Watching Luther: a prequel to three public talks

On Halloween, 1517, nearly 500 years ago, Luther posted up his debate text on the doors of the Wittenberg Castle Church. Was Luther’s text inflammatory? Composed in Latin, its direct capacity to inflame was limited to his literate peer group. Continue reading Watching Luther: a prequel to three public talks

SHARP 2017: Technologies of the Book

The following abstract has been [Edit: March 2017:] accepted for SHARP 2017: Technologies of the Book (9-12 June, Victoria, BC). It will be part of a panel under the common title “Reading and writing to disk: Sheffield and Books in the Digital Humanities”. Continue reading SHARP 2017: Technologies of the Book

Tools for EEBO-TCP & the challenge of reproducibility

After a gap in posts, this is a somewhat epic effort, following up on a “Language and Society” seminar with University of Sheffield History students this morning. Alongside an overarching interest in “reproducibility”, it contains:

  1. A description and tips for EEBO-TCP tools including the main Continue reading Tools for EEBO-TCP & the challenge of reproducibility

Under the surface: SHARP, LDNA and sundry sources

When I drafted my abstract for SHARP, I recall a keen sense that my doctoral work was very closely tied to the conference theme, and that—being then in an early stage of the Linguistic DNA project—it was harder to anticipate what LDNA outputs might best speak to the 2016 theme “Languages of the Book”. As others will recognise, a 20-minute conference paper often skims over details of process in favour of content. In this post then I want to reflect on how I brought together LDNA with my own prior research. Continue reading Under the surface: SHARP, LDNA and sundry sources

Friendship by correspondence

As you may or may not know, I’m an old fashioned, traditional kind of guy who rejects not only 1990s culture, but also that of most of the twentieth century with discernible vehemence–my use of letters and telegrams rather than telephones, quill pens and ink instead of biros or word processors, and my incessant ramblings pertaining to how things were when everything was fields and you could hang your key outside your front door without a single worry–those were the days!

[M.F.E. Bruce. From a letter postmarked 3 August 1997; in response to my writing ‘having just read a Jane Austen novel’.] Continue reading Friendship by correspondence

Lost books and Archbishop Parker



“Keeping printers busy and rich was a far more effective assurance of loyalty than any regime of censorship. [. . .] To understand the economy of print is not to turn one’s back on the world of ideas. It is a necessary prerequisite to understanding that world.” 1

As the past tense of that first sentence suggests, in this post I’m moving away from contemporary politics and back into the world of book history. Yet reading these words from the close of Pettegree’s “Legion of the Lost”, I found myself translating his remarks to the present. Continue reading Lost books and Archbishop Parker

Sheffield’s Brexit, Hard Evidence and Anecdotes

Vote remain: placard on window sill

For weeks I’ve been feeling an inarticulate kind of anger. No one cared to canvas in the former heartlands.

The current post is prompted specifically by the “anecdotal evidence” in Charles Pattie’s contribution to The Conversation. In the footnotes to what follows, you will find some additional information Sheffield’s demographic extremes. The main post provides direct anecdotal evidence from someone who works for the University of Sheffield (like Pattie), but lives on the city’s north eastern fringes.

Continue reading Sheffield’s Brexit, Hard Evidence and Anecdotes

One year on

22 April 2015: It was a bright sunny morning and the taxi driver was keen to impart his tricks for the best route into town. (Look, no traffic lights!) It was also the day I was offered the job on Linguistic DNA.

Before Linguistic DNA, I looked to EEBO-TCP to provide context for shifts in the language of bible translation. It was quantifiable language data, enabling me to work out a loose comparison between the first century of English print (-1569) and the fifty years that followed (-1619) and so sample language change between Continue reading One year on