Rare Book School

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2013–2014 RBS-UVA Fellows

The RBS-UVA Fellowship provides undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Virginia with scholarships to attend RBS courses that substantially inform year-long projects (viz., a Distinguished Major’s thesis, an article, a dissertation chapter, an exhibition) that they submit to RBS upon completion. The 2013–14 cohort of RBS-UVA Fellows includes:

Audrey Birner

CLAS '14, Department of Spanish
Textual History and Physical Reality: the First Edition of Jorge Luis Borges' Fervor de Buenos Aires

I would like to start by thanking everyone in at Rare Book School who has helped me to do an in-depth study of Jorge Luis Borges' Fervor de Buenos Aires over the course of the past two semesters. This is a text that I have been interested in examining since the beginning of my third year when I realized that the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library has two first edition copies of Borges' earliest and most controversial book of poetry in its holdings. I have been lucky enough to take two courses through Rare Books School that have informed my analysis of this work. The first was Joel Silver's Reference Resources for Researching Rare Books. This course offered me invaluable resources for understanding the printing and publication history of this little-discussed Borges work. I was also lucky enough to take "Books as Physical Objects" with Professor David Vander Meulen during the fall of 2013, which gave me the tools to appreciate the text and physical features of the book itself. These courses have not only offered me great insight into the historical and physical characteristics that make Fervor de Buenos Aires unusual, but they have also given me the incredible opportunity to learn more about Rare Book School and its operations. The nuanced perspective of Fervor de Buenos Aires that this project has lent me has also impacted my undergraduate thesis on the metaphoric transition that Borges undergoes between the first and second editions of Fervor de Buenos Aires. Thank you again to RBS for this incredible opportunity and learning experience.

Katelyn Durkin & Jeremy Evans

Ph.D. students, Department of English
Digital presentation of the first edition of David Walker's Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World (1829)

This digital presentation of the first edition of David Walker's Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World, but in Particular, and Very Expressly, to those of the United States of America (1829) allows users to view scanned images of each page and read a fully searchable transcription of this abolitionist tract. Because the first edition has never been reprinted since 1829 and only eight copies are known to exist, this digitization grants scholars and students unprecedented access to this rare text. Infamous and incendiary, the Appeal contests contemporary notions of American history, Christian doctrine, and racial difference as Walker assails both pro-slavery and colonizationalist arguments.

With its focus on XML encoding and digital project management, David Seaman's Rare Book School course XML in Action: Creating Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) Text enabled this collaborative project by introducing us to the available tools and resources for creating digital editions. Moreover, this class introduced the conceptual debates that surround all digital text creation: questions of textual fidelity and interpretation, scholarly import, and user accessibility and ease. Our decisions regarding markup and presentation attempt to balance these concerns. Using the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) Guidelines, we have indexed Walker's various names for persons, places, texts, dates, and organizations. In allowing readers to view these identifiers both listed collectively and individually in context, this digital edition is an interpretive tool for tracking subtle changes in Walker's labyrinthine logic. In addition, the scanned images of the Appeal's first edition copy housed at the University of Virginia's Special Collections Library offer users a high-quality visual representation of this rare and typologically distinct text and allows for a more comprehensive experience with the Appeal than the transcription alone.

Claire Eager

Recipient of the 2013–14 Betsy and Stuart Houston Prize

Ph.D. student, Department of English
"So many strange things hapned me to see": Myths and Mysteries in the Illustrations of A Theatre for Worldlings (Dissertation section)

My RBS course, The Illustrated Scientific Book to 1800, prompted me to expand the book history component of my dissertation, "Virtual Paradise: Poetic Inheritances, Colonial Aspirations, and the Architectures of Early Modern Gardens," in which I analyze how encounters with horticultural and architectural publications and real gardens of the time helped English Renaissance writers from Spenser to Milton construct poetic garden spaces described as Paradise. Roger Gaskell's analytical techniques have helped me better understand the formal qualities, production histories, and probable receptions of such books and to identify and understand connections between them and the literary texts I study, themselves sometimes accompanied by emblematic images of uncertain origin. My research on these books is ongoing, and my RBS experience has also been instrumental in my securing opportunities to visit the rare book collections of Dumbarton Oaks and the Folger Shakespeare Library in the summer of 2014. Thus my dissertation will continue to be enriched by the fruits of the RBS-UVA fellowship for some time to come.

My project, drawn from the first chapter, attempts to unravel some of the uncertainties that have surrounded a book commonly known as A Theatre for Worldlings (1569), famous for containing Spenser's earliest published works but equally notable as the first book printed in England to be illustrated with etchings (in the Dutch- and Frenchlanguage editions of 1568). Analyses of these illustrations have been hampered by plausible misconceptions, long since corrected but nonetheless persisting in the general literature. The detailed understanding of book production I learned at RBS has enabled me to take a fresh and holistic look at the bibliographical evidence, crucial to my own research into the origins of Spenser's "Paradise." I have attempted to reconcile prior studies, make some new claims, and provide a resource for future scholars of Spenser and of the history of illustrated books in England.

Stephanie Kingsley

2013–14 RBS-UVA Fellowship Project Honorable Mention

M.A. candidate, Department of English
Mercedes of Castile: a Digital Edition

The RBS course XML in Action, taught by David Seaman, was vital for me to complete my project: Mercedes of Castile: a Digital Edition. The course taught how XML works, what it is capable of, and how to use it to mark up texts. The core of my project ended up being just that: using XML to encode the text of Mercedes with the readings of multiple witnesses, with a diplomatic transcription of the manuscript, and with interpolated proof stages. I also learned to assign types to different elements, which meant I could color-code the variants for the sake of studying patterns in the way Cooper's text changed over the course of editions. Additionally, I learned how to mark up the text for structural features, such as block quotes and paragraphs. Thus, I was able to control the look of my edition.

To begin work, I used Juxta to output a raw XML file based on my Juxta collations. My time in XML in Action enabled me to understand the structure of that very complicated-looking document, adapt it for my purposes, and add a myriad of details to it. In order to actually create the edition I envisioned, I then needed to style the XML using XSLT and apply JavaScript to make the edition interactive. Although we did not cover those skills in XML in Action, the course did provide me with an understanding of XML that enabled me to make that jump. The course was thus an essential foundation for what I wanted to build, and I'm thrilled at what I was able to put together and look forward to learning more. Thank you so much for this wonderful opportunity.

Natasha Mikles

Ph.D. student, Department of Religious Studies
Illuminating the Tibetan Book of the Dead: A Descriptive Bibliography of MSS 14259 and its Place in the Historical Production of Tibetan Books

Building on the foundation provided by participating in the Rare Book School course Printed Books to 1800: Description and Analysis, taught by David Whitesell, I was able to produce the first detailed examination of a Tibetan book as both a physical and textual object. Printed Books to 1800: Description and Analysis allowed me to develop a critical eye towards examining a Tibetan book as a physical object, while also providing me a foundational knowledge in the specifics of analyzing a book bibliographically, including papermaking, woodblock carving, and type analysis. With the assistance of course instructor David Whitesell, I then built on the expertise and analytical skills acquired through the course by uncovering resources on the particularities of Tibetan paper, ink, and woodblock production—including translating several resources directly from Tibetan for the benefit of future scholars. Most importantly, however, David Whitesell's course and the RBS experience provided the necessary knowledge and relationships to receive a $24,000 Jefferson Trust grant to organize the Symposium on the Tibetan Book, which will happen in conjunction with the Rare Book School November 6–8, 2014. Through this Symposium—which will bring scholars studying Tibetan printing practices and book production from around the country to Charlottesville and Rare Book School to discuss their research—I hope to continue the conversation surrounding the burgeoning field of Tibetan bibliography and invite more voices from both the fields of Tibetan studies and Bibliography to participate.