Digital Projects

Santa Clara Early Modern Book Initiative. Information about the SCEMBI, directed by Andrew Keener at SCU, which brings together students, librarians, and faculty to raise awareness (through the ESTC and SCU’s local catalog) about SCU’s pre-1800 books.

Early Modern Finds @ SCU Archives & Special Collections

Henry Vane the Younger’s 17th-Century Travel Permit. In a guest post for SCU A&S, I discuss a secretary-hand manuscript composed in 1629 and which granted Continental travel to Sir Henry Vane, a teenager who would later become Massachusetts’s 6th governor.

Rare Books at Northwestern

ESTC-matching project expands to other Northwestern libraries. An update on “Renaissance Books, Midwestern Libraries,” the ESTC-matching project I began in 2014 and which has expanded to three Northwestern-associated libraries.

Teaching English composition with early modern-style “commonplace books.” Some reflections on a pedagogical strategy I used recently, building on similar techniques used by other scholar-teachers, and involving Special Collections.

Recap @ NU: “In the Shadow of Shakespeare:400 Years.” News about a rare book exhibit and series of faculty talks at Northwestern on Francis Beaumont, Miguel de Cervantes, Ben Jonson, and other figures celebrating 400-year anniversaries in 2016.

Phase 1 Report: “Renaissance Books, Midwestern Libraries.” I discuss progress on an ESTC-reporting project at Northwestern, including items reported to the catalog, work remaining for a second phase, and plans to spread to other institutions.

c17 Quarto Playbooks at Northwestern. Some general remarks about Northwestern’s holdings in dramatic quartos published between 1620 and 1660, as well as a close-up look at a rather used copy of James Shirley’s The Gamester.

A 1595 Geneva Bible at Northwestern . . . and water damage. An interesting Renaissance Bible owned by a Revolutionary War-era family in Massachusetts is at Northwestern today, and its inscriptions tell us something about its remarkably damaged condition.

News: “Renaissance Books, Midwestern Libraries.” I discuss the first stage of a Humanities Without Walls Initiative project designed to register Northwestern’s early imprints (1473-1700) with the English Short Title Catalogue.

A 1549 Giolito Anthology at Northwestern. I examine an influential early anthology of Italian poetry at Northwestern’s McCormick Library of Special Collections. Interesting foredge inscription & marginalia.

MS Annotations in a 17c Polyglot Dialogue Book. A book of dialogues in eight languages currently held at Northwestern University. Professor Susan Phillips has written about it, and it includes some interesting French marginalia in the Italian column.

Renaissance Dictionary Technologies. I look at Northwestern’s copy of lexicographer John Minsheu’s Spanish-English dictionary (1599) and his encyclopedic, 11-language dictionary Ductor in linguas (1617). See how large the latter is compared to an iPod.

“Rare” Books in the Bookstacks? Some thoughts on a 250 year-old edition of Beaumont and Fletcher’s plays that I found in the stacks at Northwestern University. Is this weird, or not?

Other Old Books in Chicago & Beyond

A “prity one”: Frances Wolfreston’s copy of Thomas Heywood’s The English Traveller (1633). I came across one of Frances Wolfreston’s inscribed dramatic quartos at the Huntington Library.

Guest Post: A Passage from a Lost Play. At the University of Pennsylvania, I found a prologue to a lost play in the flyleaves of John Florio bilingual conversation guide First Fruits (1578).

Bilingual drama & Renaissance language-learning. I discuss a 1610 Paris edition of Giovanni Battista Guarini’s tragicomedy Il Pastor Fido. The title page of this book indicates it was designed for langugage-learners.

Not Shakespeare’s Beehive? Doesn’t Really Matter. I weigh in on the Koppelman-Wechsler copy of John Baret’s 4-language Alvearie (1580), which provides a useful look into the material dimensions of Renaissance language-learning, even if it cannot be proved to be Shakespeare’s. I also discuss copies of Baret and other language-learning books in the Chicago area.

Guest Post: A c16 Italian Grammar Owned By Robert Sackville. Published in the University of Chicago Special Collections Research Center blog, this post recounts my discovery of Robert Sackville’s copy of William Thomas’s Principal Rvles of the Italian Grammer (London, 1567). Sackville was son to Queen Elizabeth I’s cousin Thomas Sackville; the owner’s inscription appears on the book’s title page.

A c16 Italian Grammar Book owned by Robert Sackville. A longer post on the Sackville copy of Thomas’s Principal Rvles held at the University of Chicago Special Collections Research Center.

Digital Reading Technologies

Foreign-language phrasebooks and the language of Renaissance comedy. Using Docuscope, I make some initial investigations into how bilingual and polyglot language-learning dialogues relate to early modern drama, paying specific attention to comedy.

Dramatic Speech Prefixes and “Distant Reading.” Using the software Voyant, I study the patterns of speech prefixes in the Luminarium text of Kyd’s Spanish Tragedy. This experimental post gets at some questions concerning *what* we read when we read Renaissance drama.

Reading Rare Books Online. Assesses initiatives including EEBO, HathiTrust, GoogleBooks, and the Internet Archive to explore the practice and possibility of rare book research through the Internet.

Renaissance Reflections

Typography and Obscenity: The Case of John Donne’s “The Flea.” I talk about the instability of the “long s” in early modern print and its special role in readerly approaches to Donne’s famous poem.

Jacob Burckhardt and the Crisis in Renaissance Humanities. A passage in Burckhardt’s foundational study of the Renaissance (1860) speaks to the difficult times that many scholars and observers see among today’s humanities departments and divisions.

Printers’ Ornaments in Renaissance Books. What graphical elements did early modern printers use? Are there patterns of meaning that one can trace through them from publication to publication?

John Milton and “Pamphlet Pandemonium.” Examines Milton’s engagement with the pamphlet boom during the 1640s in England, particularly in relation to his famed Divorce argument.


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