The primary texts of this project emerge from the historic backdrop of Early Modern England, specifically during the lifetime of the Duchess of York, Anne Hyde (1637-71). I am interested especially in how Anne’s conversion narrative transitions from a letter circulated to her friends, to a printed broadside that is reproduced numerous times and generates a body of intense theological debate. Anne is an obscure historical character. I believe that an inquiry of the writing she produced and inspired will add much needed dimension to her biography.
The corpus of writing I’ve described above is now held by libraries and archives around the world. Many of these institutions are involved in digitization projects that allow electronic access to these texts. How do the archives that hold these Early Modern works remediate material culture? How do these systems foster serendipitous discovery? What impact do these methods have on the research scholars have done in the Early Modern field? In the case of Anne Hyde, can we trace a network of digital objects within and across distinct archives that further extends or emulates the manuscript culture she participated in during her lifetime?
These questions are posed at an intersection of Early Modern literary studies, media theory, and information science. What I think makes this project unique, and risky, is the desire to compare the networks generated between digitized texts with the court circles that acted as literary ecosystems, developing manuscripts in relative isolation and then exchanging texts when they intersect. The attempt to make this comparison may very well fail; however, I believe it is still an important question to ask as it compares systems of knowledge storage and acquisition. The architects of our digital world can still learn from the analog networks of the past, in fact they may have more in common than ever suspected.
This project would not be possible without the mentorship and guidance of my project advisor, Professor Lena Orlin. Dr. John Buchtel, director of Special Collections at Georgetown's Lauinger Library, introduced me to the world of rare books and manuscripts and encouraged me to explore Georgetown's impressive collection. Scott Taylor, manuscript curator, and Ethan Henderson, rare books curator, provided invaluable assistance during countless of hours of pouring over books and documents at Georgetown's Booth Family Center for Special Collections. Lisette Motano coordinated the imaging of documents from Georgetown's collection. Melissa Jones aided in historical research. I would also like to thank Professor Patrick O'Malley, Professor Kelley Wickham-Crowley, and Professor Susan Pinkard for their support and encouragement throughout the development of this project. Professor Matthew Pavesich directed the Capstone program and without him none of this would be possible. A very special thanks to my loving wife Nora and our ever-loyal dog Bard, who stood by me through all of the late nights, computer crashes, and unkempt beards.
Matt Kelly graduated from Georgetown University's English Literature Master's Program in May 2017. This site is one of the program's Capstone projects. Matt received his BA in English and History from Muhlenberg College in 2011. He is a graduate of the US Navy's Officer Candidate School.
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Charles, II. Copies of two papers written by the late King Charles II together with a copy of a paper written by the late Duchess of York: to which is added an answer to the aforesaid papers all printed together. Dublin: Jospeh Ray for Rob Thornton, 1686. Early English Books Online. Web. 9 May 2016.
Clarendon, Edward Hyde, Earl of. Two letters written by the Right Honourable Edward, Earl of Clarendon, late Lord High Chancellour of England. 1680. Early English Books Online. Web. 10 December 2016.
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“Folder 12” Milton House Archives, Box 3. MS. ca. 1670. Georgetown University Library, Washington, DC.
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