Category Archives: Project Updates

Digital Prosopographies Workshop: Podcasts and Slides Now Available

Podcasts, slides, and brief write-ups from our recent workshop on Digital Prosopographies: Case Studies in Online Collective Biography (Monday 29 July, St Anne’s College, University of Oxford) are now available in our Resources section. Predicated on the idea that the insights and methodologies of prosopography – or, the ‘investigation of the… characteristics of a historical group’ – underpins much social network analysis, the event brought together eight European projects to explore case studies, standards, and best practices relating to the electronic capture and representation of people, biographies, social and professional relationships, and their underlying sources. Findings will feed into the development of a more sophisticated prosopographical toolset within Early Modern Letters Online and the development of a series of prosopographical visualizations, focusing in the first instance on the epistolary communities around Samuel Hartlib and Jan Amos Comenius, in 2014.

Join the Team: We’re Now Hiring a Hartlib Research Fellow and a Digital Project Manager!

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Deadline extended to Friday 23 August!


We’re excited to announce two full-time, fixed term job opportunities with the Project, available from 1 October 2013. Do you love early modern letters? Would you like to work for one of the University of Oxford’s largest and most exciting digital humanities enterprises? If so, read on…

Research Fellow: The Correspondence Network of Samuel Hartlib (c.1600-1662)

The first opening is for a Research Fellow (12 months) to work on the correspondence network of the seventeenth-century intelligencer Samuel Hartlib (c.1600-1662). Building on the findings of Dr Leigh Penman during the first phase of Cultures of Knowledge, and working closely with Professor Howard Hotson, our Comenius Research Fellow Iva Lelkova, and a Digital Humanities Research Fellow, the successful candidate will pay particular attention to the detailed prosopographical reconstruction of Hartlib’s epistolary community with a view to populating new biographical fields and relationships within Early Modern Letters Online. For further details of this post and to apply online, head along to the University job site.

Digital Project Manager

The second opening is for a Digital Project Manager (15 months) to coordinate all aspects of the Project and to run its diverse international team of editors, research fellows, and systems developers. Reporting to Project Director Professor Howard Hotson, and supported by a part-time administrator, the successful candidate will make sure all aspects of Cultures of Knowledge are delivered on time, to spec, and on or under budget, with particular reference to the ongoing development and population of Early Modern Letters Online. They will also take a lead on all Project reporting (narrative and financial); event planning and delivery; and marketing and dissemination (both online and offline). For further details of this post and to apply online, head along to the University job site.

The closing date for both positions is noon on Friday 23 August. We have other posts in the offing; to stay informed of these, please sign-up to the blog’s RSS Feed, Follow Us on Twitter, or join our Mailing List. If you have any queries about the above positions, e-mail, or call +44(0)1865 615026. We look forward to hearing from you!

Tangents and Taverns: John Wallis and The Case of the Vintners in Oxford, 1674

John Wallis (1616–1703) is best known to early modern intellectual historians and fans of Cultures of Knowledge as an archetypal Republic of Letters polymath; Oxford’s Savilian Professor of Geometry, a gifted cryptographer, and keeper of the University Archives who corresponded extensively with the leading continental luminaries of the age. The letters reproduced in Volume IV of The Correspondence of John Wallis (OUP), to which our Research Fellow Philip Beeley is putting the finishing touches, largely reinforce this impression. The missives find the mathematician embroiled in abstruse conversations with Francis Jessop, Christiaan Huygens, Rasmus Bartholin, and Leibniz about methods of tangents, the rectification of the cycloid, and the reinvigoration of scientific meetings at the Royal Society. However, I was intrigued when Philip told me that many of the letters in this volume reveal that in early 1674 Wallis was sucked into an epistolary controversy of an altogether more worldly kind: a bitter dispute over an Oxford tavern.

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Open-Sourcing EMLO-Edit: Code for our Editorial Interface Now Available on GitHub!


We are pleased to report that the complete code base of EMLO-Edit, the editorial interface for all of the metadata underlying Early Modern Letters Online, is now freely available for reuse on GitHub. Built from scratch by our Founding Developer Sue Burgess from Bodleian Digital Library Systems and Services (BDLSS), EMLO-Edit is a powerful, user-friendly editorial environment for describing, tagging, and managing letter records, including facilities for uploading images, dealing with people and places, merging duplicate records and metadata, user management, full version histories, and exports. The resulting data provides an ideal basis for front end applications in a variety of languages (we’ve used Python/Pylons but you could also develop, say, a Rails application). The code is ready for deployment, and includes full installation instructions for setting up a working version on your own servers; we will be adding a bit more documentation on how to customize the code for your own purposes, but in the meantime grab it while it’s hot, and let us know if you make use of it!

Celtic Connections: Roderick O’Flaherty’s Letters Published

Richard (third left) presents a copy of the edition to the Irish President (second left) at at a reception at Aras an Uachtarain earlier this week.

We are excited to announce the publication by the Royal Irish Academy of Roderick O’Flaherty’s Letters to William Molyneux, Edward Lhwyd, and Samuel Molyneux: 1696-1709, edited by Professor of Diplomatic at Oxford (and CofK Steering Committee member) Richard Sharpe. A copy of the edition was presented to Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland, earlier this week.

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Detail from Portrait of Cornelis de Bie at age 81, by Hendrik Frans Diamaer. 1695–1726, engraving (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam).

Intellectual Networks in the Long Seventeenth Century: Booking Open

Booking is open for Intellectual Networks in the Long Seventeenth Century, a conference taking place at Durham University on 30 June2 July 2013 under the auspices of Durham’s Centre for Seventeenth-Century Studies. The event explores the many novel varieties of intellectual exchange which emerged across Europe and the Atlantic world during the early modern period, and in particular promises to be 2013’s foremost feast of learned epistolarity. Among several great-looking sessions on correspondence, our very own Howard Hotson will be delivering a keynote talk on ‘Electrifying the Via Lucis: Communications Technologies and Republics of Letters, Past, Present and Future’, while we will be participating on a panel entitled ‘Electrifying the Republic of Letters’ with our good friends Professor Antony McKenna from St Etienne (Correspondance de Pierre Bayle) and Professor Charles van den Heuvel from Huygens ING (Circulation of Knowledge and Learned Practices in the Seventeenth-Century Dutch Republic). Further details and programme on the conference webpage, while here’s the booking form. Hope to see you there!

Ghosts in the Machine: (Re)Constructing the Bodleian’s Index of Literary Correspondence, 1927–1963

With the first phase of our Project at an end and our second phase now well underway, it seems an appropriate moment to look back at our work thus far on EMLO and to return to the dataset that lies at its core: the ‘Index of Literary Correspondence’ in the Bodleian Library, a card catalogue which occupies an imposing set of wooden filing drawers at the ‘Selden End’ of the Duke Humfrey’s Reading Room.

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CofK Spin-Off Site: The Travel Journal of Martin Lister

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Our former Martin Lister Research Fellow Anna Marie Roos has recently launched a small but perfectly formed spin-off site Every Man’s Companion, or An Useful Pocket-Book: The Travel Journal of Dr Martin Lister (1639-1712). Funded by a British Academy small grant, the site brings to life the notes kept in an almanac by Lister during a medical peregrination to Montpellier in 1663, and includes the text of the journal (rendered as a blog); supporting material from Lister’s memoirs and correspondence; a cross-referenced index of people, places, and books; and some sumptuous photographs taken by Anna Marie when she retraced Lister’s steps in the summer of 2011. Anna Marie discusses the project in this paper delivered at our 2011 conference Intellectual Geography: Comparative Studies, 1500-1750.

The Century That Wrote Itself: CofK Fellow on BBC Documentary


Leigh Penman, our former Samuel Hartlib Postdoctoral Fellow, was recently in action on the prestigious BBC Four documentary The Century That Wrote Itself. Presented and written by author Adam Nicolson, the show explored a wide variety of seventeenth-century scribal and reading practices by means of a series of beautifully shot and edited case studies. One of these was Samuel Hartlib, and Leigh headed to a café on the concourse of St Pancras International to be interviewed by Adam about the intelligencer’s epistolary contributions. The programme is still available on the iPlayer; the Hartlibian section starts at 37:30. Project Director Howard Hotson also advised, while Leigh talks about the size and descent of Hartlib’s archive in this podcast.

The CofK Diaspora: New Horizons for Former Fellows

Been There, Got The T-Shirt: Our Digital Editor Kim McLean-Fiander has swapped out Early Modern Letters for Early Modern London

The talented community of students, postdocs, and research fellows who made our first phase between 2009 and 2012 such a success have gone on to exciting new things. Kelsey Jackson Williams, our John Aubrey Doctoral Student, has taken up a Stipendiary Lectureship at Jesus College; Leigh Penman, our Samuel Hartlib Postdoctoral Fellow, has returned to his native Australia with his growing brood to take up a prestigious Research Fellowship at the University of Queensland; our Edward Lhwyd Research Fellow Helen Watt is now back at the University of Wales working on the Place Names of Shropshire Project; our Martin Lister Research Fellow Anna Marie Roos is now Senior Lecturer at the University of Lincoln; our John Wallis Research Fellow Philip Beeley remains Associate Faculty here in Oxford and is pursuing exciting funding opportunities around the English mathematical intelligencer John Collins; while our Digital Editor Kim McLean-Fiander (pictured in her EMLO finery) is now weaving metadata magic as a Postdoctoral Fellow on the wonderful Map of Early Modern London project at the University of Victoria. Iva Lelkova, our Prague-based Comenius Postdoctoral Fellow, continues with the Project, and will soon be joined by a brand new Hartlib Postdoctoral Fellow and a Digital Humanities Postdoctoral Fellow. Could this be you? Join our Mailing List, Follow Us on Twitter, or stay tuned to the Blog (or its Feed) to stay informed!