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
In-person, remote, or hybrid?
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
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 Academic Center

Phone: (716) 645-0452

Email: ncoffee@buffalo.edu

Start the project

  1. Email the project mentor using the contact information above to express your interest and get approval to work on the project. (Here are helpful tips on how to contact a project mentor.)
  2. After you receive approval from the mentor to start this project, click the button to start the digital badge. (Learn more about ELN's digital badge options.) 

Preparation activities

Once you begin the digital badge series, you will have access to all the necessary activities and instructions. Your mentor has indicated they would like you to also complete the specific preparation activities below. Please reference this when you get to Step 2 of the Preparation Phase.