The Newberry Library Colloquium

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

4 - 5 pm

Towner Fellows’ Lounge

The Newberry White Devil 

Benedict S. Robinson, Newberry NEH Fellow

Jill Gage, Reference Librarian

The Cambridge collected works of John Webster, published starting in 1995, includes collation notes from a Newberry copy of the first quarto of Webster’s play The White Devil (1612). Those notes offer a detailed, if compressed, description of the copy: from them one could reconstruct that object letter by letter. But the result would be a phantom: there is no other record of a Newberry copy of the 1612 quarto, nor has it yet been possible to trace another copy that matches the Cambridge description. What happened? Benedict S. Robinson will discuss the process of editing The White Devil for Arden Early Modern Drama. Jill Gage will discuss the search and possible solutions to the mystery of the “missing” quarto. Although there may be – in fact almost certainly is – no Newberry copy of the 1612 White Devil, the problem of the ghost copy represents both a quirky instance of the kinds of issues involved in maintaining a massive research archive and a case of collaboration between scholars and librarians working with that archive.

The Newberry Library Colloquium is a weekly gathering of Newberry staff members, fellows, scholars-in-residence, and readers on Wednesday afternoon in the Towner Fellows’ Lounge. Refreshments are available at 3:30 pm and an informal presentation begins at 4:00 pm, followed by discussion. The talks are varied, but all relate to the Newberry collections in some way. Speakers may describe a current research project, highlight a particular collection, or discuss one of the Library’s many ongoing or special programs. The Colloquium is open to the public and no reservations are required. 

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