Creating an Early Modern Database for Galileo’s Library (RBS-Mellon Lecture)

Date: 22 April 2016
Time: 12:00 p.m.
Location: History Building Room 307, Stanford University
Presented by: The Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in Critical Bibliography at Rare Book School and CMEMS

Can a digital database recreate the ways in which Galileo Galileo organized and used his modest collection of books? Late Renaissance readers did not organize or access their books according to the same descriptors upon which digital tools typically rely: authors’ names, publication dates, titles, or single genre labels. Since Galileo compared unpleasant reading to perusing a cabinet of curiosities and delightful reading to visiting a museum gallery, this presentation suggests ways in which an appropriate database for his library should become more than the infrastructure for an archive for books. Examples drawn from the poetry, plays, and philosophical treatises that Galileo read will show the ways in which digital humanities tools can create other ways to identify texts in order to assemble a database that represents process via its organization of content.

Speaker: Crystal Hall, Associate Professor of Digital Humanities at Bowdoin College