Princeton Prosody Archive

Welcome to the Princeton Prosody Archive, a full-text searchable database of thousands of digitized books in English published between 1559 and 1928. The Archive collects historical documents and highlights discourses about the study of language, the study of poetry, and where and how these intersect and diverge.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, historical prosody and the history of linguistics.

The PPA makes several arguments, poses several questions, and welcomes new scholarship based on the work gathered here. 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 and linguistics?

Rather than a static repository of historical data, the PPA compels 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.

The Princeton Prosody Archive is a work in progress. Images and metadata for works viewable on Gale Primary Sources are sourced from Eighteenth Century Collections Online and provided by Gale. Images and metadata for works viewable on HathiTrust are sourced from HathiTrust Digital Library. Please consult our How to Cite page if you are working with this Archive, and please contact us for feedback and questions, or to pitch an essay for the Editorial section of the site.

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