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Q U I C K   L I N K S

We are turning on other scholarly conventions besides “the reading list.” Learn about another of She-philosopher.​com’s acts of creative destruction here.

And there is more explanation of She-philosopher.​com’s back-to-the-future refashioning of historical study here.

There is more about the 17th-century “philosophical traveler” in the editor’s introduction to She-philosopher.​com’s e-publication of Richard Flecknoe’s Brazilian travelogue. See the digital edition, Lib. Cat. No. FLECK1656.

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First Published:  April 2004
Revised (substantive):  28 December 2016

References

THE REFERENCES SECTION OF She-philosopher.com houses the List of Works Cited, along with themed (and sometimes annotated) bibliographies, plus an original compilation of early-modern women involved with science & technology.

  Works Cited: Selected Primary Sources (pre-20th century)

  Works Cited: Selected Secondary Sources (20th and 21st century)

  List of early-modern women contributing to the growth of mechanical arts & sciences

Selective list of early-modern women who contributed in various ways to the growth of science & technology. The women listed range in social rank from queens to illiterate midwives, with participatory activities that run the gamut from accounting, alchemy, astrology, and astronomy to bookbinding, botany, calligraphy, cartography, chemistry and iatrochemistry, engineering, engraving, entomology, horticulture, illustration, instrument manufacture, marketing, mathematics, medicine, natural philosophy, patron of the arts & sciences, pharmacy, niche publication of scientific works, print selling & print publication, surgery, technical writing, and zoology.

  Bibliography for phronesis and prudentia

  Bibliography for the study of 19th-century lithography, especially as used to illustrate scholarly books & journals

  Bibliography for the study of ornament in England’s 17th-century book trade

  Bibliography for the study of 17th-century heraldry

  Bibliography for studying 17th-century English writing-masters and their copy-books

  Bibliography relating to 17th-century English “waggoners” and the drawing of coastal views

A note on citations

I ought to point out that the two lists of Works Cited included in this section of the website will not be evolving into a comprehensive or authoritative bibliography, as is the custom in scholarly publication. Rather, they will provide the bibliographic data, in a convenient location, for those few titles with which I have chosen to engage.

This is my most recent work-around to the problem of information overload that every 21st-century scholar faces.

Stephen Hawking has written about the recent exponential growth of information, usefully juxtaposing artificial and biological new-information rates:

Because biological evolution is basically a random walk in the space of all genetic possibilities, it has been very slow. The complexity, or number of bits of information, that is coded in DNA is roughly the number of bases in the molecule. For the first two billion years or so, the rate of increase in complexity must have been of the order of one bit of information every hundred years. The rate of increase of DNA complexity gradually rose to about one bit a year over the last few million years. But then, about six or eight thousand years ago, a major new development occurred. We developed written language. This meant that information could be passed from one generation to the next without having to wait for the very slow process of random mutations and natural selection to code it into the DNA sequence. The amount of complexity increased enormously. A single paperback romance could hold as much information as the difference in DNA between apes and humans, and a thirty-volume encyclopedia could describe the entire sequence of human DNA.
     Even more important, the information in books can be updated rapidly. The current rate at which human DNA is being updated by biological evolution is about one bit a year. But there are two hundred thousand new books published each year, a new-information rate of over a million bits a second. Of course, most of this information is garbage, but even if only one bit in a million is useful, that is still a hundred thousand times faster than biological evolution.

(Hawking, The Universe in a Nutshell, 161–5)

As Hawking points out, just to stay on top of current developments in a given specialty would require volume reading of a sort beyond the capacity of the average human being:

If you stacked all the new books being published next to each other, you would have to move at 90 miles an hour just to keep up with the end of the line. Of course, by 2600 new artistic and scientific work will come in electronic forms, rather than as physical books and papers. Nevertheless, if the exponential growth continued, there would be ten papers a second in my kind of theoretical physics, and no time to read them.

(Hawking, The Universe in a Nutshell, 159)

Clearly, the way in which we do scholarship is going to have to change.

Of necessity, I have already begun to change what and how I read, and this has included cutting back substantially on secondary materials.

Stephen Toulmin first raised the problem of too much “unanimity” among “historians ... borrowing from each other’s narratives instead of returning to the original texts,” and over the years, I have become concerned about this myself. (Toulmin, Cosmopolis, 13)

As such, I will be “returning to the original texts” as much as possible, and along with this, privileging live critical engagements with opinionated others in the She-philosopher.com community, over more closeted volume reading of secondary criticism.

facsimile of early-17th-century printer's decorative block

^  Tail-piece from the 1625 printing of Hakluytus Posthumus, or, Purchas his Pilgrimes, by the geographical editor and compiler and Church of England clergyman, Samuel Purchas (bap. 1577, d. 1626).
     The very popular 4-volume folio took more than 3 years to print (“at the time of its publication it was the largest book ever seen through the English press”), and brought together oral and written accounts of travels in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas, collected by Richard Hakluyt over a 20-year period, and acquired by Samuel Purchas about 1620.
     “Like Hakluyt before him, Purchas drew on the accounts written by merchants and seamen, but he unhesitatingly abbreviated and epitomized when authors lapsed into the tediousness so feared by the parson.” (Wright, 1958, 538–9)
     “Richard Hakluyt had taught readers that scientific truths could be entertaining. Henceforth, travel narratives, which gave what was believed to be accurate information, combined with descriptions of strange peoples and thrilling adventures, fascinated the public. Samuel Purchas, brother clergyman and successor to Hakluyt, had a journalist’s realization of what laymen wanted, and in his own publications he attempted to carry on the work of his master without burdening his volumes with tiresome details. Purchas feared tediousness as an evil genius and continually expresses the hope of avoiding it. ... Purchas was less a scientist and more a journalist than Hakluyt. He knew that the reading public clamored for accounts of foreign countries and that only navigators and company officials wanted statistical data. Where Hakluyt had been eager to supply statistics, Purchas gave picturesque descriptions and theological musings, which interested most of his readers far more than figures.” (Wright, 1958, 536)
     As with so many 21st-century virtual travelers, Purchas explored the globe by mind more than by body. In the marginalia to his chapter on “the Voyages of Philosophers and Learned Men, into remote parts for Wisdome and Learning,” Purchas described himself as a philosophical traveler who had never physically journeyed more than 200 miles from his place of birth: “Least Travellers may be greatest Writers. Even I which have writte[n] so much of travellers & travells, never travelled 200. miles from Thaxted in Essex, where I was borne: herein like a whetstone, which being blunt causeth sharpnesse; or a Candlestick holding many Candles, without which it selfe is unseene in the darke; and as the Compasse is of little compasse and motion, yet teacheth to compasse the World; or as the Pole-star is lest moved of all, & most of all moving & guiding the Traveller. Envy not a marginall roome to him, who hath used Volumes so spacious to thee; in which how little is the travell of the greatest Traveller; or how could a great Traveller have travelled of so much.” (Purchas, Hakluytus Posthumus, or, Purchas his Pilgrimes, 1625, I. i. 74)

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