EEBO Introduction

Weight (as percentage of final grade): 30%

Length: 1500 words +/- 100.

Overview: You will use the Short Title Catalogue or the EEBO (Early English Books Online) database to find a little-known popular text and write an introduction to it.

Imagined Readership: Readers of the EEBO Introductions series (scholars and senior students) and/or the users of the MoEML website (senior undergraduates, professors, literary scholars, historians, educated members of the public, independent researchers).

Overview of EEBO Introductions series: “Each contribution to the series offers insights into a range of contextual, bibliographical, and reception-based issues associated with a work in EEBO that has received no recent scholarly edition, and which is unlikely to be edited for publication without the interest of the scheme.”

Choosing your Text: Choose a text that …

  • was printed in or before 1640. (Use the Advanced Search interface to limit your search to the STC-Early English Books I collection or to manipulate the date parameters.)
  • is not well known
  • has not been the subject of a modern (i.e., post-1900) edition.
  • is fewer than 100 pages. (You do need to read the entire text!)
  • is longer than a broadside. Proclamations, orders, mortality bills, and ballads are too short. If you do want to write about a text printed in broadside, I suggest that you introduce a cluster of related texts.

If you found an interesting text while working on your Stationers Assignment, I suggest that you consider writing about that text.

What to Include in your Introduction: You will want to cover at least the following issues (although not necessarily in this order).

  • Information about the author (more if the author is not well known; less if the author is well known already but the text is not well known)
  • The full title (long title) of the text as per the title page.
  • An “authority name” for this text. You will likely be making it up yourself, if the text has never been studied before. Check the Short Title Catalogue but do feel free to shorten, lengthen, and/or standardize the title for the benefit of future scholars.
  • STC numbers for this text and any related texts.
  • Number of editions and/or distinct imprints. (Check the Short Title Catalogue and look for any entries headed “Anr. ed.” [i.e., “Another edition”] or “Var.” [i.e., “Variant”]).
  • Information about the printer(s) and publisher(s).
  • Information about the transfer of printing rights from one stationer to another (if relevant).
  • In what format was it printed (broadside, folio, quarto, octavo, duodecimo, etc)?
  • Describe the mise-en-page. Typeface? Layout? Marginalia? Images? Printers’ ornaments? Anything funny going on with catchwords, signatures, pagination?
  • Is there any paratext with the book? Dedications? Addresses? Errata? A table of contents? An index?
  • What does the format of the book suggest about its content? about its imagined readership?
  • Have there ever been any editions of this text before 1900? (If there are editions after 1900, then the text is not an option for this assignment.)
  • Does the work respond to other works? Did it invite responses?
  • What is the text about? It’s appropriate to give a summary of the text when you are writing about a little-known text.
  • What is important about this text? What are its central themes? What does it tell us about early modern culture?
  • Is there any scholarship on this text in particular or the work in general? [Note: a WORK is the ideal, to which all the editions, variants, and imprints bear witness. A TEXT is a single material witness. A work may have several different texts. For example, Hamlet (a work) survives in three different texts: Q1, Q2, and F. There are two COPIES of Q1 extant, a number of copies of Q2, and over 230 copies of F.)


For models, look at any of the EEBO Introductions linked from the Contents page. We are  rather fond of the introduction to Beware the Cat.


Include a list of ALL the scholarship on your text. Consult the usual suspects: the MLA International Bibliography and Academic Search Complete. To perform an exhaustive search, continue your research by checking the relevant bibliographies in Iter.