Friday, April 27, 2012

Graphs you didn't get to see 1: European practica printing, 1470-1500

I have an article coming out in an upcoming volume of Archiv für Geschichte des Buchwesens that expands on my discussion of practicas in Printing and Prophecy. One of the things I added to the discussion is a comparison of early German production to elsewhere in Europe. I put together a graph, but it wasn't as essential to the article as other graphs, so I cited the statistics in the text instead. Here's the graph:

Italian astrologers are usually credited with being the first to publish their annual prognostications, and with contributing half of all practicas before 1501. The first statement is probably correct; it looks like the Italians have a head start of around four years, and Italian production is clearly in the lead before 1480. But German production quickly catches up and moves into the lead by 1490. Based on what appears in the ISTC, German production for the fifteenth century comprises about 49% of the total, followed by Italian production at 44%. Despite some early production in the Low Countries, practica printing remains marginal everywhere else in Europe during the fifteenth century.

The usual caveats apply, though: I've examined the German sources much more closely than the Italian ones, so I'm undoubtedly missing a few Italian practicas, and one has to be extremely cautious when making statements about fifteenth-century production based on twenty-first century preservation of ephemeral booklets.

Friday, April 20, 2012

A book I'm looking forward to: Darin Hayton, The Astrologers of Emperor Maximilian I

Not long ago I came across Darin Hayton's website and blog, which linked to his list of publications, where I was happy to see that he is revising The Astrologers of Emperor Maximilian I: Nature, Knowledge, and Politics in the Holy Roman Empire for publication. I took a look at his dissertation while working on Printing and Prophecy, and it was a very helpful source on several topics, particularly on rounding out the acrimonious dispute between Andreas Perlach and Johann Carion. (As far as disputes between sixteenth-century German astrologers go, this one's pretty good, with accusations of necromancy, illiteracy, and methodological incompetence.) I'll also be quite interested to see what he says about Joseph Grünpeck and the controversy over a second deluge in 1524, two topics where there has been a real lack of good scholarship in English.

A quick look at Darin Hayton's blog provides another reason to look forward to the book: He's been reflecting about the place and function of academic writing, and thinking about how to reach audiences outside of the history of science. This book might be not just useful, but also readable.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Adventures in Zotero (AGB edition)

I just submitted an article to Archiv für Geschichte des Buchwesens on the origin and development of the the specifically German format for annual astrological prognostications ("practicas") between 1470 and 1620, which expands on my discussion of the practica format in Printing and Prophecy. Since I didn't want to format the footnotes and bibliography by hand when I already had most of the sources entered into Zotero, I needed a Zotero style definition for AGB. There was no preexisting style definition, however, so I had to create one.

I ended up using Kritische Ausgabe as a base style, while importing various snippets from tah Geistes- u. Kulturwissenschaften and Chicago note with bibliography. Once I got the hang of what I was doing, I even added some macros of my own. Having access to the Zotero test pane (chrome://zotero/content/tools/csledit.xul) helped, as did using notepad++. Next time, I'll read up on the Zotero CSL syntax a bit more before starting out.

So how'd it turn out? The results were not too bad, actually. I was able to format most footnotes and bibliographic entries according to AGB style. Anybody who would like to look at the file can find it here. Keep in mind the following caveats, however:
  • I only needed references to books, journal articles, and chapters in edited collections. Everything else probably won't work.
  • I didn't try to implement specifying the issue of a journal volume, because I didn't have many of them to deal with, and the AGB format for issues is a bit unusual. Next time.
  • I had to replace colons with periods manually to separate titles from subtitles.
  • And the biggest caveat of all: This was for an English-language article in a German journal, which necessarily involves some unusual style tradeoffs. I won't know exactly how some formatting issues will be treated until I see page proofs.

It's not quite ready for the Zotero style repository, but in the future, I'll definitely do more Zotero hacking, rather than editing footnotes by hand. The AGB style is fairly close to that used by Gutenberg-Jahrbuch, which might be my next target.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Digitalization project of the day: Altenburg Calendars

In my own work I'm primarily interested in practicas and prognostications rather than calendars, which are a very different kind of text, and I'm primarily interested in the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, even if recently I've extended my view to 1620, which means that a calendar from the late seventeenth century would not normally hold my attention.

But a complete digitized archive of complete runs of dozens of calendars over several decades, many with accompanying prognostications? That gets my attention.

The digital archive of the Kalendersammlung des Stadtarchivs Altenburg is browsable by title via the UB Jena. There are a few calendars earlier than 1650 and several from after 1700, but the bulk of the collection covers the second half of the seventeenth century. A description of the project is here. (And while you're at Archivalia, be sure to read Klaus Graf's excellent and extensive post on "Christian August Vulpius als Quellenfälscher.") Even without reading the calendars or knowing the authors, I'm confident that there is a lot of interesting research waiting to be done using this archive. An archive that is so unique, thorough, and accessible is a rare and wondrous thing.