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ONAMA – Ontology of Narratives of the Middle Ages

Hosting organisations
Uni Salzburg - Mittelhochdeutsche Begriffsdatenbank (MHDBDB), Institut für Realienkunde des Mittelalters u. der frühen Neuzeit (IMAREAL), and Interdisziplinäres Zentrum für Mittelalter und Frühneuzeit (IZMF)
Responsible persons
Katharina Zeppezauer-Wachauer, Peter Hinkelmanns, Isabella Nicka, and Manuel Schwembacher

The project “ONAMA” (“Ontology of Narratives of the Middle Ages”) deals with the creation of a computer-based system of relations between medieval narratological entities in texts and images.

The interdisciplinary ‘joint venture’ ONAMA is based on the extensive corpora of two long-term projects of the University of Salzburg, the Middle High German Conceptual Database (MHDBDB) and the image database REALonline of the Institute for Medieval and Early Modern Material Culture (IMAREAL). The two databases provide a sophisticated access to the medieval fine arts and literature: At REALonline a user is, among other things, able to choose a pictorial subject, to get access to a wide range of realisations of the motif appearing in works of art and on artefacts. The MHDBDB provides a comprehensive access to Middle High German literature and its vocabulary. Through its conceptual ontology it facilitates searches for motifs and themes and yields the respective text passages where they occur.

By connecting the data on the depicted elements and the thesauri of REALonline and the conceptual system of the MHDBDB, a language and media independent Ontology of Narratives of the Middle Ages will be formed. This innovative digital tool aims at overcoming the artificial disciplinary borderlines between text and image oriented studies and serves to answer many interdisciplinary and intermedial research questions. For example, ONAMA will examine how a narrative is realised through different objects and how the context of such “materialisations” influences the narratological structures. Thus it will reveal the impact a change of medium or the information carrier has on the narrative.

Users can simultaneously access detailed annotations on narratives in images and texts via the ONAMA frontend. This facilitates the identification of references or differences within the widely diversified corpora to medieval sources in the two databases. The narrative patterns in texts and images are annotated and visualized according to contemporary digital standards, which will provide a more solid empirical evaluation of the material. All data generated within ONAMA will be made available to the scholarly and scientific community under the Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA license and can be used for example as a basis for queries about narratives in other digital corpora.