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Come Live Edit a Blog Post! ‘In Search of an Apostle: Uncovering the Roots of the Taylorian Janua with Digital Methods’

In this session, we are going to transform an academic paper into an academic blog post, closely examining the opportunities and challenges afforded by this medium of communication.

(1) Methodological: Digital methods can aid us in our book historical research by (a) expanding the community of scholars with whom we engage and (b) expanding and reshaping the archival material at our disposal to access new sources. 

(2) Historical: taking into account the history of editions of the Janua as well as bibliographical evidence such as signatures found on the back and front covers and interleaving of blank pages, I hypothesise that the Taylorian edition of the Janua had multiple ‘lives’. These lives reflect the broader historical context in which this edition was published, namely the ccity of Hanau during the refugee crisis of the early 17th-century. They also reveal Johann Amos Comenius’ educational philosophy in practice, through ‘material evidence’ of the reader’s engagement with the text. 

The mystery 

Ulrich Schafer, the bibliographical consultant of the Deutschen Comenius-Gesellschaft has written to the Bodleian Libraries that they may have a unicum in their midst.  

(1) Schafer has never seen or heard of an edition like this one 

(2) It is entirely in Latin which would ‘be interesting too because all (except two) others were multilingual. 

Figure 1. Frontispiece of the Janua

The questions 

(1) Is this text a unicum, e.g. is it the only copy of this edition? 

(2) Is the text entirely in Latin? 

(3) Are there any features that distinguish it from other editions of the Janua?

(1) What is the Janua? ‘Gateway of languages unlocked’, Latin-language textbook 

(2) How is it structured? 1000 sentences, 100 topics; bilingual 

(3) Why is it significant? – Commonplace books, pedagogical innovations, progressive learning 

(4) How was it received? – used throughout Europe, including by royalty; eighty editions in multiple languages 

Section 3: Methodology  

To solve this mystery, we need to: 

(1) Establish the bibliographical data 

(2) Compare the Taylorian Janua with other editions of the Janua 

This calls for a mixed methods approach, combining traditional book history scholarship with digital humanistic tools.

Figure 2. Interface of the digital edition
Figure 3. Torn title page (frontispiece) of the Janua
Figure 4. Comparative edition
Figure 6. Map of Germany with Hanau indicated

Our bibliographical entry now reads: 

Author: Johannes Amos Comenius 

Title: JANUA LINGUARUM RESERATA AUREA: Sive SEMINARIUM LINGUARUM ET 

SCIENTIARUM OMNIUM. Hoc est: Compendiosa Latinam (& quam libet aliam) Linguam, unà 

cum scientiarum, artiumq; omnium fundamentis, perdiscendi Methodus, sub Titulis centum, 

periodis mille comprehensa. 

Edition: Unknown 

Published: Hanoviae : Typis et Sumptibus Jacob Lasché, circa 1650 – 1662 

Language/s: Latin 

Place(s): Hanau 

Editor / Printer: Jacob Lasché 

Other forms of publisher name: Jakob Lasché 

Category/Subject: Language learning*, textbook 

Call number: VET.MISC.I.A.1

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