About the Project

Work on Verse Miscellanies Online began in March 2011 and was funded by a British Academy Research Development Award. The principal investigator on the project is Michelle O’Callaghan, University of Reading, who was assisted by Dr. Alice Eardley. Verse Miscellanies Online was produced in collaboration with Early English Books Online-Text Creation Partnership, who provided the XML-TEI files of the miscellanies that are the basis of the edition. ProQuest have waived their rights to the EEBO-TCP files on the site to allow full public access.

One aim of this digital edition is to extend the capabilities of a pre-existing digital resource. Since the EEBO-TCP files were originally tagged according to older XML-TEIP4 guidelines, it was necessary to convert these files to the current XML-TEIP5 standard; this work was undertaken by James Cummings at Oxford University Computing Services. The EEBO-TCP files were then enhanced through further descriptive tagging, the mark-up of typographical features, the addition of explanatory annotations, hyperlinks, and critical apparatus, including glossaries of mythological figures and historical persons, musical settings and ballad tunes, and indexes of authors and first lines. Each poem has been assigned a searchable genre and the rhyme scheme, which have been identified using Steven May and William Ringler’s Elizabethan Poetry: A Bibliography and First-Line Index of English Verse, 1559-1603 (2004). Sources and provenance when known are supplied in the head to each poem and have been identified using May and Ringler in conjunction with the Folger Union First Line Index of English Verse.

This critical digital edition of early printed editions of poetry is interested in how older editorial print practices are mediated through the new digital technologies, just as manuscript forms and practices were mediated through print technologies in the early printed poetry miscellanies. Verse Miscellanies Online incorporates features, such as annotations, glossaries, information about transmission and reception, which are constitutive of conventional print editions, but are now rendered in a digital form on this site. The digital medium has an inherent flexibility that enables users to navigate and manipulate an edition with greater facility than a book in codex form. The insistent intertextuality of these printed miscellanies, as they constantly borrow poems, lines, commonplaces and topoi from each other, is transformed into a hypertextuality in this digital edition through the hyperlinks that allow users to toggle between shared poems and bits of poems; an activity that enhances our understanding of these miscellanies are collections that are built out of other collections, often through the agency of printer-editors.

To explore the ways in which a digital edition can function as a worksite or editing environment, Verse Miscellanies Online hosts an editing tool, the ‘Commonplacer’, which is intended to facilitate engagement with the processes of selection, modification, and compilation involved in editing texts. The ‘Commonplacer’ was developed for the project by Miguel Vieira, (Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College, London), in consultation with Jonathan Gibson, (English Subject Centre), and uses an open source Javascript HTML editor, TinyMCE. The ‘Commonplacer’ provides a workspace that complements the digital edition. Here, users can compile and edit their own editions, and so create their own digital verse miscellanies which can be made public on the site.