This event spans multiple dates:
24 Jan 2024 14:00–16:00 Milstein Seminar Room, University Library
31 Jan 2024 14:00-16:00 Milstein Seminar Room, University Library


Convenor: Shellie Audsley (CDH Methods Fellow)

Across two sessions, participants will be introduced to the ancient yet evolving practices of commonplace-book keeping and the ‘modernised’ digital tools and methods for extracting, indexing, sustaining and networking knowledge fragments from personal notes, anthologies and archives for idea generation. Commonplacing—manifest as the classical vade mecums (‘come with me’ book of phrases for rhetors), the early-modern scholar’s indexed bodies of learnings, the eighteenth-century domestic commonplace books of culinary and medicinal recipes and nineteenth-century collaborative records of readings—is as much a method for knowledge compilation as a way to structure collective (and ‘re-collected’) thoughts. The commonplace book’s modern afterlife may be traced in the Zettelkasten method and micro-blogging sites like Tumblr, which facilitate the systematic storage and dispersal of quotations and other media.

The interactive sessions will draw upon the theoretical underpinning of commonplacing as a productive ideation approach as well as new digital tools of translating atomised ‘commonplaces’ (and metadata) into network graphs and databases for visualising potentially hidden connections for research and pedagogy.

Target audience:

This 2-part workshop is especially suitable for people who wish to:

  • Learn about commonplace books & the changing practices of knowledge organisation
  • Begin working with or maintaining their own databases of knowledge
  • Visualise, re-organise, review and/or share existing collections of reading notes or archival photographs

CDH Methods sessions are open to the University of Cambridge staff and graduate students who want to learn and apply digital methods and use digital tools in their research, these sessions may be of particular interest to:

  • PhD students in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Early Career Researchers in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Other Cambridge students and staff welcome

About the convenor: Shellie is a PhD student at the Faculty of English working on Romantic genre-mixing and referentiality in the long nineteenth century. Shellie examines lyric-narrative synthesis and patterns of inserted ‘conceptual fragments’ across types of hybrid prose and verse narratives to address issues of selfhood and broader critical debates about novel supremacy, lyric subsumption and genre (re)formation. Complemented by computational methods of text analysis, this research into the semiotics of genre perception seeks to understand—on a large scale—processes of associative sense-making and the unstable ideas of the generic (‘commonplace’) and otherwise.

As one of the Communications Fellows for the Keats-Shelley Association of America, Shellie has been responsible for designing a digital public engagement project/publication (the K-SAA Public Commonplace Book of Romantic Readers) that uses crowd-sourced inputs to create interactive ‘star charts’ (network graphs) for mapping global readerly networks as well as Romanticism’s lasting connections therein. Aside from research, she is a member of King’s Entrepreneurship Lab, and enjoys writing fiction and dabbling in graphic and systems design.


Cambridge Digital Humanities

Tel: +44 1223 766886