Thierry Delcourt: in memoriam

Photo © Philippe Savouret

Thierry Delcourt: in memoriam

With profound regret we learned of the death of Thierry Delcourt, Director of the Department of Manuscripts at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, on November 22.  The cause was brain cancer; he was 52 years old.

The Digital Library of Medieval Manuscripts at Johns Hopkins could not have had a better friend and collaborator than Thierry Delcourt. It is no exaggeration to say that without his vision and generosity, our site would not have the wealth of manuscripts of the Roman de la Rose it now contains.  

This is how it happened. In 2006, Winston Tabb, Dean of the Sheridan Libraries at Johns Hopkins, and I visited Thierry Delcourt, the newly appointed Director of Manuscripts, in his office on the Rue de Richelieu.  We had come to Paris in hopes of obtaining imaging rights to ten or twelve key Rose manuscripts in the BnF. When I explained our project, and showed him the site, Thierry smiled and asked if we wouldn’t rather have the image rights for all the Rose manuscripts in France!  Quickly calculating how much of a grant we would need to make this happen, we agreed that Hopkins would raise the necessary funds for the project, while the BnF would assume responsibility for the digital imaging of the 140+ publically-available Rose codices in France. And so began a wonderful collaboration born out of Thierry Delcourt’s visionary conception for the role of the BnF in the twenty-first century.

His vision grew naturally from his own training in and love for medieval French literature.  Trained as a paleographer-archivist at the prestigious École des Chartes in Paris, he specialized in manuscripts of the prose Tristan cycle, beginning with his thesis: Le Roman de Tristan en prose. Édition critique et commentaire de l’épisode du Château des Pucelles (1983). He subsequently published other books on the Prose Tristan, on Arthurian literature, bestiaries, crusade chronicles, and the tradition in France of early popular book formats.

Early in his career, Thierry Delcourt distinguished himself as an imaginative and entrepreneurial administrator both in the public and private sector. Appointed Conservator of the Audio-Visual Department at the BnF in 1983, he was recruited into the private sphere as a consultant in systems technology from 1989 to 1992, the year the BnF lured him back to his former post.  In 1995, he became director of the Municipal Library of Troyes, which, under his leadership, became one of the leading media centers in France…even, some feel, one of the most modern and innovative of its kind. In 2006, the BnF appointed him to the post he held until his death this week.  

Fate did not allow us to prolong our partnership with Thierry himself beyond five-and-a-half short, but wonderfully collegial years. With uncanny prescience, however, he leaves as a legacy an extraordinary team in the Department of Manuscripts and its Information Technology section at the BnF with whom we will continue to collaborate bien amicablement thanks to our shared memory of Thierry Delcourt.

Stephen G. Nichols                    November 25, 2011
Johns Hopkins University

Digital Philology: Call for Submissions

~ Digital Philology: A Journal of Medieval Cultures ~

Call for Submissions, 2013 Open Issue

Digital Philology is a new peer-reviewed journal devoted to the study of medieval vernacular texts and cultures. Founded by Stephen G. Nichols and Nadia R. Altschul, the journal aims to foster scholarship that crosses disciplines upsetting traditional fields of study, national boundaries and periodizations. Digital Philology also encourages both applied and theoretical research that engages with the digital humanities and shows why and how digital resources require new questions, new approaches, and yield radical results.

Beginning in 2012 Digital Philology will have two issues per year, published by the Johns Hopkins University Press. One of the issues will be open to all submissions, while the other one will be guest-edited and revolve around a thematic axis.

Contributions may take the form of a scholarly essay or focus on the study of a particular manuscript. Articles must be written in English, follow the 3rd edition (2008) of the MLA style manual, and be between 5,000 and 7,000 words in length, including footnotes and list of works cited. Quotations in the main text in languages other than English should appear along with their English translation.

Digital Philology is welcoming submissions for its 2013 open issue. Inquiries and submissions (as a Word document attachment) should be sent to, addressed to the Managing Editor (Albert Lloret). Digital Philology will also publish manuscript studies and reviews of books and digital projects. Correspondence regarding manuscript studies may be addressed to Jeanette Patterson at Correspondence regarding digital projects and publications for review may be addressed to Timothy Stinson at

Editors and Editorial Board

Albert Lloret, Managing Editor, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Jeanette Patterson, Manuscript Studies Editor, Johns Hopkins University
Timothy Stinson, Review Editor, North Carolina State University
Nadia R. Altschul, Executive Editor, Johns Hopkins University

Stephen G. Nichols and Nadia R. Altschul, Founding Editors, Johns Hopkins University

Editorial Board

Tracy Adams, Auckland University
Benjamin Albritton, Stanford University
Nadia R. Altschul, Johns Hopkins University
R. Howard Bloch, Yale University
Kevin Brownlee, University of Pennsylvania
Jacqueline Cerquiglini-Toulet, University of Paris, Sorbonne – Paris IV
Suzanne Conklin Akbari, University of Toronto
Lucie Dolezalova, Charles University, Prague
Alexandra Gillespie, University of Toronto
Jeffrey Hamburger, Harvard University
Daniel Heller-Roazen, Princeton University
Sharon Kinoshita, University of California, Santa Cruz
Joachim Küpper, Free University of Berlin
Deborah McGrady, University of Virginia
Christine McWebb, University of Waterloo
Stephen G. Nichols, Johns Hopkins University
Timothy Stinson, North Carolina State University
Lori Walters, Florida State University