Macbeth Goes Digital: Folger Shakespeare Library Launches Digital Texts

Macbeth Goes Digital: Folger Shakespeare Library Launches Digital Texts

Posted by Carly B. Boxer on December 7, 2012 in Blog.

This past Thursday, the Folger Shakespeare Library launched Folger Digital Texts, a platform with easily searchable digital editions of 12 of the Bard’s best-known plays. While Shakespeare’s work has been in the public domain for the past few centuries, The Folger Library, according to a press release, hopes that this digitization will “significantly advance digital humanities research into the works of Shakespeare and other writers of his time.”

Folger’s new platform allows users to download both PDFs of the plays and the source code of the texts. The goal here, like that of other new programs such as Rijksstudio, is to allow users to reuse and remix content for new creative projects. That’s something artists, filmmakers, and 10th graders forced into class-wide productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream have been doing for a very, very long time. But there’s no arguing that a comprehensive digital version complete with code will make class-projects and artistic endeavors alike that much easier to create.

I had a chance to play around with a few of the texts, and several of the features frankly make me jealous that my research doesn’t involve Shakespeare — a command f style search bar that presents all uses of a given word within each of the texts, an act / scene / line finder, and character and plot synopses. Although there are currently only a dozen plays on the site, the Folger plans to include all of Shakespeare’s plays and poems by the end of 2013.

As my English major roommate put it, “this will make writing papers ten times more awesome!”

Photo courtesy of ell brown on Flickr; used under a CC BY 2.0 license.

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