February Blogroll: Textual Taxidermy Edition

Dear readers,

This month I participated in a test of the new and improved Emblematic Online: Resources for Emblem Studies here at UIUC. The digital database is incredibly powerful, and it was a good reminder of an archive I don’t think often of but whose usefulness I can envision for my own work as well as a teaching instrument. I was also reminded of how useful it can be to watch the taxidermy-like process of preparing, stuffing, and mounting an academic project whose final dissemination isn’t a book or article. We live in a kind of database renaissance, where projects long in the making (like REED) and small archives not readily accessible, are picking up speed as the infrastructures and platforms for their creation and dissemination improve. A couple projects I am watching:

  • Emblematica Online: As I mentioned, this initiative is the web home of the two most important emblem research institutions in the world: the University of Illinois Library and the Herzog August Bibliotek. Its aim is to digitize, index and build a new portal providing integrated access to these emblem book collections and eventually those of other major emblem book collections worldwide. The project serve as an important prototype for similar digitized image-text related projects in the humanities: browse the catalog here.
  • REED Pre-Publication Collections: As I’ve mentioned before, REED is one of my first stops in the research process of playing companies in the period. Of course the archive is much larger than that, aiming to find, transcribe, and publish external evidence of dramatic, ceremonial, and minstrel activity in Great Britain before 1642–from bear wardens to the eponymous ‘wight.’ This new web venture provides researchers access to works-in-progress of print archives currently in development. While they have not received editorial attention from REED’s staff paleographers, Latinists, nor proofed the editorial apparatus, you can follow the process and get a jump start on any work having to do with these regions: just click here.
  • The Beaumont & Fletcher Project: I could not help but flag at least one performance project in this list. This project aims to organize and host staged readings of the Beaumont & Fletcher canon, roughly four plays a year starting in 2015, in a variety of performance spaces around Canterbury with a whole host of different directors and different actors, each bringing something new to each play. As an experiment in collaborative staging, the actors and director will work on and rehears the text for a full day and then perform it the next afternoon. Perhaps make the project part of your next research trip to Britain.

Happy researching!

January Blogroll: Digitally Sourced Edition

Dear readers,

As I think I have mentioned previously, last spring I was fortunate enough to spend some time in England and Italy on a Mellon fellowship related to my research. I stayed a few extra weeks to do additional sight-seeing with my mother and grandmother. Mom is a high school English teacher, so Stratford-Upon-Avon was a must; hence the photo above. This month, I wanted to share the resources to which I regularly turn when on the road but in need of Shakespeare’s primary texts. Naturally these are digital in nature, but each lends itself to a specific context. I’ve included screenshots of the first page of The Tempest in each for the sake of comparison (click on them for a larger version of the image).

  • Open Source Shakespeare: As perhaps the penultimate DH experiment that is eminently, well, open-source in nature, this is the site I go to first. Sometimes while listening at a conference there is a passing phrase I want to check, or do a word-count or cross-reference to the rest of the canon against contemporary plays. The power here is in the clarity of the interface and its search-ability: by play, genre, part, date, and of course discrete terms. It is a very short step from being deployable for topic modeling, for which I hope it will evolve. You can add a search box to your browser and the site is mobile-optimized: just click here.

  • Shakespeare Pro for iPhone and iPad: These apps I regularly use while literally on the move—in a car or on the Amtrak headed to Chicago. I don’t recommend them for reading a play in its entirety, nor to do extensive searching, but you can do piece-meal versions of both with this app. As a researcher, often I need to be refreshed on a particular scene, need to see the rhetorical context of a specific moment, or trace the movements of a speech as a whole. I’ve seen more than one interview with Sir Patrick Stewart online in which he references turning to his cellphone for similar reasons. Learn more about the apps here.


  • Folger Digital Texts: This is perhaps the most rigorous online format for actually reading the plays in a multimodal way. There is the text, searchable, with readings and other interactive elements beautifully designed. Because the site is developed by Folger, it retains the mansplain-y element of summaries and synopsis in a left-hand column, mirroring their print editions of Shakespeare. I don’t use Folger editions to teach specifically because of this feature, though I know many that do. In either case, the digital environment here makes for a beautiful reading experience geared towards the classroom.

Happy clicking,