Monday, July 11, 2005

Early Stuart Libels: An Edition of Poetry from Manuscript Sources

Early Stuart Libels

The Chronicle: 7/8/2005: The Uses of Libel: "In that, it may be on the leading edge of a new, electronic approach to studying and disseminating source material. 'This edition seeks in many ways to be a pathbreaking endeavor,' the editors note in their introduction. 'The electronic medium ... provides a superb opportunity to offer scholarly editions of works otherwise largely inaccessible or unknown to both the academic community and the layperson alike.'

There is no charge to access Early Stuart Libels, which can be either browsed online or downloaded. Users can search for poems by first line, by proper name cited, or by manuscript source, or they can browse through sections devoted to specific incidents or episodes, such as Cecil's death and the so-called Addled Parliament of June 1614. Annotations accompany each poem to help the nonspecialist navigate period references.

Anthony Grafton, a professor of history at Princeton University, says the online work may help expand the definition of what counts as a scholarly publication. For one thing, he says, it is more fully annotated than many publishers can afford to make print editions. Those notes help make Early Stuart Libels 'a very useful set of texts,' he says. 'These were things that were not all that accessible.'

The collection also reflects a growing sympathy over the past two decades between historians and literary critics. In the wake of work by Stephen Greenblatt and the New Historicists, who argued that literary works are better understood in their historical context, the two disciplines have been paying closer attention to one other."


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