patterns emerge

After all that sleep last night, I was much more focused today. I’m beginning to feel more confident about seeing some patterns in the magazine I’m reading. This particular magazine has a confusing publishing history, having appeared in three different sequences, each time starting over with the numbering of volumes: 1766-1773, 1774-1783, 1784. And then in 1784 it merged with another evangelical magazine. Very messy, but also very interesting.

It’s increasingly rare that a scholar actually has to travel to examine publications like this. An enormous amount of material is now available online through commercial projects like Early English Books Online, Eighteenth-Century Collections Online, and The Eighteenth Century microfilm collection. These resources are quite expensive, however, and many colleges and universities cannot afford them.

Somehow, what I’m researching has managed to slip beneath the radar of any of these projects, and so here I am, examining the only surviving complete run of this periodical (or perhaps the only surviving complete run that’s been catalogued). I hope to be done with this task by Friday or Saturday, and then I’ll be researching some other materials.

One small thing I’d like to find: John Wesley refers to a published announcement regarding his intent to begin producing The Arminian Magazine. The last time I checked the ESTC, which was awhile ago, I could not find this announcement. Hopefully I’ll track it down. I’ve done a lot of research on The Arminian Magazine in the past and am now looking at other, competing periodicals of the time.

Side note: I learned today that copies of The Gentleman’s Magazine, an extremely successful secular periodical of the eighteenth century, are available in the open stacks* of one of the rooms at the British Library. This means I don’t have to actually request it volume by volume but can browse at my leisure. Very nice. Something I’m after are the places where these magazines reference each other through their prefaces and other paratextual materials. How did they see themselves and their rivals? Sometimes there are quite bitter and direct attacks. Sometimes the references are oblique.

So far, my routine has been sleep, eat, research, eat, research, eat, beer, sleep. Not much playtime. However, I’ve run into some people I know that I knew would be here, and we’re making some plans for Friday and Saturday night as well as Sunday. I’ll keep you posted, of course.

*Which reminds me that I was planning on writing about what researching in special collections is like. Many of you already know, of course, but many of you do not.

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