The Medieval Electronic Scholarly Alliance (MESA) as a Resource for Medieval Studies Communities

The Medieval Electronic Scholarly Alliance (MESA) is a federated international community of scholars, project, institutions, and organizations engaged in digital scholarship within the field of medieval studies. Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and aligned with the Advanced Research Consortium (ARC), MESA seeks both to provide a community for those engaged in digital medieval studies and to meet emerging needs of this community, including making recommendations on technological and scholarly standards for electronic scholarship, the aggregation of data, and the ability to discover and repurpose this data. MESA launched in July 2013, and can be found at

MESA enables a cross-search of digital objects from a variety of different types of institutions and projects, including scholarly editions, museums, libraries, and other virtual collections of medieval materials. In doing this, MESA has the potential to enable new work across the various disciplines and genres of medieval studies (including but not limited to literature, history, art history, and archaeology), providing scholars with methods for discovering new materials relevant to their research.

This presentation will focus on the discovery aspect of MESA, and how it seeks to serve the non-digital medievalist who may nevertheless be interested in finding and using digital resources. Starting with a history of medievalists and their interactions with digital technology as told through three data sets (the International Congress on Medieval Studies (first held in 1962), (a digital project database in the UK, sponsored by JISC and the Arts & Humanities Research Council), and two surveys, from 2002 and 2011, that looked specifically at medievalists' use of digital resources), I will draw out some potential issues that this history has for the current developers of digital resources for medievalists, and investigate how MESA might serve to address these issues.