A Handbook to Literary Research by Simon Eliot, W. R. Owens (editors)

By Simon Eliot, W. R. Owens (editors)

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This is an international learned society which, however, tends to concentrate on Anglophone countries. It holds annual conferences, alternating (usually) between the UK and North America. edu:80/~sharp/ As book history is a relative new interdisciplinary subject, there is much exciting new work to be done; some of this work, and not the least important, will be small-scale studies of individual local printers, publishers, booksellers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Small-scale studies of the publishing histories of lesser-known poets and novelists will also be of importance.

What is lost in detail, however, is made up for in quantity. Most major enumerative bibliographies draw on the collections of some, and sometimes many, of the great library collections of the world, so their listings can be very comprehensive. Perhaps the clearest examples of the enumerative bibliographer’s art are the sequence of short-title catalogues: The Incunable Short Title Catalogue (London: The British Library); usually known as ISTC, this lists books printed before 1501 (an ‘incunable’ is a book printed before 1500–1: from the Latin cunae meaning ‘cradle’, as in ‘the printed book in its cradle’).

Essentially, enumerative bibliography enumerates—it lists and counts all books produced over a given period or in a given country, or defined by some other large and, as far as possible, valuefree category. The information offered is much less detailed than that presented in descriptive bibliographies: typically, each TEXTUAL SCHOLARSHIP AND BOOK HISTORY 39 entry will contain details of the author, the title, the printer, the year of publication, and a list of libraries in which copies can be found.

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