Friday, August 26, 2011

Hacking Zotero for early modern German Studies

Since April, I've been using Zotero, and the more I use it the more I like it. I'm letting Zotero manage all the bibliography, notes, and citations for the ever-expanding Wilhelm Friess project, and it's helped the writing go very quickly. Just today I discovered that text entered as prefixes and suffixes to citations will recognize some basic HTML tags, so you can italicize text if needed for foreign-language citations or book titles.

I had a few complaints about the available citation styles, however. I prefer Chicago style using short footnotes and bibliography, but no "ibid." For citing early modern editions, I think it's important to include an ISTC or VD16/17 number to unambiguously identify the edition, but there was no easy way to do that within Zotero. You can add it by hand, but that defeats the purpose of Zotero.

Solution: Create a new style by hacking the chicago-note-bibliography.csl file to suppress "ibid." and add ISTC/VD16 numbers to citations.

Suppressing "ibid." only required removing some lines of code. I added VD16 numbers to the "Call number" field of the bibliographic records because I don't see any way for Zotero to actually access the "Extra" field. Then in the CSL file, I added the following in the "macro" section:
<macro name="STC index">

<text variable="note">
(Updated to reflect helpful comments from adam.smith.)

The "bibliography" section was easy. I just added this line before the various "locators" (which means "page numbers" for books):
<text macro="STC index" prefix=". ">

The "citation" section was trickier, because Zotero wants to place commas in between everything. I had to remove the line that set the group delimiter to a comma, and then change the rest of the lines to the following:
<text macro="contributors-short" suffix=", ">

<text macro="title-short">
<text macro="STC index" prefix=" (" suffix=")">
<text macro="point-locators-subsequent" prefix=", ">

It's kind of an ugly hack, but now my footnotes look like this:

Pflaum, Ettlich weissagung (VD16 P 2401), f. b2r.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

This just in from the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin

One of the RSS feeds I regularly follow is the list of newly digitized works from the SB Berlin. Because its focus is on the eighteenth century, I haven't found many new sources for my research. Today, however, the SBPK sent me a link to Die Holländische Sibillen Weissagung von viel wunderbare Zukunften, welche von Anfang bis zum Ende der Welt besagen (VD18 1188259X), which is dated 1750 (I assume "ca. 1750," since I don't see any obvious reasons to date the work to that year).

The title sounded promising, and in fact the content is familiar. The booklet of four leaves contains the prophecy of the Sybil Nichaula, followed by extracts from Birgitta, Methodius, and Reinhard. Nichaula is the "thirteenth Sibyl," which had appeared as a separate booklet as early as 1515 and was then incorporated into the sibylline collections. Christian Egenolff's sibylline collections place Nichaula immediately after Prophecies of the Twelve Sibyls beginning in 1531, and the next year Egenolff added the source of the other texts, the Extract of Various Prophecies (itself going back to Lichtenberger's Prognosticatio and Grünpeck's Speculum) immediately after Nichaula. The newly digitized pamphlet is a descendant of one of Egenolff's prophetic collections.

The edition in question states on the title page that it follows the "Amsterdamer Exemplar," which is an interesting case of Egenolff's collection making its way into the Netherlands (in what form and when still unknown). The text does not appear to be a translation back into German from Dutch, however. The excerpts are shortened quite a bit, so that Nichaula's prophecy omits all of the Antichrist material, and the other bits derived from the Extract of Various Prophecies omit the "Sermon of the Holy Man in 1508 in France."

Friday, August 5, 2011

Abstract: "Reading Fragments: Romantic Philology, Visual Perception, and the Inner History of Reading"

This is the abstract I submitted for the paper I'll be giving in September at the German Studies Association conference in Louisville, Kentucky, in the session "The Cognitive Turn in German Studies (1)." I'll be the official respondent for session (2).

Abstract: "Reading Fragments: Romantic Philology, Visual Perception, and the Inner History of Reading"

While there has been considerable work in recent decades on the social history of reading, the “inner” history of reading has seen little progress or has been declared an impossibility (for example, Bickenbach 1999). This paper proposes one way to approach the cognition of reading diachronically by connecting philological and poetic practices. One of the basic experiments for studying the role of visual perception in reading involves obscuring parts of letters, words, or sentences, and then observing how readers nevertheless successfully decode the text. Such experiments have led to the currently prevailing connectionist models of reading, which see visual, aural, and semantic cognitive structures operating simultaneously in the reading process. These experiments slow down and make conscious acts of decoding that are usually unconscious and automatic. It is therefore noteworthy that the rise of scholarly philology in the 18th and 19th centuries involved much the same exercise in the form of editing manuscript fragments and attempting to reconstruct original texts and codices. Furthermore, this philology coincided with new approaches to reading and literature in the Romantic period, broadly defined. One thinks of Heinrich von Ofterdingen by Novalis, for example, in which the title character’s famous vision of a blue flower functions as a theory of reading: the intense focus on one element of a text leads to a visionary experience that creates a new work. One of the roots of German Romantic literature might be found in an awareness of reading cognition resulting from contemporary philological practice.