Archive for the ‘Digital Literary Studies’ Category

Digital Humanities Summer Institute

November 20, 2015

This is just in from the Renaissance Society of America. –Anna


The Renaissance Society of America is pleased to announce that it will partner with the Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI) in 2016, to offer five tuition scholarships (each for one week) to current RSA members who wish to attend the institute.

Additionally, all current RSA members will have the opportunity to register for one of the institute’s courses (one week) at a discounted rate.

The DHSI ( will be held on 6–10 June and 13–17 June 2016 at the University of Victoria, Canada. Participants may choose to attend one or two weeks of the institute. Each week will include a training workshop as well as a selection of colloquia, unconferences, panels, and institute lectures.

Tuition scholarships

Note: If you’re applying for a tuition scholarship, do not register for any course until after the RSA informs you of the result of the scholarship competition. This is because, in the event that you win a scholarship, DHSI cannot refund registrations.

Eligibility: Applicants must already be an RSA member in 2015, and if they win a scholarship, they must renew their membership in 2016.

Deadline: 30 November 2015

The committee will select two non-doctoral scholars, two junior scholars (including adjuncts and independent scholars), and one senior scholar (including adjuncts, independent scholars, and retired scholars).

The scholarship covers the cost of tuition only; transportation and lodging costs are the responsibility of the winner.


  1. Fill out a very brief form that asks for name, email address, mailing address, affiliation, academic status, and discipline.
  2. Submit documents by email (as attachments, to
    • Resume (no more than two pages)
    • One-page letter indicating which DHSI course you propose to attend and how it meets your overarching research aims. Please also identify a second course choice, in the event that your first choice is unavailable.

Discounted registration rate for RSA members

Note: If you’re applying for an RSA tuition scholarship, do not register for any course until after the RSA informs you of the result of the scholarship competition. This is because, in the event that you win a scholarship, DHSI cannot refund registrations.

Before 1 April 2016, RSA members can register for either weeklong course at the discounted rate of $300 for students and $650 for nonstudents. To view a list of all forty-three courses, please go to Because the most popular courses will fill before April, we recommend that you register in December or January, as soon as the results of the scholarship competition are known.

To register at the discounted rate, you must be a current RSA member (2015) and you must renew your membership for 2016.

The Library Beyond the Book (…and Beyond the Human)

August 9, 2015

Jeffrey T. Schnapp and Matthew Battles’s The Library Beyond the Book (Harvard University Press, 2014) is a multimedia publishing experiment that moves beyond slapping a CD of music onto a book’s inner front flap or uploading music onto a related web site.  This book’s material is interlocked to material on a slew of media: a dedicated web site, a 24-minute documentary, relevant digital reviews about the film and Harvard’s MetaLAB in Harvard Magazine, and even a playable deck of cards (more on this later).

This gothic disassembly and reassembly of the book’s traditional parts is intentionally disquieting–more Frankenstein’s monster than utopian order.

Like Shelley’s monster, the volume questions its own narrative.  It opens with a steampunk cartoon in which Melvil Dewey time travels from past to future, gleefully outlining the history of libraries and insisting on the library’s facilitation of dialogue between the living and the dead.  The cartoon’s closing tableau reveals the domed reading room of the future library holding no books at all. Instead, an announcement from a loudspeaker informs Mr. Dewey that his volumes are “ready for download.”  The Victorian Mr. Dewey is triumphant.  The library of the future is here.

Four sections of subsequent text question this cartoon’s playful certainty, replacing Dewey’s confidence with provisional speculation.  The volume’s first line announces that the title “The Library Beyond the Book

is a provocation, not a description. It gestures toward a threshold being traversed at the time of writing, not toward an era when books will vanish and bookshelves will be seen only in virtual versions, brimming over only with e-books.

The threshold being traversed involves dismantling the linear momentum of the book.  The volume’s typographical design disrupts forward progress, in part through red-inked epigrammatic meditations on the future library that run down the right margin of each spread, forcing one to turn the volume 90˚ in order to read them. These future scenarios are deliberately whimsical, and reviewers have complained about the book’s abstractions.  Though such complaints mistake theory for pragmatism, they are understandable given the legitimate anxiety about the future of libraries.

Perhaps most whimsical is the companion deck of playing cards available for purchase upon request, on which the red-inked “provocations” are recorded.  But here too the whimsy is richly informed.  The deck recalls the organization of the first card catalog, designed by the historian Edward Gibbon on the backs of playing cards. Assumptions that these provocations matter, that they should be saved for posterity, that they should be the stuff of meditation are made frivolous by the medium of playing cards, even as we recall that playing cards are not only sometimes preserved in archives but also valuable for the insight they provide into the past.  Gibbon’s card catalog provides one example; the famous playing cards narrating the fictional Popish Plot provides another.  If items as apparently frivolous as playing cards should be collected and stored in libraries, where does the collecting end?

The limitations of storing is the topic of the project’s highlight, the brilliant 24-minute documentary, Cold Storage, which is an improvisational tribute to Alain Resnais’ Toute la memoire du monde (1956).  Toute la memoire du monde documented the organization of France’s beautiful Bibliothèque nationale; Cold Storage examines Harvard Library’s decidedly homely remote storage system.  Both French and American documentaries dispel romantic concepts of the library, but a comparison of the two exposes the increasingly diminished role of the human in the highly functional and mechanized archival vaults of today.

Directed by Cristoforo Magliozzi and narrated by Schnapp, Cold Storage takes viewers behind the scenes to the gargantuan breathing machine that is the Harvard Depository, a sprawling concrete monster that bends humans to its will as it exhales and inhales books sent to and from readers at Harvard’s libraries. In climate controlled concrete bunkers, shelves tower above and beyond sight, forcing human assistants to use electrical lifts to reach them. Drone technology allows cameras to capture a perspective from non-human heights.  The resulting point of view is that of the building viewing the tiny workers lifted mechanically to shelves no human could reach without robotic help. Because of the volume of books sent there daily, books are cataloged and shelved by size, not by content.  The result is a collection

designed for the eyes of laser scanners, inventory tracking systems, and mechanically-aided acts of retrieval. . . . The HD reduces its sparsely-distributed human agents to parts in a cybernetic machine that speaks a language not of authors, subjects, and titles, but of barcode label identifiers and the ID numbers they encode (139).

That laser scanners are now part of an intended audience is also suggested by the dust jacket designed for The Library Beyond the Book.  An impossibly long barcode runs down the left side of the front cover, a hyperbolic indication of the book’s need to be “readable” by lasers in either Amazon warehouses or book depositories or both.

The lifespan of the depository poses a problem that has always haunted libraries: finding space.  Its climate controlled bunkers preserve books and other records for hundreds of years, but the concrete bunkers themselves will last between 70 and 100 years.  With new books added to the collection’s 9 million items daily, the project is “unsustainable,” explains Matthew Shehy, head of access services.

To the old, though intensifying, problem of sustainability is a new problem of concept, one that Battles suggests in his earlier volume, The Library: An Unquiet History.  The machine-controlled bunkers of the HD force a reassessment of the beautiful and coherent religious metaphors we often use for libraries—”cathedral,” “monastery,” “hermitage,” and “refuge.” In those spaces, humans could collaborate with texts and others to construct a sustained cultural memory and identity.  By contrast, the bunkers of today contain numbers of texts growing so quickly that not only cataloging but also comprehension seems beyond the scale of human minds.

Everyone should watch Cold Storage for its creepy revelation of the non-human design of the very institution on which we rely to preserve, celebrate, bemoan, and understand the human record.  For all its irreverent play, this  multimedia project makes a serious point, leaving us to consider how best to respond to a monstrous body that was designed with the latest technology without full consideration for its place in human society.

2013 ODH Project Directors Meeting

September 23, 2013

The NEH has just announced its 2013 Office of Digital Humanities Meeting will take place on Friday, October 4, 2013, at NEH Headquarters in Washington, DC.

As in the past, the meeting will feature 3-minute Lightning-Round presentations from ODH grantees. This year thirty-two grant recipients from 2013 will be presenting–almost all of those who received a grant this year. EMOB will be reporting on these presentations in a subsequent Fall post. See an earlier post for reporting on past NEH awards.

In addition to these lightening rounds, Dr. Michael Witmore, Director of the Folger Shakespeare Library, will give one of two keynote addresses. His talk is titled “Adjacencies, Virtuous and Vicious, in the Digital Spaces of Libraries.”
Abstract: This talk will explore how techniques of discovery — scanning shelves, exploring digital texts and catalogues — may change the nature of research conducted in Libraries. The argument: with the advent of massively searchable digital corpora, the uses and advantages of “nearness” in Libraries will change.

Dr. Amanda French, Center for History and New Media at George Mason, will deliver the second keynote, “On Projects, and THATCamp”
Abstract: Since its start in 2008, THATCamp, The Humanities and Technology Camp, has seen more than 170 events held or planned worldwide and has provided digital training and professional development to more than 6000 people, most of them humanities scholars, students, or professionals. Whether we consider it one project or many, THATCamp has become an essential feature of the digital humanities landscape, and it is time for some perspective on it.

While there is no charge to attend, one must register. For more details and to register to attend, please visit the ODH webpage.

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?

Conference to Launch of Digital Miscellanies Index, a New Resource

August 5, 2013

On 17 September 2013, St. Peter’s College Oxford will host a one-day conference, “A Miscellany of Miscellanies: Popular Poetic Collections and the Eighteenth Century Canon” and an evening performance of eighteenth-century music to launch the Digital Miscellanies Index.

This Leverhulme-funded index was three years in the making. Its publication will make freely available 1,000 poetic miscellanies published during the eighteenth century. The Index adds to the porjects hosted by Bodleian’s Centre for the Study of the Book. The Bodleian Library’s Harding Collection, “which houses the most significant but largely neglected group of miscellanies in the world,” contains the majority of the miscellanies, but the project also contains data about copies held at the British Library and the Cambridge Library. The project developers based their work on Professor Michael Suarez, S.J.’s recent bibliography of eighteenth-century poetic miscellanies.

Dr. Abigail Williams (St. Peter’s College Oxford) is the Index’s principal investigator. Some EMOB readers may have heard Dr. Jennifer Batt, DMI’s post-doctoral project coordinator, speak about this exciting project at past American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies conferences. As the DMI website notes, “In displaying this material for the first time, the Index will enable users to map the changing nature of literary taste in the eighteenth century.”

We look forward to the availability of the Digital Miscellanies Index and to hearing the experiences of EMOB readers using this new resource.

SHARP 2013 Digital Projects and Tools Showcase

July 29, 2013

In mid-July the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading & Publishing (SHARP) met for its twenty-first annual conference, “Geographies of the Book,” in Philadelphia. Hosted by University of Pennsylvania, the conference included a three-hour, stand-alone digital showcase on Saturday, July 20th. Before I turn to the sixteen projects featured in the showcase, a few words about the history of digital sessions at SHARP are in order.

The tradition of showcasing digital projects at SHARP conferences was begun by Dr. Katherine Harris (San Jose University) for the 2008 conference held in Oxford, England. Currently serving as the E-Resources Review Editor for SHARP News, Dr. Harris continued to organize showcases for subsequent conferences. These highly popular sessions ran concurrently with other sessions. Although the 2011 Washington, DC organizers had attempted to find space to hold a stand-alone session that would not compete with other panels, space limitations prevented this desire from becoming a reality. A successful digital project session for the DC conference, however, was organized once again by Kathy Harris. Yet, the 2013 Digital Showcase at Penn marked the first time that the demonstrations of new digital projects and tools at SHARP had a dedicated time slot of its own as well as a setting well-suited to such an exhibition.

With a dedicated three-hour running time, the digital showcase ran from 12:30 to 3:30 pm; it competed for attention with parallel programming only during its final hour. The showcase’s location in Penn’s Houston Hall’s Hall of Flags easily accommodated 16 six-foot tables, each with its own monitor, and afforded the room for numerous attendees to navigate the various stations with ease.

Mitch Fraas (UPenn) demonstrates his project.
Photo credit: Alex Franklin (Univ. of Oxford)

Alan Galey (UToronto) demonstrates his project.
Photo credit: Alex Franklin (Univ. of Oxford)

The following is a list of the sixteen projects:

Eight of the sixteen projects deal directly with the early modern period, and at least two–Mark Algee-Hewitt and Tom Mole’s Bibliograph and Tim Stinson’s ARC and Collex–extend beyond the historical confines of the early modern but possess specific relevance to the period. I have counted Alan Galey’s The Borders of the Book: Visualizing Paratexts and Marginalia in Multiple Copies and Editions among the early modern projects because his work relies on texts from this period. Yet, his work on digital visualizations of differences in paratextual features and different readers’ marginalia found in multiple copies of the same books has larger application, too. All of the projects, no matter what the period, embody approaches and strategies afforded by the digital that can help advance work in book history and related fields. The projects are also at various stages–and you will notice that some have links, and some don’t because they are either in very early stages or simply not ready for widespread release. Bibliograph, for instance, is currently a prototype, with a beta version in the works for testing; the project launch date is aimed for 2014 or 2015.

END: Early Novels Database is a collaborative project involving several Philadelphia academic institutions but still in the midst of digitization and construction. In contrast, the Eighteenth-Century English Grammars Database is, in one sense, “complete, but as Professor Yáñez-Bouza noted, it is also “an open-end project because one can always add more grammars and some of the fields could be completed with more information had we the resources to look into contemporary book reviews and sales catalogues (e.g. the fields Price and Target Audience).”

Several of the projects have made previous appearances in EMOB posts. A post last June mentioned ARC (Advanced Research Consortium), and it is very good to see the progress since then. The Mellon grant that the Early Modern OCR Project (see the entry for Jacob Heil) received was announced in a post last fall. More recently, EMOB devoted a post to the image-matching software developed at the Bodleian that Alex Franklin presented at SHARP. Finally, the Mapping the Republic of Letters project the EMOB discussed in a post several years ago, served as the inspiration for Mitch Fraas’s Expanding the Republic of Letters: India and the Circulation of Ideas in the Late Eighteenth Century.

Explore and comment!

Virtual Paul’s Cross Project website is now available for exploration!

May 8, 2013


About a year ago, EMOB devoted a post to several NEH-funded digital projects. John N. Wall, Project Director and Professor of English Literature at NC State University, has let us know that the Virtual Paul’s Cross Project website is now available for exploration at We provide below the press release announcing its availability and invite EMOB readers to explore and comment.

The Virtual Paul’s Cross Project uses visual and acoustic modeling technology to recreate the experience of John Donne’s Paul’s Cross sermon for November 5th, 1622. The goal of this project is to integrate what we know, or can surmise, about the look and sound of this space, destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1666, and about the course of activities as they unfolded on the occasion of a Paul’s Cross sermon, so that we may experience a major public event of early modern London as it unfolded in real time and in the context of its original surroundings.

The Virtual Paul’s Cross Project has been supported by a Digital Start-Up Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The Virtual Paul’s Cross Project has sought the highest degree of accuracy in this recreation. To do so, it combines visual imagery from the 16th and 17th centuries with measurements of these buildings made during archaeological surveys of their foundations, still in the ground in today’s London. The visual presentation also integrates into the appearance of the visual model the look of a November day in London, with overcast skies and an atmosphere thick with smoke. The acoustic simulation recreates the acoustic properties of Paul’s Churchyard, incorporating information about the dispersive, absorptive or reflective qualities of the buildings and the spaces between them.

This website allows us to explore the northeast corner of Paul’s Churchyard, outside St Paul’s Cathedral, in London, on November 5th, 1622, and to hear John Donne’s sermon for Gunpowder Day, all two hours of it, in the space of its original delivery and in the context of church bells and the random ambient noises of dogs, birds, horses, and crowds of up to 5,000 people.
There is a Concise Guide to the whole site here.

In keeping with the desire for authenticity, the text of Donne’s sermon was taken from a manuscript prepared within days of the sermon’s original delivery that contains corrections in Donne’s own handwriting. It was recorded by a professional actor using an original pronunciation script and interpreting contemporary accounts of Donne’s preaching style.

For John Donne’s Paul’s Cross sermon for November 5th, 1622 (in 15-minute segments), as heard from 2 different positions in the Churchyard, go here.

On the website, the user can learn how the visual and acoustic models were created and explore the political and social background of Donne’s sermon. In addition to the complete recordings of Donne’s Gunpowder Day sermon, one can also explore the question of audibility of the unamplified human voice in Paul’s Churchyard by sampling excerpts from the sermon as heard from eight different locations across the Churchyard and in the presence of four different sizes of crowd.

For excerpts of the sermon from eight different locations and in the presence of different sizes of crowd go here.

The website also houses an archive of materials that contributed to the recreation, including visual records of the buildings, high resolution files of the manuscript and first printed versions of Donne’s sermon for Gunpowder Day 1622, and contemporary accounts of Donne’s preaching style. In addition, the website includes an acoustic analysis of the Churchyard, discussion of the challenges of interpreting historic depictions of the Cathedral and its environs, and a review of the liturgical context of outdoor preaching in the early modern age.

To see the visual model in detail on a fly around video go here. This is especially dramatic if viewed in HD video and at Full Screen display.
This Project is the work of an international team of scholars, engineers, actors, and linguists. In addition to the Project Director, they include David Hill, Associate Professor of Architecture at NC State University; Joshua Stephens, Jordan Grey, Chelsea Sacks, and Craig Johnson, graduate students in architecture at NC State University; John Schofield, Archaeologist at St Paul’s Cathedral and author of St Paul’s Cathedral Before Wren (2011); David Crystal, linguist; Ben Crystal, actor; Ben Markham and Matthew Azevedo, acoustic engineers with Acentech, Inc; and members of the faculty in linguistics and their graduate students at NC State University, especially professors Walt Wolfram, Erik Thomas, Robin Dodsworth, and Jeff Mielke.

Wall’s team is now planning a second stage of this Project, with the goal of completing the visual model of Paul’s Churchyard, including a complete model of St Paul’s Cathedral as it looked in the early 1620’s, during John Donne’s tenure as Dean of the cathedral. This visual model will be the basis for an acoustic model of the cathedral’s interior, especially the Choir, which will be the site for restaging a full day of worship services, including Bible readings, prayers, liturgies from the Book of Common Prayer, sermons, and music composed by the professional musicians on the cathedral’s staff for performance by the cathedral’s organist and its choir of men and boys. They will be competing for our attention, as they did in the 1620’s, with the noise of crowds who gathered in the cathedral’s nave, known as Paul’s Walk, to see and be seen and to exchange the latest gossip of the day.

Digital Tools: Image Matching within Printed Materials

January 27, 2013

Book historians, bibliographers, and early modern scholars working on word and image relationships are no doubt excited by new digital tools that allow one to search and match images. The Oxford University’s JISC-funded Integrated Broadside Ballad Archives project has developed such software, and the capabilities of the resulting tool demonstrate the promise of image-matching software. (Developing the image-matching software tool represents only part of the project. As its title implies, the project’s main goal is “to integrate existing resources for the study of the English folk song and printed ballad tradition.” To that end, the project serves to supply a central resource hub for the Bodleian Libraries Ballad collections, University of California Santa Barbara’s online English Broadside Ballad Archive” (EEBA), and the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library’s Roud Broadside and Folk Tune Indexes.)

In a recent video, Oxford faculty Giles Bergel (English) Andrew Zisserman (Computer Science), and Relja Arandjelovic (Engineering Science) from the Broadside Ballad Connections offer a fascinating account and demonstration of the new image matching software and how it allows us to track images across early forms of printed literature. Not only is the software enabling and advancing existing scholarship, but, as Bergel notes near the video’s close, this software is generating new research questions such as “When do images became new images?”

This diagram offers a quick view of how this software operates and focuses on the following image:

From Image-Matching Explained

From Image-Matching Explained

One can also experience firsthand how this tool works by trying the demo.

We would be very interested in hearing about experiences using the image-matching functions of the Broadside Ballad Connections well as about other projects using image-matching software or similar tools that enable us to explore visual texts.

(Anna has plans to post on EBBA in the near future.)

Finding English Verse, 1650-1800

January 23, 2013

The following announcement comes from James Woolley, English, Lafayette College:

A revised and enlarged checklist of first-line indexes and fully searchable texts is available here.

Since last report (August 2010), quite a bit has happened. The Union First Line Index of English Verse has expanded significantly; it now includes, in addition to manuscript verse, printed verse 1603-1710, with more additions promised. We have a new index of Gentleman’s Magazine verse. Other big projects are announced in this update of the checklist as well. For a clue about what’s new, see the update history, p. 22.

Prof. Woolley would like to be apprised of news that ought to be mentioned in the checklist, or errors that ought to be corrected.

SHARP 2013 Call for Submissions, for digital projects related to book history and bibliography

December 13, 2012

The Organizing Committee for the Philadelphia SHARP Conference 2013 announces a second Call for Submissions, for digital projects related to book history and bibliography. These may include but are not limited to research tools, apps and software, bibliographies or databases, corpora of media or texts, digitization initiatives, remediations, and interactive interfaces.

 We will exhibit up to 20 of these projects in a free-form session in which participants will be able to share their digital and new media work with an audience of nearly 300 conference delegates (faculty, librarians, administrators, independent scholars, graduate students).

 The Showcase will be held between 12 and 3pm on Saturday, July 20, 2013. The conference runs from Thursday, July 18 to Sunday, July 21, 2013.

 We welcome submissions on all aspects of SHARP’s purview: authorship, reading, and publishing. We particularly encourage proposals of new or recent work, as well as proposals directly relevant to the conference theme, “Geographies of the Book.” (To learn more about the 2013 Conference, please visit our website at

 The deadline for proposals is Friday, January 25, 2013, at 11:59 p.m.

Eastern Standard Time (GMT +5h).


To submit, please email the SHARP 2013 Program Committee at with a brief introduction (up to 400 words) of your project/tool/software. Questions that may be addressed include:

  •  what were the origins of your project; what are its theoretical underpinnings and its goals?
  • what are the historical period and geography/ies covered?
  • what determined its design? what tools and software were used? if your project *is* a tool or software, how does it benefit book historians and/or bibliographers
  • how did the digital or media component(s) of your project enable, strengthen, or transform the materials and methods under consideration? what new questions were raised?
  • how might this approach or tool be scaled up, appropriated, or reused in other contexts?

 Please be sure to name all participants and institutions involved.

 Participants will be expected to provide their own hardware for demonstrations (PCs/Macs, tablets, drives, sound systems, etc.). The conference’s Local Arrangements Committee will provide logistical assistance (tables, chairs, extension cords, Internet access) but cannot offer tech support.

 Those who have submitted papers to the main conference program may also submit project proposals to the Digital Projects Showcase, but, with consideration for program planning and maximal participation, will only be selected for one or the other.

 One participant for each proposal must be(come) a member of SHARP prior to the conference.


Some financial assistance may be available; in the past we have been able to fund between 10-15% of all travel grant requests. If you wish to apply for a travel grant, please include a statement of up to 150 words explaining how much funding you are requesting and why.


Please contact the SHARP Program Committee with any questions by email at or by phone at +1.347.6SHRP13 (+1.347.647.7713).

 We look forward to your submissions and to showcasing our changing digital landscape in Philadelphia next July.


David McKnight

Convenor, SHARP 2013 Conference, Philadelphia


“Geographies of the Book”

The 21st Annual Conference of the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing (SHARP)

18-21 July, 2013

University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA


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