The MARGOT group analyses and publishes French texts from the Medieval and Early Modern period, both electronically and in paper format. The major phases of research activity are listed below.
1989-2003: The researchers of MARGOT (Jean-Philippe Beaulieu, Université de Montréal, Hannah Fournier, Emeritus, University of Waterloo, Delbert Russell, University of Waterloo) built a textual database of Latin and early French texts, using software developed at Waterloo for the computerization of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). Using these computer tools, and with the help of graduate students the group published editions of medieval texts and early modern works by women writers. The first colloquium Femmes et textes sous l'Ancien Régime, held at Waterloo in 1993, demonstrated well one of the major research interests of the group.
1993-2003: In response to the opportunities offered by the expansion of the internet and the widespread use of web browsers, the first MARGOT website was created for electronic versions of texts by early women writers. The interest developed during the first MARGOT Femmes et textes colloquium in 1993 led to a continuing series on early women writers, and subsequent colloquia were held at St. Louis, USA (1995), Montréal, Canada (1997), Charlottesville, USA (1999), Rennes, France (2002), and Rouen, France (2005).
2003-2007: Work was begun on expanding the medieval electronic texts available on the MARGOT website, and on improving the search software. Delbert Russell, in collaboration with Frank Tompa (Computer Science, University of Waterloo) built an electronic edition of the Campsey collection of Saints’ Lives, British Library MS Additional 70513, as well as of the Anglo-Norman Vie de St. Clement. Dr. Russell's participation in the team of researchers who developed the electronic version of the Oxford English Dictionary gave him the necessary expertise to create these electronic editions, and Dr. Tompa, one of the original creators of the OED software, advised on database structure and was responsible for the redesign of search tools for web-based electronic texts.
An international MARGOT Colloquium at Waterloo in May 2005 celebrated the past research of the group, and explored possibilities for future new directions. The colloquium marked both the retirement of Hannah Fournier, an original member of MARGOT, and the arrival at Waterloo of new colleagues Christine McWebb, François Paré, and Guy Poirier, all working in the areas of medieval and Renaissance studies.
2006- present: The website has been revised to its current format and the number and types of texts presented has been expanded, with the inclusion of texts related to the Roman de la rose. Christine McWebb (University of Waterloo) has added excerpts, in the original and in English translation, of the Roman de la rose as a compendium to her critical anthology, Debating the Roman de la rose: A Critical Anthology. Further expansion of the number of excerpts and the creation of a complete critical apparatus as well as the addition of relevant iconography are presently underway as a joint project of Christine McWebb and Helen Swift. Dr. Swift joined MARGOT in May, 2007.
The next international MARGOT conference will be held at Barnard College, Columbia University, New York in 2010. Details to follow.