Tesserae Project: Digital Exploration of Literary History

Tesserae Logo.

Trace the origins of literature, millions of phrases at a time, using digital methods to discover and analyze how authors creatively use the work of others.

Project description

T.S. Eliot wrote that good poets imitate and great poets steal. Literature is built of pieces of existing language, not just words, but phrases, structures, and ideas are lifted from previous authors and combined to make great work. The Tesserae Project uses digital methods to discover and analyze how authors creatively use the work of others. The project focuses on ancient Greek and Latin literature, but has plans for expansion beyond these languages. The work of the project is to build and augment a set of digital tools to find language similarities and analyze the craft of authors in creating such intertextuality.

Project outcome

Students can add new texts to the Tesserae site to make them searchable, analyze search results, and, for those with computational skills, add code to the Tesserae search engine or website.

Project details

Timing, eligibility and other details
Length of commitment Less than a semester; 0-2 months
Start time Fall
Level of collaboration Large group collaboration
Benefits Academic Credit
Who is eligible All undergraduate students; students who are interested in or studying classics, linguistics, and/or computer science
Support Funding is available after the completion of the preparation badge. See below.
Fulbright Scholarship

Students participating in this project might be interested in and eligible for the Fulbright Scholarship. Connect with the Office of Fellowships and Scholarships to learn more.

Core partners

  • Neil Coffee, Professor, Department of Classics 
  • J.-P. Koenig, Professor, Department of Linguistics

Project mentor

Neil Coffee



338 Millard Fillmore Academic Complex, North Campus

Phone: (716) 645-0452

Email: ncoffee@buffalo.edu


To engage with this project, you will work through a series of Project-Based Collaboration digital badges to guide your experience. 

To get started, contact the project mentor using the contact information above to discuss availability and after you’ve received approval, you can start the Project Preparation Digital Badge. Here are helpful tips on how to contact a project mentor

Preparation guidance

Once you have registered for the Project Preparation Digital Badge, you will receive further instructions related to the activities you will need to complete. In addition, you will also complete the following preparation activities for this particular project: