Early modern search engines

I am always fascinated by lists anyway, but this CFP also ties in with my ongoing forays into the question of early modern interactive reading. The Renaissance Society of America is devoting a session to the ways in which printed catalogues, lists and indices structured early modern reading, bookselling and more:

We are inviting paper proposals for an RSA conference panel on the organization of vernacular texts in 17th-century England. The proliferation of print led to a proliferation of lists, catalogues, indices, and other related textual phenomena. These early modern search engines significantly altered both the material forms of texts and the ways in which those texts were used and perceived. While the significance of the organization of the humanist text and the methods of information retrieval in learned works has long been recognized, the impact of technologies of text processing on the early modern vernacular book remains unexplored.

What can these various lists, catalogues and indices tell us about their creators and consumers, or about the very texts they organize? How did these new textual forms affect the particular ways in which authors and readers, booksellers and librarians, were organizing and articulating the field of writing? Further, how can these organizational forms revise our own conceptions about the structure of the book trade, the classification of genre, and the formation of a recognized canon of literature?


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