This talk will consider the promise, potential and pitfalls of the digital archive - one of the most important emergent trends in eighteenth-century studies, and a boon to many scholars in the wake of COVID-related library closures. The talk will be jointly presented by Dr Sophie Coulombeau (Lecturer in English Literature and Co-Investigator on the AHRC-funded project Unlocking the Mary Hamilton Papers
) and Katie Crowther (PhD candidate at the Centre for Eighteenth-Century Studies and Research Assistant on the project). Considering the eighteenth-century digital archive from the student perspective, Sophie and Katie will ask: what are the advantages and disadvantages of working with these resources, and drawing on them for your assignments and research? How do you know what materials are out there - and how do you find them, use them, and attribute them? What solutions do these archives offer for age-old problems - and what new problems might they create, which now stand in need of solutions?
Sophie and Katie will take the digital archive of the bluestocking writer, collector, socialite and courtier Mary Hamilton (1756-1816) as a case study, showcasing its holdings and outlining some recent findings (Hamilton corresponded or collaborated with, among others, Elizabeth Montagu; Hannah More; Frances Burney; Elizabeth Carter; Horace Walpole; Joseph and Thomas Warton; the Duchess of Portland; Mary Delany; Elizabeth Vesey; Richard 'Leonidas' Glover; Sir William Hamilton; and the Royal Family). But they will also range more widely to introduce students to other digital projects and resources, both new and well-established.