The Orationes Project

poster / demo / art installation
  1. 1. Anthony Johnson

    University of Oulu

  2. 2. Lisa Lena Opas-Hänninen

    University of Oulu

  3. 3. Jyri Vaahtera

    Turku University

Work text
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The Orationes Project is an interdisciplinary initiative intended
to bring an important unpublished manuscript into the scholarly
arena. The manuscript, preserved as Lit. MS E41 in the archive
of Canterbury Cathedral, was assembled by George Lovejoy,
the Headmaster of the King’s School, Canterbury, after the
English Civil War. The texts within it represent one of the
most substantial unpublished sources of English School Drama
from the period. As well as containing a previously unnoticed
adaptation of a pre-war play by a major author (James Shirley),
this large volume, comprising 656 folio pages and running to
some 230,000 words, includes a number of short plays and
dramatized orations written in English, Latin and Greek by the
scholars and staff of the King’s School. Some of these celebrate
the Restoration of Charles II to power or reconstruct the
famous ‘Oak-apple’ adventure by which he escaped his
enemies, during the Civil War, by hiding in an Oak tree. Some
re-enact the Gunpowder Plot, which nearly destroyed Charles
II’s grandfather, James I. And others engage with a wide range
of topical issues, from discussions of religious toleration, or
the teaching of classics and grammar in the Restoration, to a
dramatized dialogue between Ben Jonson and Richard Lovelace
and an alchemical allegory on the politics of state.
In the shorter term, the aim of the project has been to produce
a pilot study. To this end we have begun by transcribing the
main texts from the corpus and will produce a series of critical
studies of them. But due to the extensive size of the manuscript,
in the longer term, this forms part of a planned Digital Orationes
Project shared by the English Department at Oulu University,
the Department of Classical Cultures and Languages at Turku
University, and the Department of Religious Studies within the
University of Kent at Canterbury. With the aid of Graduate
research, these institutions will collaborate in the creation of
a digital archive which will make these exciting Early Modern
texts available (in parallel translation) to a wider audience. The
present poster represents our fi rst collaborative endeavour
within this digital enterprise.
Our aims are the following: a) to digitize this collection,
providing images of the manuscript and transcriptions of the
texts within it. We will also b) provide translations in Modern
English of the full texts in the manuscript; many of the texts
characteristically shift language from Latin (or Greek) in midfl
ow and thus warrant a Modern English translation. We intend c) to interlink the manuscript images with the transcriptions
and translations. Finally, we intend d) to make the corpus
freely available on line for scholarly purposes. The texts will
be marked up in XML and we will follow the TEI Guidelines.
We intend to make this digital archive searchable and hope to
make use of tools for the analysis of multimodal data created
at the Faculty of Engineering, University of Oulu. As part of
the pilot study mentioned above, we will begin by digitising
those texts that have been transcribed. This will give us a good
opportunity to produce a model by which to tackle the rest of
the texts, since we can link the manuscript, the transcription, a
translation and a critical study of the text. It will also give us an
opportunity to explore what kinds of functionality we could
or should include in the manipulation of the texts. We also
intend to make use of the experiences of the Scots project in
the use of the database model to handle the creation process
of the digital text.
We therefore feel that DH2008 would offer us a good
opportunity to discuss the project and its practices with
others who have already carried out similar projects. We will
also examine the best practices available online within related
areas – as witnessed, for instance, by the Emily Dickinson,
Lincoln and Perseus projects (
;; http://www.perseus.tufts.
edu/) – in order to fi nesse our search techniques and improve
access routes to our manuscript materials.
Within a Finnish context the Orationes project aims to
respond to Jussi Nuorteva (the director of the National
Archive Service in Finland), who has criticised the Finnish
Universities for their reticence in producing open access
digital databases and archives for the use of other researchers.
Hence, we plan to open up the Digital Orationes Project after
2009 on the same model as the Diplomatarium Fennicum
project – – (Nuorteva’s
own), which makes the Finnish medieval sources available for
researchers in a digitized form. In this way our project will
also be forward-looking: helping to position the activities of
Oulu’s English Department and Turku’s Classics Department
more fi rmly within the new domain of scholarship which has
been opened up by digital archiving.

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Conference Info


ADHO - 2008

Hosted at University of Oulu

Oulu, Finland

June 25, 2008 - June 29, 2008

135 works by 231 authors indexed

Conference website:

Series: ADHO (3)

Organizers: ADHO

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