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C18 DH projects

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And also ours:

Of particular interest: The Novels Reviewed Database and the Manuscript Fiction Project (which we'll be hearing more about next week when Emily Friedman comes to visit!).

Algorithmic versification--seems like a great teaching tool. Also, Hamilton.

English majors can learn to code!

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Of uncertain relevance but I was heartened by this silicon valley guy acknowledging that liberal arts majors make good coders because they are good critical thinkers. So don't let yourselves get discouraged!

Mitch Fraas: Beyond the Atlantic: British India, Book Circulation, and the Transmission of Knowledge in the c18

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Yesterday Mitch gave a great talk to the Rare Book School folks about the circulation of books between South Asia and Europe in the colonial period. Of particular interest to our group, Mitch noted that fiction was common enough that one correspondent writing in 1772 deplored the prevalence of that form of "light summer reading." Popular novels included Don Quixote, Smollet's Peregrine Pickle, Sterne's Sentimental Journey, and Goldsmith's Vicar of Wakefield. Among a wide variety of texts--including legal and religious books, works by Pope and Shakespeare, Addison and Steele's The Spectator--Mitch found one circulating copy of a 1767 Treatise on Onanism.

Read more and check out some excellent visualizations on Mitch's blog:

Theory Thursday: Tristram Shandy

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For this week we'll be reading the first 12 chapters of Laurence Sterne's Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (p. 1-52 in the first edition).

As you read, please make note of a few passages that you find particularly interesting. We will be collectively making a list of the weird visual features of this text, so try to skim around in a digital or print edition and see what you can find.

Annotated digital edition of King Lear

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Danny Snelson's sample of online expandable annotated edition

Links etc. from Sarah Nicolazzo's presentation

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Check out the archives of the Old Bailey Online:

If you're interested in reading Henry Fielding's The Female Husband, there's a nice Adelaide Ebook full-text version:

And here's Sarah's article about vagrancy and The Female Husband:


Thursday, June 25: Sarah Nicolazzo

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This week for Sarah Nicolazzo (Assistant Professor, UC San Diego) will be presenting on early eighteenth-century criminal biographies and fiction.

In preparation, please read this selection from the Ordinary of Newgate's Account for 1721.

What is an author claim?

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We are encountering some murky waters regarding 599 author claims so I thought I'd open up the question: when is a narrator an author?

This can be particularly interesting for it narratives--in some of these, a material object is primarily responsible for telling its own story, but someone else (presumably a human) is responsible for writing down that story.

For example: Adventures of a Black Coat. Containing a series of remarkable occurrences and entertaining incidents, that it was a witness to in its peregrinations through the cities of London and Westminster, in company with variety of characters. As related by itself(1760). The titular coat, Sable, tells his story orally to another coat. The anonymous narrator/author claims (in the text) to have overheard Sable's story (which is sadly interrupted mid-sentence). That same author-figure makes claims to have written the novel in the preface--and it's a very "authorish" preface.

Our team appears to be split on this question, so I'd love to know others think from practical and/or theoretical perspectives.

Is Sable an author? Does the title page statement "as related by itself" constitute an author claim? Is an author a storyteller or a writer? Would the question be different if there were no "author" in the preface?

Samuel Johnson, _The Rambler_ no. 4 (31 March 1750)

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Simul et jucunda et idonea dicere vitae.

Horace, Ars Poetica And join both profit and delight in one.

Creech. The works of fiction, with which the present generation seems more particularly delighted, are such as exhibit life in its true state, diversified only by accidents that daily happen in the world, and influenced by passions and qualities which are really to be found in conversing with mankind.

This kind of writing may be termed not improperly the comedy of romance, and is to be conducted nearly by the rules of comic poetry. Its province is to bring about natural events by easy means, and to keep up curiosity without the help of wonder: it is therefore precluded from the machines and expedients of the heroic romance, and can neither employ giants to snatch away a lady from the nuptial rites, nor knights to bring her back from captivity; it can neither bewilder its personages in desarts, nor lodge them in imaginary castles.

I remember a remark made by Scaliger upon Potanus, that all his writings are filled with the same images; and that if you take from him his lillies and his roses, his satyrs and his dryads, he will have nothing left that can be called poetry.[1] In like manner, almost all the fictions of the last age will vanish, if you deprive them of a hermit and a wood, a battle and a shipwreck.

Why this wild strain of imagination found reception so long, in polite and learned ages, it is not easy to conceive; but we cannot wonder that, while readers could be procured, the authors were willing to continue it: for when a man had by practice some fluency of language, he had no further care than to retire to his closet, let loose his invention, and heat his mind with incredibilities; a book was thus produced without fear of criticism, without the toil of study, without knowledge of nature, or acquaintance with life.

The task of our present writers is very different; it requires, together with that learning which is to be gained from books, that experience which can never be attained by solitary diligence, but must arise from general converse, and accurate observation of the living world. Their performances have, as Horace expresses it, plus oneris quantum veniae minus,[2] little indulgence, and therefore more difficulty. They are engaged in portraits of which every one knows the original, and can detect any deviation from exactness of resemblance. Other writings are safe, except from the malice of learning, but these are in danger from every common reader; as the slipper ill executed was censured by a shoemaker who happened to stop in his way at the Venus of Apelles.[3]

Read the rest of the essay here:


Voyant--an easy text visualization interface:

Cool digital edition of Tristram Shandy:

The Toast is always relevant

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Re: Pamela

If you don't feel like reading the whole thing, check this out: Does Mr. B. like you? A quiz.