Prosody today means both the study of versification and the study of pronunciation. In literary studies, scholars often interchange the word prosody for versification or meter, though each of these terms have complicated and contested histories. His…
Princeton Prosody Archive
Welcome to the Princeton Prosody Archive, a full-text searchable database of thousands of digitized books in English published between 1570 and 1923. The Archive collects historical documents and highlights discourses about the study of language, the study of poetry, and where and how these intersect and diverge.
What began as a collection of texts about versification now includes the study of poetry, grammar, literary history, phonetics, phonology, and many of the complicated ways these discourses converge and diverge over the centuries. As such, we use the words “prosody” and “archive” in their broadest possible senses, intending for scholars to understand the incompleteness of all archives and providing a starting point for new scholarship in historical poetics and historical linguistics.
The PPA makes several arguments, poses several questions, and welcomes new scholarship based on the work gathered here. Some of our initial questions include: What if we began to understand poetics in all of its historical, linguistic, and educational valences? What if literary concepts such as meter and rhythm are historically contingent and fundamentally unstable? What might scholars of distant reading and the novel learn from a collection of materials pertaining to poetry?
Rather than a static repository of historical data, the PPA would like to compel users to rethink the past and future of organizing, navigating, conceptualizing, and historicizing large amounts of data–about a single poem or about evolving and contradictory thinking about the technology of poetic language.
As Meredith Martin began writing The Rise and Fall of Meter: Poetry and English National Culture, 1860-1930, she realized that the archival material that supported the book’s argument would not work in a traditional academic monograph. In 2…
The Princeton Prosody Archive is divided into seven collections, curated by the project team. Users are able to search across collections, within a single collection, or within any combination of collections. Select a collection to view it within the Archive.