he Medieval Imaginations website has been developed through the successful collaboration of members of the Faculty of English and CARET (the Centre for Applied Research in Educational Technologies) in the University of Cambridge. Funding for the development of the site was provided from a HEFCE initiative intended to encourage the use of new technologies in teaching and learning. The idea of using the Mystery Plays as a focus for developing a website for teaching medieval literature and visual culture was conceived by Barry Windeatt, Professor of English in the Faculty; the general conception of the site was then developed in collaboration with Claire Daunton and other colleagues. The site allows students to explore the visual, religious and social context of medieval texts.
Following a competitive bid and the award of HEFCE funding in October 2001, a team from the Faculty of English, including Barry Windeatt and Claire Daunton, with assistance from David Clifford, began work with a design team from CARET, including Karen Wells, Enrico Piccardo, Rosemarie Gant and Sue Danson. A design for the site was agreed and a database was built and tested by CARET, working closely with the Faculty members. During the course of the next eighteen months Faculty members selected, scanned and uploaded into the site some 400 images. The images were catalogued, text prepared, edited and entered onto the site.
The management of the site was handed over to the Faculty of English in March 2003 (with the Faculty's Computer Officer, Jennifer Pollard acting as chief technical contact), and the work of editing was completed in December 2003 ready for the launch of the site in January 2004. Depending on the availability of funding, more images will be added and the site will continue to develop.
Since then, Dr Sarah James has worked as a Research Assistant on the project, researching and negotiating permissions prior to the site - with its present content of nearly 600 images - becoming accessible outside of the Cambridge University Data Network. Assistance towards this from a Small Research Grant from the British Academy is gratefully acknowledged.
Barry Windeatt wishes to acknowledge the generosity and enthusiasm of those - ranging from curators of major galleries to church wardens and private individuals - who have given permission for images to be included on this website. Special thanks are due to the kindness of Mr Richard Fattorini, of the Department of Printed Books and Manuscripts at Sotheby's.
The original concept of 'Medieval Imaginations', the researching and selection of all images, and the provision of accompanying text and commentary, are the work of Barry Windeatt, who is responsible for any errors and will welcome comments and corrections.
The 'Medieval Imaginations' website was launched and became fully accessible outside the University of Cambridge on 13 July 2007. This project is an ongoing one. Depending on the availability of funding, more images will be added and the site will continue to develop as a focus for study of the literary and visual culture of medieval England.
In April and May of 2010, the site was reworked for its move to a more modern web server. All of the underlying programming was rewritten by Maxime Debosschere of CARET under the direction of Dr Amyas Phillips. This was a major overhaul and the Faculty would like to thank both Mr Debosschere and Dr Phillips for their time and effort. The site's HTML coding was also rewritten; in part to make it easier to update the site when needed, but also to make it more accessible and to make use of some features of modern browsers that were unavailable in 2002. As part of this update, we needed a higher quality copy of the Medieval Imaginations logo, but were unable to locate the original graphic as designed by Karen Wells. Nic Brennan, a freelance artist living in the Cambridge area, was kind enough to donate his time and efforts to reproduce the logo for us, for which we extend many thanks.