Puget Sound English Department

March 22, 2010

Blogging the 17th Century

Many scholars have begun to explore the literary and historical antecedents for the blog, noting that in its anonymous or pseudonymous periodical form, its topicality, and its brevity–as well as its implicit invitation to conversation and its inherent didacticism–the blog echoes in form and function such 18th century publications as the Spectator (for merely one brief discussion of the link, here’s U Minnesota Duluth M.A. candidate Chris Julin’s Mr. Spectator site).

One of the most charming examples of this connection is the recreation of Samuel Pepys’s famous Diary of life in 17th Century London, updated daily and maintained by Phil Gyford. In addition to posting a new entry daily, the site features links to further resources on Pepys and his life and world.

Even Cotton Mather, the 17th Century American Puritan leader, is getting some blogging action, through the online reading journal of a gifted undergraduate student, known as “Christine”: Puritan Writing. In it she processes her encounters with Mather’s Massive ecclesiastical history, Magnalia Christi Americana (1702) in lucid, relevant, readable entries.

Finally, if you develop a taste for such mergings of the old and new literary forms, there’s the online journal Common-place, sponsored by the venerable American Antiquarian Society as a forum for all things early and American.

Such literary/creative/technological couplings are rampant: which would you add to the admittedly short and specialized sites listed here?

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