Back to School: A New Discovery of the Old Art of Teaching Schoole

It is the first week of the fall semester at the University of Michigan. The campus is teeming with eager, bright young faces—many of whom don’t have the slightest idea where they are going. With any luck, over the next few months they’ll learn their way, without losing their enthusiasm.

Facing pages from "The childs book and youths book: in two parts. : The first teaching an easie and delightful way to read true English ... : The second containing a method for spelling, a catechism, a confession of faith, a copy book, a perpetual almanack" (1672)

Facing pages from "The childs book and youths book: in two parts. : The first teaching an easie and delightful way to read true English ... : The second containing a method for spelling, a catechism, a confession of faith, a copy book, a perpetual almanack" (1672)

A New Discovery of the Old Art of Teaching SchooleCharles Hoole’s fascinating treatise on grammar school education, takes a surprisingly progressive stance on pedagogy that might sound familiar even in today’s classrooms: Not everyone learns at the same pace or in the same way. It is the responsibility of the teacher to shape the lesson to the student. And games work better than beatings.

According to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, by describing his approach in contrast with more traditional methods, Hoole “not only sets out his views on what education should be but also paints a vivid picture of education as it actually was in the mid-seventeenth century.”

Hoole writes,

THe usual way to begin with a child, when he is first brought to Schoole, is to teach him to know his letters in the Horn-book, where he is made to run over all the letters in the Alphabet or Christ cross-row both forwards & backwards, until he can tel any one of them, which is pointed at, and that in the Englishcharacter.

This course we see hath been very effectual in a short time, with some more ripe witted children, but others of a slower apprehension (as the most and best commonly are) have been thus learning a whole year together, (and though they have been much chid and beaten too for want of heed) could scarce tell six of their letters at twelve moneths end, who, if they had been taught in a way more agreeable to their meane apprehensions […] would doubtlesse have learned as cheerfully, if not as fast as the quickest Readmore »

Mid-Summer Update: Outreach, development, production

Although this blog has been fairly quiet in recent months, the TCP has kept busy this spring and summer with a variety of outreach, education, and consultation projects–and of course, our transcribing and editing work continues all year round.

Travel and Conferences! On behalf of the TCP, outreach librarian Rebecca Welzenbach exhibited at the Shakespeare Association of America meeting held in Boston in April and at the International Congress on Medieval Studies held at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo in May. At these events, the TCP exhibited alongside publishers, vendors–and in one case, a harpmaker! We distributed information, demonstrated the EEBO-TCP search interfaces, and spoke to conference attendees about the work of the TCP and how it could fit in with their research.

Participants in "Understanding the Pre-Digital Book," a DHSI workshop that considered rare book bibliography from the point of view of representing these unique objects in digital form.

In June, Rebecca attended the Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI) and INKE Beyond Accessibility conference, both held at the University of Victoria. It was exciting to meet so many scholars applying digital analysis and visualization techniques to early modern texts, from the University of Victoria’s own Map of Early Modern London to the Visualizing English Print from 1470-1800 project at the University of Strathclyde. An unconference session held over lunch one day provided a wonderful chance to speak with scholars and students about the challenges and opportunities of working on a daily basis with digital representations of early modern English books.

The travel season was capped off with a TCP project update for partner libraries and the “TCP-curious” at the American Library Association Annual Meeting in Anaheim, where Harriett Green from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana and Eric Nebeker from the University of California-Santa Barbara graciously joined us to speak about how they use TCP resources in the library, in research, and in teaching. This was a great opportunity to (re)connect with many long-time TCP partners–the key investors in our work–and inform them of our progress, as well as answer questions for potential partner libraries.

EEBO-TCP Project Update at ALA annual: Rebecca Welzenbach and Eric Nebeker check out the inner workings of the English Short Title Catalog with Virginia Schilling and Luis Baquera, ESTC staff from the University of California-Riverside. (Photo credit: Alex Watson)

Across the ocean, Pip Willcox and Colm MacCrossan, representing EEBO-TCP’s Oxford team, respectively chaired and sat on a panel at SHARP 2012 in Dublin, “After Creation: The evolving uses of EEBO-TCP in humanities research,” which gave a behind-the-scenes look at how the EEBO-TCP texts are being used in a number of projects, from JISC’s Historic Books Platform to a dedicated website for digital editions of early printed poetry miscellanies.

Consultation and Collaboration! Paul Schaffner, head of electronic text production for the TCP, met with the Abbot development team to learn more about how this software process XML files encoded according to different schemas in order to output consistently encoded text conforming to a single schema, TEI-A. The aim of this software is to support true interoperability among texts encoded for different projects and using different schemas.

Paul was also invited to the Folger Shakespeare Library to participate in a planning meeting for the Folger Digital Folio of Renaissance Drama for the 21st Century (F21) project, where the group discussed (among many other things) how TCP transcriptions might serve as a starting point for electronic editions of non-Shakespearean dramas to be edited by students and published by the Folger.

In April, Rebecca met with representatives from 18thConnect, the Renaissance English Knowledge Base (REKn), and ProQuest at Northwestern University to discuss plans for creating a portal to early modern digital resources along the lines of NINES and 18thConnect, as well as for crowdsourcing the correction and annotation of early modern electronic texts.

Teaching and Training! In May, Rebecca taught a workshop [slides] introducing EEBO-TCP to University of Michigan affiliates (mostly graduate students from the English department) as part of UM’s annual Enriching Scholarship week. She also led an instructional session [slides and materials], teaching students in an undergraduate composition course how to use EEBO-TCP (and other digital resources) to locate historical recipes.

In addition, Pip led an EEBO-TCP training workshop for SHARP conference attendees in Dublin.

Welcoming new partners! This spring, Cornell University, the University of Texas at Austin, Michigan State University, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Appalachian State University have all committed to EEBO-TCP Phase II. We’re thrilled to have so many new partners on board. Collectively, this means that more than 160,000 students, as well as their faculty, will now have access to the EEBO-TCP Phase II texts. It also means that we’ll be able to produce around 1,000 additional texts that we otherwise would not have been able to do.

EEBO-TCP editors hard at work in the University of Michigan Library

And of course: Transcribing, Proofing, and Editing! Our hardworking team of keyers, encoders, and editors is carrying on with their work. The next EEBO-TCP Phase II batch to be released–coming soon!–will consist of about 4,000 new texts.

The next big event on the horizon is a conference dedicated to EEBO-TCP, to be held at the University of Oxford this September: “Revolutionizing Early Modern Studies”? The Early English Books Online Text Creation Partnership in 2012. Registration is now open–we hope you will join us there!


Call for Papers on The Early Modern Witch (1450-1700)

Preternature: Critical and Historical Studies on the Preternatural is seeking submissions for an issue on the theme of the early modern witch. According to the call for papers:

The early modern witch is a fascinating enigma: a legal entity and a neighbourhood resource or nuisance, she purportedly engaged in natural and supernatural forms of wisdom with the potential to heal or harm others, or even herself. The words she spoke, mumbled could become malefic by intent, if not by content. According to the sensationalist constructions of witchcraft, her body was contaminated by the magics she used: she fed familiars with blood, grew spare parts, could not weep, and would not sink. In accounts focused on bewitchment and possessions, the witch vomited pins or personified pollution and a culturally legitimate cunning-person such as a physician or minister or exorcist acted as curative.

Despite the skepticism about witches that followed Reginald Scot’s assertions and the decline of legal examinations trials, the early modern witch has remained a vital force in the cultural imagination. Witchcraft remain the focus of academic articles, scholarly volumes, digital resources, archaeological digs, children’s and teenage fiction, popular media and museum studies.

This issue of Preternature, in association with the “Capturing Witches” conference, invites contributions from any discipline that highlight the cultural, literary, religious, or historical significance of the early modern witch.

Preternature is edited by Dr. Kirsten Uszkalo and published by The Penn State University Press. The guest editors of this themed edition are Professor Alison Findlay and Dr. Liz Oakley-Brown, who are also organizers of the Capturing Witches conference. For submission details/logistics, please see the complete call for papers.