Thursday 31 August 2023

Survey of Open Access Journal Publication in Renaissance Studies

By Miguel Dela Pena and Prototyping the Digital Archive team of INKE

In support of our goal to move the John Donne Journal from print to Diamond open access electronic publication (essentially, freely available at no cost), the Prototyping the Digital Archives team  conducted a brief survey of the current state of open access journal publishing in Renaissance studies with the purpose of understanding the current state of journal publication in our field and the range of publication and distribution modes. We were particularly interested in the possibility of retaining the Journal's print publication along with an electronic, ideally open access, instantiation. This survey involved 108 journals catalogued in the MLA Directory and found through the keyword “Renaissance” or time periods “1500-1599” and “1600-1699.” It should be noted that we took the MLA data at face-value and did not confirm its accuracy. 

Out of these 108 journals, sixty-seven (62%) are not available through open access. Five of these are publish exclusively in print, and the remaining sixty-two are available both in print and electronically through subscription. Most of these journals are distributed mainly by aggregators such as Project MUSE, EBSCO, JSTOR, Gale, and Iter. The remaining forty-one journals (38%) have content available in open access to varying degrees. Twenty-eight of these are currently available only electronically, either by virtue of being born digital or transitioning from print to electronic publishing entirely, the latter being a common trajectory for Renaissance journals (more on this later). The other thirteen are indicated to be available both in print and electronically while being open access; however, this indication of multi-modality is misleading in most cases. Some journals, such as The Upstart Crow and the Milton and Melville Review, are (and evidently were never) distributed simultaneously in print and electronically, as they have been discontinued print publication (2012 and 2011, respectively) and as such do not need to support further publications. The Upstart Crow, though, has been, “in spirit… reborn as an independent online, open access journal called Upstart: A Journal of English Renaissance Studies.” This trend continues with journals such as Seventeenth-Century News and Humanistica Lovaniensia: Journal of Neo-Latin Studies. The latter, for example, was previously available through JSTOR until its transition into an “online-only open access publication” in 2018 as its publishers’ “response to the evolving scholarly landscape.” On the other hand, those that are, in fact, simultaneously available in print and electronically are not available in Diamond open access. For example, volumes 33 to 52 (2002-2022) of Comitatus: Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies are behind a subscription paywall at Project MUSE while its first 32 volumes are available in open access through eScholarship where “subsequent volumes will be uploaded at a rate of one per year.” One journal, Multicultural Shakespeare from Lodz University Press, is published in print and in Diamond open access simultaneously, with the electronic version being fully and freely available on their website and paid subscription being reserved for the print version only. 

Regarding society-based journals like the JDJ, there are ten among the 108 in the list. Milton and Melville Review is one of these. All ten have an online presence, but those that are available for open access were either born-digital or transitioned completely online, following the general trend. The only apparent exception is XVII-XVIII: Revue de la Société d'études Anglo-Américaines des XVIIe et XVIIIe Siècles, which the MLA Directory indicates is available in print and electronic open access. The journal's website, however, does not offer information about print copies, listing only an ISSN for an electronic version in its publication policies page. What makes XVII-XVIII particularly interesting is that all of its content is open access, but only in HTML full-text format. All downloadable formats (PDFs and ePubs) are accessible only through a “Freemium” subscription system through OpenEdition, which aims to “[allow] libraries to pursue an acquisitions policy that both encourages the development of open access and respects the needs of teaching, research and learning communities.” OpenEdition also discloses that all revenue from this system goes back to open access development. Another French journal, Actes des Congrès de la Société Française Shakespeare, is also accessible via OpenEditions, only without the Freemium subscription requirement for downloadable formats. 

As for the remaining journals, The Shakespeare Fellowship and The Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship merged in 2013 to manage the content for their journals, Brief Chronicles and The Oxfordian, together. Brief Chronicles follows the pattern of discontinuation and complete online migration. It does, however, continue “as an occasional series of scholarly books.” There are currently two volumes in this series: the first was published in 2019, and advance copies of the second were previewed the same year. This second volume is in the process of revision. The Oxfordian, on the other hand, continues as an annual journal, with only their most recent volume being behind a membership paywall for an embargo period. All back issues are available in open access, and students can get free online access to recent issues if they provide a valid student ID and institutional email. Similarly, The Spenser Review also demonstrates the importance of collaboration in open access publication as its fully open access existence is “sponsored [by] the International Spenser Society with the support from The University of South Carolina and Washington University in St. Louis.” As well, The Spenser Review, as its name suggests, only hosts article reviews “of topics in and around Spenser studies.” It does not “evaluate or print scholarly articles itself.” For that, the page links to Spenser Studies: A Renaissance Poetry Annual hosted on the same website but published by the University of Chicago Press instead of the International Spenser Society. This second journal is not available for open access. In this case, the open access content is different than, but points to, the subscription content. 

Based on our analysis, the group recognizes that the most common and perhaps most sustainable method for making open access content while also maintaining print publication is a hybrid model, where some or most of the journal’s offerings are fully accessible and some (or some form of it) is provided only to subscribers. The best model is provided by XVII-XVIII: Revue de la Société d'études Anglo-Américaines des XVIIe et XVIIIe Siècles, where the difference between open and paid access is in the form it takes, rather than the content it contains. 

About the author and his team: 

Miguel Dela Pena recently graduated with an M.A. from the Department of English at the University of Saskatchewan. He is responsible for the research presented here. The rest of the Prototyping the Digital Archive team consists of Brent Nelson (University of Saskatchewan), Jesse Sharpe (Houghton University), Matt Sherman (Drexel University), Constantine Kaoukakis (University of Saskatchewan), Joel Salt (University of Saskatchewan), and Kyle Dase (University of Victoria), and this work is part of the Implementing New Knowledge Environments (INKE) Partnership, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. 

The research presented here informs a fuller exploration of open access publishing options in an forth coming article in POP! Public. Open. Participatory.

Saturday 22 July 2023

Prototyping the Social Literary Archive: The Case of The John Donne Society's Digital Prose Project

The John Donne Society's Digital Prose Project has a side-hustle. While the primary work of JDSDPP is to build a set of primary-text resources related to Donne's prose works, we are already looking ahead to what comes next once we have a complete set of such resources in hand. This is the work of the Prototyping the Social Literary Archive project. The project team consists of Brent Nelson (University of Saskatchewan), Jesse Sharpe (Houghton University), Matt Sherman (Drexel University), Constantine Kaoukakis (PhD student, University of Saskatchewan), Joel Salt (PhD student, University of Saskatchewan), Kyle Dase (University of Victoria), and Miguel Dela Pena (recent MA graduate, University of Saskatchewan). We are in turn part of the "Community" cluster of the Implementing New Knowledge Environments (INKE) Partnership, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. With a thematic focus on "Open Social Scholarship," the INKE Partnership generally is engaged in "fostering open social scholarship: academic practice that enables the creation, dissemination, and engagement of open research by specialists and non-specialists in accessible and significant ways" ( The Prototyping project thus aims to use the digitized materials available in Digital Donne (dedicated to John Donne’s poetry) and those of the John Donne Society’s Digital Prose Project to model new ways for structuring, packaging, and disseminating digitized materials for the study of literary authors and their works in an Open Access, community engaged environment.

We are taking a community-based approach to building a digital literary archive and are in the process of consulting our primary stakeholders. The work outlined here has grown out of presentations and discussion in the Society over the last several years. Most recently, this past year we conducted a survey of the scholarly community of the John Donne Society regarding digital research practices, which we discussed in a Society-sponsored public webinar on 22 April, where we first presented the Prototyping project (available on YouTube). We also had a follow-up conversation with the Society at our annual meeting in Baton Rouge in February of this year. Arising out of our community consultations, both recent and previous, we are currently pursuing two projects.

1. We are looking for a new model for the society’s publication, the John Donne Journal, to give it a digital, Open Access presence while maintaining an annual print publication tied to Society membership and library subscription. The central question here is how to make Open Access sustainable for an independently published, society-based journal that that throughout its history to this point has relied on individual and institutional subscriptions. In the next few months, we will roll-out the first results of this inquiry.

2. We have also begun exploring possibilities for reconstituting an important work of legacy scholarship into an Open Access digital platform that will enable a community of contributors to extend that work and keep it current. This resource is John Roberts’s series of annotated bibliographies of scholarship on John Donne, published in four volumes from 1912 to 2012. Our first interest is in making the resource openly and powerfully accessible in digital form and then to imaging how we might, as a community, carry this work forward. We will also be reflecting on how resources like this might fit into a larger context with other Open Access resources, especially alongside the John Donne Journal and the digitized primary texts of Donne's poetry and prose.

So, watch this space for communications arising from this work. We look forward to hearing more from our community as we prototype the digital literary archive.

Sunday 19 February 2023

John Donne, Biathanatos (1647): An Early Marked Up Copy

Joseph Black (University of Massachusetts Amherst)

This copy of the undated (but 1647) first issue of Donne’s Biathanatos, currently in a private collection, features some intriguing early manuscript marks and corrections. Most likely, these manuscript additions are the work of an idiosyncratic reader who liked to revise spellings, correct pagination, retrace faint type for clarity, and format line-centring as if preparing the printed text for use as copy for resetting. While I am not aware of other examples of early readers leaving the kinds of format markings on display here, we should never underestimate the range of apparently odd ways readers engage with books.

It is tempting to speculate that these manuscript additions had something to do with a printshop. Could they represent copy marked up for use in reprinting? This copy is dated 1648 in manuscript, but it was not the basis for the second issue of Biathanatos, dated 1648. The second issue of Biathanatos differs from the first issue only in its cancel title-page, and that title-page does not include all the revised spellings made on the title-page of this copy, nor does it reflect the line formatting suggested by this copy’s manuscript mark up. This copy was also not the basis for the second edition of Biathanatos (1700), which employed a new mise-en-page throughout. This copy furthermore lacks the authority of the seven recurring manuscript corrections by John Donne Jr (see Ernest W. Sullivan II, “Manuscript Materials in the First Edition of Donne’s Biathanatos,” Studies in Bibliography 31 (1978), 210-21). While one of those seven fixes is made here (the addition of a dropped hyphen in “al most” on ¶3v l.16), that is the one correction of the seven most obvious to a reader looking for errors to fix. Given the effort Donne Jr put into making these corrections, it seems safe to assume that if he had decided to authorize a reprint he would have had the printshop use a corrected copy. Could this copy then have been prepared for a reprint not authorized by John Donne Jr that was subsequently dropped or possibly pre-empted by the appearance of the 1648 second issue? Again, a tempting thought: but the manuscript additions here lack the look and comprehensiveness of the markings expected if created for professional use in a printshop.

With the exception of corrected page numbers, the manuscript corrections in this copy are restricted to the paratextual materials, leaving the text of Biathanatos itself untouched—an absence that makes little sense if this copy were intended as copy for resetting, even a page-for-page reprint. On the title-page, line centring is marked up in brown ink; spelling is updated, with the terminal ‘e’ or ‘ne’ blotted in “PARADOXE,” “Selfe,” “Sinne,” “LAWES,” “seeme,” and “Deane”; a faint terminal ‘e’ in “otherwise” is retraced in ink for clarity; and the date “1648” is added. The same format markings (for indents and centring) appear on the final page of the dedicatory epistle (¶4v) and the opening pages of the contents (πA1r), preface (C1r), and list of authors cited (*1r); in this copy, the list of authors cited is bound at the end of the text, after 2E2. The truncated “Io: Donne” at the conclusion of the dedicatory epistle is expanded to “Iohn Donne” (¶4v). Other spelling updates include “author” or “authors” to “authour” or “authours” (C1r, *2v), “tentations” to “temptations” (C1v, C2r), and “Booke” to “Book” (*1r): these all appear in the preface or the list of authors cited. Lightly inked or missing characters are retraced for clarity or provided in words (e.g. “distinguishing,” “Bagges,” “objects,” and “them” on C3v) and page numbers (e.g. 40, 67, 75, 88, 102, 105, 109, 112, 121, 126, 129, 136, 150, 160, 193). Page numbers are corrected on 59, 102, 105, 193, and 194-220 and added (as 221-224) to the list of authors cited.

The copy has been recently rebound, with new endpapers and flyleaves, so any evidence of provenance that might have been present in the original binding is lost. The tattered title-page suggests that the copy may in fact have spent considerable time in a disbound state before its recent rebinding. In addition to the various “typographic” corrections, the copy features only two conventional reader markings. One is a manuscript comment in what appears to be a post-seventeenth-century hand at the conclusion of the preface, evidently prompted by the quotation by Ennodius beginning “That it is the nature of stiffe wickednesse, to think that of others, which themselves deserve”: “Truth – it is ever ‘truth’” the reader adds in agreement (C4v). The other comprises two vertical marginal lines noting passages (O2r-v), one alongside the middle of the concluding paragraph of part 2, distinction 4, section 6, the other alongside the opening lines of part 2, distinction 4, section 7. The marginal lines are difficult to date, though the ink is brown and so potentially early. In short, this copy on the whole appears to represent engagement by an early reader or readers highly attentive to the appearance of Biathanatos on the page, at least in its paratextual apparatus, if less attuned to the text of Biathanatos itself.

See full set of images here

Tuesday 5 April 2022

Donne Digitally: a webinar 22 April 2022 @2:00 EST

We are very please to announce an event focused on the JDS's Digital Prose project. This webinar will be an update on the project and a formative (rather than merely informative) conversation about further development of digital tools for the study of Donne. This is a community-driven project, so we really need to hear from you! This initiative is also part of a new project on “Prototyping the Social Literary Archive” that is in turn part of the INKE: Implementing New Knowledge Environments ( project (more on that to come). This Webinar will take place on Friday 22nd April 2022, at 7 pm to 9 pm GMT, 2 pm to 4 pm EST, and 11 am to 1 pm PST. To attend, sign up beforehand via the John Donne Society Webpage here. We look forward to this conversation and work together as we plan our next phase of development.

Saturday 9 March 2019

Digital Features and Futures at the Annual Conference of the John Donne Society

This year's annual conference of the John Donne Society featured a special digital theme. We started the program with a keynote address by Ray Siemens (University of Victoria) on “Donne in the Open: Renaissance Studies and the Renewed Promise of Digital Scholarship”; and we ended the program with a panel discussion on “Digital Pedagogy,” featuring Brooke Conti (Cleveland State University) on “Teaching Donne’s Sermons with Digital Resources,” Elizabeth N. Bobo (University of Louisiana at Lafayette) on “Digital Sound in the Lyrics of Dylan and Donne,” and Kirsten Stirling (University of Lausanne) on “Teaching Early Modern Print Culture in the Digital Age.”

In the evening our our first day, we featured a session on “Digital Futures.” We began the evening with a recorded interview with Gary Stringer, talking about the role digital technologies and methods have played in the Donne Variorum project, focusing particularly on the development of the Digital Donne site. With this legacy in mind, a series of posters and five-minute lightning talks presented several digital projects related to Donne studies. The presenters have graciously allowed us to share their posters. (Access the full program here).

Prose Style in Donne’s Sermons: A Corpus Linguistics Approach

Hugh Adlington, with Michaela Mahlberg, Lorenzo Mastropierro, and Paul Thompson (University of Birmingham)



The Dalhousie Manuscripts Project: Navigating the Ethics of Digital Editing

Sarah Banschbach Valles and Sarah J. Sprouse (Texas Tech University)



Stylometry and Donne's Sermons

Kyle Dase (University of Saskatchewan)



GEMMS: Gateway to Early Modern Manuscript Sermons”

Anne James and Jeanne Shami (University of Regina)



Ignatius his Conclave and the Power of Word Cluster Searches

Sean H. McDowell (Seattle University)



The John Donne Society’s Digital Prose Project: A Report

Brent Nelson (University of Saskatchewan)




John R. Roberts Online John Donne Bibliography

Matthew Sherman (University of Bridgeport) and Jesse Sharpe (LeTourneau University)


Monday 5 February 2018

New Donne Manuscript Discovery: The Hand of WA2

By Daniel Starza Smith (King's College London) and Matthew Payne (Westminster Abbey Library)

This blog post offers further information about the discovery at Westminster Abbey of a manuscript of Donne’s satirical library catalogue, known in English as The Courtier’s Library – see "Rediscovering John Donne’s Catalogus librorum satiricus," Review of English Studies ( As well as publishing full images of the manuscript, we note here some of its most distinctive palaeographical features. We welcome any suggestions about the scribe’s identity.

The hand is fluent and may show evidence of professional training. The text has been left- and right-aligned, and hyphens are used in both margins to signal word-breaks. The scribe often employs tittles over double-s, and his ampersand looks as if it is tilted slightly to the left.


B and D are formed in a similar fashion, beginning with a stroke down and to the left, then a sharp movement to the right; the rest of the letter is formed with a separate application of the pen, starting with a flourish to the left. I/J is formed with four strokes, including quite a heavy central cross. After a simple initial downward movement, the second and third strokes of N are more elaborate. M is notably dissimilar to N, consisting of three simple minims; the final one finishes with a short spur to the right. Majuscule P rests on a long horizontal foot, which begins with an upward flourish on the left; a vertical spur is also usually visible at the top of the letter, above the bowl. A spur can often be found to the upper-right of majuscule S, while V and W both feature a distinctive ‘kink’ in their initial down-stroke (also visible on the minuscule forms).


The scribe uses a mixture of Greek and secretary minuscule e. The ascender of d often bends far to the left before curling back under and to the right, sometimes but not always crossing through itself. The descender of g is rather distinctive: from the lower centre of the bowl, it travels briefly down and to the left, before bending sharply to the right and circling down and left, then passing upwards through itself to join to the next letter. (Descenders on minuscule y do not take this form.) The letter p is notable for starting with a sharp diagonal upwards flourish; the descender rises above the bowl, resulting in a short vertical line.


The word "sesqui=barbarus" (l. 140) has been altered.

A deleted first letter was a majuscule, or had an ascender, or both, although we cannot see another letter in the manuscript starting with a similar motion. The first s may not have been the scribe’s original intention. The double-hyphen has been written over a now-illegible letter which seems to have two minims, and might therefore be n or u. The i may have been altered from r, and although it is clearly dotted, there is also what looks like a grave accent above the letter, perhaps indicating some indecision or confusion on the scribe’s behalf. We can say, then, that "squ" and "barbarus," have both been written confidently, but that the scribe was uncertain about some other letters. The word "sesqui-barbarus," despite valiant attempts to English it, is not good Latin.1 It is notable that the other known surviving contemporary copy, CT2 (Trinity College, Cambridge, MS B. 14. 22 (James 307), or DnJ 4065 in CELM) features "St. quintarbarbarus," at this point. This nonsensical reading can now be explained as deriving from a defect in a common source.

1 Brown renders it as ‘The More-than-Half Uncivilized’; Simpson gives ‘A Foreigner-and-a-Half’.

Tuesday 7 February 2017

John Donne Jeopardy

John Donne made an appearance on Jeopardy! on Tuesday, January 31, 2017 (Show #7457). Here are the questions. The contestants were Doug Baker (a sustainability specialist from Tecumseh, Michigan), Ben Smolen (a writer from Los Angeles, California), and Lisa Schlitt (a microbiologist from Berwyn, Pennsylvania). How much would you have earned?

1) A Donne sonnet says this, "Be not proud" for "one short sleep past, we wake eternally, and" this "shall be no more" ($400)
Ben got this one. 

2) On this day, 1613, while traveling to Wales, Donne wrote a poem imagining the crucified Christ on the cross ($800)
Doug got this one.

3) In 1610 Donne criticized his former Catholic faith in "Pseudo-Martyr", which was dedicated to this king (DD: $600)
Doug missed this one. It was a daily double. Not sure what that means. Arguably, this was as much a monarchy question as a Donne question.

4) The first biography of Donne was by this "Compleat Angler" author & appeared as a preface to Donne's "LXXX Sermons" ($1,600)
Apparently, this was a “triple stumper,” meaning none of them got it.

5) The "No man is an island" passage continues, "Never send to know" this, later a book title ($2,000)
Another triple stumper

Interestingly, three of the five were about Donne's prose works, and none of them was answered correctly. Sigh. The answers are available at J!Archive.