Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Blogoshpere 12 December – 18 December

Last week seems to be full of fine, thought-provoking and interesting posts. The nine posts in “Early Modern Studies” cover a rather wide range of topics. In this set you may find items from a smartphone application, Shakespeare and Wagner, and Thomas Sackville, posts related to conversion and converting people, crowed-funding, cosmetics, and discovery of a love poem, a post on a nonconformist puritan preacher. The “Digital Humanities” section includes posts on online courses, digitization and definitions of terms. The item in “Others” announces the opening of a database of Newton’s manuscripts. What a week!

Early Modern Studies:

Robyn Greenwood announced in “‘Going Digital’: A ‘Bytes’ sized Introduction” that they are working on a smartphone application “that will make use of digital images and augmented reality activities to guide visitors around Stratford-upon-Avon and offer users a new way of exploring the Trust’s properties and collections.” The application will be launched April 2012.

Dave Paxton’s post explores the relationship between Shakespeare and Wagner in his “Shakespeare and Revolutionary Sex!” His focus is on Wagner’s adaptation of The Measure for Measure entitled Das Liebesverbot. The reception of Wagner’s adaptation is not without questions and doubts, which is mainly due to the claim of the opera. Paxton quotes Wagner and then comments “‘my only object was to expose the sin of hypocrisy and the unnaturalness of a ruthless code of morals.’ And so the Duke is cut from the work, and Isabella becomes a sexual revolutionary, joyfully leading the ‘Volk’ towards liberation and self-determination.”

Kissing Converts”, a blog post at Conversion Narratives in Early Modern Europe meditates about rhetorical eroticism and religion on account of a Benetton advertisement featuring Pope Benedick’s (Photoshoped) kissing Ahmed el Tayyeb, and Early Modern narratives about conversion as eroticised texts.

Another post at Conversion Narratives in Early Modern Europe, entitled “Staging Conversion in the New World” presents ways in which early missionaries worked in America.

Nick’s “Seventeenth-century crowd funding” at Mercurius Politicus presents John Taylor’s case as an example for crowed-funding in Early Modern England. Taylor’s business model was that he persuaded subscribers to pay some money for a book to be written later on. As he puts it “For The Pennyles Pilgrimage he managed to persuade around 1,650 subscribers to pledge money should he complete his journey successfully. Supporters do not seem necessarily to have just paid Taylor the sale price of the book: the actor-manager Edward Alleyn pledged one pound, well above the odds for a 54-page octavo, although this may have been more generous than most.” There is an engraving about Taylor drinking something attached to the post, which is most fascinating topic and image-wise, check it out for yourself.

@daintyballerina’s post, “How Gray-Hairs are dyed Black” presents interesting quotations about 17th-century cosmetics. I think this is relevant as far as contemporary ideals of beauty surface in these excerpts.

At Early Modern England, the reader is informed in “Scholar discovers 16th-century love poem written by an Englishwoman” that Elaine Treharne found a Latin poem in an 1561 edition of Chaucer’s works, which seems to have been written by Elizabeth Dacre dedicated to Anthony Hooke, her possible tutor. What is fascinating about this poem is that this is a love poem (as far as I know very few women wrote poems at the time, even fewer love poems and even fewer in Latin—so this is a rare and revealing poem). Also the post reports on her short but adventurous life which life is telling insofar as the lives of 16th-century aristocratic women are concerned.

If one is interested in a report on a 16th-Century nonconformist Puritan preacher’s life and death written by his son, they should read indeed DrRoy’s post at Early Modern Whale'O, Mr Carter, what shall I do?' The worthy life of John Carter 1554-1635”. The author of the post provides a short introduction to the work, and then presents quotations illuminating aspects of John Carter’s life from his prayers to family life, eating habits etc.

Sylvia Morris, in her “Lawyers inspiring Shakespeare” presents an informative and interesting biography of one of the leading lawyers of Elizabethan and early Jacobean times, namely that of Thomas Sackville, who was also the co-author of the famous revenge tragedy, Gorboduc, a play that may have been somewhere behind Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Digital Humanities:

Cathy N. Davidson’s post at HASTAC “Can We Really Learn Online? Response to NYTimes on Wall Street's Digital Learning Enterprises” clarifies the virtues of online courses addressing the key question: “is the motivation for online learning enriching an online experience more and more of us are having and finding new and inventive ways to learn?” Her answer is divided into seven points, and I am going to quote only the last one as it functions also as a summary and concluding point: “My biggest pet peeve of all is those who generalize about "online learning" versus "face to face learning" as if who, what, where, why, and how don't make all the difference. ” (The post can also be found on her website, and is entitled there as “Seven Rules for Judging Online Learning: Rsp to NYTimes on Wall Street’s For-Profit Schools”)

Melissa Terras’ blog post, “Multi-Spectral Connections” reports on the interesting combination of medical multi-spectral imaging and digitization projects. It is worth keeping this technology in mind.

Melissa Terras’ “Digitisation Studio Setup” is fascinating on two accounts. First, because she gathered a lot of useful advice on how to set up a digitization studio. Second, because the post itself demonstrates the power of Twitter, as everything that appears in the post, was gathered through Twitter responses to her request marked with #digstudio.

Trevor Owens’ most fascinating post, “Defining Data for Humanists: Text, Artifact, Information or Evidence?” is a by-product of a being peer-reviewed paper, “Hermeneutics of Data and Historical Writing” to be published in Writing History in the Digital Age. The post is an answer to a comment, or request on the paper, which answer could not be fitted into the original paper. The comment requested a clarification of the notions of data and evidence and the author defines these concepts in an illuminating way.


I came across the Cambridge Digital Library last week, so I announce its opening, and more precisely that of the collection of Isaac Newton’s writings (at the time being his manuscripts from the 1660’s) there. This is a marvellous collection, and most user friendly.

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