Commonplace Cultures Project

Commonplace Cultures is a collaborative project between the ARTFL-Project (Textual Optics Lab's sister project) at the University of Chicago, the Oxford eResearch Centre at Oxford University, and the Australian National University. Our goal in this project is to explore this paradigm shift in 18th-century print culture from the perspective of commonplaces and through their textual and historical deployment in the various contexts of collecting, reading, writing, classifying, and learning. These practices allowed individuals to master a collective literary culture through the art of commonplacing, a nexus of intertextual activities that we uncover through the use of sequence alignment algorithms to compile a database of potential commonplaces drawn from the massive ECCO (Eighteenth Century Collections Online) collection provided to us by Gale Cengage. The ECCO corpus, which comprises some 200,000 volumes of texts published in England from 1700 to 1800, represents the most complete and comprehensive archive of 18th-century print culture available.

Using sequence alignment techniques to detect text-reuses throughout the Classical Latin corpus, EEBO-TCP, and the ECCO collection, we identified over 40 million shared passages which we've made available in searchable form.

Search all 40 million shared passages

For more details on the project, see here