Category

Uncategorized

BAND, Digital Humanities, Uncategorized

Why we should be talking more: office chat and DH

When I look back over many of the most recent blog posts—Rachel’s about how to use notes with a sense of audience, Oishani’s about Blake’s quirky punctuation, my own about the differences between red wax seals and wafers, and other posts from the past several months—I am not surprised to realize that many of these posts began in the William Blake Archive office as informal conversations about digital editing. I remember Oishani asking my input about how to encode a period under a superscript, and I recall spending the better part of an hour with Laura and Lisa discussing why and how we decide that a letter is sealed by wax or wafer. These conversations are illustrative of one of the greatest benefits of digital humanities projects: the opportunity to collaborate and work with a team of scholars from a variety of backgrounds.

Continue reading
BAND, Uncategorized

Focusing on Audience: How Notes can Help!

Recently, Oishani posted about the different choices scholars have made in their transcriptions of the “quirky” punctuation in Blake’s receipts. Currently, the protocol has been to attach a note to the specific line of the transcription in which these punctuation discrepancies occur. However, as Oishani points out, though Bentley and Keynes do not treat punctuation systematically, we still have many nearly identical notes about minute differences in punctuation. What is the importance in noting these differences? Should we focus on punctuation in the receipts on a larger scale? Oishani ends her post asking us to consider if it would be more useful to have individual notes on each of the receipts, or to have a set of notes that covers the entire set of receipts and discusses recurring issues like punctuation in detail?

 

Continue reading
Uncategorized

Details, Disagreements, and Decisions

While finishing up work on a set of Blake’s letters from the Westminster Archives, I ran across a question that has made me a minor expert on a very minor piece of history: the difference between wafers and wax seals in nineteenth-century England. My curiosity about the difference in these two methods of sealing letters came about when I encountered the following seal on Blake’s Letter to Mr. Butts, 10 January 1802:

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 8.54.25 AM

Continue reading
BAND, Uncategorized

The “Manual” Humanities

One of the things we’ve been endlessly debating in our Team Marginalia meetings has been how to “categorize” the various kinds of inscription we’ve found in our examples of Blake’s annotated books. And this is not to mention the ongoing conversation about how to handle text on the page that is not by Blake, such as the original work itself or editorial apparatus such as page numbers. In an attempt to halt the merry-go-round that these related discussions have become, we tried a new approach at our last meeting, one that we might even call “The Manual Humanities.”

Continue reading
Uncategorized

Quirky punctuation?

Working on Blake’s receipts has given many of us the occasion to think of small and easy-to-miss problems. Alison’s post about the stamps, demonstrating her detailed observation of their variations and intricacies, is a perfect example. The receipts are a fascinating place for speculation about the fluctuations of Blake’s income as well as a constant source of surprising relief about his consistently neat and legible writing. In this post I thought I’d make a note of an interesting irregularity that I’ve encountered in all the receipts I’ve transcribed: Blake’s placement of the period. When writing “Mr.”, Blake often places the period or a colon in the same space under a superscript “r”:

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 7.12.12 pm                      Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 7.13.18 pm

This phenomenon is difficult to transcribe, and the standard references don’t deal with this problem in a systematic way. In a BAND meeting, we decided to attach a note with each receipt discussing the specific usage and add anything that Bentley or Keynes might say about this, but there is often a  great deal of variation in Bentley and Keynes’ treatment of Blake’s punctuation. Sometimes Blake Records reproduces Blake’s writing exactly, but not always. Bentley often places the period or colon after the superscript, and Keynes omits it quite frequently. Thus, we have many nearly identical notes about minute differences in punctuation, but not much discussion of the fact that the differences in punctuation is such an important aspect of the receipts. This issue led me to think of two questions about how we could address this. First, would it be more useful to have individual notes on each of the receipts that have any such punctuations and record the varying transcriptions in each case, or to have a set of notes that cover the entire set of receipts and discuss recurring issues like interestingly placed periods in greater detail (and I’m thinking about the stamps here as well)? The second question is more generally about a particular project or publication: should a project like the receipts include a list of the issues encountered and the decisions they led to as an aid to others working in digital archiving?

Continue reading
Uncategorized

Isolating Vocabulary in Blake/An Illustrated Quarterly

Lately my task has been to comb through lists of words, generated by Adam McCune’s scripts that run through Blake/An Illustrated Quarterly to search for misspellings, a task which he recently described in another blog post. My section includes all unique terms that begin with lowercase s-z. I evaluate each word, particularly lingering on red squiggles that signal the unsanctified according to Microsoft Word. I time-travel through the journal as I investigate contexts for alphabetically-organized misspellings, reading blips of scholarship that span the past fifty years.

Continue reading
BAND, Uncategorized

Working with Vertical Text

It wasn’t until I began looking through all the letters in the Blake Archive that I realized just how unique Blake’s second November 22nd 1802 letter to Thomas Butts really is. This uniqueness poses some interesting problems when it comes to encoding. The text of this letter fills both leaves of paper from top to bottom and comes very close to the margins. It includes both prose and verse, and the verse is in two columns that begin on the first page and end on the second.

Continue reading
Uncategorized

The Strange Unknowns of Spell-checking Blake: An Illustrated Quarterly

As Adam explained in last week’s post, the most recent task for many project assistants has been to search out misspelled words across extant Blake: An Illustrated Quarterly issues and make emendations where needed. While Microsoft Word provides the first indication of potential errors, we proceed line-by-line through wordlists and judge whether a word is actually misspelled or is merely unrecognized because of different linguistic origins or obsolete spelling variations. The wordlist on which I’ve been working these last few weeks contains every rare word beginning with capital letters I through R. To give you a sense of the size of this grouping, I’m still solidly in the “I” portion of a document 16,479 words long, a list containing everything from expressions of “Illustration” in four different languages to my own last name in the editorial matter beneath articles.

Continue reading