Early Modern Graphic Literacies (EModGraL) is a four-year research project funded by the Academy of Finland (2021–25) and based at the Department of English, University of Turku, Finland. We study the use of graphic devices in early English printed books in order to shed light on the development of vernacular graphic literacies and early strategies of data visualisation.

The early modern period was characterized by a rapid increase in literacy and a diversification of readers. New audiences were exposed to new genres and ways of presenting information – not only through text and illustrations but importantly also through tables, diagrams, and other graphic devices. EModGraL aims to chart the status and diversity of graphic literacies in early modern vernacular literary culture by studying graphic devices in English books from the 1470s to the end of the 18th century.

EModGraL has three main objectives: 1) to map the distribution of different types of graphic devices in different kinds of books and to develop a new framework for their classification; 2) to determine how target audience and topic influence the use of graphic devices; and 3) to establish how linguistic information and graphic devices work together in the context of the page and the whole book, for example through captions and reader instruction.

Collectively, our results will show what kinds of graphic literacies were associated with graphic devices and how these literacies developed in 1473–1800. Our findings will also contribute to the history of graphic representation of information in books targeted at vernacular readers and elucidate the role of graphic devices in the transmission of knowledge.

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