Text Object Research Network


Mission statement

Texts are central to our understanding of the world, but the objects that carry the words are no less eloquent. TORN brings together RICH scholars whose research focuses on texts and their materiality. This includes those of us who work on papyri, epigraphy, numismatics, manuscripts, early printed books, newspapers, diaries, and even digital texts. In our research we examine the interplay between text and object, between language and materiality, and the ways in which the two aspects work together to create complex meaning.

The main aims of our group are the following: 

  1. to explore interfaces in methodology across the different subject fields that we belong to, and aim at productive cross-fertilization;
  2. to discuss the digitization of our data, which proceeds at different paces and along different paths, depending on the objects in question;
  3. to provide a stage for scholars in all stages of their career to present work to an interdisciplinary audience;
  4. to pursue ways of engaging the wider public through the use of text objects of all periods and cultures, e.g., through curating a (digital) exhibition space;
  5. to give the gathered researchers a platform from which to productively pursue cross-disciplinary collaborations with fields such as computer science or material science, and connect to local heritage institutions and Radboud University’s own Special Collections.

Activities and invitation

We organise the following activities:

  1. regular informal meetings at which one member of the group or a guest speaker presents an object of particular interest from their field;
  2. workshops to share new or particularly useful methods and tools;
  3. a recurring international conference, the first of which is already in the works (December 2023).

TORN is a new kind of research group, bringing together fields that traditionally do not have the opportunity to interact. We warmly invite anyone who feels their research touches on text objects (be they Assyrian cuneiform tablets or personal diaries from the Second World War) to join our group or visit our meetings.

Research projects

Tekst uit een boek van het onderzoek PASSIM

PASSIM project

PASSIM studies the medieval reception of the Latin sermons preached by the Early Church Fathers, using a digital network of manuscripts.



Using collections of canon law (i.e. ecclesiastical or religious normative texts), the project SOLEMNE aims to explore how ideas about social norms spread throughout medieval Western Europe (approx. 500-1200 CE).

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Staff members

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Object Lessons: Multimodal Analysis of Text Carriers Across Disciplines

Contact information