The Lady’s Museum Project: An Open-Access Critical and Teaching Edition of Charlotte Lennox’s the Lady’s Museum (1760–1761)

Henry Robert Morland, 1730–1797, British, Woman Reading by a Paper-Bell Shade, 1766, Oil on canvas, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, B1989.32.

Henry Robert Morland, 1730–1797, British, Woman Reading by a Paper-Bell Shade, 1766, Oil on canvas, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, B1989.32.

Published between 1760 and 1761 and believed largely to be written by Charlotte Lennox (it was marketed as “by the Author of The Female Quixote”), the Lady’s Museum sought simultaneously to educate and entertain its readership.  It did so through a variety of media, including letters to and from the editor, poetry, biography, history, natural history, natural philosophy, translation, educational treatise, geography—even perhaps the first serialized novel.  Initially launched in 2021 and continued through 2023 with the support of the Canadian Society of Eighteenth Century Studies’s (CSECS) D. W. Smith Research Fellowship and the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies’s (ASECS) Women’s Caucus Editing and Translation Fellowship, the Lady’s Museum Project is an open-access, in-progress critical edition of (and learning community around) Lennox’s visually stunning and fascinating early magazine, featuring both audiobook and interactive, textual editions (for a one-page project overview, click here.)

The Lady’s Museum Project presents Lennox’s two-volume magazine—the first updated version since its initial eighteenth-century edition printed by John Newbery—in two forms: an abridged teaching edition intended for an audience of undergraduate-student and public users, and a scholarly edition aimed at eighteenth-century specialists.  Previously, the periodical was housed behind the paywall of Eighteenth-Century Collections Online (ECCO); however, as of fall 2023, volumes 1 and 2 of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library’s holdings are now freely available to the public on its website and linked to from (thanks to Rebecca Maguire, MSW and the Public Services and Reproductions teams at Yale University for these high-quality scans).  Scholars and students can now compare the original edition—including its illustrations, maps, and figures—side by side with the text on, which used as its base text the Oxford Text Creation Partnership (TCP) transcriptions.

The teaching and critical editions are purposefully included side-by-side within the same .com, community-centered site (rather than as a .edu, which would have associated the site with one institution) in order to practice feminist editing principles that decenter traditional binaries of scholar/student, editor/writer.  The co-editors have designed this editorial space and apparatus for “coworkers” from various institutions, nations, and educational and professional backgrounds to likewise work side-by-side to co-create a version accessible to both audiences for this historic feminist recovery work.

The website was initially conceived when (then-graduate students) Karenza Sutton-Bennett (Ph.D., University of Ottawa) and Kelly Plante (Ph.D., Wayne State University) teamed up to design a digital home for the course reader and curriculum developed by Professor Susan Carlile (University of California, Long Beach) and (now Dr.) Sutton-Bennett and published on Aphra Behn Online:  Interactive Journal for Women in the Arts (1640–1840) (Carlile and Sutton-Bennett).  We are grateful to Professor Carlile for her encouragement, support, and positive example in her feminist recovery work.  The site has expanded beyond that initial conception; it has morphed into an in-progress learning community, a communication hub that prioritizes relationships, mentorship, and care.  This site, in other words, values DH process over “product.”

Feminist DH Theory and Method

Past, present, and future collaborators in this transnational and transdisciplinary effort to recover the work of Lennox, the trailblazing editor, and of periodical studies and the history of women in the press more generally, are affectionately referred to as “Triflers,” borrowing the term from the Lady’s Museum’s “The Trifler” section, as outlined in the Eighteenth-Century Fiction article, “A Numerous and Powerful Generation of Triflers”: The Social Edition as Counterpublic in Charlotte Lennox’s the Lady’s Museum (1760–61) and the Lady’s Museum Project (2021–).”  The co-editors adopted this idea of “trifling” as a DH method to center “care and maintenance over innovation” and to draw a distinction between this “small data” project and “Big Dick Data Projects” (Barnett; D’Ignazio and Klein).  Catherine D’Ignazio and Lauren F. Klein characterize “Big Dick Data Projects” as “masculinist, totalizing fantasies of world domination as enacted through data capture and analysis.  Big Dick Data projects ignore context, fetishize size, and inflate their technical and scientific capabilities” (D’Ignazio and Klein).

Committed to practicing intersectional feminism wherever and whenever possible, the co-editors have presented on three ways of practicing intersectionality in DH projects (by spotlighting group-, process-, and system-generated inequities for multiply marginalized persons), adapted from intersectional sociology and educational policy research, outlining the methods by which we continuously strive to do so (Robert and Yu; Choo and Ferree; Twenty-First Century Digital Editing & Publishing).  Group-centered intersectionality—representation of multiply marginalized persons—and process- and system-centered intersectionality—spotlighting processes and systemic oppression of multiply marginalized groups—can be discussed and practiced in classes that assign the imperialism curriculum option, including the Lady’s Geography and Princess Padmani series, which depict women of present-day Ambon Island, Sri Lanka, and India (Carlile and Sutton-Bennett).  (The project would be enriched by more critical introductions to orient generalist and nonspecialist readers on these subjects; contact the editors as outlined at the bottom of this article and here, if you and/or your students would be interested in writing and publishing on these and other subjects).

The Abridged Teaching Edition (2021–2023)

The project has, as of fall 2023, completed phases 1 and 2 of its three-phase developmental cycle.  The teaching edition is now 100% annotated by undergraduate students, for undergraduate students, with definitions that reference and link externally to Johnson’s Online Dictionary and critical introductions to contextualize readings (like “Charlotte Lennox, Eco-Feminist?” by Spring/Summer 2023 intern Bailey Meyerhoff).  It is fully ready to enhance and assist your teaching of the historic literary magazine.  Classrooms in institutions across the U.S. and Canada, including the University of Ottawa, Wayne State, Brandeis, and Texas Woman’s universities and the Community College of Rhode Island, have developed the annotations and critical introductions and beta tested the text, assignments, and activities.  All individuals are credited with gratitude on the About this Project page and attributed prominently with bylines at the beginnings of the annotated texts and critical introductions.

The Full-Text Critical Edition (2024–2026)

Entering into phase 3, the project carries forth the collaborative, collegial spirit that built the teaching apparatus into the critical edition.  The team seeks to connect with graduate and postgraduate, early- and mid-career and senior scholars who are interested in participating at various levels in building this very first critical edition of the Lady’s Museum, using feminist DH methods that destabilize the traditional editorial process in ways only possible in an online edition.  In 2024, we will be presenting our plans for the critical edition and soliciting interested collaborators from a variety of institutions and generations of scholars, at the British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (BSECS) and in an ASECS-sponsored roundtable at that organization’s annual meeting with collaborators Professor Ashley Bender (Texas Woman’s University), Professor Carlile, Jennifer Factor (Ph.D. candidate, Brandeis University), Professor Karen Griscom (Community College of Rhode Island), and Bailey Meyerhoff (graduate student, Wayne State University).  Also in 2024, the book chapter “‘The present therefore seems improbable, the future most uncertain’:  Transcending Academia through Charlotte Lennox’s Lady’s Museum (1760–61),” will be published in Twenty-First Century Digital Editing & Publishing, edited by Dr. James O’Sullivan (Scottish Universities Press) in/with support of the C21 Editions initiative funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Irish Research Council (IRC) as part of the UK-Ireland Collaboration in Digital Humanities.

Read/Work with Us

If you are interested in joining this “numerous and powerful generation of triflers” from the eighteenth- and twenty-first centuries, please do not hesitate to contact us at at  Collaborative projects could include, for instance, teaching with this edition, inviting the co-editors for a talk at your institution, learning more about the Lady’s Museum and this project’s theory and praxis, annotating articles or writing introductory, contextualizing essays, or providing students with the opportunity to annotate and write introductions.  Instructors can use our lesson plan as a guide.

Social Reading Options

The website enables social reading by integrating and embedding PDFs for upload to course learning management systems and Perusall.  Users can also print the PDFs of the teaching edition and the Lady’s Museum Project bookmark.

The Lady’s LibriVox:  Open-Access Audiobook of the Lady’s Museum 

In the spirit of destabilizing teacher/student and editor/contributor binaries, the Lady’s Museum Project also declines to privilege the printed (or digitized) text over either image or spoken word.  Enter the Lady’s LibriVox subproject in which Factor spearheaded the recording process for the first open-access audiobook of the magazine, starting with her (excellent) narration of Lennox’s satirical “Trifler” essays.  Summer 2023 saw the completion of volume 1, now available to listen to in full (and assign to classes) on and  Volume 1 was project-managed by (now Dr.) Plante, and volume 2 is being managed by Dr. Sutton-Bennett.  You can volunteer to lend your voice to the feminist and periodical recovery project by signing up to read a section at the Lady’s Museum, vol. 2 LibriVox page.

Write and Publish on

The project will be enriched by more critical introductions and essays, especially intersectional-feminist readings of the Lady’s Museum and essays that interrogate imperialism in the History of Princess Padmani, Original Inhabitants of Great Britain, and Lady’s Geography article series.  It would also benefit from more general introductions aimed at student readers and a generalist audience (such as “Critical Reception of the Lady’s Museum,” “Genres in the Lady’s Museum,” “Lennox and Translation,” “Lennox and Samuel Johnson,” etc.).  For a list of critical introduction topic ideas, go to  To pitch or submit a new article, or one you or a student has written for a class, email the editors at at


We have mentored undergraduate and graduate student interns interested in publishing and editing careers from Brandeis University, Texas Woman’s University, the University of Massachusetts, the University of Ottawa, and Wayne State University.  Brandeis and Wayne State universities funded the graduate student internships.  There have also been less formal mentorship relationships, which we are always happy to develop.  Publishing and editing internship and mentorship relationships are always tailored to students’ interests.  Students are coached through the process of writing critical introductions, annotating articles, and/or audiobook narration and publishing.  We are interested in adding the Lady’s Museum Project to other university and college English departments’ lists of internship opportunities, so that more students can have the experience of writing and thinking about literature professionally.


Works Cited

Barnett, Fiona.  “The Brave Side of Digital Humanities,” differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 25.1 (2014):  64–78.

Carlile, Susan.  “‘Before I am Quite Forgot’:  Women’s Critical Literary Biography and the Future.”  Aphra Behn Online (ABO):  Interactive Journal of Women in the Arts, 1640–1840 13.1 (2023).

Carlile, Susan and Karenza Sutton-Bennett.  Aphra Behn Online (ABO):  Interactive Journal of Women in the Arts, 1640–1840 12.1 (2022).

Choo, Hae Yeon and Myra Marx Ferree.  “Practicing Intersectionality in Sociological Research:  A Critical Analysis of Inclusions, Interactions, and Institutions in the Study of Inequalities,” Sociological Theory 28.2 (2010).

D’Ignazio, Catherine and Lauren F. Klein.  Data Feminism.  Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, 2020.

Plante, Kelly J.  “The Lady’s Museum Project:  A Digital Critical Edition in Phase 1 of Its Development, Now Available for Teachers and Students to Learn Collaboratively through Charlotte Lennox’s Lady’s Museum (1761-62).”  Aphra Behn Online (ABO):  Interactive Journal of Women in the Arts, 1640–1840 12.1 (2022).

Plante, Kelly J. and Karenza Sutton-Bennett.  “‘A Numerous and Powerful Generation of Triflers’:  The Social Edition as Counterpublic in Charlotte Lennox’s the Lady’s Museum (1760–61) and the Lady’s Museum Project (2021–).”  Eighteenth-Century Fiction 35.2 (2023).

—. “‘The present therefore seems improbable, the future most uncertain’:  Transcending Academia through Charlotte Lennox’s Lady’s Museum (1760–61).”  Twenty-First Century Digital Editing & Publishing.  Scottish Universities Press, 2024.

Robert, Sara A. and Min Yu.  “Intersectionality in Transnational Education Policy Research.”  Review of Research in Education 42.1 (2018):  93– 121.

Sutton-Bennett, Karenza.  “Intellect versus Politeness:  Charlotte Lennox and Women’s Minds.”  Eighteenth-Century Fiction 35.3 (2023):  375–96.

The Warrior Women Project: An Open-Access Critical and Teaching Edition of Dianne Dugaw’s Historic Catalog of “Warrior Women” Ballads

Thomas Rowlandson, 1756–1827, British, The Ballad Singers, undated, Watercolor and graphite with pen and black ink on moderately thick, moderately textured, cream laid paper, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, B1977.14.367.

Thomas Rowlandson, 1756–1827, British, The Ballad Singers, undated, Watercolor and graphite with pen and black ink on moderately thick, moderately textured, cream laid paper, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, B1977.14.367.

The Warrior Women Project (WWP) is an open-access digital home for the 113 “warrior women” ballads originally cataloged by Dianne Dugaw, Professor Emerita of Comparative Literature, University of Oregon, for the index of her dissertation, The Female Warrior Heroine in Anglo-American Balladry (1982).  Professor Dugaw published her dissertation research in her landmark interdisciplinary monograph that revealed the widespread cultural fascination in the long eighteenth century with women who cross dressed as soldiers and sailors as depicted in multiple genres including popular ballads, life writing, and drama:  Warrior Women and Popular Balladry:  1650-1850 (Cambridge University Press, 1989; reprinted University of Chicago Press, 1996).

The book was pivotal.  It demonstrated the extent to which gender and sexuality were and are performances historically constructed.  The ballads examined in it, including “Mary Ambree:  The Valorous Acts performed at Gaunt, By the brave Bonny Lass Mary Ambree, who in Revenge of her Loves death, did play her part most gallantly,” are important musical, textual, and visual artifacts that still have much to regale regarding popular and material culture of the long eighteenth century.  However, the ballads themselves, transcribed via typewriter by Professor Dugaw for her dissertation, have gone unpublished—until the WWP’s launch in 2021.

After nearly 40 years, these warrior women ballads are freely available for public and scholarly exploration.  The culmination of a partnership with the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) English Broadside Ballad Archive (EBBA) and a team of students at the Wayne State University English Department led by Professor of English and UCSB graduate Simone Chess, the WWP includes a critical introduction, “‘Dangerous Examples’ Over Four Centuries of Song:  Nevertheless, They Persisted,” written by Professor Dugaw.

These ballads are an important resource for researchers and students interested in the literary, cultural, and historical study of gender, sexuality, and empire in the long eighteenth century.  They are bawdy; they contain sex reveals, marriage plots (thwarted and successful), death scenes, pregnancies, displays of the warrior woman’s military prowess, and acts of violence.  They circulated from lower to upper social ranks (and a large category of the ballads mention class, rank, or status) as they were displayed on the walls of coffee and ale houses, hawked on the streets, and featured in works such as John Gay’s controversial sequel to the Beggar’s Opera (1728), Polly (published by subscription in 1729 and patronized by Catherine “Kitty” Douglas, Duchess of Queensberry and Dover).  Even Eliza Haywood riffed on the warrior woman—in a book dedicated to Douglas—in the Female Spectator, which the WWP is the first to recognize in the mini-edition of that article published on the WWP.   The episode depicts one would-be warrior woman named “Aliena” as a “true” story and as a frequent-enough occurrence to warrant a cautionary tale for the periodical’s readership (as argued in that mini-edition’s critical introduction).

The Ballads:  Catalog, Database, and Critical and Teaching Resources

By contextualizing the ballads alongside such other eighteenth-century contexts as the Female Spectator, their depictions in the Americas and in the Ballad of Mulan, amongst others, the website publishes Professor Dugaw’s scanned index of ballads as a PDF and digitizes and embeds it as a searchable research tool, while foremost presenting it as a historic document in its own right.  The WWP is the first site to exclusively contain each ballad thematically within one searchable, sortable database complete with supplemental editorial apparatus, including critical and background scholarship, teaching resources including in-class and online activities, and background readings—even a playlist of recorded ballads performed by Professor Dugaw herself.

In ways not possible in a traditional, printed book, the WWP allows researchers and students to map, sort, and search the ballads quickly and purposefully, thus enabling fresh critical insights regarding the patterns, keywords, and themes that surface between and among the ballads, which traverse national boundaries and are set in England’s overseas and closer-to-home contingencies such as in India, the West Indies, and Ireland, spanning a truly “long” eighteenth century (you can sort to view ballads pre-1650, 1650-1700, 1700-1800, and 1800-later).

Some of the ballads appear in other online catalogs including the English Broadside Ballad Archive (EBBA), Early English Books Online (EEBO), Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO), and in the English Short Title Catalog (ESTC).  However, those on EEBO and ECCO were not freely available to those without a subscription.  The WWP team collaboratively located and then linked the 113 ballads across these and other platforms on their “digital home.”  Because every ballad links externally to each known online iteration on EBBA, the ESTC, and others (and provides Gale Document Numbers for EEBO and ECCO ballads), researchers and students can compare multiple ballad copies side by side.  Additionally, the WWP team transcribed and uploaded images of the ballads from the original typewritten document and performed quality assurance checks to assure each ballad is accurate and entirely searchable.

The Team:  Process and Product

This project would not have happened without Professor Dugaw’s catalog and scholarship, and it likewise would not have been possible without her generosity, advice, and shared experience, which inspired the work and guided the team’s editorial and design decisions.  Professor Patricia Fumerton imagined and encouraged the team to do this work.  EBBA Assistant Director Kristen McCants provided invaluable assistance and counsel.  Development work on the project began in Professor Chess’s Fall 2019 graduate course, in which Erika Carbonara, Sarah Chapman, Robert Chapman-Morales, Matthew Jewell, Bernadette Kelly, Lindsay Ragle-Miller, and Kelly Plante (project manager) applied feminist and DH theory and praxis to create and organize the database.  The team conceived of educational and critical resources to contextualize the ballads for scholarly and student audiences.  In a way prescient of the Covid-19 pandemic’s shift to remote learning that would occur just a few months later, Professor Dugaw visited the Detroit classroom via video projection from Oregon and told stories of collecting ballad copies in her father’s truck and traversing the country, singing ballads on back porches.  WSU librarians Clayton Hayes and Alexandra Sarkozy, and WSU alum Professor Andie Silva provided valuable advice, counsel, and education to the team on all things DH.  Professor Judith Moldenhauer (James Pearson Duffy Department of Art and Art History at Wayne State) invited students to learn early-modern ballad printing processes hands-on by co-writing and co-printing the team’s very own warrior women ballad on the WSU Vandercook 325 printing press.  Matthew Holben, then student assistant to Professor Moldenhauer, crafted a custom wood engraving for the team to commemorate their work together.  Five of the original team of graduate students—Carbonara, Chapman, Kelly, Ragle-Miller, and Plante (continuing as project manager)—then built on their work in a Winter 2020 directed study with Professor Chess, creating the website and developing and implementing additional teaching and research resources to supplement the ballads.  Undergraduate and graduate students in ENG 5190—Louie Alkasmikha, Melinda Baker, Emma Brick, Elliot Chammas, Andy Cho, Kay Cirocco, Mackenzie Devine, Michael Dickson, Rachel Felder, Kaitlyn Holt, Noor Jomaa, Drita Juncaj, Diamond Price, Zachary Siteck, Talia Smock, and Katheryn VanRiper—beta tested the site links and content.  They contributed ideas and recommendations for improvement, annotated ballads, and wrote essays—all during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Team members have presented on the WWP at conferences such as the South Central Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (SCSECS 2020), the Wonder Women & Rebel Girls:  Women Warriors in the Media, ca. 1800–present Workshop (Online, Fall 2020), Shakespeare Association of America (SAA 2021), and the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (ASECS 2021), when Plante’s research essay that built on the WWP received the ASECS Graduate Research Essay prize.

Database: The Art Collection of the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture

Septimius Severus and Caracalla

Jean-Baptiste Greuze, Septimius Severus and Caracalla (1769), oil on canvas, 124 cm x 160 cm, Louvre Museum (Image File from Wikimedia Commons)

The Deutsches Forum für Kunstgeschichte Paris (DFK Paris) is pleased to present the database of the art collection of the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture.  Over the century and a half of its existence (1648–1793), the Académie royale assembled a collection of more than 650 artworks (paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, casts, and medals).  Most of those were morceaux de réception – works that young artists presented to an academic jury to become members of the institution.  But the collection also included Prix-de-Rome-wining paintings and bas-reliefs, commissioned portraits of the Académie’s patrons, académie drawings of current and past professors, plaster casts of classical sculptures, miscellaneous donated works of art, and artistic marginalia (e.g., skeletons used in teaching human anatomy).

This was a one-of-a-kind corpus for multiple reasons.  As almost all the prominent artists of the old regime were members of the Académie royale, it united such iconic reception pieces as Antoine Watteau’s Pilgrimage to the Isle of Cythera (1717), Jean Simeon Chardin’s The Ray (1728), and Jean-Baptiste Greuze’s Septimius Severus and Caracalla (1769).  These and other examination works now offer invaluable insight into the aesthetic values of the institution.  Académies, plaster casts, and other objects used for teaching allow us to reconstruct the educational process, and commissioned portraits of the Académie’s patrons and donated works of art shed light on the personal networks behind it.  The hang of these artworks in the Louvre is an outstanding example of eighteenth-century curatorial work:  it was decided upon by academicians themselves and stands as an important “internal” counterpart to the Académie’s public display, the Salon.

After the French Revolution, this historically significant body of work was dispersed and today is shared by the Louvre, the Versailles, the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts (ENSBA), and many other museums in France and worldwide.  Thankfully, however, two detailed descriptions are still extant:  in 1715, when the collection was housed on the Louvre’s ground floor, it was documented by Nicolas Guérin, and in 1781, when it hung on the first floor, it was recorded by Antoine-Nicolas Dezallier d’Argenville.

Using these two inventories, the DFK Paris in collaboration with Sofya Dmitrieva, Anne Klammt (Hannah Arendt Institute for Totalitarianism Studies), Moritz Schepp (CEO, the Centre Dominique-Vivant Denon (Musée du Louvre), the ENSBA, and the Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art (INHA) has created a database that establishes what artworks made up the collection in the eighteenth century and where they are preserved now.  The database provides useful links to the original texts of the inventories and to the Procès-verbaux.  It is available in English and in French and would be of great use to scholars of eighteenth-century French art.

This database is part of the DFK’s research project, led by Markus A. Castor, that explores the history and functions of the Académie’s art collection.

Digital Paxton: Digital Collection, Critical Edition, and Teaching Platform


Massacre of the Conestogas. Illustrated with eight fine engravings. Lancaster: G. Hills, 1841. James Wimer. Digital image from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

Digital Paxton is a digital collection, scholarly edition, and teaching platform devoted to Pennsylvania’s first major pamphlet war.  The “Paxton” in Digital Paxton refers to a little-known massacre in colonial Pennsylvania that unfolded in December 1763, when a mob of settlers from Paxtang Township murdered 20 unarmed Susquehannock Indians in Lancaster County.  A month later, hundreds of “Paxton Boys” marched toward Philadelphia to menace refugee Indians who sought the protection of the Pennsylvania government.  While Benjamin Franklin halted the march just outside of Philadelphia in Germantown, supporters of the Paxton Boys and their critics spent the next year battling in print.  The pamphlet war that followed in 1764 was not so different from the Twitter wars of today.  Pamphleteers waged battle using pseudonyms, slandering opponents as failed elites and racial traitors.  At stake was much more than the conduct of the Paxton men.  Pamphleteers staked claims about colonization, peace and war, race and ethnicity, masculinity and civility, and religious association in pre-Revolutionary Pennsylvania.

To support interdisciplinary study of this formative print debate, Digital Paxton makes freely available more than 2,500 pages of print-quality scans from eighteen different archives, research libraries, and cultural heritage institutions; contextualizes materials with twelve essays from leading historians and literary scholars; and scaffolds the collection with six lessons from secondary and post-secondary educators.

The Restoration Printed Fiction Database

Restoration Printed Fiction

Bibliographers have done much important work on the history of the novel in the long eighteenth century. Scholars are indebted to bibliographies from McBurney’s Check List of English Prose Fiction, 1700-1739 to Beasley’s Novels of the 1740s to Raven’s British Fiction, 1750-1770 and Garside et al.’s The English Novel, 1770-1829; these works form the foundation of a great deal of scholarship. But there are some things that bibliographies cannot do. When I set out to plan a book chapter on fiction in the years 1660-1700, I found very little that could serve as a guide to help me identify which texts would be most useful and important to read. The Early Novels Database was promising, but was not then available, and in any case was focused on texts held in one particular library. So I began compiling what was at first a simple list of titles drawn from older bibliographies and gradually became a spreadsheet and then a database. As I worked on the initial list, it became clear that in order to decide what to read, I needed to know more about each text’s material and paratextual features: which texts, for instance, were fully epistolary, and which included letters in the fiction? Which texts had addresses to the reader, and which had dedications? And of course, as I began consulting EEBO scans to identify these features, other features also struck me as worthy of note: indexes, chapters, tables of contents, and so on. And as I gathered this information, it occurred to me that other scholars might be interested in a resource like this.

Thus was born the Restoration Printed Fiction database, now available online. It catalogs metadata for the 394 works of fiction published between 1660 and 1700. To generate this list of fiction, entries were drawn from three main bibliographic sources (with some additions): Paul Salzman’s English Prose Fiction 1558-1700, Robert Letellier’s The English Novel, 1660-1700, and Robert Adams Day’s Told in Letters. For the purposes of the database, fiction was defined very broadly; given the novel genre’s emergent status at the time, it makes little sense to apply any kind of strict definition that would not have operated for contemporary readers. If one of the bibliographies (or another scholarly source) treated it as fiction, it was included in the database. This broad approach makes it possible for scholars to cast a wide net when considering the nature of fiction. Also, I’ve only included the first printing in this period of a given text: If a text was first published before 1660, I included the first edition that was published after 1660; for texts first published after 1660, only the first edition is listed. In a later phase of the project, it may be possible to include subsequent editions, which would be helpful in gauging the popularity of texts.

Each entry includes basic bibliographical information about the text, such as author (when known), title, bookseller and printer (when known), and date. This kind of metadata allows users to search for particular booksellers or even particular printers, thus making it possible to begin to answer questions such as whether any booksellers may have begun to specialize in fiction in this period, or whether it was more common for a bookseller to publish only one or two works of fiction. How significant is it, for example, that Samuel Briscoe appears as bookseller on fourteen title pages? Do the fifty-four texts not listing a bookseller have anything in common? Other kinds of metadata, of course, make possible other kinds of research questions. The RPF database also includes metadata about several kinds of paratexts, such as dedications, prefaces, addresses to the reader, and prefatory poems. This metadata becomes especially interesting when we search for texts that have more than one of these paratexts. Are dedications more common in conjunction with prefatory poems, for instance, than with other paratexts? Interestingly, of these 394 fictions, sixteen have three paratexts, but none have all four types — and 120 have no paratexts at all. Other researchers might be interested in fictions that are divided into chapters, or fictions that appear with a licensing statement, or fictions that give errata; all of these things are discoverable in the RPF.

A crucial part of the process of producing the RPF was finding a way to make it available to others. Dr. Michael Faris, my colleague at Texas Tech, and then Director of the English Department’s Media Lab, made this possible. Dr. Faris did the coding that makes the searchable database available to others, a process which entailed meeting to understand the content and aims of the database, teaching me how to generate something he could then use as a basis to work with, and writing the code that allows the resource to be useful to scholars. Such collaborative work is especially important in digital humanities work because bringing different skill sets together enables new kinds of work and new kinds of resources that, we hope, will continue to generate new scholarly questions and work.

The Collected Poems of Gavin Turnbull Online


Dear Sir, if my unnotic’d name,

Not yet proclaim’d by trump of fame,

Has reach’d your lugs, then swith attend, 

This essay of a Bard unkend.

–Turnbull, “Epistle to a Black-smith” (1788)

The Scottish poet Gavin Turnbull (1765-1816), a younger contemporary of Robert Burns, published two books of poetry in Scotland before emigrating to America in 1795, where he contributed poetry to South Carolina newspapers.  The Collected Poems of Gavin Turnbull presents the first-ever full collection of Turnbull’s writings.

Turnbull, born in the Scottish Borders, started writing poetry as a teenage carpet-weaver in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, in the 1780s.  He published his first book, Poetical Essays, in 1788, followed by Poems in 1794, when he was an actor with a theatre company in Dumfries.  In 1795, he emigrated to the United States, settling in Charleston, South Carolina, where he continued to act and write poetry, publishing not only in Charleston but also in the prestigious Philadelphia magazine Port Folio.  He became a U.S. citizen in 1813 and died in Charleston in 1816.  While he twice issued proposals for a new collection of his writings, and a further invitation to subscribers was published after his death, no collection ever appeared.  Only a handful of his earlier poems have been available in anthologies or online, and his Charleston poems have never previously been collected.

turnbullbannerThe Collected Poems of Gavin Turnbull contains 89 individual poems and songs, organized according to the date of their first publication.  The poems are grouped into one of four sections, following the sequence of the books, manuscript, or periodicals in which they are first found.  Turnbull’s two prose prefaces to the poetry (1788, 1794) and his short play The Recruit (also 1794) are included, but placed last, after the poems, as appendices.  A list of the individual poems and songs in each section and links to the texts are available in the gray drop-down menu on the left-hand side of the screen.  With the few exceptions noted below, this edition only includes each poem once, under the date of its first appearance, and poems that Turnbull subsequently reprinted are not repeated in the later section(s).

This edition aims to reproduce Turnbull’s texts as they were encountered by their first readers.  The text used is therefore taken from the first published version, and where a poem was printed two or more times, the earliest text is used, though any substantive differences between early and later texts are fully noted.  The one exception to this general policy is for Turnbull’s poem “The Cottage,” first published in 1788 with four stanzas, for which the edition uses Turnbull’s expanded version with a fifth, more political stanza, from the 1794 collection, also subsequently reprinted in a Charleston newspaper.

The first section contains 50 poems and songs, all probably written while he was still living in Kilmarnock, and published in Turnbull’s first book, Poetical Essays (1788), published by subscription and appearing with the imprint of a Glasgow bookseller.  The next short section prints three of Turnbull’s songs which Robert Burns forwarded in a manuscript letter by Robert Burns to George Thomson (October 29, 1793) for possible inclusion in Thomson’s Select Collection of Original Scottish Songs.  The second major section contains the twelve poems or songs that were first published in Turnbull’s second volume, Poems, printed in Dumfries in 1794.  As noted above, Turnbull’s play, The Recruit, which had been included in the 1794 volume, is placed separately with the “Appendices.”

After he emigrated to Charleston, South Carolina, Turnbull’s contributions to local newspapers included reprinting some earlier poems, as well as newly-written items.  The third major section of the edition contains twenty-five poems, ranging in date from 1796 to 1809.  Of the twenty-five, twenty-one are items that Turnbull had never previously published; the four reprinted items are the four songs that Turnbull himself extracted from his play The Recruit for separate newspaper publication, and which are therefore given similar separate status here.  Though he also wrote an ode to General Washington, both in the theatre, where he appeared in such Scottish plays as Ramsay’s The Gentle Shepherd and Home’s Douglas, and in the poetry he published, Turnbull continued after emigration to identify himself as a Scot.

chfergussonmar2196The online edition of The Collected Poems of Gavin Turnbull allows for fuller annotation than will be provided in the planned print edition, especially in glossing words that might cause difficulties for students outside of Scotland, as well as linking to related material, such as contemporary images and music, where Turnbull often specifies the tune to which he has written new song-text.  The first note on each text records its publication history, both first publication and any reprinting in Turnbull’s lifetime.  The first note may also contain general background information relevant to the poem.  Subsequent notes linked to specific lines gloss difficult or distinctive words, suggest literary sources or allusions, and provide historical or background information.  Turnbull’s own footnotes to some of the poems, in Poetical Essays (1788) and Poems (1794), have been included but are placed in square brackets, and introduced as “GT’s note,” to differentiate them from the editors’ notes.  The annotations are numbered sequentially rather than by line number and can be accessed in one of two ways.  The user can move the cursor over a superscript number in the body of the text, so that a dialogue box will appear with the annotation alongside the line it is explaining, or the user can scroll down the poem and find the relevant numbered annotation where the notes are grouped together in sequence at the end of the text.

turnbulscreen2The texts and annotation are supplemented by Patrick Scott’s introductory essay on Turnbull’s life and writings and by a reference bibliography.  All text files have been marked-up and prepared in accordance with TEI P5 guidelines—the standard XML language in the humanities—to allow for greater interoperability, both in this edition and future projects.  Work on the edition was supported by an ASPIRE grant from the Vice-President for Research, University of South Carolina.  The online edition is complete in itself, but Patrick Scott’s selection, A Bard Unkend:  Selected Poems in the Scottish Dialect by Gavin Turnbull (Scottish Poetry Reprints no. 10, 2015), is also available, as a print-on-demand paperback and on-line, and a parallel print edition is under consideration.

Engaging Students in The Digital Eighteenth Century

In fall 2014, Dermot Ryan—an associate professor in the Department of English at Loyola Marymount University—and Melanie Hubbard—the university’s digital scholarship librarian—designed and taught The Digital Eighteenth Century, a class which culminated in the creation of a digital space that showcases the digital projects students completed over the course of the semester.  You can find a video introduction to our class and the various student digital projects at dh@lmu.

Our concept for the class was simple:  students would better grasp the literature and culture of the eighteenth century by drawing connections between the eighteenth-century print revolution and aspects of the current digital communications revolution.  The incorporation of digital tools and assignments was intended to illustrate and provide hands-on experience with this technological shift as well as give students a new way into the study and presentation of eighteenth-century cultural materials.

The assignments were fairly basic.  Students used the Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) database not simply to locate specific texts but rather to answer basic research questions.  How many titles containing the adjective “lyrical” appear before the 1798 publication of Lyrical Ballads?  Can we trace any other literature on children chimney sweepers before William Blake’s poem on the subject?  Can we locate sources for the figure of the hermit in Charlotte Smith’s poem Beachy Head?  Students used TimeMapper to track the development of eighteenth-century literary or cultural events across space as well as time (see example).  Poetry Genius, an online annotation tool, was used to become more familiar with eighteenth-century poetry (see example).  Students brought eighteenth-century visual and literary culture together by creating digital essays in Tumblr (see example).  Because their work would be public, students were required to keep their audience in mind and ask themselves the following types of questions:  What helps me understand the literature and cultural artifacts that we are studying in this class?  How do I present these materials in a manner that a broader audience would find accessible and compelling?

The students’ projects are now part of dh@lmu, a site that Melanie created to be a hub for LMU’s current and future DH projects.  In a sense, The Digital Eighteenth Century was our practical response to a series of interrelated challenges that many of our colleagues face:  How do you foster digital humanities at a university that is largely focused on undergraduate education and has many of the trademarks of a liberal arts college?  How do you get from zero with little or no resources and a minimum of institutional support?  How do you do that when you yourself have had little or no institutional exposure to professional training in the tools, practices, and methods of DH?

We discussed our experience of designing and teaching this course at the 2014 Digital Scholarship Colloquium organized by the Freedman Center for Digital Scholarship at Case Western Reserve University’s Kelvin Smith Library.  Our presentation entitled “The Promise of Digital (Undergraduate) Research:  A Perspective from a Liberal Arts College” is available for viewing.  In this presentation we explain that our discussions about DH began with our desire to engage more humanities students in undergraduate research (UR).  We speculated that DH could help us overcome some of the difficulties with sustaining UR culture in the humanities.  Such difficulties include:

  • Research in the humanities tends to be non-collaborative.
  • UR in the humanities has traditionally involved student-led initiatives with students working on topics related only tangentially to a faculty member’s own research.
  • Research in the humanities cannot be easily “segmented” into manageable units for undergraduate researchers.
  • There is a high threshold to entry into humanities research.
  • There is no incentive:  in universities that do not have large Ph.D. or postdoctoral programs, the sciences “need” undergraduates to conduct research; conversely, UR potentially distracts humanist scholars from their research.

Ways in which we feel DH can potentially address these challenges include:

  • DH can challenge the canard that research in the humanities is inherently non-collaborative.
  • Research projects in DH can be parsed into manageable units.
  • DH can allow us to generate online research projects that allow for ongoing student/faculty collaboration while contributing to faculty scholarship, rather than diverting attention from faculty research.

The eighteenth century is a particularly rich time period for these kinds of faculty and student collaborations not only because eighteenth-century print culture with its focus on social networking and media storms bears some striking resemblances to our particular moment but also because there are a number of rich online eighteenth-century resources, like ECCO, on which our students can draw.

Isaiah Thomas Broadside Ballads Project: Verses in Vogue with the Vulgar

What do Red Jacket, Pompey Fleet, James Macpherson, Mary Washington, and Geoffrey Chaucer have in common? They all are depicted in, influences for, or creators of the 300 broadside ballads Isaiah Thomas (1749-1831) collected from Boston printer Nathaniel Coverly in 1814.  Mostly printed in Coverly’s shop between 1812 and 1814, these ballads offer a window into street life in the early United States, with an eye toward the future but with a preoccupation with the past.  Thomas coined the phrase “verses in vogue with the vulgar” to describe this collection that he had bound in three volumes and that are some of the American Antiquarian Society’s earliest holdings.

With over 800 images and 300 mini-essays, Isaiah Thomas Broadside Ballads Project: Verses in Vogue with the Vulgar offers a unique and comprehensive view of the broadsides that Isaiah Thomas collected.  Each broadside includes a brief explanation of its content by Kate Van Winkle Keller.  The Isaiah Thomas Broadside Ballads Project includes over 30 ballads performed by David and Ginger Hildebrand as mp3s on the site.  And 25 broadsides (and counting!) have been transcribed with TEI-encoded XML available for download.  In addition to the short essays that accompany each broadside, longer essays by Keller, Dianne Dugaw, and Marcus McCorison give an overview of the content, detailing the Coverly printing networkthe type and paper used to print the broadsides, and the culture of song in early America.  All of the sources cited in these essays and in the individual broadside essays are in the Works Cited, which includes over 1,200 sources.  Please join our Zotero group, which is open to the public and will allow a user to export these citations as needed.

In the spirit of AAS’s rich tradition of deep cataloging, extensive subject headings are provided for each broadside, and these subject headings can all be searched.  This index of topics covered in the ballads allows a user to group the ballads thematically in a way analogous to chapters in a book.  For example, by clicking on “Adultery” one can see that two broadsides include ballads on this subject:  “Penny-Worth of Wit” and “The Country ’Squire.” Note too that the subject headings appear at the bottom of the page.  By clicking on “children,” one can see the 10 total items that include this subject heading as well.  Any combination of search results can be exported by the user in a number of machine-readable formats.  Additional mechanisms are also in place to illuminate the relationality of the broadsides.  For example, most individual essays make reference to other ballads that share a tune or perhaps a thematic link.  In addition, the woodcuts that appear on multiple broadsides can be traced.

“Looking for the Longitude”

Screen ShotLongitude was a hot topic in eighteenth-century Britain.  What we might perceive now as a niche, and perhaps rather uninteresting, navigational problem, was then crucial to finding a means of accurately measuring longitude at sea as Britain’s trade and naval aspirations expanded.  Supported by very large award monies from the government, the search for a solution became a subject of national discussion, ridicule, and social relevance appearing in every conceivable type of source from newspapers and novels to prints and paintings.

My research looks at that plethora of paper materials, which had to be navigated on land by any person putting forward a potential solution, before it would ever be trialed at sea.  The questions, conversations, jokes, diagrams, and drawings in which Georgian men and women referenced longitude become visible in precisely the sorts of digital databases and collections that The 18th-Century Common seeks to showcase.  It is the ability to search these sets of materials that makes visible the kinds of throwaway references to longitude that would otherwise be almost impossible to locate, stimulating further research in physical collections.

Digital resources, furthermore, allow us to begin to reconstruct the patterns of production as well as the use and reference in texts and images that physical collections can obscure.  My recent project with the Paul Mellon Centre’s innovative online journal, British Art Studies, has begun to think about what possibilities this might offer.  “Looking for the Longitude” brings together a series of images and commentaries to consider how people experienced the longitude debate in eighteenth-century London, using as a starting point an engraving from William Hogarth’s famous series, A Rake’s Progress.  A pirate version of the image, done from the copyist’s memory of the original painting in Hogarth’s studio, offers the opportunity to examine what the copyist remembered and altered.  Marshaling a selection of texts and images that circulated at the time serves to show how such materials would have affected what this copyist, and other viewers, saw in Hogarth’s engraving.  It allows us to construct a period eye.

This was also a particularly London story, however, tied to a group of metropolitan locations that shaped production and consumption of text and image.  Each of my longitude images is therefore located on an interactive map and enhanced by commentary from a group of expert contributors, ranging across histories of art and science.  They consider the significance of the urban setting, bringing into play a further circle of materials and texts.  Over the course of 11 days in June 2016, these appeared as part of a daily Twitter tour that you could, and still can, follow around the British capital.

My hope is that this digital project serves to reconstruct a sense of the rapid production and discussion, the buzz and fervor, that surrounded the longitude problem in the eighteenth century; and that in combining digital collections with digital publishing it makes the case for what such platforms can achieve.

Sheffield: Print, Protest and Poetry, 1790-1810

SheffieldSheffield:  Print, Protest and Poetry, 1790-1810 is an ever-growing digital anthology of protest poetry printed in Sheffield’s radical press at the end of the eighteenth century.

Directed by Dr. Hamish Mathison and researched by Dr. Adam James Smith, the anthology was born of an AHRC-funded cultural engagement project focusing on the full collections of The Sheffield Register (1787-1794) and The Sheffield Iris (1794-1825), newspapers held in University Library Special Collections.  The Register was edited by Joseph Gales, the Iris by Sheffield’s legendary poet and prolific champion of cause, James Montgomery.

Writing under the close scrutiny of suspicious local authorities both the Register and the Iris presented their most controversial material in a section referred to affectionately by readers as “Poetry Corner.”  This section saw the publication of a different poem each week (either written by a Sheffield resident or aggregated from elsewhere) but usually addressed to one of a series of recurrent themes:  religious integration, racial equality, worker’s rights, universal access to education, and political enfranchisement for all.

An overarching concern was that if the government could not legally be criticized, then there remained no safe-guard against tyranny.  As one reader’s poem warned in April 1793, this seemed to be increasingly the case:

We may speak (it is true) if we mind what we say;

But to speak all we think, will not suit in our day.

These lines proved prophetic, with the Register coming to an abrupt close a few months later.  Charged with “conspiracy against the government,” Gales was forced to abandon the paper to start a new life in America as a fugitive.

The Sheffield: Print, Protest Poetry, 1790-1810 project has been releasing a different poem every week, and online readers have been surprised and excited by how prescient they have proved.  One poem titled “On the Effects of Gold” warned that political reform was never likely whilst politicians were more interested in lining their own pockets.  This poem was made live on the Sheffield: Print, Protest Poetry, 1790-1810 website the day before the Panama Papers story broke.

The first installment of the anthology focuses on poems printed between 1794 and 1796, marking the transition from the Register to the Iris.  This transition was brought about when the editor of the Register was charged with conspiracy against the government and forced to flee to America.  There will also be a printed anthology titled Poetry, Conspiracy, Radical in Sheffield (Spirit Duplicator, 2016), and new recordings of some of these poems have already been released on Soundcloud.  We also have a Podcast, which seeks to situate these poems in broader national contexts.  You can follow Sheffield: Print, Protest and Poetry, 1790-1810 on Facebook and Twitter.