Author Archive

Universal Short Title Catalog (USTC)

April 5, 2014

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.

Women Writers Resources Free Access During March

March 1, 2014

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.

Orlando will also be free and open to the public during March.  Orlando can be accessed by clicking here or by going to http://orlando.cambridge.org,

UC Riverside wins $405,000 Mellon Foundation Grant for ESTC

February 9, 2014

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.

Gale Cengage Announces Essay Contest Winners

February 5, 2014

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.

Using ECCO in the Undergraduate Classroom: Reviewing Gale Cengage’s Trial Access

December 21, 2013

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.

Getting Students Started on ECCO

October 7, 2013

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

  1. Go to the Feinberg Library home page
  2. Click on “Find Articles”
  3. Click on “Databases by Subject”
  4. Click on “English/Literature”
  5. Click on “Eighteenth-Century Collections Online”
  6. 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].
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.

Searching Guidelines

Truncated searches:

*            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”

Proximity searches:

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”

Teaching with ECCO

August 17, 2013

As posted yesterday, Gale Cengage is providing SUNY colleges with trial access to ECCO (Eighteenth Century Collections Online) and NCCO (Nineteenth Century Collections Online) this fall. Gale Cengage is also sponsoring
essay contests for SUNY students using these tools. This is a great opportunity to test these products, to think about how best to teach with them, and to evaluate students’ responses to them. So how best to introduce these resources?

Thinking about my undergraduate Gothic Novel class this fall, I decided that short videos would be the most effective way to introduce students unfamiliar with eighteenth-century texts to ECCO. I prepared three brief videos (below). I would love to hear how others introduce students to these tools.

There are a number of other videos on using ECCO. Below are a few from Virginia Tech:

The following essays from The Eighteenth-Century Intelligencer are also helpful. See especially the appendices Eleanor included in her illuminating essay. You may have to scroll through the pdf document to find each individual essay.

For those relatively new to using ECCO in the classroom, the following resources may provide useful background. I will use Gale’s guide as a handout after students have watched the videos.

For those using Burney (which is included in the free trial), our “Preliminary Guide for Using Burney ” may be helpful.

Finally, Laura Rosenthal opened a valuable discussion on this topic in 2009 on Long Eighteenth that may interest readers. I’d love to hear updates to that discussion, particularly ideas for effective teaching assignments. What works? What doesn’t?

Trial Access to ECCO and NCCO for SUNY Colleges + Essay Contests

August 16, 2013

The following announcement from Gale Cengage will interest faculty and students at SUNY schools. It’s a great opportunity to explore these resources and students’ responses to them.

We hope to hear about classroom experiences here on emob.
AB

*****

This fall, Gale Cengage Learning is sponsoring an essay contest for SUNY students. Its purpose is to encourage primary source research using advanced databases like Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) and Nineteenth Century Collections Online (NCCO). We hope this experience with these key resources will help students prepare for a digital future.

We are offering free access to SUNY schools during fall 2013 through our new platform Artemis, which will contain both ECCO and NCCO. We hope you and your students will explore these tools to see how they enrich the learning environment. We also hope you will encourage your students to submit essays that incorporate these resources as part of the contest.

Two undergraduate essay awards ($250 each) and one graduate essay award ($500) will be offered for the best submissions on 18th-19th-century history and/or literature.

More information can be found at the link below: http://galesupport.com/suny/

Questions can be forwarded to Theresa DeBenedictis:

Theresa DeBenedictis
Gale, Cengage Learning
Theresa.debenedictis@cengage.com
1-800-877-4253 x 2229
Cell: 732-865-4249

Digital Humanities Data Curation Workshops

July 24, 2013
Readers may be interested in the following announcement:

Digital Humanities Data Curation, a series of three-day workshops, will provide a strong introductory grounding in data curation concepts and practices, focusing on the special issues and challenges of data curation in the humanities. Workshops are aimed at humanities researchers — whether traditional faculty or alternative (alt-ac) professionals — as well as librarians, archivists, cultural heritage specialists, other information professionals, and advanced graduate students.

Applications are now being accepted for the second Digital Humanities Data Curation Institute workshop, to be held at the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities, University of Maryland, October 16-18, 2013. Visit the Institute website (http://dhcuration.org/institute) to complete an application by August 7.

As the materials and analytical practices of humanities research become increasingly digital, the theoretical knowledge and practical skills of information science, librarianship, and archival science — which come together in the research, and practice of data curation — will become more vital to humanists.

Carrying out computational research with digital materials requires that both scholars and information professionals understand how to manage and curate data over its entire lifetime of interest. At the least, individual scholars must be able to document their data curation strategies and evaluate those of collaborators and other purveyors of humanities data. More fully integrating data curation into digital research involves fluency with topics such as disciplinary research cultures, publication, information sharing, and reward practices, descriptive standards, metadata formats, and the technical characteristics of digital data.

Organized by the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH), the Women Writers Project (WWP) at Brown University, and the Center for Informatics Research in Science and Scholarship (CIRSS) at GSLIS, this workshop series is generously funded by an Institute for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Megan Senseney
Center for Informatics Research in Science and Scholarship
Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Phone: 217-244-5574
Email: mfsense2@illinois.edu

Visit the website at http://dhcuration.org/institute.

We would welcome hearing about these workshops from participants.

Preserving Digital Archives

April 28, 2013

Most attendees at the Beinecke Library’s recent conference on digital archiving–Beyond the Text: Literary Archives in the 21st Century“–arrived equipped with the idea that there is no preservation without loss.

What may have given some attendees pause, particularly those who work primarily on the first two centuries following the Reformation, is how much 21st-century digital stuff is being preserved–and how idiosyncratic the process of selection can be.

Faced with the data deluge of a contemporary literary figure’s electronic correspondence, for example, how do archivists determine what gets archived and what gets tossed?  Now that archiving can begin during a writer’s or publisher’s lifetime, without a family member’s interference (think Cassandra Austen), who shapes the archive?  And if digital archivists shape the archive, what principles of retention do they use?  Where do their loyalties lie? With the author?  Or with the data-hungry and feverishly scandal-mongering scholars of posterity?

The two-day conference raised unresolved and provocative questions, many of which focused on the problem of selection.  Fran Baker, the Assistant Archivist for John Rylands Library at the University of Manchester, discussed the complexity of archiving the Carcanet editorial papers, including email.  Hearing about the decision-making process determining what stays and what gets tossed may not seem new to librarians familiar with the problem of sorting and discarding, but in the context of shaping an archive, that decision-making process and its likelihood of error takes on urgency.

There were stories of forensic success, the most notable of which is Matthew Kirschenbaum’s narrative of the extensive and collective effort tracking down William Gibson’s electronic poem, “Agrippa,” which was designed to encrypt itself after a single reading.  That a text programmed to go away can be recovered suggests both the value of collaborating on large digital projects like The Agrippa Files and the perils of assuming that an author has control over her or his electronic archives.  Similarly, Beth Luey’s account of the rich storehouse of data contained in publishers’ records–sales data, copies printed, copies sold, print runs, design decisions, contracts, marketing files, legal disputes, reviews, book jacket design, subsidiary rights, and so forth–both encouraged work on publishers’ records and raised ethical and legal issues.  In the discussion that followed, for example, it became clear that though some publishers did not retain rejected manuscripts, others did, including pertinent correspondence and readers’ reports.

The Keynote talk by David Sutton noted that literary manuscripts are like no other manuscripts in that they offer insights into the act of creation.  He showcased ongoing projects that promote an awareness of digital literary archives:

Hazel Carby’s eloquent, harrowing, and culturally resonant account of tracing her family genealogy back to a slave owner’s carefully archived records, reminded everyone that archives preserve both the beautiful and the monstrous.

Diane Ducharme drew on her experience at the Beinecke to warn that however much we may desire an unmediated past and a pristine archival order free from editing and explicating, all archives arrive shaped and selected.  Her discussion underscored the importance of searching for the traces of a previous archivist’s work.

Micki McGee described her experience with the Yaddo Archive Project, which aims at providing visualizations of the social network of writers who worked at Yaddo.  She described the process of seeking a relational database with social network mapping and a visualization widget.  Though the project, Yaddo Circles, requires authentication and is not yet available for public view, this vimeo provides an overview.  Clicking here reveals the kind of relational visualization this project might produce.

McGee also recommended looking at the following projects:

These projects have potential for helping us recover the intensely sociable and highly competitive literary worlds of the long eighteenth century.   Like the many other provocative and interesting papers and introductions to sessions, they point a way forward even as they raise methodological, logistical, and even ethical questions.

This conference made clear the value of a longer conference, with sessions focusing on specific problems posed by digital archives of material both old and new.  I welcome contributions by others who attended the conference to help complete this cursory overview.


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