Bibliography's Place in Modern Humanities Research: A Case Study from The Chymistry of Isaac Newton Project
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Beck Sayre, Meridith
Over the course of the 20th century, scholars took up categories of knowledge constructed through classification work done in the library and archive, but methods of analytical bibliography were never well integrated into the academy. As scholars increasingly read and work with digitized texts, however, there is renewed and critical need for bibliographical skills in order to understand how texts have changed over time, especially vis-à-vis their material form. In addition to making a case for bibliography as an essential skill for the modern humanities scholar, I will describe my recent work on creating a TEI bibliography of Isaac Newton's alchemical sources. This project, part of "The Chymistry of Isaac Newton" seeks to reconstruct a comprehensive list of the hundreds of alchemical texts that Newton read and employed from over 5000 fragmentary citations in his manuscripts. Because Newton was a lifelong and extensive alchemical reader, reconstructing a bibliography based on his annotations provides an ideal test case for how alchemical texts were studied in the seventeenth century. As such, this bibliography will be a substantial contribution to modern scholarship on Isaac Newton and the history of science more generally, underscoring the argument that bibliography has an important place in modern humanities scholarship.
Indiana University Digital Collections Services
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