April 13 through the 19th is National Library Week in the United States. To mark the week, Oxford University Press is offering free access to all its online products. Here is the link to full information about what is available and directions on how to access. Among the resources that one will be able to access is the University Press Scholarship Online (UPSO), a resource that brings together scholarship from numerous university presses. Access is available only in the US and Canada and does not include journals.
The Universal Short Title Catalog (USTC) holds records for European books printed through the sixteenth century. Records list locations of original copies. If open-access digital copies are available, these are also noted.
The USTC web site describes itself as “a collective database of all books published in Europe between the invention of printing and the end of the sixteenth century.”
The project also offers 6-8 week internships at St. Andrews for
available to qualified scholars wishing to gain experience of work with a major bibliographical project. Successful applicants will receive instruction in rare books cataloguing and have the chance for hands-on experience with the University Library’s uncatalogued 17th century collections. In addition to physical bibliography, the internship will involve extensive practice in the manipulation of digital resources. A certificate of completion or letter of reference will be made available to those successfully completing the internship. They also attend our annual book conference, held at the end of June (this coming year, 19-21 June 2014).
Please see St. Andrews’ internship page for details. Plans are underway to expand coverage into the seventeenth century.
This month has already seen a number of news items of potential interest to EMOB readers including Gale-Cengage’s announcement that will it offer STEM e-books from Springer and Elsevier (a potentially potent nexus of publishing forces in the subscription database world) as part of its Gale Virtual Reference Library (GVRL) and that it is launching a Proprietary Monograph Publishing Program; free access in March to Orlando: Women’s Writing Online that Anna announced here a few days ago; and a note from Dr. Ian Christie-Miller about digital imaging resources he has been developing and the interest it has received in the UK.
Just this week the Folger announced that all 38 of its digital texts of Shakespeare’s plays are now available, free of charge, online. As the homepage’s title Timeless Texts, Cutting-Edge Code suggests, a key feature of these texts is the robust coding that one can freely download. Besides the meticulously executed TEI-compliant XML structure of these plays, the texts are also attractively designed for reading as this opening of All’s Well That Ends Well illustrates. This page also displays the useful digital paratexts accompanying each work. Barbara Mowat and Paul Werstine offer a brief Textual Introduction to the site.
We would like to hear from others about how they are using this new resource–both in terms of its texts and the source code.
Readers will be interested in Julia Flanders’ announcement that Women Writer’s Online will be free and open to the public during March. WWO can be accessed by clicking here or by going to http://www.wwp.brown.edu.
The UC Riverside Center for Bibliographical Studies and Research (CBSR) has won $405,000 to build software that will help edit and curate the English Short Title Catalog (ESTC).
In the past, the CBSR won $48,500 from the Mellon Foundation for curating and expanding the ESTC. The goal of the new grant is to allow scholars to help curate the ESTC by adding information to entries. According to a write-up in UCR Today,
Approval from ESTC staff will be required for changes suggested to core catalog data, which must remain intact for use by librarians . . .The new software will allow additional information provided by researchers to be recorded in different data fields, with safeguards designed to prevent errors.
Congratulations to the staff at CBSR for this tremendous accomplishment. For more information, see ucrtoday.ucr.edu.
The results of the Fall 2013 Gale Cengage SUNY-wide essay competition are in. Three awards were given: 1 for the best graduate essay ($500); 1 for the best undergraduate essay using ECCO ($250); and 1 for the best undergraduate essay using NCCO ($250). Essays were read by an independent judge.
The winners are
Erin Annis, “The Scotch Intruders”: The Political Context for Scottish Integration into the Eighteenth-Century British Empire
HIST 600 Research Seminar, SUNY Binghamton (Dr. Douglas Bradburn)
Stephanie Boutin, “True Victorian Womanhood and Manhood”
ENG 316 Victorian Nonfiction & Poetry, SUNY Plattsburgh (Dr. Genie Babb)
Christy Harasimowicz, “Samuel Richardson’s Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded: Justification of Masculine Activity and the Avenue to Virtue”
ELIT 287 From Romance to Gothic, SUNY Oneonta (Dr. Jonathan Sadow)
Congratulations to all who submitted essays.
The recent MLA 2014 conference featured numerous sessions dealing with digital humanities in its various incarnations. More than a few of those sessions dealt with the interrelationships between new and old technologies, including Session 738, a stimulating roundtable sponsored by the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading & Publishing (SHARP) and organized by Lise Jalliant (University of Newcastle). Unfortunately, Lise was not able to attend MLA as planned, so Eleanor Shevlin served as chair in her stead.
Designed to “shed light on the digital future of book history and the bibliographical roots of digital humanities” (MLA special session proposal), the “Book History and Digital Humanities” roundtable featured six projects that attest to the close interrelationships between the two fields. The presentations were delivered in the chronological order of the projects. Not only did these projects illustrate the ways in which the digital and book historical are tightly intertwined, but they also demonstrated various technological advances as they highlighted what a new generation of digital capabilities and thinking are affording scholarship.
Greg Hickman, head of the University of Iowa’s Special Collections and Archives, opened the session by discussing the Atlas of Early Printing, an interactive map that provides a visualization of printing’s spread during the incunabula period. The 2013 version Greg demonstrated offers a technological advance over the map’s flash-based design launched in 2008 and has been primed to operate effectively on mobile devices as well as desktops.
Unlike the two-dimensional print maps from which it draws its inspiration, the Atlas contains information related to the spread of print such as the locations of paper mills, universities, trade routes. Users can select all or any of this additional information to create specific contextualizations about the ways the press and printing took hold throughout Europe in the decades leading up to the sixteenth century.
Interested in using technology for purposes beyond gathering, organizing, and explaining information, Michael Gavin, a professor of English at the University of South Carolina, discussed using computer simulation to create a more generative way of working with information. Specifically, Gavin, drawing from Joshua Epstein’s work in agent-based computational simulation to model early modern print culture and to “grow information” about seventeenth- and eighteenth-century book trade issues including censorship and the effects readers exercised on printers and booksellers. The use of such computer modeling focuses on simulating social behavior to generate and test information; if the model is right, then it should not crash.
The director of NINES and professor of English at University of Virginia, Andrew Stauffer, made a cogent plea for the imperiled status of nineteenth-century printed books. Individual copies of nineteenth-century books, often still in the stacks or in the process of being de-accessioned (if not already removed), possess rich, layered histories and the evidence of their multiple temporalities. In an effort to preserve the histories of these works “hidden in plain sight,” In addition to advocating for the primacy of the printed work as a site embodying distinct, irreplaceable data, Stauffer is developing a crowd-sourcing project that will ask academic institutions, other holding bodies and individuals to use Instagram and other forms of technology to capture digitally this heritage and make it accessible.
Matthew Laven, the Associate Program Coordinator of the Mellon-funded “Cross Boundaries: Re-envisioning the Humanities for the 21st Century” at St. Lawrence University, addressed the question “What is a digital bibliography of a book?” through his work on a dynamic, visually-enriched publishing history of Willa Cather’s Death Comes to the Archbishop (1927) for the Willa Cather Archive. Acting as a case study for the digital representations of both various material artifacts (e.g., manuscripts, printed translations, unusual editions) and textual variances, the project also seeks to convey the bibliographical ties among the various artifacts and is informed by a Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR)-based ontology.
Hannah McGregor, a SSHRC postdoctoral fellow at the University of Alberta, spoke about constructing an innovative methodological approach to studying periodicals that she and Paul Hjartarson, professor of English and film studies at the University of Alberta, have been developing in collaboration with the Editing Modernism in Canada research group. A key working hypothesis of this project is that periodicals are ideally situated for digital remediation as relational databases because they themselves resemble databases (that the word “magazine” also meant a storehouse bespeaks this similarity). While middlebrow magazines serve as the project’s focal point, McGregor drew her examples from the Western Home Monthly and Pictorial Review. The issue of labeling—what to call different items, the problem of categories and categorization—has been a vexed point and one no doubt complicated by the multiplicities of genres and the nature of periodical materials (think of the Burney 17th and 18th Century Newspaper Collection). This issue of labeling underscored the ways in which coding is important intellectual labor.
The final participant, Elizabeth Wilson-Gordon, professor of English at King’s University College in Alberta, presented the Modernist Archives Publishing Project (MAPP). A collaborative effort involving Canadian, U.K. and U.S., institutions, the project seeks to advance research in the history of modernist presses and publishing. Wilson-Gordon used Virginia Woolf’s Hogarth Press to illustrate the capabilities of MAPP. The Hogarth Press offered an especially rich example because of the insights its history affords about Woolf and her work but also because of its importance to interwar publishing and its longevity throughout the twentieth century. Like many of the other projects discussed, MAPP illustrated the importance of collaboration and communities of scholars working in tandem. The launch of the Hogarth Press open-access portion of MAPP is slated for 2017.
The Book History and Digital Humanities session was one of three excellent panels sponsored by SHARP. SHARP’s liaison to MLA, Greg Barnhisel has written a full account of the other two, equally invigorating sessions for the spring issue of SHARP News: the official SHARP panel, Session # 501 Books and the Law, and Session #398 Virginia Woolf and Book History, co-sponsored with the Virginia Woolf Society.
As EMOB readers know, equal access to various subscription databases has been one of our key concerns over the years. Posts such Unequal Access and Commercial Databases have addressed this problem in detail, while other entries have suggested arguments to present to administrators and librarians as to why subscribing to these resources is crucial for scholars and students alike. From time to time we have been able to obtain trial subscriptions to commercial databases—EEBO, ECCO, WWO, Burney, Orlando—for EMOB readers. Most recently, Anna has detailed a Cengage-Gale trial granted to SUNY institution and the results of that trial.
Issues of access, however, continue to affect many—both those whose institutions do not subscribe to these digital resources and those whose status as independent scholars, retired, or seeking employment means that they lack the necessary affiliation to gain access. Yet some recent developments indicate that 2014 might be a turning point in gaining greater albeit not equal access for scholars.
JStor, for instance, has launched a number of initiatives.
- Two years ago JStor instituted Early Journal Content, which made its holdings of material “published prior to 1923 in the United States and prior to 1870 elsewhere freely available to anyone, anywhere in the world.”
- After a three-year pilot, JStor established the Alumni Access program for institutions participating in JStor. This video features a presentation on Alumni Access given at the Fall 2012 Coalition for Networked Information (CNI) conference. SAGE journals also has a similar program.
- In March 2012, as a follow-up of sorts to its Early Journal Content, JStor commenced its Register & Read program. This program enables those without institutional access to gain access to a subset of JStor—to articles in roughly 700 journals; the program, however, does not enable access to current material. See FAQs for more information.
Most promising, perhaps, is JStor’s JPass launched this past fall. JPass offers individuals access to 83% of JStor’s database for a fee ranging from $19.50 a month to $199.00 a year. The JPass enables unlimited access for reading articles contained in 1,500 journals and published up until 3 to 5 years prior. The program also allows JPass holders the ability to download a limited number of articles each month. Equally promising, in late October the Modern Language Association (MLA) announced that it had just added discounts on the JPass as a member benefit. Rather than pay $199 for annual subscription to JPass, MLA members can obtain this pass for only $99 per year. This model resembles to some degree that of the The British Newspaper Archive , which offers annual, monthly, week, and daily access plans.
MLA, however, is not the only scholarly society to add access to databases as a member benefit. Other societies and scholarly organizations (including the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading & Publishing [SHARP])are, or will be shortly, making this a new member benefit.
Most impressive is the initiative by the Renaissance Society of America (RAS). This past November RSA announced that all members would enjoy full access to Early English Books Online. RSA evidently secured an institutional subscription to EEBO, thus enabling all its members to have free access to EEBO. An experiment of sorts by Proquest and RSA, this model of a society acting as an institutional subscriber could serve as an example to others. At the same time, such subscriptions are costly to the society and databases would need to be ones that were relevant to most if not all members. Another potential risk that has arisen entails cancellation of database subscriptions by academic libraries based on the rationale that faculty members have access to a given database because of their membership in a professional organization. Such cancellations are extremely shortsighted and ignore entirely the pedagogical benefits of these databases for undergraduate and graduate students alike. Similarly, such a move seems particularly irrational given the large-scale push to promote undergraduate research and in light of the unusual opportunities that access to these primary texts offers undergraduates.Understandably such cancellations are not conducive to inspiring confidence in publishers of these databases to engage in such experiments.
To date Cengage-Gale has no plans to embark on individual plans or the like. For more than a few years, it has been investigating possible models that would allow it do so, but it has yet to discover one that is financially viable or that would not conflict with existing contracts (this latter issue is one often overlooked, but these contracts carry many clauses and can complicate opening up access given existing agreements with subscribing institutions). It has, however, been successful in lowering the costs of such databases as ECCO and 17th and 18th Century Burney Collection, enabling more academic libraries to be able to afford subscriptions.
This overview has not even touched upon the issues surrounding green and gold standards of open access, nor has it discussed the policies related to these standards announced in 2012-2103 in the UK, Australia, and continental Europe. Yet, these issues deserve an independent post in the future.
In the meantime, it would be interesting to hear what others think of these initiatives and what they might signal for better if not full equal access in the future. Do these various plans seem affordable? What other solutions might be offered?
Gale Cengage gave SUNY schools a great opportunity this semester by offering free trial access to ECCO, Burney, and NCCO. I, for one, learned a lot from working with undergraduates in my Gothic Novels course as they searched ECCO for relevant material for their final research papers. Those papers were mixed, with some outstanding essays and some less successful attempts. I summarize my experience below:
- ECCO must be part of a strong digital collection in order to be fully usefuL. Spotty digital holdings make using ECCO difficult. For instance, without a subscription to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, new users find it difficult both to identify the author of a lesser known work and to assess that work’s historical or literary significance.
- Using ECCO requires both competency with secondary sources and access to those sources. Though some students used many secondary sources, even ordering books on interlibrary loan, many were more timid about using JSTOR and Project Muse than I anticipated. Now that we purchase almost no books, galvanizing interest in scholarly books feels more difficult. Am I imagining this?
- Using ECCO was great for new critical readings. My students wrote lively and insightful papers using the search function to demonstrate the significance of words, phrases, or images in a given text. The search function, however imperfect, helped students “read” more attentively.
- Using ECCO posed significant challenges for historical readings–ironically the very readings that would theoretically most benefit from such a resource. I prepared handouts, explained key historical moments and figures, and discussed competing approaches to these novels, but finally students required written accounts of contexts that they could study on their own. Printing excerpts from secondary sources, particularly secondary sources that provided differing points of view helped. The take away: students using ECCO would benefit from a textbook/anthology that clustered primary and secondary sources and provided suggestions for further reading in ECCO. This seems like a productive printing possibility.
Some found ECCO a chore; others liked it; some quietly noted that it grew on them. All of them acquired an appreciation for the vastness and richness of the archive at their fingertips. Most felt students should have access to it. Using ECCO stretched us all as readers and interpreters of eighteenth-century texts, never something to be dismissed.
Our SUNY experiment using ECCO (and, in other courses, NCCO) has begun. The initial difficulty was getting students to use ECCO. To that end, I designed the introductory exercise listed below, which resulted in thoughtful papers that often used proximity and wildcard searches. Best of all, not only do students seem more comfortable using ECCO after completing this exercise, they also are more attuned to Radcliffe’s craft.
The assignment is designed for an undergraduate class on the Eighteenth-Century Gothic Novel.
I would love to hear about other successful exercises or assignments using ECCO, NCCO, or Burney, especially exercises asking students to study historical contexts.
Word Searching in ECCO (Eighteenth-Century Collections Online)
Due: Monday, 7 October, in class.
Length: 1 page, typed and double-spaced
- Go to the Feinberg Library home page
- Click on “Find Articles”
- Click on “Databases by Subject”
- Click on “English/Literature”
- Click on “Eighteenth-Century Collections Online”
- Do a title search for “Romance of the Forest” with “1792” as the date [it was published in 1791, but the earliest edition ECCO has is the 2nd edition, published in 1792].
- Note that each of its three volumes comes up as a different book; each volume will need to be searched for the word you select.
- Select a word that seems important to the novel: “forest,” “romance,” “labyrinth,” “asylum,” “tears,” “door,” “hidden,” “fear,” “beauty,”
“prayer,” “road,” “convent,” “reason,” “rational,” “imagination,” and so forth.
- Do a word search for every occurrence of that word in each volume. Remember that words with “s” might need false searches: “case,” for example, requires a search for “cafe.” Consider synonyms. Consider alternate spellings of words.
- When necessary, look up the eighteenth-century meaning of words in the Oxford English Dictionary, also available on the Feinberg Library English Department web site.
- Write a brief (1 page) account of the role of that word in Radcliffe’s narrative, in her construction of character, in her construction of tone, or in other key aspects of her artistry.
* A search for “poet*” searches for words with “poet” as the root: “poet,” “poetic,” “poetess,” “poetical,” “poets,” etc.
? A search for “wom?n” calls up “women” and “woman”
! A search for “nun!” calls up “nun,” “nuns,” “nunn,” “nune”
A search for “ladies n6 asylum” calls up texts with “ladies” and “asylum” within 6 words of one another.
A search for “ladies w6 asylum” calls up texts with “ladies” appearing within 6 words before “asylum”