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Reference: Leah Knight, “EEBO-Driven”: Ten Years of Test-Driving. In: Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, “Revolutionizing Early Modern Studies”? The Early English Books Online Text Creation Partnership in 2012:EEBO-TCP 2012.Citable link to this page:


“EEBO-Driven”: Ten Years of Test-Driving

Abstract: One of my happiest minor accomplishments after taking up my first job was to convince my faculty to invest in EEBO-TCP; since then, in part owing to its considerable expense and my role in sinking our ever-fewer dollars into it, I have made concerted efforts to integrate the database, in innovative ways, into every course I have designed and taught. I have, among other things, used this resource to:supplement or replace traditional textbooks;study “core samples” of print culture from particular years;compare editions of the “same” text or title across decades;provide rough copy-text for student-made editions;help students inform each other about contemporary contexts for syllabus texts;highlight the meaning of materiality in textual studies;compare digital mediations with “the thing itself” in our rare book room; anddemonstrate the potential and pitfalls of so-called “full-text” searching.Based on this variety of experiences I would like to offer conference delegates a modest assessment of what does and does not appear to work optimally with EEBO-TCP, in its current incarnation, in various pedagogical contexts. I will offer suggestions, in part based on my students’ comments and critiques, of which features might improve its role in the classroom and outside it. My primary aim, however, will be to share the nature and success of specific assignments and other pedagogical strategies for bringing out the best work with EEBO-TCP from students who can be remarkably, if selectively, technophobic (although they wrangle their smart-phones just fine) and who are often poorly prepared for working responsibly with the textual artifacts that EEBO offers or for understanding the degree to which those artifacts are mediated and transformed — inevitably, both for better and for worse — through their digital representation.I would also like to speak more broadly to my own distinctly mixed experiences as an early adopter and sometimes beleaguered champion of the database in a discipline more wary of change, technology, and large-scale (as opposed to piece-meal) expense than I used to know. I will therefore address the push-back I have experienced with respect to what one critic identified as “EEBO-driven” research and teaching. With this phrase in mind, I will contest the notion that the database can ever be the one in the driver’s seat; rather, EEBO is a vehicle that permits those willing to climb aboard to explore remote textual and historical places, and to reach and move across them at paces unprecedented before the adoption of this database, particularly by institutions and scholars who were formerly resource-poor with respect to rare books and other modes of access to early printed cultural remains.

Peer Review status:Reviewed and accepted by conference panelPublication status:Not Published

Bibliographic Details


Urn: uuid:0cd3dbab-1fd2-4678-8afd-6763152077b3 Item Description

Type: Conference paper;


Author: Leah Knight - institutionBrock University - - - - Bibliographic Details Identifiers Urn: uuid:0cd3dbab-1fd2-4678-8afd-6763152077b



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