About the Project

The Grub Street Project was established in 2005 by Allison Muri. The goal of the project is to visualize the literary and cultural history of London. This includes mapping the city's print trades, its (imagined) literary representations, and its (real) histories in order to understand their evolution and their influence upon other networks of trade, knowledge, and literature. Visualizing a network of communications now centuries past, however, presents no small challenge. In 1704 Jonathan Swift complained of the seemingly ephemeral literary productions in London where vast numbers of written works were "hurried so hastily off the scene, that they escape our memory, and delude our sight" like a topography of ever-changing clouds. Today, the obstacles to posterity that Swift condemned resurface in any attempt to study the relationships between 18th-century printed materials, texts, authors, printers, booksellers, publishers, and readers. For example, while we might be able to determine where a book was printed or "to be sold," patterns of production, selling, buying, and reading are harder to see. Moreover, the ephemeral nature of London's topography itself presents difficulties for the researcher. The notorious Grub Street is no more, and traces of the printers' temporary premises there exist today only as vague addresses such as "neere the lower pumpe" or "neer Cripple-Gate." High-resolution "zoomable" maps from 18th-century prints associated with a database of bibliographical and topographical data, trades indexes, and literary texts afford new possibilities for not only seeing the relationships between trades, book production, and dissemination of ideas, but also for seeing the topographies of literary imagination.

Presenting such research on the spatial, temporal, and material influences on literary communications is also hindered by the limitations of print. Maps are expensive to reproduce, and usually printed in low-resolution formats; the complex relationships of space, time, commerce, trades, and personal histories, not to mention the texts themselves have imposed certain limitations on visual presentation and interpretation. The length and breadth of books and articles are governed by costs of paper, ink, and distribution; printed data is static; the meta-information contained in printed books and journals is limited by the constraints of the page; automated searching and textual comparison is impossible, and so on. Networked computing presents clear advantages in augmenting and extending traditional research methods. Indeed, a profound alteration of literary texts, research activities, and scholarly publications already is taking place, and it is in this new "Grub Street" of digital publishing—itself too often critiqued as specious and ephemeral—that we can realize an exciting new medium for examining a history of literary cultures and subcultures.

Contributors

Allison Muri, Director, Editor in chief, Designer, 2005-present

Programming

Xiaohan Zhang, Web App Developer, 2012-2015

Student Contributors

Benjamin Neudorf (BA / MA, English), 2011-14: research, usability testing, co-editor of The London Spy

Catherine Nygren (BA / MA, English), 2010-13: research, usability testing, co-editor of The Dunciad Variorum

Mike Sheinin (BA, Computer Science), 2012: programming, usability testing

Justin Gowen (BA, Computer Science), 2011: programming

Jordan Rudek (MA, English), 2011: Ned Ward research

Edison del Canto (PhD, Interdisciplinary Studies), 2010: conceptual design, The Four Kings of Canada

Meshon Cantrill (MA, English), 2008: research and development of a concept for "The London Game"

Holly Luhning (PhD, English), 2005: data entry, Eliza Haywood research

Jon Bath (PhD, English), 2005: prototyping, TEI markup

 

Publications

Muri, Allison, Catherine Nygren, and Benjamin Neudorf. “The Grub Street Project: A Digital Social Edition of London in the Long 18th Century.” Digital Scholarship in the Humanities (March 2016).

Muri, Allison. “Beyond GIS: On Mapping Early Modern Narratives and the Chronotope.” Digital Studies / Le champ numérique 6 (2015-2016) Beyond Accessibility: Textual Studies in the Twenty-First Century, ed. Brent Nelson and Richard Cunningham.

Muri, Allison. “Of Words and Things: Image, Page, Text, and The Rape of the Lock.” In Anniversary Essays on Alexander Pope’s Rape of the Lock. Ed. Donald W. Nichol. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2015. 167–217.

Neudorf, Benjamin. “Two Spectators: The Double Vision of Ned Ward’s The London Spy.” MA project paper, 2014.

Nygren, Catherine. “The Head of the Dunce in Pope's Dunciad in Four Books.” MA project paper, 2013.

Salt, Joel, Ronald Cooley, and Allison Muri. "Electronic Scholarly Editing in the University Classroom: an Approach to Project-based Learning." Digital Studies / Le champ numérique 3.1 (2012).

Muri, Allison. “Twenty Years After the Death of the Book: Literature, the Humanities, and the Knowledge Economy.” English Studies in Canada 38.1 (March 2012): 115–140.

Muri, Allison. “Teaching the History and Future of the Book.” Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Teaching (SMART) 19.1 (Spring 2012): 39-74.

Cantrill, Meshon. “Who has not trembled at the Mohocks' name?": Narratives of Control and Resistance in the Press in Early Eighteenth-Century London.” MA project paper, 2012.

Muri, Allison. “Graphs, Maps, and Digital Topographies: Visualizing The Dunciad as Heterotopia.” Lumen 30 (2011): 79-98.

Salt, Joel. “Terræ Incognitæ as Ego Incognita: Mapping Thomas De Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium-Eater.” MA project paper, 2010.

Muri, Allison. “Digital Natives or Digital Strangers? Teaching the Eighteenth Century Online, from Ctrl-F to Digital Editions.” Digital Defoe: Studies in Defoe & His Contemporaries 2.1 (Fall 2010).

Muri, Allison. “The Grub Street Project: Imagining Futures in Scholarly Editing.” In Online Humanities Scholarship: The Shape of Things to Come. Ed. Jerome McGann, with Andrew Stauffer, Dana Wheeles, and Michael Pickard (Houston, TX: Rice University Press, 2010), 25-58.

Muri, Allison. “The Technology and Future of the Book: What a Digital ‘Grub Street’ Can Tell us About Communications, Commerce, and Creativity.” In Producing the Eighteenth-Century Book: Writers and Publishers in England, 1650–1800. Ed. Laura Runge and Pat Rogers. University of Delaware Press, 2009. 235-50.

Muri, Allison. “Virtually Human: The Electronic Page, the Archived Body, and Human Identity.” In The Future of the Page. Ed. Peter Stoicheff and Andrew Taylor. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004. 231-54.

 

Progress so Far

Data being integrated with the maps includes:

  • A Dictionary of London, by Henry Harben (1918)
  • London, Past and Present; Its History, Associations, by Henry Benjamin Wheatley (1891)
  • A Topographical Dictionary of London and Its Environs, by James Elmes (1831)
  • Lockie's Topography of London, by John Lockie (1810)
  • a bibliography of books published in London from the years 1660 to 1830: these are currently being assigned street and address id's
  • tradesmen and addresses, compiled from various sources including both the bibliographical details of publication information, and Kent's London business directories published annually from 1732 until 1828
  • digital editions and map tours