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Panel Summary

4 min read

So I went to hear three talks on Wednesday morning. They were:

  1. The Marenzio Online Digital Edition (MODE): Reading and Performing Music in a Web-Based Dynamic Environment (Mauro Calcagno and Laurent Pugin) (abstract: Added
  2. Visual Exploration of Medieval Textual Histories: the Case of the French of Italy (Laura Morreale, Abigail Sargent, David Wrisley) (abstract)
  3. Nature in American Realism and Romanticism and the Problem with Genre (Martin Groff) (abstract)

Let me go through them one by one.

  1. This seemed like a cool and logical extension of the DH Project into the realm of music, for, indeed, why should DH only deal with the written word? It was fascinating, actually, to learn about 16th century composition. The presenter (Laurent Pugin), a frenchmen, had digitized the works of a notable 16th century Italian composer, whose name I'm blanking on. His work was notable because it was published in booklets which contained only the score / information for a single voice. Thus each singer only had access to their own part. I'm not sure if this was the way all scores were published back in the day, or just this composer's, but apparently it's very odd these days. Pugin and Calcagno's project took the old way that these works were digitized — that is, there was a PDF file, a text file, and another pat I'm forgetting about — and made from it a new, sleek, all in one digital thing that is still backwards compatible.

  2. This seemed like something similar to one of our personal projects, in fact. These researchers, mostly based at Fordham U, created a map of French lit published in Italy from the 1200s to the 14 or 1500s. The dots on the map, which represented works and where they were published, also were color-coded and shaped to represent genre. So we could see, for instance, that in the 1300 Naples became a center of historical publishing — for, apparently, interesting political reasons. One key challenge these researchers faced was that the dates of publication for many books are uncertain, so that they had to remain on the map for many, often even a hundred, years, this being the period in which they might have been published. This unfortunately makes these books seem more prominent than books just published specifically in one year — when actually the reverse is likely to be true, as these works were less well documented and thus probably less popular. The researches said that this minor quirk was OK as long as one was aware of it in their analysis of the map. They also included boxes of books literally in the ocean to represent books for which the location of publication is uncertain.

  3. This project focused on transcendental and realist works in 19th century American lit. The researcher wanted to discover whether or not realist works were really more or less concerned with environmental protection than transcendental works. They are thought of as having a more practical emphasis — but perhaps they don't, really. He employed textual analysis to track the appearance of various "nature" words in a notable anthology of realist short stories, and also to track the appearance of "civilization" words in this anthology. At this point I might be confused about how this was (or maybe wasn't) supposed to deal with transcendental lit as well: but it certainly did test the hypothesis that realist lit was concerned with the environment. He showed that the appearance of environmental terms varied vastly from story to story. Still, his methods seemed a bit simplistic: he merely chose words he thought would be representative, rather than doing a more in-depth analysis, and he only investigated a single anthology. I think more work needs to be done to draw definite conclusions about the importance of nature in realist work.

Ze Plaan

2 min read


By this next Friday:

  • Have a functional version of my python code COMPLETELY WORKING. As of now, it basically works; however, it's not really usable: this is because the map it generates is just too big; in fact, there are so many edges that it crashes the program. To fix them, I am going to have it assign weights to nodes and edges, and only draw the significant ones; that is, publishers will only appear on my map if they have a certain number of connections. If they don't, they won't get drawn. This will be a bit complicated to implement, but I think I can do it by next Friday.

  • Edge weights are also important because they indicate the STRENGTH of a working relationship; that is, two printers may be connected but that is much more relevant if they had published many works together, rather than just one.

By next next Friday:

  • Once the Python is up and working, it'll be about creating a JavaScript that can run it online. Hopefully, I'll spend next next week talking to Nabil about how to do this (I know nothing about it) and doing it. It could be very simple or very complicated — I don't know. Worst case scenario, the script doesn't go online. That'd stink, and yet my results could still be screenshotted and used in blog posts.

By the final Friday:

  • Once everything is online, I'll write about it. I'll write about my project and perhaps create a separate or integrated blog post about trends that emerge: who were the most connected publishers and what sorts of things did they publish? I'll speculate about what it means to be connected: is that the same as being important? Possibly not, but it does seem a solid indicator. Either way, this project should tell us about working relationships in 18th century printing.

Status Report

2 min read

So, the status of my project:

I've made a python program that:

-Pulls all the names of publishers from the 700 fields of each document in the "Finalized Records" folder. This is done mechanically: each document is scanned until the word "700" appears; then the scanning continues to check if the word "printed" (as in, "printed by" or "printed for") appears within a set number of lines the line in which "700" appears; if so, the identified "700" field contains the name of a publisher. That name is recorded and the loop continues. -Thus the scan of each document will return an object containing the name of the document, followed by a list of the publishers in its 700 fields. These objects are then collated into a larger list. -This larger list is then scanned so it may be inverted, in a sense. What emerges is a list containing objects; each object consists of a publisher's name followed by a list of all the books he or she worked on. There are no duplicate publisher's names here.

This is about where I'm at. What's now in progress is a program that will take from this list the names and input them as nodes of a graph, and then draw edges between them if they have overlapping books in the last that are associated with them (are the values for which they are the key).

Well, I lol'd

2 min read

I found this while making a plaintext of Goldsmith's "The Vicar of Wakefield." It's pretty stupid, but sort of funny. You'll wish you could get back the minute it takes to read.

An ELEGY on the Death of a Mad Dog.

GOOD people all, of every sort,
Give ear unto my song;
And if you find it wond'rous short,
It cannot hold you long.

In Isling town there was a man,
Of whom the world might say,
That still a godly race he ran,
Whene'er he went to pray.

A kind and gentle heart he had,
To comfort friends and foes;
The naked every day he clad,
When he put on his cloaths.

And in that town a dog was found,
As many dogs there be,
Both mungrel, puppy, whelp, and hound,
And curs of low degree.

This dog and man at first were friends;
But when a pique began,
The dog, to gain his private ends,
Went mad and bit the man.

Around from all the neighbouring streets,
The wondering neighbours ran,
And swore the dog had lost his wits,
To bite so good a man.

The wound it seem'd both sore and sad,
To every christian eye;
And while they swore the dog was mad,
They swore the man would die.

But soon a wonder came to light,
That shew'd the rogues they lied,
The man recovered of the bite,
The dog it was that dy'd.

Goals for this Week

2 min read

So, on Friday I found out from Nabil that I'll need to learn Javascript, not Python, for my project. So I'm trying to do that — unfortunately, I've never used Javascript before, so I've got to learn it from scratch. However, it's apparently a fairly simple language, and as far as I went in the tutorial on Friday, I didn't see anything that confused me. So I plan to finish that tutorial and then check back in with Nabil.

Actually, I lied. I will need to use a bit of Python. That's because there's a mod for Python called "Beautiful Soup" (yes, Beautiful Soup) which takes an xml document (that's the format where we have all our records), opens it, and formats it for me. I need to figure out exactly how I'm supposed to use Beautiful Soup to grab these documents, the idea being that once I do, I'll convert them in Python to JSON objects, which are then transferable into Javascript to go online. Javascript being the coding language that interfaces best with the web, I'll apparently need to use it largely for that — the interactive, online — part of my project.

So... it sounds like a lot of work. I'm not too happy about that. I'll need to be in touch with Nabil to make sure I'm remaining on track. But first, I need to learn about Javascript and Beautiful Soup. So, that's step 1.

The world was a very different place (in some ways)

1 min read

Here, a young woman accuses her master of raping her, but because she waited THREE DAYS to accuse, he gets off:

Whereas here, a man steals a Looking-Glass worth just 17 Shillings, and is HANGED for it. HANGED.

So, just like today, the aristocrats had it good. They could rape people and get off fine, but steal a pittance from them, and you're dead.


1 min read

Cataloguing Q, re: the 599 field (Authorship Claims): if a paratext is written in third person, does this count as an authorship claim? E.g., "The editor is sensible that... but he walked to the store... etc." Clearly, it's been written by someone claiming to be the editor, but he never comes out and says that...

Repeatable Data-Visualizations of Connections between Publishers in the 18th Century.

2 min read

One of the first things I noticed while cataloguing these books was that many publishers (well, those a book was "printed for," i.e., those who fronted the cash for its publication) seemed to know each other. Their names show up many times across many books during the same time periods; they were often father and son, often worked in the same street in London or Dublin. I naturally became interested in chronicling who knew who, to see if I could create a network of publishers during the 1700s. My project, when completed, will generate a map, with nodes and edges. Each edge — which runs between two nodes — will connect publishers who worked together, and have a weight given to it: a weight of 1, if they worked on one book together; 2, if they worked on two together, and so forth. Thus a map can be generated of all 18th century publishers. It will need to be addressed (and I imagine this will be simple enough) whether this map will encompass all 100 years, or just 10 year periods, or even 1 year period. Perhaps it will even be simple to generate 100 different, yearly maps with the correct code.

And that's the second point I'm coming to — code. I'm not content to simply comb through our hundreds upon hundreds of records and pick out each "printed for" 700 field. Instead, I'm going to re-learn some Python (I took a class in it, back in the day) and some HTML in order to create a program (this will be Python) that can automatically comb through an inputed list of records or database and pull out, and then compare, relevant info. In short, my program will be able to be used again and again by whoever wants to use it, as long as they have well formatted textwrangler records to put into it. Thus, it will always be able to generate up-to-date data, and not fall behind as we catalogue more and more books. It will then be accessed via an HTML portal webpage, which will be linked to or hosted on END, so that we can all view it.

That's the plan. Wish me luck. I have some learning to do.

An Update of a Classic

1 min read

So the 1807 classic


Has recently been republished as

Project Steps

2 min read

Here's what's needed, as I presently think of it, in order for my project -- described below -- to move forward.

Thinking, first, about what I'm trying to accomplish, on a super-micro level.

You have one document. It's in TextWrangler or online. You load it into a program. That program pulls out all the names in the 700 fields and stores them somewhere. Then you add another document. The program pulls out those names, and if they match any names in the first document, it notes that.

Now, how will this work?

I'm not exactly sure what computer language is best for doing this. It will also need to be displayed graphically in a digestible way. But that's for later. First, I'm going to conceptualize this following my knowledge of C++, a programming language I have worked with before.

In C++, you have multiple functions that are called by a main() program. You can also create classes, which can have functions called upon them. Either way, what I'm going to want to do is have some sort of recursive function that can open documents and cull data from them, and some sort of data dump. That could be a list, a vector, a hashtable, or a tree.

Immediately, it seems that whichever container I pick, it will need to be able to store two pieces of information per item entered into it: the name of an individual, and the name of the works his or her name appears in. These will actually be two lists: the first will contain name, dates, and other relevant info; the second will contain the names of work. So basically we can make a linked list of linked lists. The list will be of objects; each object will consist of two lists.

This can be made with a class. I'll need someone's help to do this, but it doesn't seem too hard.

That's my starting point. Just some good old C++ programming.

Project Idea

2 min read

So, my project will be to investigate connections between book publishers in the 18th century. Many people in London and Dublin respectively seem to have worked together (though cross-city pollination seems low, so far), and I'd like to further explore this network of publishers and, possibly, friends. Who knew who, who published what book with who, who worked near who -- as it does seem that many publishers congregated in certain streets -- are just some of the questions I'll be addressing. I'll also delve into who published what, as in, which genres were published by which publishers at what time, and perhaps even the quality of books published by publisher X vs. publisher Y, to see if significant trends emerge. This will be a fun look into the past that could also give us some insight into the community that went into popularizing the novel. We will be able to better understand how many different individuals were really involved in moving a book "out the door," so to speak. With time, I may even integrate publishers with the authors they published, which could get especially interesting as, according to VIAF, many of them also wrote novels. Perhaps the difference between writer and publisher was not so strict as it is now.

I intend to make good use of my 700 fields, as well as the publisher info fields and the 710 corporation fields. I'll also use the author field when applicable, the title field — as I'll be using books as links between different publishers — and the place published field (Dublin or London, mostly, but I also hope to generate my own data on more specific locations such as "fleet-street" or "pall-mall" and generate a little map).

I think this sounds manageable and fun. I'm eager to get started.

Will the Real Robinson Crusoe Please Stand Up?

1 min read

This is a link to the third part of Robinson Crusoe, his reflections, written by the title character. The relevant part is the preface, which is a fascinating defense of fiction as a portal to truth — or can be read that way — and yet is also super confusing. Would be interested to know what you all think of it. In it, Crusoe claims that he is utterly real, while remaining fictional; that his books are completely true, yet are fictions... it's paradoxes like these which characterize the preface. Check it out, as it has to do with much of what we're dealing with in deciding what is fiction and what isn't, and is, to me, a great example of the novel demanding some legitimacy for itself.

The small world of 18th century publishing

3 min read

The most interesting part of cataloguing so far has been, for me, the 700s section. Getting to learn even a little bit about these people who lived so long ago is fascinating, especially because many of them seem to have known and worked together. There's an odd thrill in discovering that "Dodsley, J" (to make up a plausible-sounding name) or someone like that was actually an important and well-known publisher, who worked with other well-known publishers to produce the text that, hundreds of years later, I might be holding. It creates a connection to the past I'd otherwise not find.

It's also really cool to imagine how all these people — or many of them — lived near each other. You can see that there were several epicenters of printing in London and Dublin, where most of these publishers chose to live. One such center that comes to mind is "fleet-street;" another is "pall-mall," an area which still exists in London today. Now Pall-Mall (I think) is quite nice; at the time, it was dilapidated. Publishing wasn't necessarily a respected profession at all (though it's got different troubles today — perhaps respected by literati, it's got no money in it). You can imagine these men (yes, they were all men — so far) toiling away in their printshops, near each other, to produce certain books. Or maybe they just got together at the pub and decided to pool their money to finance book X, made in China, aka some factory up the street. I'm not sure exactly how it all went down, but clearly these people were buddies to some degree.

The tantalizing almost-accessibility of their world is fascinating, and I hope to learn more about it as we go. For example, in analyzing a super-long list of "printed for" names in "The History of Eliza Warwick," we discovered that Caleb Jenkin, who turns out to be a prominent Dublin printer, had been misprinted in the first volume of that novel as "J. Jenkin," whom we were unable to find. I assume he doesn't exist, but he might. Still, the idea that Caleb Jenkin had his name misprinted and he, or his fellow publishers, got it corrected by the next volume, is pretty cool — and true to our experiences, as it's exactly what anyone would do, and the kind of error that really occurs when you're printing 20+ names.

Anyways, I'm looking forward to learning more about these printers and their world, as well as about how they interacted with the novelists they published — as many of them were, themselves, novelists: which is in itself another reason to imagine that they weren't the most respected figures in the 18th century.


1 min read

Seems interesting. A popular book by a successful 18th century female novelist. It seems it was taken seriously by critics, and that Fanny Burney went on to achieve more literary acclaim.