The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1672 Friday, 1 September 2000.
Date: Thursday, 31 Aug 2000 15:01:32 -0400
Subject: Electronic Sources
Comment: SHK 11.1615 Electronic Sources
Gabriel Egan mentioned in his message yesterday that he'd be surprised
if anyone used EEBO in teaching - well, I just wanted to let people know
that the online version of Early English Books worked well for me in the
classroom last year. I used EEBO in a junior level Shakespeare class at
Michigan State, asking students to consult it for class presentations.
Their assignment was to find texts that commented on the issues
presented in a given play, and, after sending them to a training session
and giving them a list of keywords (and cautions about spelling), I set
them loose to explore. Inevitably, there were technical glitches, given
that EEBO was new to the library and that the school computers often
needed to have the necessary plugins downloaded, but the students
learned a lot about early modern texts, and they did it basically
through independent research.
The students wound up with some impressive finds and uncovered some
important issues on their own - for instance, they found out a lot about
melancholy in conjunction with Twelfth Night and about notions of
chastity in relation to Measure for Measure. That's not to say that
EEBO was always easy for students to use - they had to learn how to read
early modern printing, to premeditate spelling variations, and to think
about early modern vocabulary, all of which proved (at least in my
opinion) a good learning experience. There were also technical
problems, especially when EEBO asked users to wait while images were
being loaded from CD-Rom to hard disk space (that problem will disappear
soon since Bell and Howell is now putting all EEBO images on hard drive
so users can get them automatically).
Just to set the record straight, I'm now working on a project at the
University of Michigan that aims to make a portion of EEBO's texts
keyword searchable - something that would undoubtedly be helpful in a
classroom setting (if you'd like to learn more about the project, you
can go to the EEBO Text Creation Partnership website at
http://www.lib.umich.edu/libhome/eebo/). I'm also interested in hearing
about experiences others have had with EEBO, whether involving teaching
or research, whether good or bad, in hopes that we can factor these
responses into our project.