The research will initially focus on the following four textual categories, all of them widely represented in medieval literature, though also found earlier:
This represents a hallmark of medieval hermeneutic tradition. A commentary is by nature a multilevel text in which different layers, often consisting of excerpts from authoritative authors, interact with the explanations of the commentator(s). Both this and the often quite variable manuscript copies of the same commentary present specific challenges to the editor.
A major category of medieval manuscripts consists in liturgical books, although liturgical genres are rarely represented in modern editions. Liturgical poetry – tropes, sequences, etc. – and readings from the Divine Office form a category of texts building on a standard structure but found in many local versions. Different editorial methods must be used in order to present the material in convenient modern editions.
A model text is a standard example from some genre – sermons, letters, rhetorical exercises, etc. – intended as guides for the preacher, speaker or writer. Some collections of model texts are found in abundant manuscript versions. Due to considerable editorial problems, model text collections, despite their cultural importance, have often been rather neglected by scholars. To make it possible to edit them at all, it is essential to work out pragmatic editorial methods.
Anthologies and florilegia contain excerpts from one or more authors in various arrangements – alphabetic, thematic etc. Gnomologies are compilations of shorter selections such as maxims and anecdotes, somewhat closer to the oral tradition. Due to the fluidity of this textual tradition, such compilations, widely utilized throughout Antiquity and the Middle Ages, confront the modern editor with a number of problems, such as how adequately to deal with accretions, depletions, difficulties of establishing authorial intention, etc.