Refereed article in compilation book (A3)

Examining the Early Modern Canon: The English Short Title Catalogue and Large-Scale Patterns of Cultural Production

List of Authors: Tolonen Mikko, Hill Mark J., Ijaz Ali Z., Vaara Ville, Lahti Leo

Publication year: 2021

Book title *: Data Visualization in Enlightenment Literature and Culture

ISBN: 978-3-030-54912-1

eISBN: 978-3-030-54913-8


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This chapter presents the findings of an ongoing digital project of the Helsinki Computational History Group at Helsinki Centre for Digital Humanities (HELDIG) focused on the history of eighteenth-century book publication. The authors have created a historical-biographical database based on The English Short-Title Catalogue (ESTC), a standard source for analytical bibliographic research, and extracted a data-driven canon which considers changes over time, subject-topics, top-works, authors, publishers, publication place, and materiality. This chapter provides both methodological and historical insights into the development of print and demonstrates the huge analytical potential of harmonized metadata catalogs. While quantitative analyses of the book trade were attempted before, they did not engage with the complex process of canon formation at such a large scale. The authors’ work highlights the formative role played by publishers in this process and the epistemological shift started at the end of the seventeenth century, when religious works were increasingly replaced by literary works. As the authors argue, this shift in the production and consumption of print allowed for a reinvention of the canon during the eighteenth century.

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Last updated on 2022-17-01 at 07:39