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Jonson goes digital

Posted by: CEWBJ Team 7 years, 11 months ago


Regular readers of this blog will have noticed that there have been no new updates for several months. This is because of technical work on the electronic edition, and the blog’s migration to a new URL. Now, though, the online Jonson is finally launched and we can welcome new and returning users to the site. We hope you will find this a rich and powerful resource, and that it will add exciting new dimensions to Jonson as he appears in the print edition.


Readers already familiar with the print edition will find the whole modern-spelling text here in searchable form, with the commentary notes and collations accessible by clicking on the little black tags. Please note that you can switch off either or both of these tags if you just want to read the clean text! The big innovation is the old-spelling text, which can be viewed either on its own, or scrolling in parallel with the print text. In many cases, where the text exists in quarto, folio, or manuscript formats, there are multiple old-spelling versions. And we are especially pleased to present hundreds of quarto and folio pages in beautiful high-quality reproduction, which document the materials that have been consulted by our editors. We are very grateful to the libraries that have permitted us to reproduce these images, and particularly to the Huntington Library for access to its wonderful Jonson collection.


In the archives, users will find a wealth of new data: on the music, the stage history, the textual transmission, the masques, Jonson’s life, and much more besides. Users who do not have institutional access will still be able to sample parts of these archives. Several components are free-to-air: the sixty textual essays, the chronology of Jonson’s life, and the performance calendar (though not the performance essays or images, for which a subscription is required).


In the future, we plan to go on adding to the site, subject to what our funding stream will allow. We aim to add an account of Jonson’s library by Henry Woudhuysen, a literary archive detailing allusions to Jonson down to 1700 edited by Hugh Craig, and a full edition of the recently discovered diary describing Jonson’s walk to Scotland in 1618, edited by James Loxley, Julie Sanders, and Anna Groundwater. Other work is already on-going behind the scenes to supplement the textual materials and make them even more comprehensive.


As the technical issues involved in mounting text, images, and music on a single site and in creating this dynamic format are quite formidable, we would be very pleased to receive feedback about the edition’s usability and accuracy, and suggestions for further enhancement. We hope that Jonson, who was so engaged with the print culture of his own time, would have been deeply interested in seeing what modern digital technology could do. Future blog items to come will explore these possibilities, and highlight some of the edition’s secret corners.


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