on the Oxford-BYU Syriac Corpus–a new digital archive for Syriac texts–at Michigan State University for the MSU Global Digital Humanities Symposium. The full schedule for the event can be found here.

The presentation will be live-streamed, which can be viewed here. My talk is scheduled for 1:30 pm (EST).

Here is the abstract for my presentation:

Introducing the Oxford-BYU Syriac Corpus: An Archive for the Preservation of Syriac Texts

The Syriac language is an ancient dialect of Aramaic, spoken widely throughout the Middle East in the 4th-7th centuries CE. Following this period, Syriac continued to be spoken primarily by Christian communities along the Silk Road, from the Mediterranean Sea to India and China. Moreover, Syriac survives today as a liturgical language for multiple ecclesiological bodies, and there are modern dialects spoken in Turkey, Syria, Iran, Iraq and diaspora communities around the world. Given the geographic and temporal range of the Syriac tradition, it is no surprise that there is a rather large corpus of Syriac texts produced between late antiquity and the late modern period; however, most of these texts remain unavailable to heritage communities of the Syriac tradition, either because the manuscripts are held in library collections in Europe or because of lack of access to critical editions available to scholars in research institutions.

The Oxford-BYU Syriac Corpus seeks, in part, to remedy this lack of availability of texts by creating an open access repository of Syriac texts. The current corpus consists of a collection of several hundred texts, which have been transcribed either from print editions or manuscripts by scholars and students at Oxford University and Brigham Young University, and these transcribed texts are in the process of being converted to TEI for use in the corpus. In the next stage of the project, we envision people from anywhere in the world being able to contribute to this corpus by transcribing texts and encoding them using training materials and templates that we will create. We hope that this corpus will serve as an enduring archive of the Syriac language, which will aide in the preservation of the Syriac heritage among global diaspora communities.