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 The Archive collects historical documents and highlights discourses about the study of language, the study of poetry, and where and how these intersect and diverge.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.

The Princeton Prosody Archive is a work in progress. Please consult our How to Cite page if you are working with this Archive, and please contact us for feedback and questions.

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