Wandering Jew's Chronicle Research Archive

poster / demo / art installation
  1. 1. James Cummings

    Oxford University

  2. 2. Giles Bergel

    Oxford University

Work text
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Wandering Jew’s Chronicle Research Archive
Cummings, James, University of Oxford, United Kingdom, James.Cummings@oucs.ox.ac.uk
Bergel, Giles, University of Oxford, United Kingdom, Giles.Bergel@merton.ox.ac.uk
This poster will describe and demonstrate work done in creation of an online archive for research into the Wandering Jew’s Chronicle (WJC). The WJC is a printed ballad published between 1634 and circa 1820 which survives in 22 known copies of 15 editions. These are held in ten libraries in Britain and the USA. The ballad itself outlines the succession to the throne of England from William I to a variable contemporary monarch depending on its date of publication. More specifically these are from the reign of Charles I until that of George IV, taking in seven monarchs in continuations from a core text. The succession of these monarchs is narrated by the supposedly immortal Wandering Jew of European legend. There is immense scholarly interest not only in the subject matter, but textually in the pattern of variations, the length and breadth of its publication and distribution. For a digital humanities perspective the textual history and relationships pose interesting problems for collation and textual analysis. Each one of the editions inherits a basic core text: some of these editions incorporate common continuations or variations, while others are textually idiosyncratic. The editions of the WJC are not only textually but also graphically interesting as most of the editions are illustrated with woodcuts of the monarchs described, and while some editions share woodcuts in common others employ copies or individual illustrations. Some of these editions are historically linked to others through relations within the book trade, while others are unauthorised or independent printings. The poster and demonstration will introduce the benefits of having gathered all the material relating to the WJC in a single place while demonstrating the technologies used to create the research archive.

Wandering Jew’s Chronicle Research Archive
Surviving copies of the WJC are scattered: variously held in the Bodleian Library; the British Library; Cambridge University Library; Magdalen College Cambridge, Pepys Library; The University of Texas at Austin Harry Ransom Library; and the Brown University Library. The WJC research archive has created a digital archive in which surviving editions are united under a single authoritative citation and represented by:

archival­quality images
transcriptions marked­up in TEI P5 XML
visualization tools for comparing variations between texts and images
bibliographical metadata
scholarly commentary
It is hoped that by providing all of this in one location research into WJC can flourish in new and interesting ways. This resource helps to foster digital humanities research through tracing and expressing bibliographical, textual and iconological relations across a corpus of copies, variant editions, and versions of ballad texts, including their images and tunes. It is a valuable resource for those researching textual genealogy in the early­modern period. It will impact the research of scholars of folklore, balladry, historiography, book history and textual studies.

The WJC research archive is an interdisciplinary project that touches on literary and textual studies; art history; historiography; popular culture and folklore; music and of course the digital humanities. It is hoped that in addition to its collaboration with the existing Bodleian Broadside Ballad Database, it will also collaborate with similar projects for creating digital archives of other ballads and related texts in a single coherent manner.

One of the key research objectives in the creation of the WJC research archive is the development of a convenient visualization tool for the diachronic representation and scholarly analysis of a popular representation of kingship and English historical continuity. The strengths and limitations for this purpose of the printed ballad form are of particular interest. The archive, and associated research, show both continuities and departures from at least three other comparable forms: oral kinglists; manuscript genealogical chronicles; and iconographic picture­galleries. From its first publication (c.1634), The WJC incorporated up­to­date antiquarian research into the legal documentary sources of royal legitimacy. The text may also be framed within the comparative progress of philological and folkloric inquiry into the origins of national culture and tradition over its span of publication. The WJC research archive seeks to embed this largely forgotten text within a larger history – of historical writing and memorialising in oral, literate and visual cultures, between the antiquarianism of the early seventeenth and the romanticism of the early nineteenth centuries.

Project Outcomes
The main outcome of this project to has been the creation of an archive of the WJC text­tradition that facilitates the analytical comparison of its text and images. In one mode, the archive operates as a parallel­text edition, the usual way of representing a chronicle tradition in print, but greatly enhanced by the flexible display options afforded by digital publication. In particular this allows users to compare arbitrarily­selected transcriptions, revealing accidental, typographic and orthographic variation alongside more substantive literary insertions, emendations and continuations, including those supplied for ideological purposes. In another mode, the archive provides visualizations of surrogate images of original documents. 2 Certain editions are bibliographically related through historical relationships within the book trade, which is graphically revealed through publishers’ imprints and their use of variant states or copies of the same wooden printing­blocks. These relationships will be stated and made visible to the user, through a visualisation of the historical sequence of woodcut images, keyed to corresponding portions of the text.

A second but important outcome has been then provision of a complete citation of all known versions, editions and copies of the WJC tradition, creating common cataloguing standards for ballad texts in both broadside and chapbook formats that date from across the period. By drawing from materials held in various libraries, the project is promoting the importance of common cataloguing standards, scholarly collaboration and technical interoperability. The value of both bibliographically precise and semantically discerning cataloguing practices is demonstrated, at a time when the considerable promise of mass digitization is in danger of eclipsing the increasingly essential function of the authoritative scholarly catalogue. The WJC research archive engages with union catalogues such as OCLC WorldCat; the English Short­Title Catalogue; the Nineteenth­Century Short­Title Catalogue; and is promoting the idea of a common catalogue of British ballads and chapbooks.

While the majority of the technologies used in the creation of the WJC research archive are mature and stable applications, in other aspects it has had to be more innovative in the application and combination of new technologies and bespoke programming. The use of less­traditional digital humanities techniques will be demonstrated and explained alongside the poster.

It is hoped that in time the archive will be the centre­piece of a number of related projects about WJC. These include: a study applying image­recogntion techniques to woodcut illustrations, in partnership with Professor Andrew Zisserman (Oxford Visual Geometry Group); an analysis of the registration and publication history of broadside ballads; an exploration of means of visualizing genealogical structure via early­modern letterpress technology, in partnership with Mr. Paul Nash (Bodleian Library); research in the textual transmission of the ballad; and general researches in the genealogical and historical culture of the hand­press period (c.1450­1820). It is hoped that these projects based on the WJC research archive will bring together scholars of balladry, book history, textual studies and digital humanities, and impact wider audiences interested in history, genealogy, folklore and popular culture.

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Conference Info


ADHO - 2011
"Big Tent Digital Humanities"

Hosted at Stanford University

Stanford, California, United States

June 19, 2011 - June 22, 2011

151 works by 361 authors indexed

XML available from https://github.com/elliewix/DHAnalysis (still needs to be added)

Conference website: https://dh2011.stanford.edu/

Series: ADHO (6)

Organizers: ADHO

  • Keywords: None
  • Language: English
  • Topics: None