Link roundup

Bits and pieces:

A Day of DH 2 – Scheduled for March 27. They’re inviting people to document what they do in DH. More information at their wiki.

Detailed account of the design process for a book about Canadian artist Doug Wright.

Post from the U of M library about the cost of academic journals. The cost of journals is a hot topic, and has been for a while.

So… what are your options if you don’t want to wait for a dead-tree journal to accept your article? Chronicle of Higher Ed on “‘Predatory’ Online Journals (For access with your Wayne ID click here.)

Alternative dissertations: Nick Sousanis at Columbia Teacher’s College has apparently had a comic book project approved for his dissertation. Not a dissertation about comic books, but a dissertation in comic book form. Interview here and blog here. Of note – he mentions the importance of his time in Detroit in his development as an artist.





Leave a comment

Filed under Digital Humanities, History and Future of the Book

Protected: Coding, part 1/?

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Enter your password to view comments.

Filed under Academia, Coding, Digital Humanities, History and Future of the Book

Academic publishing

In Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy Kathleen Fitzpatrick notes about problems of preservation of digital works that “their solutions are not predominantly technical in nature. In fact, the examples presented by the emulators I mention above may help us recognize that what we need to develop in order to ensure the future preservation of our digital texts and artifacts may be less new tools than new socially-organized systems”

Books can be just as fragile and transient as electronic texts depending on social structures. Some medieval manuscripts are known from fragments recovered from being used in bindings for other books. Other manuscripts are palimpsests, older work scraped off and replaced with newer, depending on the needs of the writer and the desires of the audience.

One of the most powerful aspects of Fitzpatrick’s work is her insistance on the importance of people and their social systems to the employment of technology and its long term implications. She does not see technology as a rigid force that mandates a particular path.  Rather, she points out the multiplicity of possible reactions to or uses of technology.

One of the concerns about SOPA is that the MPAA and other organizations which were supporting it were attempting to legislate protection for old models of business and technical organization.  Opponents of SOPA pointed out that things like DVRs and VCRs were also supposed to put the moving picture industry out of business but instead changed the revenue streams. The Oatmeal comic recently commented on the reasons for piracy. Not because people want to pirate, but because the piracy gives users what they want.

One of the problems with the state of academic publishing is that the multiple constituencies not only don’t agree on what they want, but they have conflicting needs and desires as Fitzpatrick points out.  Some of what happened with online video will happen with academic publishing. Academic publishing is already transforming itself with the online discussions and publications.  In the sciences, more than the humanities, preprint online editions of peer-reviewed articles are becoming common. Since the online copies appear under the auspices of the print journal, they are seen as just as valid as when they finally appear in print (hardcopy journals).

Leave a comment

Filed under History and Future of the Book, Technology

Audio books

Longread on audiobooks with some historical information on their development.  But it’s also about being a grad student and reading more generally.

The opening lines are:  “I used to avoid talking about audio books. In general if you are 28 years old and in graduate school and you listen to audio books then the worst thing about the whole practice is admitting it to your graduate-school peers.”

I think some programs and disciplines are probably more open to audiobooks than others, but there’s also that question (or secret guilt) of whether you as a student are engaging “fully” or “properly” or “the way we always have” with a text if you don’t have a physical book. This applies to ebooks as well as audiobooks.


Filed under Technology

Bits and Pieces

1609 Shakespeare’s Pericles with corrections It was popular enough that there were 2 editions printed in 1609.

Annotated books online This looks really intriguing, although I haven’t had time to delve into it too deeply. It’s a collaborative academic project based in the Netherlands that will let people work on digital editions of annotated early modern (“first three centuries of print”) works.

And for brand new work:

Prof Hacker’s recent column on tools for creating ebook content  is fairly short but has a few links and notes if you haven’t worked with things like this before.

Here’s a bit of a long read from the New Yorker on the recent commercial plagiarism case involving a spy novel that Random House published that was cobbled together from other spy novels. It includes an account of how the “author” composed and revised it and raises questions about the nature of authorship, editorship, and remix.

Leave a comment

Filed under Digitized works, Manuscripts, Technology, textbooks

Textual Editing – how messy can manuscripts get?

Titus and Vespasian Stemmatics

This is a draft stemmatic analysis of a fourteenth century metrical, rhymed poem about the siege and sack of Jerusalem that I’ve done some work on in the past (click the image to see a larger version). The rectangular boxes along the bottom row represent the three printed editions of the work (as of a couple of years ago, though I’m fairly sure there are no new editions). “Fischer” was published in a journal in 1903 and 1904; “Herbert” in a Roxburgh Club edition in 1905 and “Wilson” is an unpublished 1967 dissertation available through Proquest. Wilson drew on both printed editions for historical information but the bulk of his disseration was editing a particular manuscript that neither of the other two had looked at.  Herbert does not mention Fischer.

The impetus for this diagram was that I was trying to figure out, for a given printed edition of the text or article about it, which manuscript traditions it was drawing on.  One of the big textual questions for this poem is that there are two clearly differerent traditions that are indicated by “short” and “long” on the diagram, different by about 1200 lines.

The scarcity of scholarship on this poem also means that authors who have written about don’t always use the same designations for a given manuscript, so comparing commentary from one to another can be tricky. For example, one manuscript,  designated “R6” on this chart, is referred to as M by Kurvinen,  R by Millar, and as either Pepys 37 or Magdalene College 2014 in bibliographies.

Nineteenth and early twentieth century scholarship took the “long” version as the original and catalogued and referred to “short” versions as “defective.” The “long” versions of the poem include sections on the passion of Christ (800 lines) and a biography of Judas (400 lines) which are omitted in the short versions.  Phyllis Moe in 1963 called the originality of the long version into question in part because the extra material is not integral to the “plot” of the rest of the poem.

While Fischer and Wilson were producing diplomatic editions of particular manuscripts, Herbert’s intention was to produce an authoratative text. He selected one particular manuscript, R1 (indicated with the single line), as the best text and made corrections based on four other manuscripts (dotted lines). Two of those manuscripts actually seem to be older than Herbert’s base text.

This chart shows just how messy tracing the “descent” of manuscripts can be. R12, a relatively late manuscript, appears to draw from both R4 and R5 which are from two different branches of the manuscript tree (see Greetham’s reference to Maas comparing contamination to including female descent in a human family tree (Textual Scholarship 324)). Someone in the late 15th century was also combining two manuscripts when creating an edition of the text.

Another oddity is labelled “Harlech Ms Prose” which is a fifteenth century prose summary  of the poem. It seems to draw primarily from a parent manuscript to R2, R6 and R10 (they have specific features not found in the prose version but also have specific features not found elsewhere that are found in the prose version).  It shows some influence from R1.

Although it’s fun when there are many extant manuscripts of a poem to work from, it also adds potential complexity not found in unique manuscripts when we can more easily say that we just don’t know.

Link to Bibliography


Filed under History and Future of the Book, Middle English

Pamela & Texting

Here are a couple of things on the theme of hey-look-what’s-coming-back-around :

A 19th C glove with a map of London on it for handy reference offers an alternative to modern GPS and smartphone maps.

Secondly, the author of this post on student response to  Pamela suggests that students now might be more comfortable with a central character who documents her life in her letters even as the door to her bedroom is being opened than students from 8-10 years ago.  She also talks about her research into some 18th century correspondance which includes some short notes that resemble text messages. It’s a long post but worth reading.


Filed under New again, Reading, Short Form, Technology, Texting, Twitter

Seynt Valentynes day

And in a launde, upon an hille of floures,
Was set this noble goddesse Nature;
Of braunches were hir halles and hir boures,
Y-wrought after hir craft and hir mesure;
Ne ther nas foul that cometh of engendrure,
That they ne were prest in hir presence,
To take hir doom and yeve hir audience.

For this was on seynt Valentynes day,
Whan every foul cometh ther to chese his make,
Of every kinde, that men thenke may;
And that so huge a noyse gan they make,
That erthe and see, and tree, and every lake
So ful was, that unnethe was ther space
For me to stonde, so ful was al the place.

And right as Aleyn, in the Pleynt of Kinde,
Devyseth Nature of aray and face,
In swich aray men mighten hir ther finde.
This noble emperesse, ful of grace,
Bad every foul to take his owne place,
As they were wont alwey fro yeer to yere,
Seynt Valentynes day, to stonden there.

Geoffrey Chaucer, Parliament of Fowles, lines 302-322.
From around 1380, this is one of the first associations
of St Valentine's Day with a lovers' holiday.

Leave a comment

Filed under Middle English

Guthrie’s to do list

It was actually a new year’s resolution list.  This particular link includes an image of what appears to be the original document.  The illustrations are small but amusing, but I’d like to note the annotation at the top: written across both pages, the inscription “MIDDLE OF BOOK.” The stitching runs visibly down between the two pages of items. Now I’m curious – did Guthrie pick the middle pages for the resolutions because they would be easy to find, or had he just happened to reach this section, and was perhaps inspired by the physical turning point of this notebook?

There’s also symmetrical water damage at the top, showing that it happened when the book was closed.




Leave a comment

Filed under History and Future of the Book

Two things make a post

Item one

I saw a couple of interesting papers at the Newberry Graduate Conference this past week. Actually, I saw many interesting papers, but I was only going to mention two of them in this posts. One was about printing in Manila from 1593 through 1800. Controlled by Spanish missionaries some of the earliest works were printed in local vernaculars, as part of their mission. One of the most prevalent publications, however, was accounts of local public festivals that were part of the attempt to spread Spanish culture through the Philippines. The second paper with a history of the book aspect that I wanted to mention focused on 17th century French printed maps (in books and as documents) of the city of Cartagena in what is now Colombia. Cartagena was contested territory between Spain and France at the time and the author suggested that is represented in the maps themselves.

Item two

If you’re interested in typography or early Twentieth century printing, here is an interesting link: Hipster Typefaces of the 20s and 30s

1 Comment

Filed under History and Future of the Book, Typography