2018-2019 Speaker Series

In this presentation, Professor Krawiec described her participation in a project aimed at creating a digital collection of ancient texts preserved in Coptic, a language that is linguistically related to earlier forms of Egyptian language, such as the hieroglyphs, but written in an alphabet based primarily on ancient Greek. The project itself is collaborative, with the two directors representing the areas of computational linguistics and religious studies. One of the main features of the project has been to incorporate many layers of information into the digitization, so that each text provides access to multiple avenues of research. Dr. Krawiec outlined these various layers and then focus on the specific work she has done to build the project as well as how the project has subsequently enhanced her own research about the development of Christianity in fourth and fifth century Egypt. Krawiec also explored some of the challenges of this work, some of which are technical but also the ethical considerations about cultural heritage that are currently at the forefront of much of the study of antiquity.

Professor Krawiec’s presentation was followed by a lively conversation concerning scholarly and technical aspects of Coptic Scriptorium.


Rebecca Krawiec received her undergraduate degree from Brown University (1990) and her PhD in Religious Studies from Yale University in 1996. She is the author of Shenoute and the Women of the White Monastery: Female Egyptian Monasticism in Late Antiquity(Oxford, 2002), which examines the lives of women in a monastery under a male leader, Shenoute. More recently, Krawiec has written articles on issues of literacy and social memory in a range of forms of monasticism associated with Egypt in the fourth and fifth centuries. She teaches at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY, where she is chair of the Religious Studies and Theology Department. She specializes in courses on the New Testament and early Christian history, as well as women and religion more generally.

After her presentation, Dr. Krawiec explained some technical aspects of the project to Computer Science and Digital Media Arts major Kris Iliev, ’21. 

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