digital scholarship and book history

Occasionally, one finds oneself confronting the misconception that book history has nothing to do with digital scholarship. People who love print are never people who study with and about digital tools, right? You know better, I trust, but it continues to be surprising and frustrating that people across the full spectrum of these media studies make these assumptions.

And so I was delighted to be asked to co-write a “State of the Discipline” piece for Book History on exactly this relationship between book history and digital scholarship. And I’m even more delighted that the piece that Matt Kirschenbaum and I wrote is now out! Our review essay, “Digital Scholarship and Digital Studies,” takes as its argument our belief that book historians are already using digital tools and that current book production and reception is inextricably tied to digital methods. The first part of the essay considers a range of resources that book historians are using to explore the past production and circulation of books; the second and third parts turn to the current state of writing, reading, and publishing to highlight the necessity of thinking about digital media. § continue reading

media transitions

This is a post I put together as part of an ongoing conversation with a group of folks who aren’t early modernists but are interested in media. I thought I’d look back at some examples of early print that disrupt our sense of what was typical. In the back of my head I was thinking about Matt Kirschenbaum’s work in Mechanisms and the sorts of tensions between how we perceive media and how it manifests itself—I’ve written about some of those ideas here, too, in my continuing curiosity about the distance between how we imagine early print and how it was experienced. But I’ve not added to that writing here, and have instead just collected some pictures of things that struck me (well, I did include captions). So let your imagination run wild in exploring what we might see or not see in these things. Use the slideshow to navigate through the images; click on any individual picture to expand it. § continue reading

What do we want from online facsimiles of Shakespeare?

Over at The Collation last week, I wrote a blog post providing a quick explanation for what might be gained from looking at multiple copies of digital facsimiles of the First Folio and linking to the eight copies I’ve found. Mostly what I was interested in there was the availability of such things and a taste of the joys of copy-specific reading. Here I want to look at what actually matters to me a bit more: the usability of such resources. It should be perfectly clear, but I’m going to say it anyway, just to be safe. This is my personal site and I am not representing the Folger’s point of view here, only my own as a user of such resources.

Before I look at specific examples, here’s what I want as a scholar:

  • high-resolution cover-to-cover images, zoomable to, say, larger-than-life size with full clarity so that I can pick out details on pieces of type;
  • choice between viewing as pages and viewing as a book with two-page spreads that, ideally, convey the depth of the book and the shifting balance of pages as you move through it so that I know where in the volume I am;
  • navigation synced to plays (with modern acts and scene divisions), to signature marks, and to page numbers so that I can easily find my way to wherever I want;
  • cataloging information that tells me something about the copy I’m looking at; at a minimum, shelfmark and identification of which pages are not original F1 leaves, but preferably including information about provenance, binding, marginalia, uncorrected pages, and other copy-specific details;
  • cataloging information that tells me something about the digital surrogate I’m looking at; at a minimum, when it was built and who built it;
  • a CC-NC or, even better, a CC-BY license that will allow for downloading and reusing at a minimum specific images and, preferably, the entire work, so that I can share it in my teaching and scholarship and so that I can compare multiple copies;
  • and since I’m dreaming here, the ability to read offline in a friendly interface so that I can access it even when I’m (gasp!) without a good internet connection;
  • and the ability to add my own annotations, so that I can keep track of what I’m finding.
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early modern women printers: an Ada Lovelace post

Today is Ada Lovelace Day. Ada Lovelace is often referred to as the first computer programmer, based on her 1842 treatise on Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine; Ada Lovelace Day began in 2009 as a way of increasing the profile of women in Science, Engineering, Technology, and Math (commonly referred to as STEM fields).

I’m not in a STEM field (though I’m the almuna of a college that prides itself on turning out huge numbers of women who are). But you know who we could see as being early STEM pioneers? Printers. Early modern printers were using a new technology that had a radical impact on their world. And you know who we find in printing in early modern London? Women.

Here’s a fun thing to try: search the ESTC‘s publisher field for “widow.” There’s 352 results! Now trying searching for “Elizabeth”: 405 results! Jane? 112!

I do an exercise with my students on using the Stationers’ Register and during the course of tracing one book’s passage through the Register, we come across three different women who printed or published the book. § continue reading

today’s post is brought to you by the letters k and e

screensaver from the newest generation Kindle

Do you ever get the feeling that something’s just not quite right, but you’re not sure what it is¿

If you’re curious what the other screensavers are on the new Kindle, scroll through the twenty I snapped. They’ve clearly moved on from the book illustrations and author themes they had in earlier models to writing implements. I’m not sure what larger message I’d want to draw from this, but they’re mostly very pretty. I just wish those turned letters didn’t bother me so much. Is it artsy or just wrong? I’m all for artsiness and playfulness. But I can’t help suspect it’s just wrong, or at least, less about art and more about a fear that people will fail to recognize the “kindle” embedded in the picture. § continue reading