Bodleian Student Editions 2017–2018

Please note that these workshops are now fully subscribed for this academic year, 2017–2018. To express an interest in future workshops, please email Pip Willcox.

Textual editing workshops for undergraduates and postgraduates

Elizabeth Wagstaff letter, 2 May 1621

A collaboration between the Bodleian’s Department of Special Collections and Centre for Digital Scholarship, and Cultures of Knowledge, a project based at the Faculty of History

We are looking for enthusiastic undergraduates and postgraduates from any discipline to take part in workshops in textual editing culminating in the publication of a citable transcription.

Join the waiting list: see below for details

After a hugely successful pilot run—from which published transcriptions can be seen here—these workshops are in their second year, and are scheduled to take place on the following dates:

Michaelmas Term 2017

  • 10:00–16:30 Thursday 7th week, 23 November

Hilary Term 2018

  • 10:00–16:30 Wednesday 3rd week, 31 January
  • 10:00–16:30 Thursday 7th week, 1 March

Trinity Term 2018

  • 10:00–16:30 Wednesday 3rd week, 9 May
  • 10:00–16:30 Thursday 7th week, 7 June

Textual editing is the process by which a manuscript reaches its audience in print or digital form. The texts we read in printed books are dependent on the choices of editors across the years, some obscured more than others. The past few years have seen an insurgence in interest in curated media, and the advent of new means of distribution has inspired increasingly charged debates about what is chosen to be edited, by whom and for whom.

These workshops give students the opportunity to examine these questions of research practice in a space designed around the sources at the heart of them. The Bodleian Libraries’ vast collections give students direct access to important ideas free from years of mediation, and to authorial processes in their entirety, while new digital tools allow greater space to showcase the lives of ordinary people who may not feature in traditional narrative history.

Our focus is on letters of the early modern period: a unique, obsolescent medium, by which the ideas which shaped our civilisation were communicated and developed. Participants will study previously unpublished manuscripts from Bodleian collections, working with Bodleian curators and staff of Cultures of Knowledge (, to produce a digital transcription, which will be published on the flagship resource site of Cultures of Knowledge, Early Modern Letters Online (, as ‘Bodleian Student Editions’.

The sessions are standalone, but participants in last year’s workshops have gone on to further transcription work with Bodleian collections and with research projects around the country, as well as producing the first scholarship on some of the manuscripts by incorporating material in their own research (from undergraduate to doctorate level). The first-hand experience with primary sources, and citable transcription, extremely useful for those wishing to apply for postgraduate study in areas where this is valued: one participant last year successfully proceeded from a BA in Biological Sciences to an MA in Early Modern Literature on the basis of having attended.

The sessions provide a hands-on introduction to the following:

  1. Special Collections handling
  2. Palaeography and transcription
  3. Metadata curation, analysis, and input into Early Modern Letters Online
  4. Research and publication ethics
  5. Digital tools for scholarship and further training available

To hear about future textual editing workshops and other events as they are advertised, please join the digital scholarship mailing list.

Participation is open to students registered for any course at the University of Oxford. If you would like to participate or to join the waiting list, please contact Carmen Bohne, Special Collections Administrator,, and include:

  1. your email address
  2. your department
  3. your level and year of study
  4. particular access requirements
  5. particular dietary requirements

Please note that registration is only open for Michaelmas term’s workshop. You may register your interest in subsequent workshops: please state the dates on which you are available. Places are limited and will be confirmed for each term’s workshops at the start of that term.

The Bodleian Libraries welcome thoughts and queries from students of all levels on ways in which the use of archival material can facilitate your research. For an idea of the range of collections in the Weston, visit the exhibition Bodleian Treasures: 24 Pairs in the Treasury gallery in Blackwell Hall (, where some famous items are illuminated through juxtaposition to less known items that prompt reflection on the concept of a treasure. Our next themed exhibition, Designing English, showcasing the graphic design of mediaeval manuscripts in English from Bodleian collections, will open in the ST Lee Gallery on 1 December. For the first two months it will be shown alongside Redesigning the medieval book, a display of contemporary book arts inspired by the exhibition and created as part of a workshop and competition run in collaboration with the English Faculty.

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