The Grub Street Project is a digital edition of eighteenth-century London. By mapping its print culture, literature, and trades, it aims to create both a historically accurate visualization of the city's commerce and communications, and a record of how its authors and artists portrayed it.
Grub Street, now subsumed by Milton Street, was both a real place and an abstract idea. For authors such as Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift, it represented base commercialization, hack writing, and the prostitution of literary ideals. Its historical record, however obscure, presents a more complex scene, and one that is difficult to trace. Where, exactly, was "over against the lower Pump in Grub-street" (where one might find the printer John Clowes) or "in Grub-street neer the upper pump" (Bernard Alsop) or "near the Upper-Pump in Grubstreet" (Elizabeth Alsop)? What is left to us are the traces of this topography in maps (Strype, Horwood), in texts (The Dunciad), and in images.
Both location and metaphor, this now-vanished street represents what is largely invisible to us now, the print culture of eighteenth-century London (both high and low), and the construction of eighteenth-century London as a network of textual representations. The Grub Street Project will examine new possibilities that digital mapping provides to better understand the city as topography and as "social text."
Map and Image Gallery (click on "File" to open maps and illustrations):
Artist and Interdisciplinary doctoral student Edison del Canto reimagines digital editions with his version of The Four Kings of Canada: being a succint account of the four Indian princes lately arriv'd from North America (London: printed and sold by John Baker, at the Black Boy in Paternoster Row, 1710).
For the Grub Street project, del Canto designed an edition interface and conceptual diagrams of what a full edition might entail. This design subverts expectations for the necessity of linear reading and paginated order, of the forms of argument engendered by the printed page through the process of its production, authorship, and dissemination. Of this preliminary sketch, del Canto states:
The Four Kings of Canada explores an E-book visual and interactive interface concept of 1700's British colonial perception of Canada. Empire is a cultural artifact as well as a geopolitical entity; it belongs to a geography of the mind as well as a geography of power. In the context of this culture of Empire, four Native Americans with ties to the Iroquois confederacy traveled as a kind of diplomatic entourage to London in 1710. The cultural impact of this episode in Britain was unique, signifying the new cultural identity of the emerging empire beyond its shores.
The Grubstreet Project is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Designed and directed by Allison Muri, the Grubstreet Project includes images and texts that are in the public domain (to which this license does not apply), and adaptations of public domain works such as annotated editions, mappings of texts or events, or map plates that have been joined into a single image, warped and georectified (to which it does apply). Under the terms of this license, any of the above conditions can be waived with permission from the copyright holder: contact Allison Muri for more information.