This year the Early Modern Reading Group—an IPRH-affiliated reading and discussion group at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign—is focusing on sonnet sequences and recent criticism on the form. Our reading will range from Philip Sidney, Michael Drayton and Lady Mary Wroth to contemporary practitioners of the form. We started, however, with Tottel’s Songes and Sonnets, the first of its kind in the form and not arranged by authorship. As my research thinks about ways in which we engage, select, and curate cultural products using principles of inclusion other than authorship, I find it fascinating that the first major sonnet collection did just this. I was additionally fascinated to fine the many online resources for miscellanies from the English Renaissance:
- Verse Miscellanies Online (http://versemiscellaniesonline.bodleian.ox.ac.uk): This searchable critical edition of seven major printed miscellanies from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries is a joint project of Oxford’s Bodleian Library and Early English Books Online’s TCP program. Most thoughtful about the database is its “commonplacer” tool, which facilitates engagement with the processes of selection, modification, and compilation underlying the creation of each of the printed volumes. Overall, the edition is designed to allow the modern reader to keep the intertextuality and malleability of early modern poetical culture always in view.
- Index of Poetry in Printed Miscellanies, 1640-1682 (https://cobweb.businesscollaborator.com/pub/english.cgi/0/5383492): This is certainly the most clunky of the web resources available to search and read online miscellanies, but it helpfully focuses on the post-war seventeenth century. It is roughly searchable by first and last lines, date, author, volume, and number of lines. It is just an index, however, and does not include links to original scans. Find out more about the project in this 2002 essay from Early Modern Literary Studies here.
- Digital Miscellanies Index (http://digitalmiscellaniesindex.org): This searchable database includes more than 1500 miscellanies published during the long eighteenth century in England. Their contents are available for free, but the index is currently in its beta stages. Fear not! Funding has been secured to extend the database index, and you can follow that progress on their blog.