The New Shakespeare Census

The New Shakespeare Census

Zachary Lesser

Professor of English, Undergraduate Chair

Project Start Date: 
February, 2017

Principal Developer:

  • Scott Enderle, Digital Huamanities Specialist

Project Developers:

  • Roshan Benefo
  • Jinyun Mu
  • Mariana Vega
  • Lucy Ferry
  • Yufan Cheng
  • Sophia Ye

Project Description:

The "Shakespeare Census" is an online database of all known extant copies of all Shakespeare editions through 1700, excluding the four folios (given that there is a recent census of F1, and a digital census of F2-4 in progress). The need for this project is great, since the last such census is now more than 75 years old, and since a great deal of cutting-edge work in Shakespeare studies involves the examination of particular copies for the evidence they can provide of the printing, publishing, and early reception of Shakespeare. Phase 1 of the project involves listing all copies by holding library, including copy-specific notes (if any) from the library catalogue, provenance information, shelf marks, and other finding aids. Phase 2 of the project, a long-term goal, will involve physical examinations of each copy to highlight distinguishing features, as well as fresh investigations of the provenance of each copy. Since the project will be highly useful to scholars even without Phase 2, the site will go “live” once Phase 1 is complete (or mostly complete).

The census is live here:

Zach Lesser received his PhD in English Literature from Columbia University and his BA in Renaissance Studies and Religious Studies from Brown University. Before coming to Penn, he taught at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. His teaching and research interests focus on Shakespeare and early modern drama, the history of material texts, bibliography and editing, early modern political and religious debate, and digital humanities.