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…
We are used to thinking of productions of Shakespeare’s plays as creating new works of art that demonstrate the vitality of the centuries-old drama. But in the right hands, books can achieve the same effect. Emily Martin’s The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare, published by Naughty Dog Press in 2012 and acquired by the Folger last year (ART Vol. e316), blends together Shakespeare’s play with our lives today and the paper presence of a book with the theatrical drama of the stage. At first glance, Martin’s book looks just like a book, although looking at the spine suggests that there’s something unusual afoot.
Today is Ada Lovelace Day, a day that celebrates not only the achievements of Ada Lovelace—the 19th-century mathematician and computing pioneer—but the achievements of all women in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and maths. It’s a chance not only to encourage women to enter STEM fields, but to acknowledge the sometimes forgotten of women’s past achievements in these fields. For a few years now, those of us interested in the hand-press period have used Ada Lovelace Day as an opportunity to celebrate early women printers. ((See my 2011 post on early modern women printers, Nick Poyntz’s post on Jane Coe, and Joseph Adelman’s recent post on “Telling the Story of Women Printers.”)) This year, I thought I’d describe an exercise I’ve done with students that not only introduces them to some basic book trade research techniques but surprises them with the appearance of women in those records.
Two folks identified the key elements of this month’s crocodile mystery in their comments: Misha Teramura correctly noted that the inscription in the middle of the page—“pp. 184-190 refer to the progress of religion westward toward America”—refers to George Herbert’s final poem from The Temple, “The Church Militant.” And David Shaw noted that the other inscriptions—“8652” on the top left and “A176” on the bottom right—look to be an accession number and a shelf mark. But let’s back up for one moment to understand why I find these marks interesting. The book in question is a first edition of George Herbert’s The Temple (STC 13183). It’s an interesting work, and a popular one in the 17th century. And as you can see from the notations on the front pastedown and the recto of the first free flyleaf, it’s a work that was prized by later collectors.