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Library Assignment

EEBO-TCP Based Sample Assignment

    • Library Assignment

Choose an author we’re reading in the course whose work was printed in the seventeenth century. Using the reference books listed on the attached page, answer the following questions.All books printed in England before 1700 are listed in either Pollard and Redgrave, Short-Title Catalogue of Books…1475-1640 (known as “STC”) and Donald Wing, Short-Title Catalogue of Books…1641-1700 (known as “Wing”). These catalogues assign numbers to each edition of every book they list; these numbers often appear in writing about these books. In addition, the catalogues are full of practical information about print culture and reading habits in the period.

    • 1. What range of “STC” and/or “Wing” numbers cover your author?
    • 2. Browse the books listed on the pages around the entry for your author: name a book by a different author that catches your eye. What kind of book does it seem to be?
    • 3. How many different titles did your author publish?
    • 4. What title was the most popular? How many editions were published of it?
    • 5. Chose the first edition of one of your author’s books (and tell me which one it is, including STC or Wing number). Who were the printers and/or publisher? [in an imprint with the form “A. Smith and B. Jones for C. James,” the first two names are printers, the last the publisher or bookseller]. In general, were your author’s books printed and/or published by one or just a few people, or by a variety of printers and publishers?
    • 6. Where would you be able to find an actual [that is, not microfilmed or digitized] copy of the book you’ve chosen?
    • 7. Using either vol. 3 of the STC, or the separate printer index for Wing: how many other books did the publisher of your book publish in the same year? Name one of them. If none, name another book published by that publisher in any year.
    • 8. Using either vol. 3 of the STC, or one of the Dictionaries of printers for the period (ed. Mckerrow): tell me something about the publisher or printer of the book you’ve chosen. Was his or her shop in St. Paul’s Churchyard, where John Chamberlain spent his days?
    • 9. Using vol. 3 of the STC, approximately how many other books were published in the same year as the one you’ve chosen? (you can just count the number of lines and multiply by an average per line). Skim through the year’s output: do you recognize any names? If your book is post-1640, answer the questions by picking a pre-1640 year at random.

Much of the information in both the STC and Wing is now available in the ESTC (English Short Title Catalogue) on-line database, and the catalogue records in EEBO (Early English Books Online). While quite similar, these two databases are not identical. Browse in both databases and familiarize yourself with how they work and with what kinds of information they provide.

    • 1. How (broadly) do they differ from the STC and Wing?
    • 2. What kinds of research might they enable you to do that STC and Wing don’t?
    • 3. Why, given all these marvellous on-line resources, might printed reference tools like STC and Wing remain useful?

Most of the books listed in STC and Wing, and all the books listed in the Catalogue of the Thomason tracts, are available here at UT on microfilm and on-line as graphic images (EEBO). Choose a book by an author we’re reading (it can be one of those you’ve used to answer questions above). Find the first edition on one or other of the microfilm collections, or on the EEBO project. Please make a copy of the title-page of your book to hand in with the assignment.

  1. Look carefully at the title-page and other prefatory material. Briefly describe the prefatory material (e.g. “the book has an engraved portrait of the author, dedicatory poems by X and Y, a preface by the publisher “to the virtuous reader”, and a detailed table of contents”). What does this material tell you about how the author or publisher wanted to present the book? That is, what expectations do you think the book sets up?
  2. Is there a dedication? If so, tell me something about that person, using the Dictionary of National Biography (DNB) and, if the book is pre-1641, Williams’ Index of Dedications. If the patron is identified only by a noble title, you should be able to use the DNB or the Handbook of British Chronology to identify the person.
  3. Are there any signs of contemporary ownership or reading on the microfilmed or digitized copy?
  4. Look at the remainder of the book. How does it resemble/differ from a modern text of the same (or a similar) work?
  5. Did looking at this work in its original version give you any insight into the world of the seventeenth century? Did you find anything you didn’t expect?