During the years we have been working on Hm, we have incurred many debts. We are particularly indebted to the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia. In 1992, IATH, funded by the University, the IBM Corporation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Science Foundation, began its work of exploring and expanding the potential of information technology as a tool for humanities research. To that end, it has in most subsequent years provided a series of faculty Fellows with equipment, extensive consultation, technical support, applications programming, and networked publishing facilities. Cultivating partnerships in humanities computing initiatives with libraries, publishers, information technology companies, scholarly organizations, and others interested in the intersection of computers and cultural heritage, IATH has transformed humanistic computing at the University of Virginia. Without its assistance, much of this edition simply could not have been created.
We have been fortunate to have worked at IATH in the company of computer specialists who have understood the special needs of English teachers. First and most profound thanks are offered to John Unsworth, now Dean of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, who until 2004 was a colleague in the English Department at the University of Virginia and Director of IATH. His support for the Archive has been both generous and unstinting. He has provided equipment, software, space, and monies for research assistants. Even more, he has given us his personal time and shared with us his vast knowledge. Other members of his staff have been unfailingly generous with their time and knowledge, especially Daniel Pitti, Project Director of IATH, who has also worked overtime to solve our problems. Thanks are due also to Shayne Brandon, Cynthia Girard, Susan Munson, and Stephen Ramsay, whose Perl scripts simplified many a complicated task we could not have done on our own, as well as to Robert W. Bingler and Chris Jessee, all of whom helped us over many technical and conceptual hurdles, some of our own creation, with unfailing competence, courtesy, and charity. Joy Shifflette, Program Support Technician at IATH, helped us in innumerable ways. Peter Baker, in permitting us to use and extend his Old English fonts has made it possible for us to display non-standard characters such as yoghs, punctus elevatuses, raised points, etc. We are grateful to Gordon Braden, then Chairman of the English Department at the University of Virginia, for his sponsorship of our 2004 and 2005 Workshops in Charlottesville. In providing us with the Elwood Viewer Eugene W. Lyman has contributed immensely to the work of the Archive, not only in increasing the sophistication of display but also in showing us how to use Elwood in the process of editing.
We are grateful to Dr. Mary Robertson, William A. Moffett Chief Curator of Manuscripts at the Huntington Library who gave us access to the manuscript and permission to make and publish digital images of the entire manuscript.
We wish to thank the graduate research assistants who have worked in Charlottesville with Duggan on Hm and another three dozen manuscripts of Piers Plowman. Those competent and energetic young scholars are named on the title page for their part in preparing this text. Very special gratitude is due to Patricia Bart and Timothy Stinson who prepared all of the images for display in this edition. Their work and ours has been generously supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, an independent federal agency.
No one who works with Piers Plowman can fail to be indebted to the labors of Professor George Kane and his collaborators in editing the Athlone Piers Plowman. First, the Athlone texts were produced to an almost impossibly high standard of transcriptional and collational accuracy. In nearly every instance, we have found their apparatus both full and reliable. Simple transcriptional accuracy is by far the hardest, most demanding, as well as one of the most important tasks facing any editor. After several years of checking their apparatus in a variety of contexts, we can say that it is practically perfect. Moreover, they have laid out in their detailed Introductions—with an explicitness and transparency unparalleled in editions of Middle English texts—their reasons for hundreds of their editorial decisions. We are accustomed to textual notes for such purposes, notes that call attention to difficult cases and that serve as synecdoches for the full process of editorial reasoning. By publishing these arguments in their introductions, the Athlone editors have austerely placed upon their readers the severe burden of recapitulating at least portions of their editorial project. They have laid out explicitly the evidence they take to be relevant to their editorial decisions, and they invite their readers to challenge their text or their argument of the evidence. More than is usually the case, the Athlone editors have played fair with their readers. We are grateful to them for their achievement and their example.
Michael Calabrese wishes in particular to thank Gail Duggan and Patricia Bart for their friendship and support and to offer his thanks to all the Archive staff at his alma mater the University of Virginia for their dedication to every detail in the manuscript. He would also like to thank his friend and former student, Professor Marjorie Smith of Pasadena City College, for her important work on the textual notes to this edition. He thanks John Bowers, Martin Huld, and Stephen Shepherd for their kind consultations about this manuscript, as well as Christopher Adde and Mary Robertson at the Huntington Library. He is grateful to the Huntington Library for a fellowship that allowed him to begin detailed work on Hm 128 in the summer of 1999. He takes pleasure in fulfilling an old promise in dedicating his work on this edition to the Readers' Services staff at the Huntington Library, specifically Anne Mar and Mona the "Light of God" Shulman, who shepherded him through the fellowship with their distinct mix of wit, authority, and sisterhood. He wishes to dedicate his work as well to the memory of Carrie Saliers, who, in the old Almanson Reading room in the Fall of 1997 first placed the old book into his hands.
The editors owe special thanks to Robert Adams and Gail Duggan who made the initial SGML transcription of the texts from a black and white microfilm copy.
Michael Calabrese, California State University, Los Angeles
Hoyt N. Duggan, The University of Virginia
Thorlac Turville-Petre, The University of Nottingham
1 March 2008