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Archaeology of Reading

Archaeology of Reading in Early Modern Europe is an international collaboration among the Sheridan Libraries at Johns Hopkins University, the Centre for Editing Lives and Letters (CELL) at UCL, and the Princeton University Library, with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Co-sponsors include the Singleton Center for the Study of Pre-Modern Europe and the Department of History at Johns Hopkins University.

The first phase of the project concentrates on the scholar and professional reader Gabriel Harvey – a near contemporary of the Elizabethan poet-courtier Edmund Spenser – who left behind a uniquely large corpus of personal manuscript annotations in early printed books. The breadth and range of these annotations have proved an invaluable source for historians, although their study has been significantly hampered by constraints of time, geographical distance and other resource limitations placed on scholars by the dispersal of Harvey’s collection across libraries throughout Britain, Europe, and north America.

Archaeology of Reading will reformulate a significant number of these scattered volumes within a curated collection of digitized early modern books annotated by several major figures such as Harvey and John Dee, offering users a range of opportunities to explore and mine their notes for data, match up marginalia from one book to related notes found in another, create links to other book citations, and reconstruct reading strategies by stitching together various intellectual patchworks and thematic consistencies. These functions will be enhanced by the project team’s commitment to making both printed text and manuscript annotations available both in the languages in which they originally appear in the sources, as well as through English translation. These manuscript notes will be fully transcribed and searchable in a machine-readable form.