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!

October Blogroll: Foodie Edition

Dear readers,

This month, I want to draw your attention to a couple of consumables resources related to the Renaissance. I like to peruse a couple of these databases now and again as I feel it helps to put me in an early modern’s “head space,” so to speak. This is not to mention that they are downright fascinating for articulating the ways in which consumables preparation is culturally constructed,  and the fact that there is so much we don’t know about how “flavor” and chemistry work together (as David Chang likes to remind us).

  • Yummy Acquisition: The Rare Book & Manuscript Library of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has recently acquired the first cookbook devoted to pastry making. Le Pastissier françois (The French Pastry Chef), published in 1655 by the great Dutch printing house of Elzevir, is a landmark in the history of cooking and cookbooks. The wood cuts of animals and preparation instructions are stunning, some of which you can see on the Non Solus blog, here.
  • Early Modern Recipes Online Collective: This is a useful hub of resources related to early modern cook practices and recipes. There are several attached archives constellated from a number of universities, each stressing the close relationship food, magic, science, and medicine shared in the form of the recipe. The blog is updated regularly with archival finds, recipe tests, and modified recipes to recreate a sixteenth-century board in your own home.
  • Intoxicants and Early Modernity, England 1580 – 1740: As a growing database that takes the record of intoxication seriously, this project/archive aims to investigate the importance of intoxicants and intoxication to the economic, social, political, material, and cultural life of England between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. The project has a number of related publications, hosts events, and is compiling a database of materials and case studies. I spend a lot of time just reading through the archive materials, so fascinating in and of themselves. More at intoxicantsproject.org.

Happy snacking!