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Q U I C K   L I N K S

See our She-philosopher.​com website concept page “(The Site Concept: What’s Past Is Prologue”) for additional discussion of our guiding theme from Faulkner: “The past is not dead; it is not even the past.”

The 17th-century head-piece, tail-piece, and title-plate reproduced on this Web page (at the top and bottom of the text column to the left), are all from the same book: Thomas Johnson’s revised and enlarged edn. of Gerard’s Herball, printed at London in 1633 and 1636 by a trio of printers, including a woman: Joyce Norton.
  For biographical data on Joyce Norton and other women printers, publishers, booksellers, patrons and authors active in the 17th-century scientific/technical book trade, see the List of women involved with the growth of early British science & technology, including the trades in She-philosopher.​com’s REFERENCES section.
  For more about Norton’s and other women’s role in the 17th-century scientific/technical book trade, see the forthcoming revised edition of She-philosopher.​com’s GALLERY EXHIBIT on “Women in the Print Trade”.

To learn more about Franciszek Otto’s script typeface Waza, visit and the Linotype website.

She-philosopher.​com’s tagline (studies in the history of science, technology & culture) has also been reset: in Monotype Studio’s new Quire Sans, from designer Jim Ford. This classically-inspired, elegant, sans-serif typeface has “one foot in the world of pilcrows, fleurons and traditional book typography, and another in modern electronic media” (the name “quire” is the classical term for a signature of printed leaves, folded and ready for binding with other signatures into a book or manuscript).  ¶  Given that Quire Sans “plays both sides of the field” — “a typeface for all media, and a mirror for whatever’s going on around it” — it admirably embodies the Janus-like face of She-philosopher.​com.  ¶  Learn more here.

Our TECHNICAL ISSUES section includes She-philosopher.​com test reports of the JPEG-2000 graphics format, with detailed comparisons of JPEG-2000, JPEG, GIF, and PNG graphics file formats for reproducing 17th-century maps.

(NOTE: this is part of the old She-philosopher.​com, and has not been updated.)

Also in our section on technical issues: a Technical Report documenting more display problems with the Google Chrome browser; specifically, the negative impact on Web typography & information design when Google Chrome offers only spotty support for CSS’s font-family property.
  Plus, a related Technical Report giving the detailed font-metric comparisons which affect my choice of font-family declarations for “Web-safe” fonts Georgia and Verdana at the new She-philosopher.​com.

To learn more about the move from table-based to tableless Web page layouts, see the Wikipedia article, s.v. Tableless web design.

To learn more about the pros and cons of using JavaScript on Web pages, see the Wikipedia article, s.v. JavaScript.

For an inspired, human-centered approach to “mobile-friendly” design, see the PBS NewsHour Weekend’s reporting on “Growing Advocacy and Awareness Bringing Accessible Design to More People than Ever” (first aired 6/2/2018).
  “Years of advocacy in the disability community along with technological advances have spurred the creation of more products for people with a range of abilities. NewsHour Weekend’s Megan Thompson talks to New York City’s Digital Accessibility Coordinator about the importance of accessible design and tours an exhibit at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum that highlights these advancements.” (summary of Saturday show segment)

For more about how much of what you find on the Web is pre-filtered, see Marketplace’s 5/12/2011 interview with Eli Pariser, author of The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding From You.
  In addition,’s Web page for The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding From You has a good “Author Q&A” in which Pariser talks about the growing need for an “algorithmic ethics”:
  “What we really need is for the companies that power the filter bubble to take responsibility for the immense power they now have — the power to determine what we see and don’t see, what we know and don’t know. We need them to make sure we continue to have access to public discourse and a view of the common good. A world based solely on things we ‘Like’ is a very incomplete world.
  “I’m optimistic that they can. It’s worth remembering that newspapers weren’t always informed by a sense of journalistic ethics. They existed for centuries without it. It was only when critics like Walter Lippman began to point out how important they were that the newspapers began to change. And while journalistic ethics aren’t perfect, because of them we have been better informed over the last century. We need algorithmic ethics to guide us through the next.”
  I believe these are critical issues for Web designer-developers and Internet users alike.

For those of us worried about escalating search engine shenanigans, there is at least one pie-in-the-sky alternative to mull over: see, e.g., Evan Leatherwood’s “For a Public Search Engine: Studies show that insiders at Google could, if they wanted, covertly alter voter preferences. The very possibility is a threat to democracy” (The Nation, vol. 296, no. 18, 6 May 2013, pp. 6, 8).

Joel on Software has a good essay explaining why designer-developers need to add a declaration in the Head section of every Web page in order to control browser display of Unicode type. And there are further recommendations here.

Learn more about the history of ligatures at Wikipedia.

Learn more about the 16th-century humanist bookseller and printer, Richard Jugge (c.1514–1577), and his widow Joan (fl. 1575–1588), who continued in the print trade after her husband’s death, at the Web page giving She-philosopher.​com’s select, annotated bibliography of early-modern Anglo-American bibles (in the REFERENCES section).

There is additional documentation on the early-modern printinghouse — including a spread on printing, as an industrial art, from the best-selling picture book for children by Jan Amos Comenius, Orbis Sensualium Pictus (Nuremberg, 1658; 1st Eng. edn., trans. by Charles Hoole, London, 1659) — in She-philosopher.​com’s digital edn. of 2 poems honoring the printer’s trade, attributed to the celebrated Latin poet and “Virgo Angla,” Elizabeth Jane Weston (1581?–1612); see Lib. Cat. No. WEST1608 (Part 2).

Read the excerpt from Evelyn’s Numismata, including the comment about Arete of Cyrene — “Aristippus, instructed by his own Mother, had the Name of [metrodidaktos].” (Evelyn, Numismata, 1697, 285) — at She-philosopher.​com’s revised “What’s in a Name?” Web page (forthcoming).

Leslie and Griffin’s 2003 conference paper, Transcription of Early Letter Forms in Rare Materials Cataloging, is available as a downloadable PDF here.

A special thanks to Joel Kovarsky of The Prime Meridian: Antique Maps & Books for the pointer to Deborah Leslie’s important work. She made another good presentation on the subject in 2007 (Transcription of Early Letter Forms & Symbols), also available in PDF format here.

For full bibliographical descriptions of any works cited here, see:

• for pre-20th-century works, She-philosopher.​com’s selected list of Primary Sources

• for 20th-century and 21st-century works, She-philosopher.​com’s selected list of Secondary Sources


There are 2 “hover” boxes used on this Web page.
  To learn more about DHTML hover-box technology and possible display problems with it (especially if you are using Google Chrome or Opera for Web browsing and/or viewing this Web page on a mobile device), see the section entitled “A Note about this Website’s Use of Hover Boxes” (this Web page).

The new She-philosopher.​com now includes 3 dates on most Web pages (2 dates at top left, and 1 date in the footer at the bottom) to allow more accurate tracking of website updates.
  Original she-philosopher.​com pages display only 2 dates at the top right of a page, expressing the original date of a page’s publication as a copyright statement (e.g., “© April 2004”), and tracking any and all revisions to a page, whether substantive or not, in the following line (e.g., “revised 26 June 2008”).
  The new She-philosopher.​com includes 2 dates at the top left of a page, recording the original date of that page’s publication (“First Published:”) and the last time any substantive revision was made to its content (“Revised (substantive):”). An additional date is given in the footer at the bottom of every page (e.g., “This Web page was last modified on: 15 July 2012.”). This date allows me to distinguish and track changes to a page which do not alter its main content, such as updated links, improvements to the code, alterations to metadata, minor changes in design and/or appearance (which are not globally applied with CSS), and correction of typos and other errata.
  The “Change Record” for the original she-philosopher.​com, which mapped updates made to pages throughout the she-philosopher.​com website, was discontinued in 2009. I no longer think this kind of bird’s-eye view of website maintenance is useful enough to justify the time and cost expended in its upkeep.
   To ensure that you’re viewing She-philosopher.​com’s most recently-updated content (both here and elsewhere at the website), don’t forget to use your browser’s Reload current page button — typically, an icon featuring a broken circle, with arrowhead on one end. For some computers, the keyboard shortcuts, Ctrl+R and F5 or Command-R, will also work; or you can right-click for a context-sensitive menu with the Reload this page button/command.
   Refreshing a page is especially important if you find yourself visiting the same Web page more than once within a relatively short time frame. I may have made modifications to the page in the interim, and you won’t always know this unless you force your browser to access the server (rather than your computer’s cache) to retrieve the requested Web page.

go to TOP of page

First Published:  April 2004
Revised (substantive):  1 June 2021

Opening quotation markThe past is not dead;           
       it is not even the past.Closing quotation mark


Head-piece from Thomas Johnson's revised and enlarged edn. of Gerard's _Herball_ (1633 and 1636)

The New a Note on Site Design

REPEAT VISITORS TO this website will notice that, redesigned in 2012, has a new logo

new logotype  

and organizational identity.

The new logotype is set in Linotype’s Waza font:

Developed [in 2008] by Polish designer Franciszek Otto, Waza is a script revived from the Baroque epoch, particularly an etching by Wilhelm Hondius (Hondt), the Dutch court engraver for the Polish king, Ladislaus IV [of the Vasa dynasty]. While the tendriled caps are what give Waza its distinctive, ornate character, there are tamer alternate glyphs for less ostentatious settings.

(FontShop Newsletter for Oct. 2009, “New Superfamilies from Linotype, Monotype, and ITC”)

Waza’s style of calligraphy will be familiar to anyone who has looked at many early-modern maps, and indeed, Wilhelm Hondius (born c.1598, The Hague; died in 1652 or 1658, Gdansk) was a cartographer and painter, as well as an engraver.

The new logo celebrates’s forthcoming collection of materials on early-modern calligraphy, as practiced by engravers of maps & prints and other instrumental discourses.

Digital design challenges & strategies

When first launched in 2004, many of us were still using dial-up modems, so “best practices” for Web designers included keeping images around 35KB in size so that your HTML pages would load quickly. Some graphics are better suited to this sort of processing than others, and I quickly learned that my digital facsimiles of 17th-century visual art fell into the “others” category. In particular, period line engravings and etchings with a staggering amount of graphic detail did not lend themselves well to a thumbnail presentation, and posed unique challenges. Back then, we were designing websites for display on VGA devices with 640 x 480 pixel resolution screens, using only GIF and JPEG compression formats, and 256 “Web-safe colors” (which is how puce — #996699 — became the original’s trade-mark purple). I fretted over every image I posted to the website, including the trade-mark graphic from Book 2 of Kircher’s Ars Magna Sciendi (Amsterdam, 1669) on’s welcome page, removing individual colors by hand to achieve a 4-color 780 x 378 pixel GIF graphic that was only 55KB in size, and still have the 17th-century engraver’s calligraphy be readable.

Today, I’m still making trade-offs concerning image quality and file size versus load time, but I no longer worry about having several higher-resolution and/or larger images in the 60KB–70KB range on a single Web page that is not a Gallery Exhibit (e.g., see the redesigned IN BRIEF biography of Sir Walter Ralegh, where I have juxtaposed 8 higher-quality portraits of Ralegh on a single page, in order to document his changing identity over time). I still favor GIF and JPEG data compression techniques, and avoid using the PNG compression format for critical images (such as’s banner graphic) because not all browsers support it; but for those originals where I find that the highest-quality digital facsimile I can create is a PNG file, I’ll probably use it. And I have, in one section of the new, indulged my own passion for visual rhetoric, building 6 Web pages around single images each about 200KB in size: for example, see the illustrated title-page for Robert Hooke in THE PLAYERS section, which is themed around Hooke’s double identity as “the greatest Mechanick this day in the world” and “an absent presence” in standard histories of science. This is an extraordinary practice, however, and single images of such large size are otherwise found only in Gallery Exhibits.

With 32-bit color now the standard, I have updated the color palette, replacing the old puce with multiple vibrant purples, only one of which is a Web-safe color. Plus, I have switched from a 780px to a 960 pixel-wide layout (taking advantage of the 1024px and greater resolution screen common with most netbooks, laptops, and desktop computers).

There have been a lot of technological advances since 2004 (especially in computer graphics adapters, which frees up other computing power, giving today’s website developers a lot more leeway), and the new standards in Web design have revolutionized not only the look-and-feel of the Web, but also its performance, causing most of us to revisit earlier design decisions and update our designs accordingly. I encountered my own tipping point when “tableless Web layouts” took hold, and I promised myself I would post no further content to the public-access areas of until I was able to overhaul the entire website.

This was too ambitious, by far. A complete makeover proved even more daunting to implement than I anticipated, and another tipping point came when I realized I needed to rethink this approach if I still intended to move the website forward. My solution was inelegant, but necessary: focus instead on publishing some of the exciting new research I’d been holding back for a couple of years, and just let the old table-based, pre-CSS layouts be, until such time as I get around to updating them.

This means that the redesigned — launched in 2012 (with a greatly enhanced 62KB JPEG trade-mark image on the welcome page ;-) — still contains much of the old along with the new, and the website’s duelling personality may well be a permanent feature, since I am already over-worked as it is. It is also true that the new hybrid identity — merging past and present, with an eye on the future — runs deeper than mere appearances, and is not really at odds with the website’s mission.

A surprising number of design principles remain in place from the original launch in 2004.

I still prefer to format content on a given subject as one long (sometimes very long ;-) HTML page, rather than spreading it over several shorter pages which require multiple downloads and separate searches (for example,’s list of Primary Sources began its digital life in 2004 as a single page; then in 2009, I broke it up into 3 shorter pages; then in 2012, I consolidated the three pages into one again). I continue to cluster all of the website’s large, highest-resolution images in just one section,’s Gallery, where they are formally catalogued for ease of reference, and where visitors expect (and should be less surprised by) long download times. And for text, I’ve stuck with the type stalwarts Georgia and Verdana because they are almost universally available now (hence, aka “Web-safe fonts”); because, even after all these years, I still think Georgia is a beautiful typeface, and never tire of reading it online; and because I still don’t trust the new Web fonts to display reliably across a wide range of devices, especially as the amount of traffic congestion on the Web grows exponentially.


N O T E :  I have since soured on all font purchases following my last experience with Monotype’s Misleading font descriptions at their website led me to make a bad purchase — a complete waste of my limited budget for typefaces — which would not make right afterwards.
   This one really bad consumer experience has displaced my joy in typography. As of early 2018, I swore off new foundry type, deciding to make do from now on with my current collection of fonts; I stopped following trends & developments in contemporary type design; I have made no further type purchases, and have reassigned money set aside for this purpose to cover other expenses; and I have zero interest at this point in experimenting with Web font subscriptions.

While I did switch at the beginning of 2015 from using Verdana to using Corbel (or Carlito, or Calibri) for sans-serif body text — on, e.g., top-level Web pages such as that for the new STUDIES section and the Editor’s Introduction for LIBRARY digital editions, such as Lib. Cat. No. THOB1637 — I continue to use Verdana for navigation, notes, captions, sidebars, and hover-box text — in short, everywhere that requires type which is attractive and readable when set at small sizes.

In general, I still prefer less flashy designs than what is considered normal elsewhere on the Web, and am slow to adopt all the bells & whistles that are available to developers, ever mindful of the many visitors to using old (Windows 3.1 OS, and earlier!) as well as new (tablets and smartphones) browsers and platforms, and of visitors who use assistive technologies, as well.

I still try to minimize my use of JavaScript, but when I find that I can’t live without it (as with my new penchant for hover-box notes, discussed in more detail below), I do try to find ways to compensate for its shortcomings, and to accommodate those who choose to surf the Web with JavaScript turned off (as I do myself sometimes, usually for security reasons).

By far the most difficult challenge I face is the same as it’s always been: figuring out how to layer a complicated, structured argument with lots of historical detail, and to do it in ways that optimize the new scholarly hybrid for searching and browsing, as well as more traditional forms of reading. In 2004, I had only clumsy tools for this, such as: using the Windows alert box for English translations of Latin and Greek text; using an image’s ALT tag to conceal+reveal layers of notes to the reader (this took advantage of a bug in old versions of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, whereby that browser — and only that browser — displayed the ALT tag when you moused over an image); and using rollovers to conceal+reveal layers of information (in 2004, I limited my use of rollovers because they were not supported by all browsers; now, I limit my use of rollovers because their graphic text isn’t searchable).

Today, in 2012, I am able to combine a colorful array of links and related visual cues with strategic use of hover boxes, small scrollable second windows, and neatly-tiered sidebars and picture captions, all of which are searchable text (the first e-monograph at the new to make strategic use of this particular configuration of design strategies is the introductory essay on Robert Hooke in the Players section).

On balance, I would say this is progress.

But it’s not perfect, and the new of 2012 will continue to experiment with this and evolve.

The debate over “mobile-friendly” design

Unfortunately, this long-term experiment with designing scholarly information places me at odds with the most important trend in Web design today (as I write this on 4/25/2018): “mobile-friendly” design, as specified by Google in April 2015 when Google Search began actively promoting websites it has determined are optimized for mobile devices. To make this determination, Google Search applies one-size-fits-all criteria borrowed from the Responsive Web Design (RWD) and Progressive Enhancement movements.

“Using fluid grids, flexible images, and media queries to embrace the ebb and flow of the web” (as the pioneering A List Apart describes the concept of Responsive Design) may well be the best way to force “good mobile user experiences” on the commercial Web.

But Google Search’s rigid application of the RWD standard across the World-Wide Web — without regard to a website’s purpose, audience, and situation (time-honored rhetorical criteria which have guided human communications for millennia) — does not guarantee the “more sophisticated, content-focused layouts” RWD activists such as Nathan Ford recommend (e.g., see Ford’s webessay, “Content-Out Layout” for issue 392 [25 March 2014] of A List Apart). Indeed, Ford’s goal of “fluid, ratio-based grid systems that invite harmony between content, layout, and screen” is actually perverted when Google-style prescriptions are arbitrarily applied to academic-style “thick description” of the sort in which I, and other scholars, specialize.

I like to think that I’ve been putting Progressive Enhancement principles

Progressive enhancement is a strategy for web design that emphasizes core webpage content first. This strategy then progressively adds more nuanced and technically rigorous layers of presentation and features on top of the content as the end-user’s browser/internet connection allow. The proposed benefits of this strategy are that it allows everyone to access the basic content and functionality of a web page, using any browser or Internet connection, while also providing an enhanced version of the page to those with more advanced browser software or greater bandwidth.

(Wikipedia, s.v. Progressive Enhancement, unpaginated; accessed 4/25/2018)

into practice since 2004, when I first launched this website, and began designing the best, most cost-effective user experience I could for those of us paying a premium to access Internet content over dial-up modems. Technology has advanced at an exponential rate since then, but the design challenges posed today by “mobile usability” are not all that different.

In an article in Communications of the ACM in April 2013, Web technologist Nicholas C. Zakas, noted that mobile phones in use in 2013 were more powerful than Apollo 11’s 70 lb (32 kg) Apollo Guidance Computer used in the July 1969 lunar landing. However, in spite of their power, in 2013, mobile devices still suffer from web performance with slow connections similar to the 1996 stage of web development. Mobile devices with slower download request/response times, the latency of over-the-air data transmission, with “high-latency connections, slower CPUs, and less memory” force developers to rethink web applications created for desktops with “wired connections, fast CPUs, and almost endless memory.”

(Wikipedia, s.v. Mobile Web, unpaginated; accessed 4/25/2018)

I was never among those developers who adopted the

web design strategy known as graceful degradation, wherein designers would create Web pages for the latest browsers that would also work well in older versions of browser software. Graceful degradation was supposed to allow the page to “degrade”, or remain presentable even if certain technologies assumed by the design were not present, without being jarring to the user of such older software. In practice, graceful degradation has been supplanted by an attitude that the end user should “just upgrade”.

(Wikipedia, s.v. Progressive Enhancement, unpaginated; accessed 4/25/2018)

Rather, I continued to focus on the unique complexities of scholarly information design, further honing my alternating version of what Google now calls a “simple linear layout that works well on narrow and wide viewports.”

And, as of April 2015, Google Search began penalizing me for this.

By way of example, I offer an online monograph I crafted for a companion website in 2014, and have been continuously revising (both content and delivery) ever since: my illustrated Editor’s Introduction to the first published debate about gun control in the United States, Thomas Tryon’s The Planter’s Speech to his Neighbours & Country-Men of Pennsylvania, East & West-Jersey (1684). Tryon’s 17th-century polemic is important for several reasons, but especially because it paved the way for what I believe may well be this nation’s first gun-control laws, passed in 1686 and 1694 in the most “rebellious” of the Anglo-American colonies (East New Jersey). For many of us, this is valuable historical information, because these 17th-century laws puncture 19th-century mythologizing about the foundational status of gun rights in the U.S. — including the 19th-century marketing campaign persuading us that “guns are what make you free” — which still dominates popular culture today. It has been reported that following the Parkland, Florida school shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School on 14 February 2018,

The issue isn’t fading from the news as quickly as mass shootings tend to do, with interest in the term “gun control” enjoying a sustained high in Google searches a week later.

(Gary Younge, “This Time Is Different: After the Parkland shooting, young people are leading the push for gun control,” The Nation 306.8 [19/26 March 2018]: 10; retitled “Out of Bloodshed, Hope for Gun Control: Three reasons why the aftermath of the Parkland shooting is different” for online posting)

So we know there is plenty of cross-generational interest in taking a fresh look at the inchoate debate over the highly-charged issue of gun rights. As another Nation columnist put it,

... Senior Emma Gonzalez may have made history with her blistering speech at a rally three days after the massacre: “Politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA telling us nothing could have been done to prevent this—we call BS. They say tougher gun laws do not decrease gun violence. We call BS. They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. We call BS. They say guns are just tools like knives and are as dangerous as cars. We call BS. They say no laws could have prevented the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred. We call BS.” ... Enough with the craziness, and enough with the clever pundits and the quiet politicians and the defeatist citizenry, too. There’s no reason why anyone — of any age — needs to own an AR-15. In fact, maybe I shouldn’t say this, because we progressives seem to be all about winning the MAGA-hat-wearing white working class, but I don’t believe you have a right to own a gun, period....

(Katha Pollitt, “Teens Versus Guns: After Parkland, a new generation boldly decides to take on the NRA,” The Nation 306.8 [19/26 March 2018]: 6; retitled “Has the NRA Finally Met Its Match? After Parkland, a generation is rising up, giving hope for a bold new gun-control movement” for online posting)

But none of this public interest matters to Google Search, which has given my Editor’s Introduction “suboptimal rankings” because it dares to deviate from Google Search’s data-driven algorithmic norm for a good website experience. On 15 January 2015, the Google Webmaster Tools Team informed me that this Web page, and all other pages at the subdomain known as Roses (others of which also contain little-known historical material on this country’s founding debate over gun control and gun rights)

have critical mobile usability errors [which] severely affect how mobile users are able to experience your website. These pages will not be seen as mobile-friendly by Google Search, and will therefore be displayed and ranked appropriately for smartphone users.

Google identified three separate usability errors:

1.  Touch elements too close.
2.  Viewport not configured.
3.  Small font size.

but the main offense that all three have in common is that website visitors using mobile devices have to scroll horizontally or “pinch to zoom” the screen in order to see the entire page, read some of the text, and tap on links. For Google, this is the sum total of a poor user experience; to me, it is a necessary trade-off, of little consequence, when one is attempting to view the world (in this case, a dense 400+KB HTML text file) through the equivalent of a mailbox slot. Moreover, it is my belief that were I to implement the fixes Google demands (e.g., increasing the size of caption text, thus making it indistinguishable from body text), I would worsen the mobile user’s experience. For example: if I fix error #2 by redesigning the content to flow in the viewport — leaving no margins at left and right that you can randomly touch, free of links and hot spots — it becomes much more difficult to vertically scroll through a 400+KB page with a “simple linear layout” and quickly find what you’re looking for.

But my primary reason for refusing to “fix mobile usability issues” as flagged by Google Search has more to do with matters of rhetorical effectiveness than the present state of mobile technology. The classical rhetorical canon has five parts to it — Invention, Arrangement, Memory, Delivery, Style — and models an wholistic, situational approach to human communication. As such, I do not believe a strict, technocentric separation of presentation and content is desirable, and I pay close attention to the visual rhetoric of all content I create for the Web. Google Search’s mandated focus on a narrowly-conceived standard for mobile usability (delivery) — to the exclusion of all else — is essentially arhetorical, forcing me to flatten information hierarchies and craft dumbed-down content. When I created the Editor’s Introduction which Google has dubbed un-mobile-friendly, I had to make many difficult rhetorical choices governing what historical research I included, what I left out, and how I organized all of the selected material. Subsequent revisions to the page — incorporating new material, while moving existing content around in order to bolster a particular argument or better explain an unfamiliar concept, as with the graphics and accompanying write-up for Hariot-White-de Bry’s Plate XVI — always require that I merge semantics and presentation. How could it be otherwise? when I’m updating a “thick description” of 400+KB with its complicated web of layered information hierarchies, including: regular body text, hover notes, end-notes, bibliography, appendices, reader alerts, tooltips, block quotes with MLA-style scholarly citations, pictures (at varying sizes), 2 types of picture caption, multiple types of links (each with different styling for different link states), multiple types of annotation, lists, in-text navigation aids (including named anchors), and more. In deciding to frame one idea as body text, and a related idea as a caption, I’m arranging intellectual content into information hierarchies that, in relationship, add new meaning to the content. In other words, my scholarship (content) is its design.

Because of its shift to “rendering-based indexing,” Google Search is now in the business of peer review, ranking scholarly content not on its quality or originality or importance to a field of study, but on whether smartphone users have to manually pinch-to-zoom the screen in order to comfortably read it. It matters not that my Editor’s Introduction is peppered with useful assertions about scholarly, archival discoveries, here published for the first time (e.g., my identification of the translator of Anne Conway’s The Principles of the Most Ancient and Modern Philosophy, published posthumously in 1692). It matters only that Google Search finds the code it believes is needed to provide smartphone users with “a meaningful ‘after-click’ experience.”

Be that as it may, I remain a confirmed contrarian on this subject (which will frustrate David Sless, and some others on the old Info-Design Café listserv, with whom I’ve had many passionate arguments concerning the appropriate role of empirical inquiry in design ;-). Regardless of Google Search’s authoritative, data-driven labelling schemes, I believe years of experience & experiment have taught me to craft websites that reward visitors with unique, high-value content and layered information design “that works well on narrow and wide viewports.” And for those occasions when it does not — e.g., because of Google Chrome’s inability to properly display hover boxes on wide viewports (see below) — I have put work-arounds in place, so that with a little effort, visitors can still find and access the content they seek.

Most importantly, I believe that my ethical design decisions (when more systematically configured, sometimes known as Value Sensitive Design) ultimately drive the visitor “experience.” The flip side to my contrarian practice of website development is that design decisions are not dictated by popularity contests, advertisers, or Big Search. There are no ads at, be they unobstrusive and subtly manipulative, or the not so subtle click-bait which is pervasive on the commercial Web. does not place cookies of any kind on your system (the key reason I’m reluctant to transition this website from copyright to copyleft, since Creative Commons licensing buttons will store cookies on your device). In sum, every visitor to is free to engage fully with the intellectual content I offer, without worrying that unscrupulous parties will track your activities on or off the website, and exploit your data for financial or partisan political gain.

This kind of safe & private computing experience is increasingly rare on the Internet, and I believe that those of us who can, have a responsibility to preserve it. As such, offers old-fashioned free access to my scholarly work — crafted with heart for those of you who are willing to pinch the screen a little while you explore! — as a public service.

And it’s too bad that Google Search makes no allowance — or identifying label — for such public goods.


N O T E :  On 3 July 2018, the Google Search Console Team wrote to inform me that “mobile-first indexing” has been enabled for the She-philosopher​.com affiliate website, Roses​.Communicating​By​Design​.com. This means that my Editor’s Introduction for that website’s digital reissue (2014) of Thomas Tryon’s The Planter’s Speech to his Neighbours & Country-Men of Pennsylvania, East & West-Jersey ... (1684) is no longer being assigned “suboptimal rankings” by Google Search and ignored by Googlebot Smartphone.
   I was given no explanation for Google’s abrupt change in policy other than “Our analysis indicates that the mobile and desktop versions of your site are comparable.”

Important structural changes

1. The Issues

I continue to use most of the same information hierarchies — HOME, the PLAYERS, IN BRIEF, GALLERY, LIBRARY, REFERENCES, PREVIEWS — to structure website content, but the old’s section entitled “the ISSUES” has been dropped from the new, and replaced by a new section called “STUDIES.”

I had hoped to avoid any such radical breaks with the past, especially one with the potential to confuse visitors and make website navigation more difficult. But “The Issues” section of the old was a major stumbling block for me from the beginning, evidenced by the fact that 8 years after the website’s launch, “The Issues” remained the only area of without any content in it.

In keeping with my academic training, I designed “The Issues” to function as a “literature review” — akin to the opening section of most published scholarly papers, where a researcher summarizes the existing body of scholarship on a given subject, and positions her own research as an “original contribution” within that circumscribed context. Following this print-based model, I made “The Issues” the first content category (after “Home”) on the navigation menu, and promised visitors a series of webessays that would “delve into the more relevant theoretical controversies having to do with science, technology, and gender in the early-modern period.” The topics to be covered included:

The reasons this all went nowhere are several.

For starters, literature reviews are tedious exercises which few of us choose to do when we don’t have to. I have never enjoyed doing literature reviews, and no longer feel compelled to do so.

Secondly, my emphasis at has always been on primary over secondary sources, as explained on the introductory page for’s REFERENCES section.

Thirdly, it’s not as though “The Issues” go away simply because their physical location in a server’s directory structure goes away. What are to me the most interesting and influential arguments in the secondary literature are already discussed elsewhere at Repeatedly. Contentious theories about

“Magical Mechanism: Retooling the Machine Metaphor”


“‘Use thy gifts rightly’: The Material Culture of Science”

frame most of what I have written and will continue to write about two of the most “deservedly Famous Mechanician[s]” (Boyle, New Experiments Physico-Mechanicall, 1660, 363) and inventors of the 17th century: Cornelis Drebbel and Robert Hooke.

“Revisioning Early-Modern Optics”

already spawned a forthcoming series of IN BRIEF topic essays on 17th-century optical technologies (microscope, drop microscope, helioscope, scotoscope, camera obscura, magic lantern, burning-glass, speculum, beryl, glass-making in general) and 17th-century studies of optical phenomena (bio-luminescence, “the Bononian stone” and other phosphori, rainbows), in addition to scattered comments elsewhere at The complex of issues surrounding

“Gendered Images & the Politics of Representation”

are explored over and over in the many Gallery Exhibits which feature goddess iconography and female personifications of arts & sciences, as well as visual & verbal portraits of real-life 17th-century women of varying classes, occupations, and ethnicities. And questions about whether

“Technology Is to Male as Nature Is to Female?”


“Science = ‘A Male Linguistic Economy’?”

are already a central preoccupation for me (who answers no to both, just in case anyone is still unclear on this ;-). Indeed, the ongoing controversy surrounding gender and science guides much of my 17th-century research, and turns up in just about everything I write for

Fourthly, I find I prefer to discuss “The Issues” in context, where they have immediacy and meaning beyond their ranking in some remote scholarly pantheon. Such rankings are of little interest to me; but how an issue plays out in real lives, through time and across cultures, is of great interest.

Fifthly, my driving ambition for is to create a vibrant online scholarly community where each of us can find the tools to engage past & present cultural politics with “the heat and abstracted passion of intellectual inquiry” (Hornaday, E2). This different style of critical engagement, which I associate with the new dialogically-based sociable scholarship, has never thrived within traditional scholastic confines and hierarchies of expertise. Nor am I the only scholar to chafe at such institutional constraints.

The following paper is an adaptation of a plenary lecture written for the annual conference of the Design History Society in 1997. My brief was to provide an overview of the history of design in eighteenth-century England for an audience largely without a specialist knowledge of this period. I decided against attempting a survey of current scholarship in this area on the grounds that surveys all too frequently centre upon pointless recapitulation. Similarly, these did not seem to be the right circumstances to air those finer points of difference which tend to govern the polemics of specialist research. I chose, instead, to develop my own account of historical development.

(Matthew Craske, “Plan and Control: Design and the Competitive Spirit in Early and Mid-Eighteenth-Century England,” 187)

In the end, my desire to enact a back-to-the-future vision of sociable scholarship won out over my need to maintain continuity between the old and the new

With great relief, I finally removed “The Issues” tab from the website’s navigation menu, and once again committed to the brave new world of sociable scholarship and the 21st-century respublica literaria.

2. Studies

The hardest — and most time-consuming — thing about publishing reams of scholarship in a rich, multi-layered and dynamic online environment such as is figuring out where all the new information goes. Most of my postdoctoral research, and what I have to say about it, fits in several categories, and I often make one or more false starts before I figure out the right strategy for developing new material.

The problem has been around as long as the encyclopedia of cultured knowledge, which, in the Latin West, dates to the first encyclopedia compiled by Plato’s nephew, Speusippus (only fragments of which remain), followed by the exemplary ancient works of Pliny the Elder’s Historia Naturalis (CE 77) and Saint Isidore of Seville’s Etymologiae (CE 560–636), both serving as model for encyclopedias for more than a millennium.

Because of geographic and economic expansion in the 16th and 17th centuries,

Europe had acquired unclassified places, peoples, plants, animals, minerals, and objects. The explorations of Columbus and others redrew the face of the known world. The colonial aftermath of those voyages created a need to refashion the classification of human knowledge.

(Lawrence Sullivan, “Circumscribing Knowledge: Encyclopedias in Historical Perspective,” 316)

“The tenth-century work called Suidas was the first encyclopedia to be arranged entirely in alphabetical order, an idea that would not catch on, however, until the mass productions of books in the sixteenth century.” But the alphabetical arrangement of encyclopedia entries — which we now take for granted as the correct format for both encyclopedia and dictionary — broke the circle of knowledge and values that was central to the classical concept of encyclopedic knowledge, intended originally to be a sure and indispensable tool for the pursuit of truth and a worthy life: “In its Greek origin, the word ‘encyclopedia’ itself refers to a shape, the circle that circumscribed a well-rounded education.” (L. Sullivan, “Circumscribing Knowledge,” 317–20)

The modern reshaping of knowledge by way of alphabetization led to what the English poet and critic Samuel Taylor Coleridge condemned as a “huge unconnected miscellany” of information, resulting in a piecemeal education, which Coleridge blamed on the “impudent ignorance of Presbyterian bookmakers” (qtd. in L. Sullivan, “Circumscribing Knowledge,” 320). The looser structure of accidentally-aligned articles (as we get with an alphabetical ordering) meant that huge amounts of specialist information could be made readily available to the book-buying public — ensuring a run of good profits for the booksellers — but only at the expense of the classical humanist’s pursuit of clear, methodical thinking and the sort of true philosophical harmony that comes with an emphasis on unity of design. Modern encyclopedic information is not easily transformed into knowledge by the non-specialist reader, as Darwin’s grand-daughter once complained.

Yet alphabetical arrangement did not remove the fact that encyclopaedias assumed some prior acquaintance with major subject categories. This point was made in a strikingly simple way by Gwen Raverat, Charles Darwin’s grand-daughter. Recalling, in her autobiography, a childhood attempt to find the facts of sexual reproduction in a nineteenth-century encyclopaedia, she declared: “You can have no idea, if you have not tried, how difficult it is to find out anything whatever from an encyclopaedia, unless you know all about it already; and I did not even know what words to look up.” In The Pickwick Papers (1866), Charles Dickens made a more direct comment on what Jonathan Swift, in his Tale of a Tub (1704), had dismissively called “Index-learning”. Pickwick’s acquaintance boasts that he knows a man who learned all about Chinese metaphysics from the Encyclopaedia Britannica. When Pickwick asked how this was done, this is the solemn reply: “he read for metaphysics under the letter M, and for China under the letter C, and combined his information, sir!” Rather than targeting the pretentious scope of encyclopaedias, or the arbitrary character of their content, as some other writers had done, here Dickens goes to the heart of the question of how a reader, without a secure map of knowledge, might actually use an alphabetically arranged work. Given the popularity of the Penny Cyclopaedia in his time, this was a telling jibe against the mantra of useful knowledge, personified in his own Mr Gradgrind, which confused knowledge with factual information that could be absorbed in any order. These examples provide lessons for the story of encyclopaedias: the alphabet did not necessarily mean liberation from the hard task of putting knowledge into categories. In a number of the following chapters it is argued that this quest for ordered knowledge persisted in spite of the fact that the major encyclopaedias, from the eighteenth century on, were alphabetically arranged.

(Richard Yeo, Encyclopaedic Visions, 26–7)

With the advent of the Internet and mechanized search tools operating on a global scale, the already “hard task of putting knowledge into categories” (Yeo, Encyclopaedic Visions, 27) and drawing meaning from miscellany has become harder than ever. As a scholarly website invested in the classical humanist ideal of encyclopedic knowledge, can not resort to simple schemes (alphabetical and not) for dumping undigested data on an unsuspecting public. All of my research must be culled through and organized and designed — not just as an aid for information retrieval and academic citation, but also for didactic ends.

As with the great Age-of-Enlightenment encyclopedists (Pierre Bayle, Antoine Furetière, Ephraim Chambers, Denis Diderot) who developed the alphabetical organization, 21st-century encyclopedists (including the many lesser mortals who voluntarily toil at Wikipedia) are engaged in nothing less than the reshaping of knowledge. It’s a grand project, the success of which — like most poetic visions — depends on the implementation of prosaic details, in this case, the drudgery of forging digital standards and new “best practices” for teaching and learning that can withstand the twin tests of time: speed-up (rapidly-accelerating technologies), and slow-down (the world of deeper time in which human beings do, think, revise, and evolve).

It’s a balancing act which I have yet to figure out, and there are no guidelines to follow from those who have done this before. I’m making it up as I go along, and as such, taking plenty of wrong turns. For example, new content created in March 2013 having to do with Lucy Hutchinson’s and Mary Evelyn’s work on Lucretius’ scientific poem, De Rerum Natura [On the Nature of Things], started out in an updated introductory essay (forthcoming) on “Mad Madge” in the PLAYERS section, but ended up being spun off into a new gallery exhibit, plus three new digital editions of 17th-century texts for the LIBRARY, plus several new second-window asides; at the same time, a relatively inaccessible content piece about naming Margaret Cavendish (first published in April 2004) was moved from its original location in the PLAYERS section to the new STUDIES section, and then moved again and converted from a study to an IN BRIEF topic (to be referenced by the overview page on early-modern branding in the STUDIES section).

In each case, the reorganization was driven by the type and quality of research data I have accumulated, my evolving interpretations of that data, and what I’ve learned about how best to “connect the dots” for complex processing by human and artificial intelligence.

The new STUDIES section is my latest attempt to provide thematic consistency and structure for the proliferating scholarly miscellany scattered across

To the extent that it forces me to write synopses for some of the new content under development (such as my ongoing study of the natural and cultural history of the chameleon), the STUDIES section is both a help and a hindrance.

I find I need, and benefit from, the mental scaffolding this exercise provides.

But I certainly don’t need or want the extra work (having to write yet more scholarly essays, rehashing research and ideas covered in more depth elsewhere).

I will try, as much as possible, to keep STUDIES section synopses fresh and interesting.

But I will, of course, fall short of this goal on occasion.

3. The Library

The LIBRARY section of has been completely reorganized.

Most noticeably, the cumbersome, alphanumeric, multi-page HTML catalog previously used to access Library publications in the old has been discontinued. Given the different ways visitors now access and move through a website, the original rationale for the Library Catalog no longer applies, and because a text-based catalog such as this is difficult to maintain and update, I was happy to get rid of it.

All Library e-pubs are now issued in two parts: Part I consists of the introductory commentary for each Library title (this content was previously published in the multi-page Library Catalog); and Part II contains the actual digital transcript of the primary source. It makes more sense to juxtapose editorial commentary with the digital content it describes (as in an old-fashioned printed book), and by so doing now, I am able to discontinue the redundant printing of Library Catalog introductions in second-window files — previously accessed via the small decorative initial “C” (captioned “editor’s commentary”) in the top right corner of each HTML transcript page.

All of this will greatly simplify Library upkeep, from now on.

The first digital edition to be fully converted to the new, two-part, e-publication format is the popular excerpt from Richard Flecknoe’s A Relation of Ten Years Travells in Europe, Asia, Affrique, and America (London, c.1656), describing his trip to Brazil in 1648–50 (Lib. Cat. No. FLECK1656). Other titles have been only partially converted — enough to launch the new, minus a library catalog and all those second-window files, but little more. I will continue working on the conversions as I have time (and/or a special need for them), but in most cases, the older HTML transcripts will suffice as is, making their digital reissue a lower priority than the first-time publication of new titles for the Library (and I have many of these in the works).

A note about this website’s use of hover boxes

A hover box is a type of pop-up window that appears when the cursor (usually controlled by a mouse) for a desktop/laptop/notebook computer is placed over a trigger point on the screen for a short period of time, without clicking. Because the box that pops up in the foreground of the screen does not scroll with the Web page (thus giving the appearance of “hovering” over the page), it can be problematic when viewed on smaller screens.

One fix for this is to size hover boxes to display reliably on a wide range of Internet-enabled devices, as do most online advertisers (click/tap here to learn more about hover ads at Wikipedia).

Because I use hover boxes for scholarly notes of variable lengths (the online equivalent of footnotes) — not for ads of a fixed size — there is no optimal one-size-fits-all hover box I can use. As a result, longer hover notes that exceed the height of your screen may only partially display, and you may not be able to access the complete note by other means, without delving into the source code. This is a known problem, even for relatively large computer screens, and for browsers such as Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, which now (April 2018) offer the best support for viewing hover boxes on desktop/laptop/notebook computers.

When working properly, a “hover” note will display whenever you mouse over (or tap on) the associated underlined text which calls it. This calling text (or trigger) looks like any other link, but behaves differently: it is not “clickable,” and when you hover over it on a computer, your default cursor will change to an arrowhead with a subscripted ? (question mark), rather than the familiar pointer which appears when you normally follow hyperlinks.

NOTE: On smartphones or other touch screens, there is no cursor, so you can not hover over the trigger text, but must instead tap on the underlined link to get the hover box to display.

(To TEST if/how your computer or mobile device displays this website’s hover boxes, see: [1] the hover note associated with the name of Wilhelm Hondius at the top of this page; and [2] the hover note which comments on the phrase “presumably with community support” in the first paragraph of the next section, entitled “Our New Ethical Search Tool.”)

Unfortunately, the most popular browser in the world today, Google Chrome,

As of 2018, StatCounter estimates that Google Chrome has a 66% worldwide usage share of web browsers as a desktop browser. It also has 56% market share across all platforms combined, because it has over 50% share on smartphones; and thus Chrome is [the] most used browser in virtually all countries (most exceptions in Africa).

(Wikipedia, s.v. Google Chrome, unpaginated; accessed 4/25/2018)

no longer displays hover boxes at all on desktop/laptop/notebook computers (running under the Windows OS) — nor is there any change to the cursor when you hover over the trigger text, indicating that this is an informational, rather than navigational, link designed to trigger a pop-up event. Indeed, there is no feedback at all to help a Chrome user understand why some normal-seeming links on a Web page aren’t clickable, while others are. Even more unfortunate, there are no settings that I know of which Chrome users can adjust to fix the problem.


N O T E :  Changing your Chrome browser settings from Block pop-ups to Allow pop-ups for does not appear to have any effect on the display of hover boxes.
   If there are any power users of Chrome out there who know some work-around for Google Chrome’s inability to properly display hover boxes on desktop/laptop/notebook computers, please let me know, so that I can post and/or address it here.

For complex Web pages such as’s detailed study of California’s flawed “Good Neighbor Fence Act of 2013,” Chrome’s (and Opera’s) lack of support for its many content-rich hover notes — designed to be read in tandem with the text of the 600+KB HTML page they complement — can ruin the whole carefully-crafted online “experience.” But even when browsers like Firefox and MSIE can display the hover notes as intended, there are additional issues with the delivery of ephemeral content which can not be printed or directly accessed in the usual way. E.g., while search engines will index the content of a hover box (because it is part of the Web page’s HTML source code), you cannot go to that content directly using a browser’s Find command (keyboard shortcut: CTRL+F) in normal display mode.

To compensate for these shortcomings, I will sometimes extract the hover notes for a Web page — if there are enough of them with substantive content — and cluster them (like end-notes) on a separate HTML page, which opens in a small, floating second window, the content of which you can scroll, capture, copy, and print — as with the hover notes page for’s detailed study of California’s ill-conceived Good Neighbor Fence Act of 2013 (California Assembly Bill 1404).

If such a page of end-notes exists, there will be a link for it in the sidebar of QUICK LINKS and NOTES (e.g., see the Note at the bottom of the sidebar for the introductory essay on Robert Hooke in the Players section).

And, when I consider a Web page’s hover notes important enough to warrant it, I will add an alert (with a redundant link to the page of end-notes) for visitors at the top of the trigger page, as with the study of California’s flawed “Good Neighbor Fence Act of 2013.”

Our new ethical search tool

Beginning in 2004, used FDSE (Fluid Dynamics Search Engine) shareware for its customized website search tool. With the website redesign of 2012, I switched to Open Source KSearch software, because it’s a powerful search engine that I can update and customize, presumably with community support, whereas FDSE is no longer actively maintained by its developers.

There are many good reasons for continuing to use a custom search tool (instead of, say, using the Google or Bing toolbars) at For starters, I know the quality of the search is vastly superior. Unlike the big commercial search engines, my customized KSearch tool will not filter search results or rank returns based on aggregated data concerning you and your social network’s “likes,” past purchases, or past searches. search results are not rigged for advertisers or for anyone else, and everyone who enters the same search query will see the exact same results, every time the query is posed, until new content posted to forces changes to the content of the search engine results page (SERP). This kind of pure, disinterested search experience — where no person or algorithm manipulates the search results, for any reason — is rare on the Web, and of incomparable value for serious researchers and scholars. (For additional discussion of the pros and cons of “search neutrality,” see the sidebar entry for our IN BRIEF topic on data-driven demagoguery.)

In addition, I update the KSearch index every time new content is added to the public areas of the website, thus ensuring the most comprehensive and reliable searches of (There is no telling when — or even if — the commercial search engines will re-index a website or “crawl” new pages, and most offer an incomplete and dated record of what’s actually at a website.)

Unfortunately, KSearch lags Big Search in one key area: interpreting special characters, such as typographic quotes and dashes (and other characters outside the core English range of ASCII-128). Not only does KSearch render glyphs like

| | | | [en dash ] | [em dash] | £ | § | æ and Æ [ae ligature] | œ and Œ [oe ligature] | à, á, â, ã, ä, å | è, é, ê, ë, etc.

incorrectly as mojibake (or garbled text, from the Japanese word for “character transformation”) in its index and on SERPs — e.g.,

— the program’s search capabilities are hampered, since KSearch is unable to find all instances at of queries associated in some manner with special characters. So, for example, searching on the phrase

“promote the General Welfare”

returns 500 “total matches,” with Result No. 57 (“... a€œpromote the General Welfarea€ ...”) being the first result to contain the actual searched-on phrase.

Despite the appearance of comprehensiveness (500 matches), this search was corrupted.

At present (12/14/2020), contains the four-word phrase “promote the General Welfare” not just once, but nine times, all nine instances of which will only be returned by KSearch (still as mojibake, but without all the superfluous mismatches) if you search on

"promote the General Welfare"

instead (i.e., no special characters included in the search string, which specifies the complete phrase, rather than constituent words, by enclosing the four words in inch-mark quotes, "...").

This means that you can’t trust a single search on phrases with special characters like

"Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz"

which, as of 12/14/2020, returned only 23 “total matches.” Broadening the search using

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

(without inch-mark quotes) returned a whopping “51371 total matches” (including such mismatches as flattery, evade, labor, translation, etc.) But searching again on

"Sor Juana"

returned “112 total matches” (with no mismatches), while another search on

"de la Cruz"

returned “74 total matches” (none of which are mismatches), with the added bonus of bringing up results for Sor Filotea de la Cruz and Sor Philothea de la Cruz (pseudonyms for one of Sor Juana’s antagonists, and thus related material).

Similarly, searching on the single word


(which KSearch converts to mojibake) returned only “48 total matches” (by my count, as of 12/14/2020, the word cyclopædia actually appears at 112 times).

Searching again on the alternate spelling


returned “145 total matches” (none of which are mismatches), which you can usefully compare against the first SERP in order to uncover more Cyclopædia-related content at

In sum: until I can come up with a fix for erroneous KSearch character encoding, it is up to visitors to proactively control for the quality of local search results.

As of November 2020, I have tried troubleshooting KSearch’s mojibake problem, several times, to no avail. It’s a complicated coding issue, and due to the many variables involved, I still don’t even know how widespread the problem is. (E.g., not everyone in the KSearch developer community experienced the problem when I first raised the issue back in 2011–2012.)

Given the growing size and complexity of heading into the 2020s, a trustworthy, customizable search engine — once a nicety — has become a necessity. As such, I will continue working on a fix for the problem, and I encourage anyone who thinks they can help the troubleshooting process along, to reach out.

A KSearch data-entry box is conveniently located at the top right of most new Web pages (and/or in the footer, including those page designs without a right-hand sidebar, such as the illustrated title-page for Virginia Ferrar in THE PLAYERS section).

As noted above, all search engines, including our local KSearch engine, will index the hidden content of a hover box because it is part of the Web page’s HTML source code. Although this hidden content will show up on the SERP if it includes your search terms, you will not be able to access that hidden content directly using a browser’s Find command (keyboard shortcut: CTRL+F) in normal display mode. You’ll need instead to locate the accompanying hover notes file (for example, the second window aside for the Editor’s Introduction to Thomas Hobbes’s textbook of rhetorized psychology, A Briefe of the Art of Rhetorique [c.1637]), where the disappearing pop-up footnotes are duplicated as a fixed list of endnotes.

Transcription, ligatures and She-philosopher.​com’s changing style guide

To aid in Web-based reading and searching, I have modernized the typography used for transcribing direct quotes from 16th–18th-century texts (e.g., i instead of j and j instead of i, u instead of v and v instead of u, w instead of vv, etc.). Unwilling to rely on variable browser renderings of antique abbreviations (e.g., letters like e and u with a line over the top — ē and ū — which your browser may or may not display properly), I have spelled these out, placing the missing letters in square brackets (e.g., “The engraving is signed at lower left: ‘R. Nanteiül ad vivu[m] faciebat 1660.’”; and “She is associated with: Processionale ad usus insignis eccl[es]ie Sa[rum] (1532), for the Catholic Church.”). Even so, Edward Arber’s reminder to modern readers in his facsimile reprint (1871) of the Tyndale New Testament (as originally printed at Cologne in 1525) remains relevant:

It may help those unfamiliar with black letter to state that a dash over a letter indicates that m or n are to be added: as tēpte means tempte, wēt went. Also that the flourish at the end of some words is the plural es, as whaalles (whales), spirites (spirits), etc.
   There are numerous misprints in the text, characteristic of the great difficulties under which it was produced, being secretly composed by the Cologne compositors under great and constant fear of detection.

(E. Arber, The Preface, The First Printed English New Testament, 1871, 70)

Sometimes I will correct such misprints (usually when an errata sheet was included with the publication), again placing the corrected text within square brackets. I have not, however, modernized the original orthography or punctuation, since’s scholarly audience needs and expects full and precise documentation and quotations.

Such standards are evolving, and have been inconsistently applied over the years (new material will, I hope, be better standardized). Plus, I continue to face unexpected challenges with some content. E.g., at the end of 2011 I was forced to reconsider’s policy concerning use of ligatures — spec. œ (oe), Æ (AE), and æ (ae) — in HTML transcriptions of early-modern Latin texts, such as antique medical recipes.

Even in the 17th century, scholars complained that ligatures were “Thorns in the Eyes” of those trying to learn a foreign language. It was still customary for 17th-century printers of Greek texts to join some printed letters, especially at the end of words, as we see in Pierre Ravaud’s elegant type-setting of the Hippocratic Oath for François Ranchin’s Commentarius in Hippocratis Jusjurandum, cum Is. Casauboni Notis (Montpellier, 1618) as reprinted in Henri Gras’s edition of his works, Francisci Ranchini ... Opuscula Medica ... (Lyon, 1627).

facsimile of early-17th-century printed page

^  Page 17 from Francisci Ranchini ... Opuscula Medica ... (Lyon, 1627), edited by Henri Gras, with the text of the Hippocratic Oath printed in Greek (on left) and Latin (on right).
   The bilingual presentation of the Hippocratic Oath took 2 pages (pp. 17–18), to which was appended François Ranchin’s Latin commentary on it (pp. 15–42).
   Both the author and editor were prominent figures in French medical circles. François Ranchin (1564–1641) was chancellor of the University of Montpellier for 30 years, “during which time he completely renovated the medical school, entirely at his own expense.”
   I believe Henri Gras graduated from Montpellier with his “bachelier en medecine” around 1618, when his 1st edition of Ranchin’s Commentary on the Hippocratic Oath (Commentarius in Hippocratis Jusjurandum, cum Is. Casauboni Notis) appeared, to be reissued almost 10 years later (and retitled, Francisci Ranchini, Consiliarii, Medici & Professoris Regii, celeberrimaeque Universitatis Monspeliensis Cancellarii amplissimi in Hippocratis Jusjurandum Commentarius) in Gras’s edition of Ranchin’s medical works (Lyon, 1627). In addition to his contributions to medical science, Gras was a renowned bibliophile.

This was in keeping with ancient iconography (as found on antique Greek coins), along with cumulative practices for scribal publication, which often joined two or more letters in a single character for expediency, and to save on costs (for labor, ink, and paper). Although there continued to be aesthetic reasons for favoring a creative use of ligatures (e.g., some letter shapes look better when conjoined than when juxtaposed), 17th-century printers — typically more business-oriented than earlier master printers, such as Richard Jugge, who viewed the craft of printing as a humanist vocation — used ligatures in order to maximize profits, because they worked in a competitive trade with razor-thin margins. Every little saving counted, even when printing aspirational texts such as Sir Henry Savile’s Greek edition of Chrysostom (8 folio vols., Eton, 1610–13) — “an edition of the highest scholarly quality, executed in splendid typography.” Savile, “a provost of Eton, himself organized and paid for the work’s printing (£8,000 for 1,000 copies printed, and £2,000 for paper). He arranged that the Royal Printer John Norton came to Eton to execute the work in a printing office, specially set up for the Chrysostom edition.” (S. van der Woude, “Sir Henry Savile’s Chrysostomus edition in the Netherlands,” 447 and 438) But there was no real market, in England or on the continent, for an 8-volume collection of patristic literature containing only the Greek text. As reported by Samuel Slade, an Oxford academic who expended much effort trying to sell copies of Savile’s Chrysostom edition in the Netherlands, “they who have Greeke are moniles, and they who have mony are Greekles.” (qtd. in S. van der Woude, 447)

The edition was not a financial success. The sales may have been affected by the appearance in 1614 of a six-volume collection of Chrysostom’s works accompanied by Latin translations, and other similar bilingual editions in the following few years — Savile’s edition contained only the Greek text.... The price was initially fixed at £9 for the set, but soon was dropped to £8 (after Savile’s death, Eton was selling copies for £3 per set). In his will Savile left fifty copies of the work to Merton and the same number to Eton; he accounts for yet another fifty in the hands of the printer, as well as several others in his possession and that of his son-in-law, [Sir Dudley] Carleton. Carleton assisted him for a year in the preparation of the edition and, after the publication, attempted — with little success — to sell copies of the work in Venice, where he was resident ambassador.

(R. D. Goulding, ODNB entry for “Savile, Sir Henry (1549–1622), mathematician and classical scholar,” n. pag.)

Since it was already costly to print books in Greek, investing further funds in more readable movable type, on the offchance of growing a market for the Greek classics, was a risky endeavour. I know of only one publisher with the business acumen and foresight to attempt it.

In his book review of Henry Wetsten’s transformative 1692 printing of the “Ten Books of Diogenes Laertius,” Richard Waller applauded the Amsterdam printer-publisher (aka Henricus Wetstein) for several innovations, chief among them his avoidance of ligatures.

Its evident that Mr. H. Wetsten before he adventured on this famous Piece, first took the Advice of his Learned Friends of several Nations; from whom he understood what further Improvements Diogenes might yet receive. After this he (and who could do it better?) cast the Work into the most useful Form and Model. Lastly, He spared no Cost in providing the most excellent paper, Types, Sculpts, and Heads of the Philosophers which could be found amongst the curious Antiquaries.
   And when we speak of the Elegancy of the Types and Letters used in this Impression, we cannot but observe to the Reader, that Mr. Wetsten, by Advice of that most Learned Man Mr. Mark Meibomius, hath in this Edition (and some other Greek Books) thrown away out of the Alphabet all those knotty and perplexing Abbreviations, commonly called by Printers Ligatures. These Ligatures have been a long time Thorns in the Eyes of all that first learn Greek. It may be hoped that all Founders of Greek Letters will for the future wholly omit, and banish these troublesom and useless Ligatures.

(Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 1693, no. 203, 886–7)

I have felt the effects of such “thorns” myself, and give below four examples of early-modern printing practices, the first two of which brought my own research process to a grinding halt.

[1a]   Greek word, spelled: mu + eta + tau + rho + omicron + delta + iota (with tonos) + delta + alpha + kappa + tau + omicron + sigma

[1b]   Greek word, spelled: mu + eta + tau + rho + omicron + delta + iota (with tonos) + delta + alpha + kappa + tau + omicron + sigma

[1c]   Greek word

^  [1a] As printed in John Evelyn’s Numismata, 1697, p. 285.
     A late 17th-century Greek transliteration of metrodidaktos (in English: “Mother-taught”), the nickname applied to Aristippus the Younger, whose mother, Arete, taught him natural and moral philosophy (science and ethics).
     The printer used 2 antique ligatures which I could not decipher: for the 4th and 5th letters (rho + omicron); and for the last 2 letters (omicron + sigma).
     [1b] My modernization of the Greek word (Example 1a) printed on p. 285 of Evelyn’s Numismata (typeset in Georgia).
     Thanks to Wikipedia’s page on Aristippus the Younger, which gives a modern Greek version of metrodidaktos here, I was able to decipher the 2 antique Greek ligatures which before this had me stumped.
     [1c] An even earlier 17th-century rendering of metrodidaktos, as printed in Bathsua Makin’s An Essay to Revive the Antient Education of Gentlewomen, in Religion, Manners, Arts & Tongues, 1673, p. 14.
     Evelyn knew “Mrs. Makins, the Learned Sister of the Learned Dr. Pell,” listing her among “some Instances of the Learned, Virtuous and Fair Sex” deserving of a medal (J. Evelyn, Numismata, 1697, 264). And her earlier comments on Arete may well have influenced Evelyn’s own comments, over 2 decades later.
     According to Makin, “Arete attained to that perfection in Philosophy, that she instructed her son Aristippus, who was therefore called [Example 1c], Mother-taught. After her Fathers death, she erected a School of Philosophy, where she commonly read to a full and frequent Auditory.” (B. Makin, An Essay to Revive the Antient Education of Gentlewomen, in Religion, Manners, Arts & Tongues, 1673, 14)

[2a]   Greek word, spelled: iota + (final) sigma + omicron + rho + iota + kappa + omicron (with tonos) + nu

[2b]   Greek word, spelled: iota + (final) sigma + omicron + rho + iota + kappa + omicron (with tonos) + nu

[2c]   Greek word, spelled: iota + sigma + tau + omicron + rho + iota + kappa + eta (with tonos)

^  [2a] As printed in Richard Waller’s edn. of The Posthumous Works of Robert Hooke, 1705, p. 377.
     An early 18th-century Greek transliteration of the Greek word which translates into English as historical. Hooke used Example 2a in a 1687 lecture on earthquakes, referring to Varro’s assertion that the Ancients divided the age of the world into three periods: the Dark, the Fabulous, and the Historical. I was able to decipher the printed Greek for Dark and Fabulous because Hooke used these two words elsewhere, so I could cross-check context and translations. But Example 2a was only used this once by Hooke, and flummoxed me, largely because of the indecipherable ligature used for the 4th and 5th letters (rho + iota).
     Of note, Waller’s book was issued by Samuel Smith (bap. 1658, d. 1707) and Benjamin Walford (d. 1710), official “printers to the Royal Society” from 1693, although Smith began publishing the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society at the beginning of his career (in the early 1680s). Despite this official relationship with the Royal Society, there is no evidence that Smith (a bookseller and publisher) and Walford (a book auctioneer and publisher, Smith’s business partner and eventual brother-in-law) were ever active as printers, so Smith & Walford did not themselves print Waller’s edn. of Hooke’s Posthumous Works or Waller’s book review for the Society’s journal, in which Waller complained that ligatures were “Thorns in the Eyes of all that first learn Greek.”
     Smith was described by contemporaries as very learned, fluent in Latin and French, and a central figure in the foreign book trade of the late 17th century, importing many scholarly works from abroad (such as Henry Wetsten’s 1692 edn. of Diogenes Laertius, reviewed by Waller in 1693). So Smith must have been aware of the readability issues raised by Waller’s review, and must have noted the new business opportunities here, even if Smith didn’t actively pursue any reform of “best practices” himself.
     [2b] My modernization of the Greek word (Example 2a) printed on p. 377 of Waller’s edn. of Hooke’s Posthumous Works (typeset in Georgia).
     I was only able to decipher Example 2a after I noticed that Evelyn’s Numismata used the same style of ligature, and after I learned from Wikipedia’s modern transliteration of metrodidaktos that what looked to me like a swash lower-case e (and not any kind of Greek letter with which I was familiar) was in fact the Greek letter rho.
     [2c] The Google translator’s modern Greek version of “historical”.
     My interpretation of context (and Hooke’s larger argument) originally led me to believe that Varro’s third stage of the world was “the Historical,” but I was thrown off course by Google’s modern Greek rendering of “historical,” which didn’t look anything like the Greek word printed in Waller’s edn. of Hooke’s Posthumous Works in 1705. In this case, the problem went beyond Greek ligatures to crucial differences in antique Greek typography (e.g., kappas that look like the English lower-case u or n, or x in Evelyn’s 1697 Numismata) and orthography. (In comparison, reading lots of close-set black letter these days feels effortless! ;-)

[3a]   Greek word, spelled: epsilon + mu + pi + epsilon + iota + rho + iota (with tonos) + alpha

[3b]   Greek word, spelled: epsilon + mu + pi + epsilon + iota + rho + iota (with tonos) + alpha

^  [3a] As printed in Ephraim Chambers’s Cyclopaedia, 1728, ii. 171, s.v. Medicine.
     An 18th-century Greek transliteration of the Greek word (epsilon + mu + pi + epsilon + iota + rho + iota, with tonos + alpha) which translates into English as experience. Chambers used the Greek term to stress that Hippocrates “was the first who deserv’d the Title of a true Physician: for being a Master of the [Example 3a], Experience, as well as of Analogy and Reason, and withal well versed in a pure Philosophy; he, first, made Physic rational; and laid the Foundation of the dogmatical Medicine, which has ever since obtain’d.” (Chambers, 1728, ii. 171)
     The printer used 2 antique ligatures which make Example 3a difficult to decipher: for the 4th and 5th letters (epsilon + iota); and for the 6th and 7th letters (rho + iota with a tonos). But this time I was thrown by what I took to be a thorny ligature (3rd character), which instead turned out to be the Greek letter pi.
     [3b] My modernization of the Greek word (Example 3a) printed on p. 171 of vol. 2 of Chambers’s Cyclopaedia (typeset in Georgia).
     Fortunately, I was able to figure things out faster this time, because Chambers provided the literal English translation right after the Greek word.

[4a]   Greek word, spelled: epsilon + mu + pi + epsilon + iota + rho + omicron + sigma

[4b]   Greek word, spelled: epsilon + mu + pi + epsilon + iota + rho + omicron + sigma

^  [4a] As printed in Ephraim Chambers’s Cyclopaedia, 1728, i. 303, s.v. Empiric.
     An 18th-century Greek transliteration of the Greek word which translates into English as experienced. Chambers used Example 4a to explain the derivation of empiric, from the Greek words for empirical (epsilon + mu + pi + epsilon + iota + rho + iota + kappa + omicron, with tonos + sigma) plus “[Example 4a], knowing, able; but, particularly, knowing and learned by Experience. The Root being [variant Greek word for experience: pi + epsilon + iota + rho + omicron], Essay, Trial.” According to Chambers, empirics — physicians who “form’d themselves Rules, and Methods, on their own Practice and Experience; and not on any Knowledge of Natural Causes, or the Study of good Authors” — dominated Greek medicine “till the Time of Hippocrates; who first introduced Reason and the Use of Theory therein: And hence arose a new Sect, call’d Theoretici.” (Chambers, 1728, i. 303)
     The printer used 2 antique ligatures which make Example 4a difficult to decipher: for the 4th and 5th letters (epsilon + iota); and for the 7th and 8th letters (omicron + sigma), as in Example 1a above. Again, I was thrown this time by the unfamiliar character preceding the final ligature, which turned out to be the Greek letter rho.
     [4b] My modernization of the Greek word (Example 4a) printed on p. 303 of vol. 1 of Chambers’s Cyclopaedia (typeset in Georgia).
     Chambers’s nuanced discussion of derivation didn’t lend itself well to a literal translation or interpretation, and so once again I was slowed by early-modern typography, and ultimately had to rely on context to resolve the issue. In the end, no other letter besides rho made any sense in that position.
     For those of you wishing to explore these issues in more detail, I recommend Wikipedia’s page on the Greek alphabet, especially its handy letter chart.

Having thus stumbled over antique Greek (and sometimes, Latin) ligatures myself several times, I have taken Waller’s criticism to heart, and am now following the recommendations of Deborah Leslie and Benjamin Griffin in their 2003 conference paper, Transcription of Early Letter Forms in Rare Materials Cataloging, where they “recommend ignoring the LCRI [Library of Congress Rule Interpretations] and instructing catalogers to separate the component letters in ligatures and digraphs without exception.” (Leslie and Griffin, 2003, 18 of 36) Careful readers of their paper will note that I do not, however, follow Leslie and Griffin’s recommendation of “normalizing and modernizing all punctuation marks.” (Leslie and Griffin, 2003, 14 of 36) I agree that this practice is useful for cataloging early-modern book titles, especially those which were artistically arranged for poster-style letterpress and engraved title-pages, emphasizing aesthetics over grammar, where line breaks worked with display typography to make sense of text, rendering punctuation unnecessary. Modern library catalogs, which treat book titles more as data than art, are more usable when we supply standardized modern punctuation to texts stripped of their design context. And I follow this practice myself when making casual references to early-modern titles in webessays. But I apply a double standard when it comes to cataloguing early-modern titles in the website’s bibliography of primary works, where I try to keep transcriptions as accurate as possible.

facsimile of early-17th-century engraved title-plate

^  Engraved, poster-style title-page for the first issue of Thomas Johnson’s revised, scholarly edition of Gerard’s Herball, co-printed at London in 1633 and 1636 by a woman, Joyce Norton.
   The title-plate was engraved by John Payne (d. in or before 1648), and is signed at bottom right, “Io: Payne sculps:”. It pairs “the Ancients” (the goddesses Ceres and Pomona, and the male botanists Theophrastus and Dioscorides) with “the Moderns” (John Gerard [c.1545–1612], whose portrait is at center bottom), thus identifying five figures as the founders of modern botanical science in England.
   Payne copied the portrait of Gerard from the 1st edn. of The Herball, or, Generall Historie of Plants Gathered by John Gerarde of London (1597; punctuation added), and it shows Gerard holding a potato sprig — at that time, still an exotic plant recently imported to Europe from Peru, and raised by Gerard in his own garden where he cultivated many exotics. Gerard’s illustration of the American potato in his Herball of 1597 was the first printed image of it, although he introduced some confusion along with the new visual information by naming the plant a “Virginian potato,” thus obscuring its Peruvian origins, and seemingly contradicting a previous (unillustrated) account by Carolus Clusius (Charles de l’Écluse).
   A conventional modernization of this book’s title would look something like: The Herball … Gathered by John Gerarde … Very Much Enlarged and Amended by Thomas Johnson, Citizen and Apothecarye of London (1636). And this is how I refer to it in forthcoming webessays.
   But when listing the title in’s more formal bibliographic catalog of primary sources (which requires a different level of precision), I use only minimal modernization. Viz.,

Gerard, John, rev. and enl. by Thomas Johnson. The herball or generall historie of plantes. Gathered by John Gerarde of London Master in Chirurgerie very much enlarged and amended by Thomas Johnson citizen and apothecarye of London. London: Printed by Adam Islip[,] Joice Norton and Richard Whitakers, anno 1633.

   Gerard’s Herball (editio princeps, 1597) was a folio containing 1,392 pages of text and illustrations, making it the most massive botanical work in English up to his time. Johnson’s “very much enlarged and amended” edition of 1633 swelled the volume to 1,631 pages, and the printer-publishers relied on various “markes” to distinguish Johnson’s interpolations, along with a handy, prefatory “Catalogue of Additions” to further highlight all the new material (“figure or description, or both”) in each chapter.
   Johnson’s botanically superior edition of Gerard’s Herball was so well received that it was reprinted (by Joyce Norton, et al.) in 1636. “[T]he original owner of the Huntington Library copy of Johnson’s 1633 edition of Gerard’s Herbal carefully noted on a flyleaf that he had paid to Mims, the bookseller in Little Britain, two pounds, eight shillings for the volume on September 1, 1654.” (L. B. Wright, Middle-Class Culture in Elizabethan England, 577) Despite the expense, the number of extant herbals in folio indicates that the demand for such an encyclopedic resource was great.
   For his revised edition in 1633, Johnson used botanical illustrations from the stock of Antwerp’s famous printer, Christopher Plantin. Plantin employed “women illuminators” to color by hand the botanical books which he produced, and these anonymous women were likely responsible for the splendid hand-colored copies of Joyce Norton’s printed pages, too.

     Facsimile of hand-colored 1633 title-page engraving.

   This vivid title-page — again, for Johnson’s revised edition of Gerard’s Herball in 1633, with Joyce Norton’s imprint — has been bound with the section on roses (Book 3, chapters 1–3, pp. 1077–1089), excerpted from the editio princeps (1597) of Gerard’s Herball (in Johnson’s “very much enlarged and amended” edition of 1633, the section on roses occupies Book 3, chapters 1–3, pp. 1259–1271). The exquisitely-colored excerpt, with the 14 woodcuts of roses from the 1597 Herball, has been digitized for the Internet Archive and can be viewed here.
   Select pages from printed books were often sold separately like this, and the woodcuts of roses and other plants in Gerard’s Herball were especially popular with women, who used them for needlework designs. Indeed, artists of all sorts (goldsmiths, sculptors, bookbinders, graphic designers, painters, woodworkers, furniture makers, stonemasons, architects, landscape designers, chefs, etc.) were inspired by the graphics and plant lore popularized in Gerard’s Herball for generations.
   For more on Gerard’s politicized potatoes, click/tap here.

To experience a truer transcription of the look-and-feel of early-modern typography (in this case, for a text first printed in 1705), see’s digital edition of Robert Hooke’s “Lecture explicating the Memory, and how we come by the notion of Time” (read at meetings of the Royal Society, May–June 1682).

Tail-piece from Thomas Johnson's revised and enlarged edn. of Gerard's _Herball_ (1633 and 1636)

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“a cartographer and painter, as well as an engraver” — This Wilhelm Hondius, whose family originated from Duffel and resided at The Hague, is not to be confused with the more famous Hondius family of cartographers, originally from Ghent, and residing in Amsterdam (i.e., Jodocus Hondius I, 1563–1612, and Jodocus Hondius II, 1593–1633). ::

presumably with community support — Sadly, the once-active KSearch developer community, formerly associated with the websites www.​kscripts.​com and www.​ksearch.​info, is no more (disbanded c.2013, after both websites were taken down). Such a fine product deserves to be properly maintained, and I hope an online tech-support community of users & developers can be kick-started again one of these days (and no, I am not volunteering! ;-). In the meantime, the Perl script can be downloaded (for free) at the open-source clearinghouse, SourceForge: http://​sourceforge.​net/​projects/​ksearch/. But for setup and installation, you’re now on your own, and as with much open-source software, getting KSearch up & running for the first time, without instructions, is not an undertaking for the faint-of-heart! ::