1 Mar 2022 16:00 - 17:30 Online


Speaker: Georgina Wilson

About the event
This talk is about the afterlife of John Taylor’s The Praise of Hemp-seed (1620) as it is reprinted in Taylor’s Workes (1630). This early modern poem is a eulogy to the imaginative and material affordances of paper. The Praise of Hemp-seed traces paper’s history from raw plant matter to writing surface to mobile material form, and ends by describing a voyage down the river Thames in the paper boat. Having reached its destination, the boat is ripped to shreds and dispersed by the townspeople. Where do those paper fragments end up?

This talk answers that critical-creative question with a bibliographical answer, by tracing the whereabouts of the surviving copies of Taylor’s Workes. Using GIS (Geographic Information Systems) mapping software, and combing the USTC and WorldCat, I plotted the publicly accessible copies of the codex on local, national, and continental maps. The co-ordinates mark the presence of paper (in the form of early modern books) and construct a view of that world which is attuned to and shaped by paper. Digital humanities thus equip paper with a new set of affordances which builds on those offered in The Praise of Hemp-seed. Tracking the material forms of The Praise of Hemp-seed makes legible the impact of paper’s global travels: both in reality and in the early modern imagination.

This event will be held virtually. All ticket holders have an opportunity to participate via question submission during the Q&A portion of the seminar.

Book your free ticket on the eventbrite page: https://paper-boat.eventbrite.co.uk

Cambridge Digital Humanities

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