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.