You know the situation: it’s Friday night again, and that means you have to wait 2 whole days before you get to go to class again. It’s the most depressing evening of the week, Friday, as you bleakly contemplate the arid expanse of the weekend. You’ve read all of your books; the Library itself is only open for a few hours on Saturday. None of your friends wants to chat about imagery in, say, Paradise Lost. What’s a body to do? A lesser mortal might be tempted to eat tortilla chips and watch Red Dawn on Netflix, but you are no such person. No: you crave the deeper stimulation that only comes from compendious bibliographic databases with supple search features.
Well, I bring you glad tidings. Recently, Van Wylen Library picked up 3 new additions to our growing collection of electronic databases. If you are wearing socks, you might as well take them off now, because these new resources will certainly make you lose them. Allow me to elaborate:
Fun fact: if you have more than 1 doctorate in Europe, you are entitled to preface your name with all of them. For example, let’s say your name is Piper McFadyen, and you have 2 PhDs. You could call yourself “Dr. Dr. McFadyen” without making anyone suspicious. Well, guess what: some uber-elite academics do have multiple PhDs, and one of those folks gave birth (intellectually) to Iter Italicum.
His name was Paul Oskar Kristeller. Over the course of a long and distinguished career as a scholar of the Renaissance and philosopher, Kristeller gradually compiled the most exhaustive index known of Renaissance humanistic manuscripts. Now digitized, this resource includes materials he found in collections across the globe. It is a remarkable tool for finding well known and obscure primary texts – and now you, too, can search it.
Poet? Philosopher? Activist? Troublemaking rapscallion? John Milton continues to defy the procrustean bed of our contemporary classifications. I can almost imagine what you’re thinking as you read this. “Oh, great,” you might be saying to yourself, sarcastically, “just what I need. Even more spilled ink about Milton. Somebody get me some valerian root so I can calm down.” Well, just hold on there, Snarky, and let me clarify.
This thoroughly cross-referenced database indexes each manuscript and every edition of John Milton’s works, in addition to all known commentary (including references to Milton, imitators of his style, and biographical sketches) that were produced during and shortly after his lifetime. It thus offers access to windows on Milton and his work that are rare in their temporal proximity to the man himself. This database is like a time machine, except that it actually exists.
Think Jane Austen was the original English woman of letters? Guess again, Mr. Knightly: this database will introduce you to a new universe of English women authors who took up the quill when Ms. Austen was hardly a distant twinkle in some wool manufacturer’s eye.
Many of the wordsmiths you’ll find within this database might be new to you, and you might find some whose work played important roles not often included in standard literary or cultural timelines. One of the most valuable qualities of this bibliographic database is that it not only provides references to a wide variety of resource types, but also to frequently overlooked perspectives on English history.
– Patrick Morgan, Research and Instruction, Humanities Librarian