Remediating Playbooks

ENGL 521. Remediating Early Modern Playbooks: Stage, Print, Code, Interface

Summer 2018. Tuesdays and Fridays, 9:30-12:30, May 14 to June 29.

Course Description
This course aims to gives students a sophisticated understanding of early modern and recent remediations of early modern playbooks. This course addresses five related developments that inform digital editions of early modern drama: (1) increased attention to the making and materiality of early modern books, (2) the mass digitization and remediation of print artifacts, (3) questions about the ontology of playbooks and their capacity to represent performance; (4) a will to expand the canon beyond Shakespeare via large digital corpora and open-access editions; and (5) the capacity of digital editions to pay attention to both print and performance. The course takes as its basic assumption that playbooks are print remediations of performances, and that encoding and digitizing playbooks can help us understand those early remediations. The course begins with a vigorous review of the ideas of work, text, witness, publication, copy, and book, grounded in actual early modern practice and subsequent book history. We will work with rare books from UVic Special Collections and the Legislative Library, the latter of which has copies of Shakespeare’s 2nd and 4th folios and first editions of the Ben Jonson and Beaumont and Fletcher folios. We will learn how playbooks passed from playhouses to print shops; how they were printed, bound, and sold; and how we can access those books—and the texts therein—today. We will then survey the history of editing early modern drama in print and on-line; textual criticism has been dominated by the needs of the Shakespearean text, which both helps and hinders our work on non-Shakespearean drama. We will then turn our hand to encoding dramatic texts in TEI, a critical activity that invites us to engage with the material features of the text that are a function of early printing practices and calls us to a deep understanding of the overlapping components and multiple functions of the playbook, particularly in regard to its ability to bear witness to a performance, to serve as a script, or to support computational analysis. Encoding the native and semantically meaningful bibliographical markup of the printed text (such as font, placement on page) forces us to reflect on the long history of markup. Particular questions we will take up include: What counts as a stage direction? What does a speech contain? How do we deal with uncertainty and multiplicity in speaker names? What do we do when versification and compositorial practice seem to conflict? The Text Encoding Initiative has not fully addressed all the challenges of the early modern playbook; we will look at how encoding makes an argument about the content and structure of playbooks in four major projects—EEBO-TCP, Early Print, the Digital Anthology of Early Modern English Drama, and the ISE/QME/DRE suite of projects—and consider both the limits and potential of critical markup. Finally, we will look at interface design and its impact on critical understandings of both the playbook and its performance history and potential. By the end of the course, students will be able to: undertake a signature collation of an early modern book; use all of the major digital resources for the study of early printed books in general and playbooks in particular; encode a text in TEI (given a schema); offer a critique of digital edition interfaces; and speak to the major critical and theoretical interventions in digital critical editions of early modern drama. Case study texts will be: Hamlet, Heywood’s If You Know Not Me You Know Nobody, Part 2, and one other (TBA). Some knowledge of Shakespeare is assumed. This course satisfies a MEMS concentration requirement.

Tentative Text List:

Major digital resources and corpora:

  • Early English Books Online
  • Text Creation Partnership
  • Early European Books
  • British Book Trade Index
  • Shakespeare His Contemporaries (Early Print)
  • Database of Early English Playbooks
  • Henslowe-Alleyn Digisation Project
  • Literary Print Culture: The Stationers’ Company Archive, 1554-2007
  • Shakespeare Documented

Digital Editions:

  • Folger Shakespeare Library’s Digital Anthology of Early Modern English Drama
  • Richard Brome Online
  • Internet Shakespeare Editions (plus Queen’s Men Editions and Digital Renaissance Editions)
    Map of Early Modern London
  • Stratford Festival Online (new project)
  • The Holinshed Project
  • The Acts and Monuments Online


Sample Secondary Criticism and Theory (* Selections)

  • * Straznicky, ed., The Book of the Play
  • * McKitterick, Old Books, New Technologies
  • Drouin, “Surrogate,” in Digital Keywords
  • Werner, “Digital First Folios”
  • Kirschenbaum, “Editing the Interface”
  • Hirsch, “The Kingdom has been Digitized”
  • * Carson and Kirwan, eds., Shakespeare’s Digital World.
  • * Jenstad, Roberts-Smith, and Kaethler, eds., Shakespeare’s Language in Digital Media: Old Words, New Tools
  • * Galey, The Shakespearean Archive
  • * Fraistat and Flanders, eds., Cambridge Companion to Textual Scholarship
  • * Deegan and Sutherland, eds., Text Editing, Print, and the Digital World
  • Hayles, “Print is Flat, Code is Deep”
  • Schafer, “Performance Editions, Editing, and Editors”
  • Hirsch and Jenstad, “Beyond the Text: Digital Editions and Performance”
  • Schmidt, “Towards an Interoperable Digital Scholarly Edition”

Assignments (Tentative):

10%     Collaboration and class leadership (2 sets of questions and 2 sets of responses).

20%     Book analysis, survey of surrogates, and edition history.

20%     TEI encoding of a scene and critique of markup

50%     Major Project (research essay, interface design and documentation, edition proposal, digital exhibition, or encoding project with documentation)