A book in which ‘commonplaces’ or passages important for reference were collected, usually under general heads; hence, a book in which one records passages or matters to be especially remembered or referred to, with or without arrangement. (OED)
As many bloggers have argued (see a list of links at the very bottom of this post), the method of interactive reading produced by keeping a commonplace book is very similar to our modern ways of reading on the internet. Indeed, a blog is nothing more than:
Francis Bacon recommends the practice of keeping such a book. He writes: “I hold that the diligence, and pains in collecting common Places, is of great use in certainty and studying.”
I hope that the diligence and pains that went into bringing together the finest of recent blogging on the early modern period will profit many of you! Thanks to all who submitted, and thanks especially to Sharon for all her links and help.
Sharon at Early Modern Notes argues that there are many historians who need to become more savvy about how to make history digital, and offers some important online places to start. For researchers of early modern American history, the Online Education Database published an incredibly useful post with links to 250 killer libraries and databases: libraries and archives that focus mainly on localized, regional, and U.S. history, but it also includes larger collections, eText and eBook repositories, and a short list of directories to help you continue your research efforts.
For the illustrious Holzknecht Redivivus project at Blogging the Renaissance, Spurio wrote an enlightening piece on The Gentleman Usher, or “a fine taste of Chapman at his strangest” as well as one on William Heminge’s (yes, the son of…) The Fatal Contract, a play featuring female revengers disguised as black eunuchs.
Joseph Haughey ponders the subject of textual intervention and early modern publishing, and suggests that, since so many hands were involved in producing Shakespeare’s plays, we should not consider it a sin to intervene creatively in his plays today. (See also this earlier post on the implications of this idea for teaching Shakespeare). Also on Shakespeare, Far Explore presents a set of beautiful photos of the New Globe in Southwark that I would love to use in a lecture! And also on teaching, Bardiac writes on Marlowe’s Edward II and how to get students to think about a play as a theatrical practice.
looks at Sheridan’s preface to The Rivals from a Habermassian perspective. And at the Valve, Adam Roberts defends Droeshout’s portrait against those who despise it for its simplicity. Droeshout’s image, he posits (with theoretical support from the great Scott McCloud), is just “more real because more cartoony.”,
Investigations of a Dog brings you a review of Mark Stoyle’s Soldiers and Strangers: An Ethnic History of the English Civil War (2005), which looks at the role of Welsh and Cornish identities in the Civil War. Mercurius Politicus reviews an article on religious violence by Susan Juster in the online journal Common-Place “What’s “Sacred” about Violence in Early America?” I reviewed Sylvia Bowerbank’s Speaking for Nature: Women and Ecologies of Early Modern England (2005) and Daniel M. Gross’s The Secret History of Emotion (2006).
The Little Professor went to see the latest film on our favourite queen, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, and didn’t really warm to it. Bardiac went, too — did she mention how slow the film was? In honour of the same film, Roy Booth offers a Petrarchan sonnet possibly given by Walter Raleigh to his Queen.
The Nonist presents a wonderful post on Bernard de Fontenelle’s Entretiens sur la Pluralité des Mondes, or, Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds, dating from 1686: a theory on life on other planets addressed to an imaginary woman philosopher.
The Conventicle presents a list of grievances against Essex preachers drawn up by Puritan ministers in 1568. Most are accused of specific crimes such as drinking, popery, sleeping with their sister or maid, but perhaps the most intriguing person listed is Mr Glibberie, v. of Halesteed: “a verie ridiculous preacher.”
Roy at Early Modern Whale shows us what seventeenth-century Londoners did when the Thames froze over. In EEBO, he found a wonderful map of the iced-over Thames, with its temporary roads, shopping mall, and diversions (live cock-throwing among them). And if you would like to read more of Roy’s work, he proudly presents his (online and free) article on the flight of witches in EMLS.
Roy Booth also wrote some wonderful entries on duelling that I do not want to keep from you. He discovered a handwritten note that spells revenge in a duelling manual, and presents as “ephemera at its most priceless” a bill to advertise a duel to be fought at the Red Bull by two men who each represent different schools in the noble ‘Science of Defence’. Also, he writes about Joseph Swetnam (known to us all as the woman-hater) who, as it turns out, really does seem to know what he is talking about when he writes about duelling. If you do not have EEBO, you will be pleased to learn (as I was a couple of years ago) that Stuart Huntley made a facsimile of The Schoole of the Noble and Worthy Science of Defence available online.
Does this image look familiar? Gavin Robinson used to think of it as a cliché. When he looked closely at the image and pamphlet, it defied his expectations.
Something fishy going on at BibliOdyssey, and by that I certainly do not mean the publication of his very own book — congratulations, Peacay! This recent post is a must-see: a German physician’s cabinet of curiosities immortalized by a Polish baroque painter (if you read Spanish, see also this entry on the anatomical work of that very same physician at De Mal en Peor). BibliOdyssey also presented images of Polish Renaissance knights (and athletic putti), from the very first museum catalogue ever. Giornale Nuovo wrote an erudite and lavishly illustrated post about the printmaker Giorgio Ghisi.
Sadly, that post on Ghisi will go into history as one of misteraitch’s last posts, for he has decided to stop blogging. After five years of wonderful posts (and those famous book give-aways), I will miss his beautiful site, and I know I am not the only one (more goodbyes here, here, here, here, here, and in many, many more places in the blogosphere). Fortunately, the blog is still online for a while.
Thank you, misteraitch, and goodnight!
On blogs and commonplace books:
- The eighteenth century online: commonplace book or coffeehouse?
- Blog beginnings
- Blogs, definitions and commonplace books
- Commonplace books at Metafilter
- Notebooks and commonplace books
- Interactive reading in the early modern period
The Book of Bromeat the Beinecke Library online collections. Sorry, that link didn’t work. This is the search engine for the collection, if you search for “Brome”, it’s the first entry. The book of Brome is a fifteenth-century common-place book containing a religious play and poetry, legal forms, and local accounts.