New, improved

While this blog has lain dormant, several potential British Virginia editions have gotten underway; VCU Libraries has moved British Virginia publications to Scholars Compass; and we there have replaced our inaugural editions with corrected versions and new, much more informative abstracts written by Kevin Farley, VCU Humanities Collections Librarian and British Virginia Advisory Board member. If you have already downloaded a photo facsimile of the Symonds sermon, please replace it with this new and improved version. Here’s Kevin’s abstract of the Symonds editions.

British Virginia is a series of peer-reviewed, open-access editions of original documents related to the colony. British Virginia publications illustrate both the enduring ideological discourse of English settlement in and around the James River, and the unique historical artifacts that record the area’s modern colonization. Editions derive from original sources and original research on them. The first two publications in the series, by Professor Joshua Eckhardt (VCU English), are each documentary (or, in other words, single-witness) editions of the Virginia Historical Society’s copy of a printed sermon preached by William Symonds to the Virginia Company of London in April, 1609 (VHS Rare Books F 229 S98). One of the two editions is a type facsimile: a retyped reproduction of the VHS copy that retains original spelling and layout. This edition offers the advantages of sharp visual contrast and a small file size. The other is a photographic facsimile. It offers searchable, full-color images of the VHS copy. Symonds’ sermon is the first of “The Virginia Company Sermons,” which different preachers addressed to both the company and the London public, in some cases from the pulpit and in each case from the bookstall. Reexamining these scarce or seldom-read works reveals the subtle arguments for colonization, as well as the indirect presence of opposition voices seeking to question the moral and political assumptions behind the colonization of Virginia.

Comments { 0 }


Some time ago, Les Harrison graciously reviewed British Virginia for Common-place. We only now came across it (and responded to his gentle pointers).

Comments { 0 }


Please download the corrected version of the Symonds photo facsimile. The previous two iterations inadvertently revealed the secret of our searchable images: Screen shot 2014-02-07 at 4.35.49 PM

Comments { 0 }

British Virginia at The Charleston Conference

Kevin Farley (VCU’s Humanities Collection Librarian, a British Virginia Advisory Board member, and an expert on both digital library publishing and the English Renaissance) recently spoke about British Virginia at The Charleston Conference, an annual meeting that focuses on library collections, especially the increasing role of digital collections in academic libraries. He is publishing a revised version of his talk in The Conference Proceedings of the Charleston Conference, due out from Purdue University Press in late 2014. Click here to read an exclusive preprint of his essay.

Comments { 0 }

British Virginia in The Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies

The Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies magnanimously included an announcement for British Virginia in its special issue on “The Early Modern and the Digital.” Why not take a look?

Comments { 0 }

Virginia Company sermons return to London

The Virginia Company sermons will once again engage a critical London audience this September—at no less a cathedral than St. Paul’s.

poster-large web_0

Comments { 0 }

Xu Bing, Tobacco Book

The latest, local version of Xu Bing’s book made of tobacco leaves features  one of the oldest surviving English texts on Virginia tobacco, from Ralph Hamor’s 1615 book, A true discourse on the present estate of Virginia:


When British Virginia was just getting started, we suggested the source to Bing and provided the transcript that he copied here with rubber stamps.


William Welby (who also published William Symonds’ 1609 sermon, available to your right) published Hamor’s original as a quarto, probably measuring no more than 20 x 15 cm. Working with tobacco leaves, and in the context of modern art galleries, Bing made his book six or seven times that size.


Xu Bing, Tobacco Book (Virginia version), 2011. Tobacco leaves, paper, cardboard, rubber-stamped with passage from A True Discourse on the Present State of Virginia by Ralph Hamor (1615), 53.75 x 39.75 x 3.875 in. (136.5 x 101 x 9.8 cm). Tobacco leaf courtesy of Marvin Cogshill; fabrication assisted by Jillian Dy, Yi Sheng, Sayaka Suzuki, and Yao Xin.

John B. Ravenal, Xu Bing: Tobacco Project (Richmond: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 2011), 74-75.

Comments { 0 }

It worked.

BV in WorldCat

Our publication scheme relies on library catalogs to an unusually high degree. This is because the university library is one (or maybe even the) major goal for an academic publication to reach. So we publish directly to, and through, our university library. We gratefully rely on the catalogers at Cabell Library to write OCLC records for them, and get them on WorldCat, where people will be able to find them long after this weblog has gone down.



Comments { 0 }


Not yet sure how to search a British Virginia photo facsimile?

Screen shot 2013-05-22 at 2.26.52 PM_2

Do these screen shots show you how?

Screen shot 2013-05-22 at 2.26.52 PM_3


Comments { 0 }

What are the first open-access, digital academic publishers?

In December 2012, the Amherst College Library made headlines by announcing plans “to launch the first open-access, digital academic press.” It acknowledged a couple predecessors: Rice University Press, which switched to an all-digital, paid format before folding; and especially University of Michigan Press, for working with its Library to offer certain publications for free. Amherst College Press aimed to be the first exclusively open-access, completely digital academic press.

The announcement got a little attention at VCU, for a few reasons. British Virginia already had its first potential publication out to peer reviewers. We already had our publication mechanism in place at the library. In fact, since 2010, we had been working with VCU Libraries to design a publisher that already had all of the components that Amherst College Press was promising: British Virginia likewise publishes only open-access, digital, peer-reviewed publications in the humanities, with Creative Commons licenses. There are differences between the projects: we don’t see what use a digital publisher would have for a “press” exactly. The main difference now, though, is that British Virginia has actually started publishing.

This is not to complain that anyone at Amherst College overlooked British Virginia: we had decided to announce nothing until we had actually published something. The point, rather, is to ask what other publishers and projects we are overlooking. What other libraries are involved in publishing originally digital, open-access, peer-reviewed scholarship? Have any of the member institutions of the Library Publishing Coalition published anything that meets these criteria? Lots of libraries have digital repositories, or even a “press,” such as Ball State University Beneficence Press.  Which of them involve blind peer review? Which of them use not just Creative Commons licenses, but “free culture” licenses? Please expose and eliminate our ignorance.

Comments { 3 }