I'm pleased to announce the web publication of a project I've been
working on for fifteen years: English Poetry 1579-1830: Spenser and
the Tradition. This (mostly) full-text database tracks literary
genealogies in English poetry from Spenser to the romantics, containing
well over a million lines of verse (bare-bones text) linked to criticism
and biography for over a thousand writers.
The URL is http://englishpoetry.org/
The project attempts full enumerations of significant series of poems --
works in Spenserian stanzas, dialect pastorals, imitations of Spenser
and Milton, Collins and Gray, Burns and Byron -- enabling scholars to
track developments in English poetry in an unprecedented degree of
detail. Since the larger point is to relate traditions in writing to
traditions in reading, the database also attempts to trace the critical
reception (or neglect) of all the poems and authors included.
"English Poetry" differs from most other literary databases in ways that
I hope will make it particularly useful to literary historians, such as
gathering in one place work by English, Scottish, Irish, and American
writers. The poems are indexed by topic, genre, and verse form, and are
linked to biographical and demographic information so that one could,
for example, search for imitations of Gray's Elegy composed by American
poets, Cambridge graduates, or associates of Thomas Warton. The
database is designed to allow easy movement between a poet's verse and
what they had to say as a critic of their peers and predecessors.
Perhaps it will prove most useful as a copious source of material about
major and minor writers drawn from out-of-the-way sources.
I would welcome the assistance members of the list in correcting errors
and filling in omissions. Like other projects undertaken by overweening
antiquaries this one has its quirks, but with your assistance I will try
to make it more accurate, intelligible, and up to date than it would
otherwise be. If you find it useful, please drop me a line: a case
needs to be made to the university that publishing a database equivalent
to publishing a book. It's certainly more labor-intensive!
new year's greetings to all,
Department of English
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