Almost exactly two years since the first EModGraL workshop it was time for the research team and our collaborators to gather again in Turku for a second full-day workshop, which took place in the newly renovated Arcanum building (and on Zoom) on Friday 3 November. The day was full of invigorating discussions on different kinds of graphic devices and their research.
We followed the 3-session format established in the first workshop. The first session was devoted to questions related to data. We discussed the EModGraL data gathering process and our finalised typology for classifying graphic devices, recently published. The second important topic to discuss was the challenge of combining our data collected from the two databases, EEBO and ECCO, as each database provides a slightly different set of metadata with which we operate. Thirdly, as we are planning to open our research data for other researchers after the project, we discussed some of the practical, legal and ethical questions that need to be taken into account.
The second session after lunch was reserved for discussing draft versions of two in-progress research articles. Aino Liira and Wendy Scase presented their draft of an article on metatext concerning tabular displays. Sirkku Ruokkeinen and Outi Merisalo presented their work on graphic devices and typographical practices in early modern English military manuals.
In the third session, Matti Peikola (et al.) and Mari-Liisa Varila presented on-going research, after which some time was reserved for general matters and wrapping any loose ends. In practice, these two halves of the session were somewhat intertwined and discussion remained lively until the end.
Our final, important topic to discuss was the graphic literacies conference we’re planning for 2025. More information will follow shortly!
September marked the halfway point of our four-year project. Let’s look back into the past academic year and see what we have been up to.
Thousands of graphic devices
We completed the sampling of the EEBO data, i.e. the years 1473-1500, 1521, 1546, 1571, 1621, 1646, 1671, and 1696. From these years, we have analysed all books printed in English that are contained in EEBO. Altogether this amounts to ca. 4,300 books and 510,000 pages! The overall number of graphic devices we have found and classified in this material is ca. 25,300. We are eager to do further statistical analyses and publish the results.
Out of curiosity, it could be mentioned that the highest number of graphic devices encountered in a single book is 1,353 devices! The book in question is Samuel Jeake’s arithmetical work Logistikēlogia, or Arithmetick surveighed and reviewed published in 16961 (the full title is monstrous enough to be hidden in a footnote). As you can probably guess, this book mostly contains arithmetical notation.
Our team has been busy working on publishing the research results. In February, we announced the publication of Matti Peikola and Mari-Liisa Varila’s article on late medieval English calendars; in the meanwhile, another article by them, discussing reader instruction in Middle English tables and diagrams, has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Historical Pragmatics. Our team-authored article on the EModGraL classification model has likewise been accepted and is forthcoming in Studia Neophilologica. The edited collection Graphic Practices and Literacies in the History of English (with chapters written by EModGraL team members as well as collaborators) is in progress and will be submitted to the publisher later this autumn.
Our team members are currently working on articles addressing topics such as captions (Varila), braces (Peikola & team), graphic devices and paratextual matter (Sirkku Ruokkeinen & Outi Merisalo), and metatext associated with tabular devices (Aino Liira & Wendy Scase), to name a few.
The EModGraL team members have attended various conferences and other events to present and discuss their research. In January 2022, Aino Liira attended the first national Research Symposium for Early Career Historians on the History of Science and Learning, where she presented the results of a study co-authored with Matti Peikola and Marjo Kaartinen on ‘visual chronologies’ in Early Modern English books (to be published in the Brepols volume). Later in February, Aino and Matti also discussed this topic in a Studia Generalia lecture hosted by TUCEMEMS. In July, the EModGraL team (along with some other Turku colleagues) travelled to Sheffield, UK, for the 22nd International Conference on English Historical Linguistics. Of course, our researchers have also participated in smaller but still important events and meetings throughout the academic year. For instance, Aino and Sirkku presented their research at the Research Day of the School of Languages and Translation at the University of Turku in the spring.
Research visits, collaboration and teaching
Last autumn we were happy to host James Titterington’s two-month research visit to Turku, funded by the Turku University Foundation and the EModGraL project. The collaboration on a research article continues after his visit. Around the same time as James arrived, Aino started her three-month visit to London and the University of Birmingham.
In the spring term, we offered a team-taught course ‘Early Modern Multimodal Practices’, available for students at the Department of English and other language departments. We had a small group of students but all of them were highly enthusiastic. The course included classes on early modern printing, the use of online databases such as EEBO and ECCO, paratexts, and multimodality in different domains and genres, such as science, religion and handbooks. We also paid visits to the University of Turku Library and the Donner Institute Library where our students had the chance to see and handle rare books. Our students enjoyed these practical, hands-on sessions tremendously, and they were a rare treat for the teachers as well!
Onwards to the second half of the project
At the moment we’re looking forward to a second workshop with our collaborators, to be held on Friday 3 November. Based on our good experiences from the first workshop, we’re expecting a day full of invigorating discussions. Time will be reserved for discussing article drafts and presenting on-going research as well as discussing the current stage of our quantitative survey of graphic devices.
Plans are also underway for an international conference on the themes of graphic devices and graphic literacies in 2025 – stay tuned for more information!
Text: Aino Liira & Matti Peikola | Photos: Aino Liira
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1. Jeake, Samuel. Logistikēlogia, or Arithmetick surveighed and reviewed: in four books. Viz. 1 book 1 part intergers. 2 part fractions. 2 book 1 part geodæticals. 2. part figurals 3 book 1 part decimals. 2 part astronomicals. 3 part logarithmes. 4 part coffics. 5 part surds. 6 part species. 4 book 1 part ratios. 2 part proportions disjunct. 3 part proportions continued. 4 part Æquations. Wherein the nature of numbers absolutely abstract, generally and specially contract, with their simple and comparative elements, are plainly declared, and fully handled. Every part furnished with such necessary rules, cases, theoremes, questions, observations, and varieties of operation, as principally to them belong, ... and delivered in so familiar a style, as may befit mean capacities, and if practically applied, become more than ordinarily useful both in mechanical and mathematica arts and sciences. By Samuel Jeake senior. London: printed by J.R. and J.D. for Walter Kettilby, 1696. Wing J499.
Our EModGraL team and other philologists at the Turku Department of English will be strongly represented at the ICEHL this year. The 22nd International Conference on English Historical Linguistics takes place at the University of Sheffield, 3 – 6 July 2023. Below we will give a brief overview of our papers to be delivered at the conference. For the full abstracts, see the book of abstracts published on the conference website.
The conference programme includes three papers discussing research done as part of the EModGraL project.
Vice-PI Mari-Liisa Varila will give a paper entitled ‘Captions and caption-like elements related to graphic devices in early modern English medical texts’. She analyses the relationship of the text and the graphic devices and identifies the different purposes that captions and caption-like elements served in medical texts, such as identifying the device or providing the reader with instructions.
The paper by Aino Liira and Wendy Scase (University of Birmingham) will focus on various table-like elements and the vocabulary surrounding them (title: ‘Tables, lists, rules and accounts: Tabular “graphic devices” in Early Modern English books’). In this paper, they take a closer look at items which have been tentatively placed under the category of ‘unclear tables’ in the EModGraL data collection process, and aim to find out how such graphic items were conceptualised by early modern authors and book producers.
Sirkku Ruokkeinen’s paper ‘“With diuers Tables annexed for the present making of your battells”: Paratextual framing of graphic devices in sixteenth-century military works printed in England’ discusses the use and framing of graphic devices in sixteenth-century works addressing military strategy and education. She particularly focuses on the title-pages and paratextual front matter of the books, where the graphic devices were advertised and discussed in order to promote the work.
The EModGraL team members and our colleagues at the English department are involved in several interesting research projects, and we decided to take the opportunity to introduce these as well.
Hanna Salmi will give a paper closely related to the EModGraL research interests. The title is ‘“I think my self obliged to place three Figures here together”: Framing graphic elements in 18th to 19th century dance manuals’. In this paper, she draws into focus an under-researched genre of dance manuals, which featured many kinds of graphic devices and visual notation. To shed light on the use of these graphic elements which supported verbal dance instructions, she examines how they were framed and explained to the reader.
Scribal practices are discussed in a joint paper by Peter Grund (Yale University) and Matti Peikola, entitled ‘Colonial orthographies: Uses of the ampersand in the legal documents from the Salem witch trials’. Their research reveals that there were clear differences in how the recorders at the Salem witch trials (1692–3) used the ampersand and the Tironian et (⁊), as opposed to the written-out and. They also show that several linguistic and extralinguistic factors played into this variation. Their paper is part of a broader project on the orthographic features of the witch trial documents.
Sara Pons-Sanz (University of Cardiff) and Janne Skaffari’s joint presentation ‘Orrm’s French- and Norse-Derived Terms’ is part of a workshop focusing on the Ormulum, a sermon collection from the late 12th century. In this paper, Janne looks at the French-derived words, many of which represent the lexical field of faith.
The research project ‘Between Science and Magic’ (@titaraproject; PI Mari-Liisa Varila) is represented at the conference by Ida Meerto, who presents some results of her PhD study in a paper entitled ‘Genre and Subject Matter in the Use of Words for Witches in Old English Prose’. She focuses on a selection of the most commonly occurring words, discussing how the word choice depends on the genre or register of the text but also on the temporal and geographical setting of the narrative.
We’re looking forward to an invigorating conference experience and many interesting discussions on the history of the English language!
Text: Aino Liira & the authors named Photo: Johanna Rastas
Arguably, there is no better time to visit a Nordic country than late May. It’s starting to get lush and green again after the long winter, and people seem to have more spring in their step. After two years of isolation due to the pandemic, it definitely felt exciting and fun to be able to travel again.
I had the pleasure of visiting the Department of Languages at the Linnaeus University, Växjö, Sweden for a week to collaborate with Prof. Jukka Tyrkkö on EModGraL research. Originally, I was supposed to be in Sweden for several months, but the pandemic turned my mobility period into a mostly virtual one. Prof. Tyrkkö and I have been meeting on Zoom throughout this spring, so it was nice to be able to actually visit Växjö at least once.
Prof. Tyrkkö and I have mostly collaborated on two topics: the quantitative methods used in the EModGraL project and the case studies related to graphic devices in early medical writing (work packages 1 and 2 of the project). During my stay in Växjö, we gave a joint seminar paper on the EModGraL project in the Higher Seminar for Languages. I met several colleagues from the department, many of them working on topics related to translation studies or teaching/learning English. I also learnt the basics of JMP (statistical software).
Although it would have been nice to stay in Växjö longer, this experience proved that a mainly virtual mobility period can still be very useful. My previous long stays abroad have mainly consisted of working in libraries holding special collections, and in those cases, it would have been impossible to replace an actual visit with Zoom calls. This time, Prof. Tyrkkö and I mostly collaborated on methods and joint publications, which could be done reasonably well on Zoom. We also talked about the university and how things are run there, so when I was finally able to visit, I already knew a lot about the department.
I would definitely recommend this kind of virtual mobility for those situations where it makes sense. By virtual mobility I don’t just mean a random Zoom call but rather sustained collaboration over a specific period, for example three months or a year, focusing on a specific topic or research project. Virtual mobility is also sustainable and affordable, and may sometimes be more feasible for researchers with family.
Having said all that, there are obviously many things that cannot be done via Zoom. Chatting with colleagues over coffee or bakad potatis med skagenröra, spontaneous lakeside walks, campus tours, quick visits to local tourist attractions, and other such experiences are not easily replaced by virtual substitutes. I’m very glad to have been able to visit Växjö this month, and I’m grateful to Prof. Tyrkkö for all his help and hospitality before and during my stay.
On Friday 26 November, the EModGraL research team and our key collaborators gathered together in wintry Turku (in person and via Zoom) to discuss the tentative typology of graphic devices we are developing for our materials.
There are several modern typologies used for graphic devices that offer a helpful starting point for us, but we have not yet found a classification that would be directly applicable to our early printed materials. We are therefore working on developing a typology for the purposes of the project. In the first stage, the typology will be rather simple, consisting of a few main categories that enable us, for example, to distinguish between diagrams, tables, and pictures. In the first stage of data collection, our research assistant will categorise graphic devices in our dataset according to this typology. In the next stage, we will develop a more nuanced categorisation of the data based on what we find in our materials.
The workshop begins. Photo: Outi Merisalo
Our workshop was organised as a one-day intensive event with three sessions focused on different aspects of the tentative typology. In the first session, we introduced the project and our data collection procedure. We also discussed the various categories we intend to exclude from our dataset. The second session focused on the categories of figures and tables, while the third session was concerned with ‘general images’ or pictures.
The discussion was lively throughout the day, and we received plenty of useful comments and feedback on our tentative typology. After the workshop, we had dinner together in the 17th-century cellars of a local restaurant.
Our discussion was mainly based on samples of material from 1596 and 1696. The books from these years form the core of our pilot dataset, and we expect them to contain enough material to provide us with a workable initial categorisation.
While it has thus far been relatively easy to categorise most of the graphic devices in our data from the first pilot year, 1596, some cases have proved tricky. For example, while we exclude tables of contents from our quantitative dataset, what should we do with a table of contents that is organised as a horizontal tree diagram?1 In other words, when collecting data, should we prioritise function (a table of contents should be excluded) or form (a horizontal tree diagram should be included)? This question is at the core of many of the problematic cases we discussed in the workshop. There are no easy solutions, so we will have to find compromises that are good enough for the purposes of our project.
The data workshop took place at exactly the right time considering the timeline of the whole project. We expect that our tentative typology will change and develop during the project, but it was very useful to compare notes at this early stage to ensure that our data collection procedure is feasible and that the tentative categories are helpful in terms of the later stages of the project. We are grateful for the expert advice and insightful comments provided by our collaborators!