Monday, 26 December 2011

Blogoshpere 19 December – 25 December

Last week there was a blooming Early Modern activity in the Blogosphere, and much less posts in the Digital Humanities sphere. Within Early Modern Studies I read interesting posts about Christmas habits, a meeting of the oldest Shakespeare society, Shakespeare’s sources and also about takes on Early Modern theatre history (Richard Burbage, and plays published and decorated with marginalia). Furthermore there was a post featuring Kepler and a supernova in 1604, and another one an Early Modern pickpocket. Within the Digital Humanities set there is only one post, that of Mathew Kirschenbaum about his new project and a request. So happy reading again, and also Merry Christmas (time)!

Early Modern Studies:

Sylvia Morris’s post, “Elizabethan Christmas: carols” presents Tudor carol singing issues: notes, customs, lyrics, atmosphere, pictures, and through clicking collections of songs. This is a great Christmas post! Here is a stanza from one of the lyrics for all to enjoy:

At Christmas in Christ we rejoice and be glad,
As only of whom our comfort is had:
At Christmas we joy altogether with mirth
For his sake that joyed us all with his birth.

Melissa Leon in her “What makes a good Shakespearian?” reports on the 866th meeting of The Shakespeare Club, Stratford-upon-Avon (founded in 1823). The report includes an audio recorded, 45-minute interview with Stanley Wells about his career. It is worth reading the post and also listening to the talk with Stanley Wells.

Liz Dollimore continuing her series about Shakespeare’s sources relates 2 Henry IV with Machiavelli in her “Shakespeare’s Sources – Henry IV part ii.” The Prince is rather a source for ideas than verbatim quotation, but still the link between the two works is conclusive. The idea that connects the two works is the evergreen political issue of foreign military campaigns.

Holger Syme announces his outstanding project in his “Well-Read Plays I.” Let me quote him to summarize the project on annotations. “Among other things, I’m looking at the kinds of annotations early modern readers left in plays. And in order to build a truly representative account, I’m trying to produce a comprehensive database of such annotations in as many books in as many libraries as possible.” Good luck for this important project!

Holger Syme did not only announce the project of presenting “a few examples of printed plays that have been annotated in a way that suggests the reader had performance of one kind or another in mind,” but also started the series. This time in his “Well-Read Plays II” he writes about a copy of the anonymous No-body, and Some-body (1606), of Two Merry Milkmaids (by “J. C.;” 1620), a copy of Ben Jonson’s Every Man Out of His Humour with 18th-century marginalia, a copy of Thomas Dekker’s 1602 Blurt Master-Constable and of Thomas Middleton’s The Puritan of 1607. This post and the series are relevant for historians of the theatre and of the book.

In another post, “Shakespearean Mythbusting III: Richard Burbage” Holger Syme argues that there is no evidence that Shakespeare created Richard III’s character for Richard Burbage, and adds that it is more likely that Augustine Philips was Gloucester in Richard III, while Burbage acted Richmond’s role. Conjectural this may be, yet this presents a real alternative to the well-established faith in Richard Burbage.

William Eamon’s post on “Kepler and the Star of Bethlehem” presents an interesting case relating to science and religion. “On the evening of the 17th of October 1604, as the clouds finally lifted over the city of Prague to reveal a clear night sky, the German astronomer Johannes Kepler observed a new star in the feet of the Constellation of Serpens.” This observation would have been interesting on its own account but Kepler was not satisfied with this, but claimed that this was the star that led the Three Kings to Christ’s cradle.

Nick in his “The Christmas Cutpurse” makes a fascinating case about how everyday acts found their way into pop-, and not so pop-culture. He presents John Selman’s, a pickpocket’s case, who was caught when stealing a purse, was imprisoned and was sentenced to death. He then popped up in Ben Jonson’s Love Restored “as the character of ‘the Christmas Cutpurse’.” He then seemingly appeared in other works as well: “he bookseller Thomas Hall registered the title of The araignment of Iohn Selman(London, 1612), printed by W. Hall, on the day after the execution. This was a standard pamphlet account of a crime, trial and execution, including a version of Selman’s gallows speech. The printer George Eld produced for the bookseller and ballad specialist John Wright a broadside titled The Captaine Cut-purse, also sold under an alternate, less catchy title of The arrainement, condemnation, and excution of the grand [--] Iohn Selman (both London, 1612). Two other ballads about Selman, which do not survive, were also registered with the Stationers’ Company.”

Digital Humanities:

Matthew Kirschenbaum in his “My Literary History of Word Processing: Your Assitance Needed”  announces that he is in the middle of “ writing a book entitled Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing.” This book is about “the moment at which large numbers of literary writers began making the transition from typewriters to word processors and personal computers (late 1970s, early 1980s).” For this enterprise he would like to request any piece of information that pertains to this topic, from anecdotes to anything that others think relevant. I hope he will be given a hand in this project.

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