17 August 2012 by Dominic Lenton
Most of us can get our fill from the British Museum's excellent Shakespeare: Staging the World already mentioned here.
The hardcore academics will be more excited by news of a new initiative from Oxford University Press that will put its authoritative collection of work by Shakespeare and his contemporaries online for the first time.
Oxford Scholarly Editions Online launches with 171 editions of works written by authors principally active between 1485 and 1660, including 200 plays, some 7000 poems, and over 5000 letters. As well as Shakespeare and Jonson, there's room for lesser-known figures like Shackerley Marmion.
This is just the first stage of a long-term project that will see content from other periods added in the coming years - drama, poetry, and all kinds of prose from diaries and correspondence through to philosophical speculation, sermons, history, biography and fiction.
This is a commercial product, and the selling point is the ability it gives students of literature, philosophy, history and religion to quickly check the way in which a work has evolved, for example, or see how a particular word used in a text has changed over time. While the online editions retain familiar features from print, down to individual page references, you also get explanatory notes situated alongside the text, a PDF of each page of the original print edition, and extensive introductions placing the text in its context.
"Navigation has been tailored with the researcher in mind and is based on real research journeys," says OUP. "Readers can use the browse option to look at content selected by author, works, or a particular print edition; or can use the advanced search made possible by XML encoding to tailor focused searches within very precise sections of content, such as stage directions."
Elsewhere in Oxford, Stephen Fry and Vanessa Redgrave are among the luminaries of British theatre and film supporting a campaign to raise the funds to put the Bodleian Libraries' unique first volume of Shakespeare's plays online.
Published seven years after his death, the First Folio is the first collected edition of Shakespeare's plays, and the first collected edition of any English playwright. The Bodleian's copy is unusual in not having been been rebound or restored in almost four centuries since it was first received by the library late in 1623. Although it left the library in the 1660s it was returned following an exceptional response to a previous public fundraising campaign to buy it at the turn of the 20th century.
Once digitised, the volume will be available online in digital format, and will be accessible free of charge for anyone anywhere in the world, accompanied by articles and blogs from academics, specialists, theatre professionals and members of the public.
Sprint for Shakespeare aims to raise £20,000 needed to complete digitisation of almost 1,000 pages ahead of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, in 2016. Funds will also be used to stabilise the condition of the original book.
Launching the appeal, Stephen Fry compared the volume's significance to that of the great works of science. "First Folio as a phrase sounds so distant from our everyday lives, but this priceless and extraordinary collection of plays turned the world upside down every bit as much as Newton was to do nearly 60 or so years later," he said. "To bring the First Folio, the great authoritative publication, to everyone in the world via digitisation is as noble and magnificent a project as can be imagined."
Read all about it...
Access to OSEO is available in a range of packages for individual or institutional subscribers. Register for a free trial online or email OUP at email@example.com (outside North and South America) or firstname.lastname@example.org (North and South America).
Posted By: Dominic Lenton @ 17 August 2012 04:10 PM General
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