I’m sitting in a London coffee shop and Internet cafe on Judd Street, waiting for the BL to open, and the radio is playing “Kansas City Here I Come,” by Big Joe Turner.
What would you like me to blog about? Are my research updates boring you?
…when I look out the window from my room.
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.
Twelve hours of sleep engulfed me last night after a measly five made a brief visit the night before. At 9:00 p.m. the sky is brighter than a boy visiting from Kansas City would expect, and at 3:45 in the morning the first hints of dawn are visible. Yesterday was a better day than the day before, but the time change still makes its presence known. I’m getting a later start today than I’d like, but I’m willing to cut myself some slack in the first couple of days, when my body and brain are still confused as to where in the world I am.
You can reach me in my room, where I’ll be in the evenings, via telephone at 020 7837 8888 x2521, but you’re on your own when it comes to negotiating the country codes and such. Remember that I’m five hours ahead of the East Coast and six ahead of the Midwest. Those of you in the UK and on the continent don’t have much to worry about in that area, of course.
And I’m off to the library.