The Hengwrt Chaucer
: Cultural Capital in the digital domain

  • Keri Louise Thomas

Traethawd ymchwil myfyriwr: Traethawd Ymchwil DoethurolDoethur mewn Athroniaeth


Control is at the heart of issues surrounding the use of a digital artefact. In one sense, digitisation democratises knowledge; it makes that knowledge freely available to a large audience irrespective of who the audience member is, their education or place in the social hierarchy. In spite of this perceived egalitarianism, there are still limits in place; the material contained within those digital artefacts is still, for the large part, unintelligible to the layman, and the information imparted still chosen by an elite. This thesis attempts to explore several different concepts: the idea of cultural capital as suggested by Bourdieu, and whether the digitisation of cultural artefacts reinforces the cultural divide or emancipates knowledge; the Derridean notion of the archivist as both prison warden and creator of cultural value, with the manuscript captured in a form of house arrest: and considers Baudrillard’s concept of the simulacrum and applies it to the digital artefact, questioning whether digitisation erodes our understanding of the real to such an extent that we destroy it. All this is done through the framework of digitisation of the Hengwrt Chaucer, MS Peniarth 392D, possibly the oldest extant version of Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, held at Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru, the National Library of Wales, in Aberystwyth, and discussions surrounding the use of social media to enhance the Library’s exhibition of their cultural artefacts. Ultimately, I hope to establish whether the digital has the potential to undermine the system, to truly emancipate knowledge from its theoretical and cultural restraints. To do this I will be examining the physical Hengwrt (MS Peniarth 392D) as well as its digital counterpart. I have chosen to identify and include comment upon the relevant literature in Chapters 1 and 2 of this thesis, and to incorporate it into the body of the work rather than having the review as a defined element of the thesis. I have done this because the synthesis of primary, secondary and tertiary literature I have employed covers a broad area and, where it has been collated for the purposes of other studies and research (in the case of Bourdieu, for example, his work consisted of qualitative and quantitative analysis methods to represent his discussion of habitus and cultural capita) I can present an overview of mixed sets of data over several different fields of research (Chaucerian research, for example, in juxtaposition with Bourdieuian theories of cultural capital and Baudrillard’s conception of the death of the real). Furthermore, I felt it was important to include a wide range of secondary literature in a range of fields as this represents a key element in data gathering and, in the case of a field such as cultural value, allows for the fact that my primary evidence might not be deemed adequately weighty to support the weight of my conjecture.
Dyddiad Dyfarnu2015
Iaith wreiddiolSaesneg
Sefydliad Dyfarnu
  • Prifysgol Aberystwyth
NoddwyrKnowledge Economy Skills Scholarships
GoruchwyliwrElisabeth Salter (Goruchwylydd) & Louise Marshall (Goruchwylydd)

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