The title page II

One recognizes a blossoming scholarly field when the number of results for ”paratext” when searching through a conference program (such as the list of abstracts of the Renaissance Society of America conference in Berlin) exceeds the number of consecutive sessions, and you realize that you will not be able to attend all papers of the theme you are interested in. I did, however manage to attend a number of the papers devoted to Renaissance Paratexts.


The view from room 213 at the Altes Palais, RSA 2015

The conference opened with an excellent selection of such papers in the Altes Palais of Humboldt University, in a double panel on Paratexts of Printed Translations in Early Modern England. For a non-English scholar, in the sense of both language and discipline, it was a humbling experience. Paratext scholars display an impressive  attention to detail, a dizzying mastery of metaphor and virtuoso eloquence. This abundance is all the more stupefying when one knows she is about to commit an act of analytic barbarousity and crude simplification, and treat title pages as simple units to be counted.

Title pages, as wonderfully shown in Brenda M. Hosington’s presentation on “Sixteenth-Century English Printers and the Nature of the Translated Title Page”, and as elaborated in McConchie’s programatic paper, call for a multi-modal approach not only because of the explicitly visual elements in them- such as frames, emblems and flowers – but also because of the intricate semiotics of layout and typography. Digitizing title pages into plain text meaning to strip them of multiple rich semantic layers.

And it is not even that digital and quantitative methods necessitate this ignorance of graphic detail. As the Culpepper project shows, digital and quantitative study of title pages can be attentive to almost microscopic details and pay heed to multiple semiotic layers. To my defense, however, when analyzing  Early Modern title pages by trying to “reverse engineer” and extract information from many thousands of TCP texts, we cannot take out of them more than was put in there to begin with. Without the intricate annotation scheme of the Culpepper project, the TCP title pages give us only shapeless words, and so, to start with, we can count them:

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 4.47.41 AM

EEBO-TCP+ECCO-TCP average words per title page

For the same panel, Guyda Armstrong has used an ingeniously simple method for distant reading of title pages: the handout of her talk on title pages for Decameron translations until 1620 included 25 thumbnail images of title pages, diachronically ordered, which were mostly too small to read, but enabled a broad ”Morettian” view of the trends in title page design. One striking trend was the gradual growing density of the page, peaking in the 1670’s, with a sudden drop back to clearer, more concise title pages after 1982.  The very same plot reveals itself in the graph above, from which, we also learn that the density stabilized towards 1600 for three decades, and then a second significant rise occured untill peaking around 1650.

Graphs are only the starting point of understanding. It is up to us to interpret them: we may dismiss such statistical upheavals as whimsical permutations of aesthetic preferences and fashions, or address them more seriously as aesthetic negotiations: an attempts to attract the potential readers’ attention visually, while at the same time attract them through the content; or as the interplay of the dilemma between font size and amount of information publisher wished to display. This too does not provide an explanation of the specific diachronic plot.  It might be worthwhile to turn to the history of the printing industry, market and technology in search of explanation. Perhaps the rise in the numbers of printed titles and the competition on the readers/buyers retina made publisher realize that less is better? Or that once the race on the refinement of printing technology exhausted itself, printers stopped adding details and moved to try and distinguish their title pages through other means? but then, why the second rise towards 1650, this time up to an average of 100 words in title pages?
As also shown by Brenda Hosington , the growth in density in 16th century title pages was coupled with the intensification of the linguistic content. We will have to wait for a combined approach for this phenomena before speculating more seriously on its causes.

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The title page I

Of the various kinds of Early Modern paratext, the title page attracts a fair amount of scholarly attention, and rightly so. To start with, it is the part most replete with information – metadata – about the book, the author, the time and place of printing. It is often also the most visually attractive. Both these characteristics stem from the “Sitz im Leben” of the title page: Early Modern books were often sold – and displayed – in an unbound form, so that the title page served as the first encounter with the book not only of the reader, but also of the potential buyer at the shop . Thus, the title page is a paradigmatic paratext: a threshold to the book, an intermediary, mediating space.

We could divide kinds of paratexts to two very broadly construed types. Of the first are tables of contents, running heads or chapter headings –  paratexts that can be seen more as mechanisms of framing the content, managing it, steering it and through it. These are ‘inward-facing’ paratexts, so to speak. Of the second type are those paratexts that face outwards, be they dedications, notes, “by the same publisher/author” pages and their sort. Of course these are not hermetically distinguished groups; paratexts may serve both functions, only sometime the one more than the other. In this respect, the title page is a typical ‘outward facing’ front matter, standing on the book’s – or shop’s – display,  inviting people in, boasting, soliciting, calling for attention.


Title page of A Concent of Scripture (1588) by Hugh Broughton.

This function of the title page makes it especially appealing for those who wish to know the external surfaces and spaces around the book: the intellectual marketplace, the literary agora, the place and functions of books in their cultural, historical surrounding.

Since Early Modern times, the title page is ubiqutuous in Front Matter, to this day. We will very rarely find an Early Modern English book that contains any front matter but has no title page. So much so that in fact we need to revisit the picture presented in the previous post. There, the plot seemed to have shown that frontal matter became prevalent in the 18th century. If, however, we break the category of “Front Matter”, and check separately for title pages and for other types of front matter, we find that what we saw earlier was actually the history of the title pages rather than of frontal matter at large. As the figure below shows, other types of front matter behave rather differently: we see a sharp decline towards 1640, when less than 30 percent of what was published contained frontal matter other than front pages, and a very gradual recovery over the following decades.

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 10.17.33 PM

The difference between the prevalence of the title page and that of other types of paratexts in front matter, and especially the sharp sink at the 1640 is clearly shown when compared to a total of books with front matter, rathen than to the entire TCP corpus:

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 10.02.39 PM Why does the title page fare differently than other frontal paratext?

The solution presents itself when one looks at the full half of the glass, namely, when one looks at 1640 not as a drop but rather as a rise; as a sudden abundance of the kind of text that has a title page but no other paratext. Indeed, “In 1641 England experienced a culture shockan explosion of small cheap books and broadsides reporting, commenting upon, and manipulating public events. That pamphlet culture waxed and waned until the Restoration, by turns more and less seductive. This impact of the civil war on the world of English texts is apparent also in two graphs made available by Early Modern Print, that show a sharp rise around 1640 in the annual number of texts, and at the same time a steep decline in the number of words per year.

These flutters in the graphs are not an unsignificant, temporary anomaly in the cardiogram of the world of print; they are extremely significant, as they mark the advent of a short text form. The pamphlet, the short form of  Early Modernity is predecessor of the newspaper article (as it is, in a way, of the academic journal article), and it is the short form which serves as the carrier of the modern public sphere. As Michael Mendle writes (ibid), “…it always remained a cultural presence, providing the greatest common denominator of public experience“.

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Back and Front Matter in the TCP corpora

‘Paratext’ may refer to various parts in, around and about the text. In his famous formula — “Paratext=Peritext+Epitext” — Gerard Genette famously included in his category ‘epitextual’ materials, namely those that are outside the boundaries of a book (or other container of the text, such as manuscript or webpage). Thus, for example, ‘paratext’ may also refer to correspondence or interviews which relate to the text.  Peritexts, on the other hand, are closer chaperons of the text: running heades hover above the page, notes and other marginalia in its side or foot, scholastic marks may infiltrate between the lines, corrections bluntly interfere with them. In fact, ‘paratext’ is often used to denote even aspects of the text that are only very abstractly separable from it, such as design and typography.

 In what comes next, however, I treat the rather paradigmatic paratext that is to be found in the separable front or back of the Early Modern book, as it is found in the EEBO and ECCO corpora and can be explored in the Text Creation Partnership texts. Conveniently, the TEI guidelines have “Front”, “body” and “Back” as the basic sections in the default structure of the text, and this enables us to mine this paratextual phenomena and look at the corpus as if we are looking at the structure of the one grand book of the 16th-17th century, and can then compare it to the grand book of the 18th. Here is how they look:

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 4.27.17 PM

Only about two thirds of EEBO-tcp books have front matter, whereas the ECCO-tcp corpus differs significantly. Front matter in the 19th century is pervasive. The trend is clearer when visualized chronologically:

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 4.27.28 PM

If we trust our data, it seems that the structure of the book and especially the convention of front matter stabilized only in the 18th century. What made front matter so obligatory around 1600, and then again from 1700 onwards?

Theories about front matter the transition from a system of patronage to the market of book consumers, or on the other hand, front matter and the construction of the modern author, in its defiance against authority are relevant, but they are much better discussed on the background of more refined analyses, treating separately the various genres of front or back matter. We will get to this later; at this point there is still a more general issue to discuss, which rises when we chose to ask the opposite question: what may have caused so many books in the 1550-60, almost half the books in 1680 to have no front matter?

And this is my concern: corpora can be mischevious. They mesmerise us with the allures of big data, but may sometimes trick us, miners, to believing that the data we get is History-given, when they are in fact what Ben Schmidt describes as “data artifacts” of the quircks of materiality, institutional history or cataloguing choices. These quircks often lurk in other historical layers than those which we study.  This is when trying to conclude from peaks and lows in the data mined, we need to develop hermeneutics of corpus suspicion. Starting with the realization that our data is really capta, we then need to divert some attention from our historical subject matter to other places and periods, and get to know the captors of our data/capta- those who assembelled it, stored it, catalogued, classified and tagged it, before we laid our tools on it.

Getting back to the charts above, a question comes to mind, that should be directed to book historians: is it possible that at least partly, the low point of frontal matters that we see in 1550-1560 and then in 1680, are traces of preservation history? that at times, front matter or back matter were not deemed worthy of preserving and therefore never reached the digital corpus?  We often see this neglect of paratext, especially allographic (namely, written by someone other than the author) when text is transfered to the digital medium.  Could it be that someone, somewhere, at some time in the last two or three centuries, perhaps when rebinding, selling, or storing – wanted to save space, and simply chucked the pages from the fronts of books?

“There’s nothing wrong with being wrong”, writes Ben Schmidt. “To tap into all that knowledge out there, we need to be wrong in public, quite frequently”. I’ll take his advice and hope  someone would comes forward and settle this doubt.

There is, in fact, something else that is misleading in the charts above. This will be the subject of my next post.

And now too the recipe:

Again, the full scripts and the results can be found on my GitHub, this time in the Back and Front matter folder. Here I put only the gist of the python script:

front_general = input_root.findall(‘.EEBO/TEXT/FRONT’)
back_element = input_root.findall(‘.EEBO/TEXT/BACK’)

if (front_general !=[]) and (back_element !=[]):
      coverstate= “both”
elif front_general !=[]:
     coverstate= “frontonly”
elif back_element !=[]:
     coverstate= “backonly”
     coverstate= “none”
text_file.write(‘%-30s\t%s\t%d\t%d\n’ %(doc_id ,coverstate, year, decade))

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Plotting paratexts 01: extracting dates

Before I move on to the main issue of this blog, and lose those of you who do not share our Paratextomania, you might find the following useful if you wish to analyze the TCP corpora. As historians, one of the first things we would like to know about any piece of information – be it a use of a word, a text, a trend – is its date.  In the case of the Early Modern TCP annotated texts, this means we would have to extract this information from the <DATE> tag in the header. The path to its location in the header is:

‘FILEDESC/SOURCEDESC/BIBLFULL/PUBLICATIONSTMT/DATE’ (and not to be confused with the transcription <DATE> in the file description).

In this Github folder you will find the scripts I used to extract the information, along with their results.  One word of caution to those of you with programming knowledge and experience: you may be appalled by what you may find in my Github. I am not a programmer, and my scripts are a patch work of my struggling with the code, and some help from my friends (thank you Shay Rojanski and Harel Cain!) who bear no responsibility to any of my mistakes or inelegances. I will be most grateful for any corrections and improvements, and even more so if you allow me to share them! parses the files, and calls two functions from another script, . The getyear function partly cleans the dates from text and punctuation marks, and recognizes cases where the date is given as range, with alternatives, put in question or unclear. The results are given in two text files (TSV) and an excel sheet, ordered by:

file-number/ title /year as it appears in the text/ year/ extracted/ decade. For example:

Screen Shot 2015-01-01 at 10.22.29 AM

In fact, if one is only interested in the dates of certain titles, or even the distribution of the corpus’ texts over time, there is no need to go through the trouble: the Metadata on all TCP texts has been made available on the TCP github (thank you Sebastian Rahtz, James Cummings and Joe Wicentowski!).  EEBO-tcp (including phase 2) was also nicely visualized on the Early Modern Print text mining platform.  Gleaning years and decades from the texts is useful mainly if there are other variables in the corpus that we wish to date, that are not in the metadata, nor extractable from the words of the raw texts (in which case the various interfaces for EEBO-TCP may be of use).

Another reason to take our information from the TCP files, is if we wish to see the dates as they appear in the annotated texts, unnormalized. As we can see below, more than 10% of the texts were given as range, as questionable or with possible alternatives:

Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 8.04.19 PM

The difference between the corpora is minor: A larger percent of the 18th century books were given a range of date, in the form dddd-dd. This mainly comes to remind us that differences between corpora should always be treated more suspiciously, as they might merely reflect changes in annotation policies – or habits.

Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 8.08.36 PM Screen Shot 2015-01-01 at 10.15.38 AM

What do we do with more than tenth of the files, which cannot be accurately and exactly dated? Some may chose to handle them differently, normalize them or use the normalized dates in the metadata tables. I chose to take them out of my corpus and proceed only with the 90% of the corpus that have exact, certain dates.

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Happy New Year and Public Domain Day!


I use these hours, when 2015 is already here, but still lingering on its way westward, as a festive opportunity to start a blog which I will dedicate to Early Modern paratexts. I imagine it as a series of notes from a Digital Humanities scholarly journey, in which I will tell the story of how I started to look for the Critick and his Envie, found them in the land of paratexts and stayed there to explore the surroundings; in which I will mainly discuss paratexts, more specifically frontal matter, and especially those of Early Modern English, but through them would also ruminate about the interface between what it is that we do in the humanities and between digital tools and methods; I will screw and play around with tools, always the absolute beginner that I am, and hope that other kids in the block will come play with me; And I promise that anything we come up with will be shared here.

But what is so special about these hours?
Soon, as 2015 will rise on the headquarters of TCP, the Text Creation Partnership, an enormous annotated corpus of the Early English Books Online will enter the public domain. EEBO-TCP opens endless opportunities not only for digital scholarship of English language and history, book history and Early Modern times; it is also a rare example of a corpus of humanities data (well, we’ll discuss this term too, but yes, data) that is both big(ish) AND very smart . Thus it is an excellent test case to explore the pros and cons of the practice of encoding texts in the humanities, in particular using XML mark-up according to the guidelines of the TEI, the Text Encoding Initiative.  It is a laboratory for watching the interplay between painstaking manual work and the fast and blissfully blind analysis by machine.

The entry to the public domain of the EEBO-TCP texts, already hashtaged as #EEBOliberationday, is wonderful news for digital humanists everywhere, but especially so if like me (marked with a green star in the map below) they reside outside the Anglophone realm. The map below shows the points of access to (any of the) TCP collections as they were just yesterday:

Map of TCP partners, according to .

This map is not brought here to complain: without the partnership model that supported this enormous and important endeavor it would never have come through. And the map makes some sense too: one should not be surprised that the corpus of Early Modern English language is available only in Anglophone countries (well, and Helsinki), as this is where English language and history is studied most intensively. It is thus more important for  libraries and institutions in these countries to have this access and they would be those more motivated to contribute to it – and obtain access to it. It does, however, bring to mind a rather prickly issue with regard to scholarly resources in the digital age.

Allegedly, the world wide web offers redemption from parochialism. Internet transcends, in most cases, national borders, and facilitate an open network of knowledge. Granted, vast areas and populations are still isolated from this network of knowledge by what has become known as “the digital divide“, but on our side of the divide, in our web-wide world, we are all together in global unity. Or so we would have wished.

But beyond that great wall that keeps less developed countries, or those less socio-economically fortunate outside the digital world, there are, in fact, other digital divides, walls that separate and isolate, walls that meander throughout the fertile lands of cable or wireless abundance. One such wall is the one demarcating the academy through its privileges of access. Scholarly resources are purchased by libraries and not by individual scholars and students, thus creating equality of access, at least for the members of those institutes that can afford them.  There is, however, another side to this fortunate coin of institutional subscriptions: it creates a non-permeable membrane that keeps knowledge and the academy in, and ‘the public’ — out.  Other fortunate, well meant initiatives are national funding schemes such as JISC, that avail their resources throughout the country. This model too has the price, that knowledge will be fenced in national borders.

Similar predicaments ensues even when such academic, institutional or national borders are not set in advance, but by a simple logic of demand: those institutions, or countries, that are interested enough in a language, a culture, a discipline, will pay and grant their members access. It might even make sense to us because our interests in scholarly resources, and in language resources, often aligns well with our nationalities or institutional affiliations. And our interests will remain so, because resources of other nations, of other disciplines, languages and cultures are not present anywhere in our own warm and cosy pool of digital resources.

Parochialism is no more a problem of those who are locked outside, in the prairies of no-access, than it is of those locked inside. Languages, cultures, their resources and scholarship, are at risk of becoming parochial if they are not studied also from outside and from afar. But then comes open access that enables knowledge to escape this fate and transcend so many of these walls that we build. This is what is celebrated on the day of public domain, when cultural knowledge is allowed to flow and multiply.


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Early Modern Paratexts – storyfied highlights

Early Modern Paratexts 2013 was a one-day conference which brought together researchers and readers interested in early modern paratexts. The event was held at the University of Bristol on 26 July 2013, and sponsored by the University of Bristol’s Department of English, the Society for Renaissance Studies, and BIRTHA (Bristol Institute for Research in the Humanities and Arts).
I wish I could be there, but gladly, we have the STORIFY version! (expand post to view)

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HASKAMAH (Askamah; Heb. אַסְכָּמָה ,הַסְכָּמָה; “agreement,” “approbation”), in Jewish literature, a term with several meanings: (1) Rabbinic approval and approbation of the legal decisions of colleagues, usually attached to the original legal decision and circulated with it. These haskamot sometimes amplify the original, by including additional sources and pointing out implications. (2) In the Spanish and later also in the Italian and Oriental communities, the term was used for the statutes and ordinances enacted by the communities (see*Ascama). (3) In the philosophical literature of the Middle Ages, “consensus,” “harmony between entities,” “pre-established harmony” (see Klatzkin, Thesaurus Philosophicus 1, 185–6). (4) More commonly, the recommendation of a scholar or rabbi to a book or treatise.
JVLThis entry [by Moshe Carmilly-Weinberger, from the Encyclopaedia Judaica, © 2008 The Gale Group, on the Jewish Virtual Library website] deals with the last meaning.

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A curse in Arabic against book thieves

(From a copy of Dāʾūd Al-Anṭākī’s Taḏkirat)

 A blog post from Adam Mccallum of the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library, in HMMLorientalia

Saint Mark’s Monastery, Jerusalem, 235 is a thick tome containing Dāʾūd Al-Anṭākī’s (d. 1599) Taḏkirat ulī ‘l-albāb wa-’l-ǧāmiʿ li-’l-ʿaǧab al-ʿuǧāb (The Reminder for Those with Understanding, and the Collector of Prodigious Wonders), a lengthy and thorough medical work divided into four sections with an introduction and epilogue, in Garšūnī; there are a number of manuscripts of the work known, but as far as I am aware, other than this copy they are all in Arabic script. This Jerusalem manuscript is dated 1757 AD and 1171 AH. In the margin of the next-to-last page someone has written (in Arabic script, unlike the text in the manuscript itself) the following:

Screen Shot 2013-02-07 at 10.08.03 AM


Property of the monastery of the Syrians in honorable Jerusalem. Anyone who steals or removes [it] from its place of donation will be cursed from the mouth of God! God (may he be exalted) will be angry with him! Amen.

This curse against would-be book robbers is hardly unique in Arabic — I have seen a number in the collections at HMML in both Arabic and Garšūnī — and similar warnings are well known in other traditions, too. From Paris Gr 301, for example, Elpidio Mioni (Introduzione alla paleografia greca [Padua, 1973], 85) cites Εἴ τις δὲ βουληθῇ ἆραι τοῦτον κρυφίως ἢ καὶ φανερῶς, ἔχῃ τὰς ἀρὰς τῶν ιβʹ ἀποστόλων καὶ κατάραν εὕρῃ κακίστην πάντων μοναχῶν, “Should anyone wish to take this [book] secretly, or even openly, he will get the curses of the twelve apostles and find the worst anathema of all the monks!” Interested readers will find a wealth of (mostly Latin) examples in Marc Drogin’s delightful work Anathema! Medieval Scribes and the History of Book Curses (Totowa and Montclair, New Jersey, 1983).

Any other such gems, in any language, you’re aware of?



On Dāʾūd Al-Anṭākī see GAL II 364 and GALS II 491-492. Wüstenfeld (Gesch. der Arabischen Aerzte [Göttingen, 1840], 158) calls the Taḏkirat “ein grosses Werk über die gesammte theoretische und practische Medicin” and Leclerc (Hist. de la médecine arabe, vol. 2 [Paris, 1876], 304) says it “embrasse la majeure partie de la science”. Much more recent, there is an entry on Dāʾūd by Raphaela Veit in the Encyclopaedia of Islam, 3d ed. (available online by subscription), with bibliography.
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Culpeper’s legacy: How title pages sold books in the 17th century

Tyrkkö, Jukka Jyrki Juhani, University of Helsinki, Finland,
Suhr, Carla Maria, University of Helsinki, Finland, carla.suhr@helsinki.fiMarttila, Ville, University of Helsinki, Finland,

Presentation at the Digital Humanities Conference, Hamburg 2012:

Source: Lecture2go,

Nicholas Culpeper (1616–1654) was the best known name in seventeenth century medical publishing in London and is listed in the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC) as the author of more than 230 books and as the translator of dozens more. An apothecary, man-midwife, and astrophysician, Culpeper is best remembered as the translator and editor of the London Dispensatory (1649), an unlicensed and best-selling translation of the Pharmacopoeia Londinensis, the official medicine book of the Royal College of Physicians. However, modern scholarship tells us that Culpeper was only partly responsible for his prodigious and lasting success. Much of his fame can be attributed to the efforts of his many publishers and printers, who over several decades turned the name Culpeper into a commercial brand by reprinting, reissuing, and frequently misrepresenting the author’s relatively few authentic works (see McCarl 1996; Furdell 2002). During his lifetime Culpeper became one of the first names in scientific writing that could sell books. Books bearing his name were widely published throughout the eighteenth century, and sporadically to the present day.

This paper takes the case of Culpeper as a pilot study of title pages as a form of advertisement. Extra copies of title pages were commonly printed as flyers and posted on booksellers’ stalls, hung on cleft sticks, or tacked to walls (Shevlin 1999: 48). In the seventeenth century, the title page – including the title of the work – was largely the domain of the bookseller and printer (McKerrow 1928: 91; Shevlin 1999: 52), making title pages a part of what Genette calls ‘publisher’s peritext’ (1997: 16). In this paper we investigate the typographic and text-structural features of the title page in books attributed to Culpeper. The work builds on an earlier pilot study (Tyrkkö 2011) that identified the systematic nature in which printers and publishers made commercial use of not only the name Culpeper, but also the paratextual features of his previous books in an effort to emulate the style of his authentic works.

To enable the structural and typographical analysis of these title pages, the title pages of all books listed from the period 1649-1700 that mention Culpeper’s name and are available at the British Library, Cambridge University Library or Wellcome Trust Library were transcribed and annotated for structural parts and named entities, as well as for visual features such as layout, graphic elements, and different typefaces and font sizes thereof. The annotation process started with the taking of close measurements, down to one fifth of a millimeter, of the aforementioned elements from original artefacts, and was completed using digital facsimiles from Early English Books Online (EEBO).

The annotation scheme is based on the TEI P5 Guidelines for Electronic Text Encoding and Interchange, using elements from the Core, Default text structure, and Names, Dates, People, and Places modules to annotate the textual structure and named entities, and elements from the Core, Representation of primary sources and Tables, Formulæ, and Graphics modules to annotate the visual layout of the title page. For the purposes of annotating the typographical layout with sufficient accuracy and consistency, we have developed an experimental system for annotating the different typefaces and their sizes, using the ’rend’ attribute and a controlled value set. This system – which is based on relating the size of the different typefaces used on the title page to the absolutely measured ’base type’ of the text – is intended to combine the benefits of absolute and relative measurement and to alleviate the difficulties caused by working with digital facsimiles, such as unknown scaling factors and distortion of proportions.

The quantitative analysis related the visual and structural features of the title pages to the bibliographic and sociohistorical parameters of the texts – such as stated target audience, format, identity and geographic location of the publisher and printer, publication year (whether before or after Culpeper’s death) and the known relationship of the text to Culpeper. This data is imported into a database together with the abovementioned bibliographic and sociohistorical data, obtained from the ESTC, the British Book Trade Index (BBTI), the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ODNB) and earlier book historical research.

The database of paratextual, bibliographic and sociohistorical data will be queried using methods of multivariate analysis to identify relationships between the physical features of the title pages and the variables of their production histories. The analyses will reveal diachronic trends in the design of title pages bearing the name Culpeper, and bring to light the underlying factors which influenced the decisions regarding the physical presentation of the texts and to highlight the different means used by printers and publishers to market their products. More specifically, this allows us to reconstruct a timeline of how the commercial brand of Culpeper was created and identify which features of the title page were specific to the brand, which were typical for the time and which were specific to particular publisher’s or printer’s house style. The findings will be examined in light of broader book historical scholarship on such features in an effort to distinguish features specific to the corpus of Culpeper books.


Early English Books Online (EEBO).

English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC).

Furdell, E. L. (2002). Publishing and Medicine in Early Modern England. Rochester: U of Rochester P.

Genette, G. (1997). Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation. Tr. by J. E. Lewin. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.

McCarl, M. R. (1996). Publishing the Works of Nicholas Culpeper, Astrological Herbalist and Translator of Latin Medical Works in Seventeenth-Century London. Canadian Bulletin of Medical History / Bulletin canadien d’histoire de la médecine 13(2): 225-276.

McKerrow, R. B. (1928). An Introduction to Bibliography for Literary Students. 2nd impression with corrections. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ODNB).

Shevlin, E. F. (1999). “To reconcile book and title, and make ‘em kin to one another”: The evolution of the title’s contractual functions. Book History 2(1): 42-77.

TEI Consortium, eds. TEI P5: Guidelines for Electronic Text Encoding and Interchange. Version 1.9.1. Last modified 5 March, 2011. TEI Consortium. (Accessed 31 October, 2011).

Tyrkkö, J. (2011). Selling Culpeper: A case study into the use of title pages in seventeenth century commercial publishing. Presentation at SHARP 2011, Washington D.C., July 14-17, 2011.


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