Worldwide transcribathon of 17th century literature begins in Newcastle

Friday, 18 October 2019

Get involved in this international transcribathon.

Fans of early modern poetry from all over the world will take part in a transcribathon on Thursday 24th October 2019. Literary historian with the School of Humanities and Social Science, Dr Erin McCarthy is running the Australian leg of the international event organised by the Early Modern Poetry Online Project. The project comprises a group of academics that teach and study early modern poetry in universities around the world.

Dr McCarthy said the aim of the event is crowd source transcriptions of 17thcentury poetry manuscripts.

“This has two purposes: first, it helps researchers access previously restricted material, and second, it provides opportunities for innovative, hands-on teaching,” she said.

“The transcriptions we gather will ultimately be edited, XML tagged, and uploaded to the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Early Modern Manuscripts Online tool for public use.”

Instructions on how to begin transcribing manuscripts are available on the Early Modern Poetry Online Project website.

“Transcribing is an activity with a long lasting impact. The pages you transcribe today may be read and studied by scholars for years—even decades—to come”, Dr McCarthy said. “It’s quite a thrill to be reading hand written poetry that was written hundreds of years ago. Often detective skills are needed to try and work out what some of the writing says.”

Dr McCarthy will host the Australian site of the transcribathon at Callaghan on 24 October from 11am to 1pm in room SRG40, and the event will continue in Europe and the Eastern U.S. as the day goes on and during the following day.

“As the earth turns Europe toward the sun, students at l’Università della Valle d’Aosta in Italy will begin their part of the transcribathon. Then when the day starts on the east coast of the U.S., transcribers at Folger Shakespeare Library will join in and shortly thereafter, students at Virginia Commonwealth University will try to do their part,” said McCarthy’s colleague Professor Joshua Eckhardt from Virginia Commonwealth University.

“We also usually have people worldwide join us via the Twitter hashtag #empopstars.”

More information about the event, past transcribathons and the Early Modern Poetry Online Project visit

Related news

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.