One of the compelling aspects of studying the early modern period in England is the web of cultural products that come to bear on the literature of the Renaissance. Increasingly I am drawn to imagining theatre of the period as both inflecting movements in culture as much as it reflected and refracted the essential anxieties, fantasies, and investments of early moderns. Included in the blogroll this month are online sources to which I regularly return in charting this expansive web.
- Broadside Ballads Online: Hosted by the Bodleian libraries, this is a digital collection of English printed ballad-sheets from between the 16th and 20th centuries and usefully linked to other resources for the study of the English ballad tradition.This includes digital presentations of pre-1800 ballads from other libraries, and folk song scholarship of the Roud Broadside Index hosted by the English Folk Dance and Song Society. My favorite part of this database is the ability to search ballads by woodcut! Yup, you can copy an image of a woodcut and ask the database to search its archive for the image, not just text. Start playing here.
- The Map of Early Modern London (MoEML): Unless you regularly visit London, it is hard to keep a mental map of the city in your mind while writing. I remember my first visit to Southwark and being so very shocked at how small and walkable the district was, and how very close individual theatres were to one another (as well as to the Clink prison). I use this ever-expanding digital map to reacquaint myself with a sense of scale and distance, which is usefully supplemented by an inter-linked encyclopedia of locales. Check it out here.
- Lost Plays Database: I use this website extensively for my dissertation, as it traces all the plays we know to have been performed in the Renaissance but for which the text of the play itself is no longer extant. Individual entries trace receipts, records of every mention, possible source materials and later references in other plays and early modern documents. A new monograph based on the database is due out sometime next year and I can’t wait to see what it looks like. Start browsing here.
And just for fun I wanted to mention the 4th International Mumming Unconventional, a gathering of mummers taking place Friday, 5 December, at the Gloucester Folk Museum. The event will include talks, panels, and most importantly, performances by a number of regional mummer troupes evilness the variegated and regionalized aspects of this understudied English folk practice. For more information, check out mummersconvention.com.