Tuesday, December 3, 2013

On the Blogs -- Paul's Cross Named Editor's Choice on Digital Humanities Now, "a monumental achievement" on Humanities 21


In response to the recent flurry of press coverage about the Installation of the Virtual Paul's Cross Project at NC State's Hunt Library, we've gotten very generous comments from digital humanities bloggers.

These include being named an "Editors' Choice" project by the folks at Digital Humanities Now, go here:


Also, Emma Baitz, blogging on the Humanities 21 blog from Australia, says the Virtual Paul's Cross
Project is "a monumental achievement by the team at NC State University" and "a centrepiece of the burgeoning discipline of the Digital Humanities."

For the full essay, go here:

https://humanities21.com.au/2013/10/looking-at-the-digital-humanities/

We also were covered in London's Guardian newspaper, go here:

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/nov/11/john-donne-virtual-reality-sermon

And in Popular Science, go here:

http://www.popsci.com/article/gadgets/take-computerized-look-17th-century-london

Very gratifying to receive such wide recognition and such generous comments!

Paul's Cross at the James B. Hunt Library



The Virtual Paul's Cross Project has been installed in the Teaching and Visualization Lab of the James B Hunt Library on NC State's Centennial Campus. 

This installation takes advantage of the technological resources installed in the Teaching and Visualization Lab, which include 10 projectors that together display a seamless 270 degree panoramic image and 21 speakers that provide an immersive surround sound experience.

The Installation was officially opened on November 5, 2013, the 391st anniversary of Donne's Gunpowder Day sermon, to the day of the month, the day of the week, and the hour of the day.


Joining us for the day were John Schofield (see above) and Matt Azevedo from the Production Team. John spoke at the Symposium we had in the afternoon, along with Tom Barrie from NC State, Anne MacNeil from UNC-Chapel Hill, and Heather Minor and Carol Symes from the University of Illinois.

For full details of the Opening Ceremonies and the Symposium Preaching, Performance, and Public Space in Medieval and Early Modern England, go here and here.

For media coverage of the Opening Ceremonies, go here and here.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Virtual Paul's Cross Project in the Church Times and on the Anglican News Service


The Virtual Paul's Cross Project was featured in the Church of England's official newspaper The Church Times on September 20, 2013, on page 5.

Also, on September 3d,  the Anglican Communion News Service sent out a story on the VPCP to the world-wide Anglican communion, all 60, 000, 000 strong.

Go here to read the story.

John Wall Gives Paper at St Paul's Cathedral

Place &

Preaching

6-7 September 2013 

The Wren Suite, St Pauls Cathedral


John Wall gave a paper entitled "Donne Preaching in Place: The Paul’s Cross Sermon and the Acoustics of Paul’s Churchyard" at the Preaching and Place Conference at St Paul's Cathedral, in London, September 6-7, 2013.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Virtual Paul's Cross Project is Now the Virtual St Paul's Cathedral Project


The Virtual Paul's Cross Project is now the Virtual St Paul's Cathedral Project. 

The Virtual Paul's Cross Project will never be finished, but it is now at the point that what lies ahead is refinement and elaboration.

We now move to the second phase of the project, the goal of which is to complete our visual model of St Paul’s Cathedral, to create an acoustic model of the interior of the cathedral, and to recreate worship services in the Choir.

Toward this goal, we will be applying for a Digital Humanities Implementation Grant in February of 2014.

More news to follow . . . . . 

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Virtual Paul's Cross Project Website is now Online!



The Virtual Paul’s Cross Project website is now available for exploration; go here.

 
The Virtual Paul's Cross Project uses visual and acoustic modeling technology to recreate the experience of John Donne’s Paul’s Cross sermon for November 5th, 1622.  The Project is supported by a Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.  

The goal of this project is to integrate what we know, or can surmise, about the look and sound of this space, destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1666, and about the course of activities as they unfolded on the occasion of a Paul’s Cross sermon, so that we may experience a major public event of early modern London as it unfolded in real time and in the context of its original surroundings. 


The Virtual Paul’s Cross Project has sought the highest degree of accuracy in this recreation. To do so, it combines visual imagery from the 16th and 17th centuries with measurements of these buildings made during archaeological surveys of their foundations, still in the ground in today’s London.  The visual presentation also integrates into the appearance of the visual model the look of a November day in London, with overcast skies and an atmosphere thick with smoke.  The acoustic simulation recreates the acoustic properties of Paul’s Churchyard, incorporating information about the dispersive, absorptive or reflective qualities of the buildings and the spaces between them.  

This website allows us to explore the northeast corner of Paul’s Churchyard, outside St Paul’s Cathedral, in London, on November 5th, 1622, and to hear John Donne’s sermon for Gunpowder Day, all two hours of it, in the space in which Paul's Cross sermons were originally delivered and in the context of church bells and the random ambient noises of dogs, birds, horses, and crowds of up to 5,000 people. 


In keeping with the desire for authenticity, the text of Donne’s sermon was taken from a manuscript prepared within days of the sermon’s original delivery that contains corrections in Donne’s own handwriting. It was recorded by a professional actor using an original pronunciation script and interpreting contemporary accounts of Donne’s preaching style. 

For John Donne's Paul's Cross sermon for November 5th, 1622 (in 15-minute segments), as heard from 2 different positions in the Churchyard, go here.  


On the website, the user can learn how the visual and acoustic models were created and explore the political and social background of Donne’s sermon. In addition to the complete recordings of Donne’s Gunpowder Day sermon, one can also explore the question of audibility of the unamplified human voice in Paul’s Churchyard by sampling excerpts from the sermon as heard from eight different locations across the Churchyard and in the presence of four different sizes of crowd. 

For excerpts of the sermon from eight different locations and in the presence of different sizes of crowd go here.

   
The website also houses an archive of materials that contributed to the recreation, including visual records of the buildings, high resolution files of the manuscript and first printed versions of Donne’s sermon for Gunpowder Day 1622, and contemporary accounts of Donne’s preaching style.  In addition, the website includes an acoustic analysis of the Churchyard, discussion of the challenges of interpreting historic depictions of the Cathedral and its environs, and a review of the liturgical context of outdoor preaching in the early modern age. 

To see the visual model in detail on a fly around video go here.  This view is especially dramatic if viewed in HD video and at Full Screen display. 

This Project is the work of an international team of scholars, engineers, actors, and linguists.  In addition to the Project Director, they include David Hill, Associate Professor of Architecture at NC State University;  Joshua Stephens, Jordan Grey, Chelsea Sacks, and Craig Johnson, graduate students in architecture at NC State University;  John Schofield, Archaeologist at St Paul’s Cathedral and author of St Paul’s Cathedral Before Wren (2011); David Crystal, linguist; Ben Crystal, actor; Ben Markham and Matthew Azevedo, acoustic engineers with Acentech, Inc; and members of the faculty in linguistics and their graduate students at NC State University, especially professors Walt Wolfram, Erik Thomas, Robin Dodsworth, and Jeff Mielke.

Wall’s team is now planning a second stage of this Project, with the goal of completing the visual model of Paul’s Churchyard, including a complete model of St Paul’s Cathedral as it looked in the early 1620’s, during John Donne’s tenure as Dean of the cathedral. 

This visual model will be the basis for an acoustic model of the cathedral’s interior, especially the Choir, which will be the site for restaging a full day of worship services, including Bible readings, prayers, liturgies from the Book of Common Prayer, sermons, and music composed by the professional musicians on the cathedral’s staff for performance by the cathedral’s organist and its choir of men and boys.  

They will be competing for our attention, as they did in the 1620’s, with the noise of crowds who gathered in the cathedral’s nave, known as Paul’s Walk, to see and be seen and to exchange the latest gossip of the day. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Virtual Paul's Cross Project on the Early Modern Online Bibliography


Eleanor Shevlin, on the Early Modern Online Bibliography blog, has been thinking about the priorities of the National Endowment for the Humanities in its awarding of Digital Humanities Start-up Grants.

In the process, she has had some very kind and generous comments about the Virtual Paul's Cross Project.

Here is what she says in her essay:

"Adapting the “‘high risk/’high reward’” model often employed in funding the sciences, NEH Digital Humanities Startup Grants reward originality. To be considered, the proposal must entail an “innovative approach, method, tool, or idea that has not been used before in the humanities” (Digital Humanities Startup Grants Guidelines, p. 2).

"These Startup Grants fund two levels of projects. As expected, the Level I award supports projects at the embryonic stage of development, while the Level II award funds projects that are more advanced and nearing the implantation stage. The Grant Guidelines provide full details.

"In late March the NEH Office of Digital Humanities announced the most recent projects to be awarded a NEH DH Startup Grant. As in the past the projects receiving funding were diverse and promising: a workshop to assist university presses in publishing digitally-born, scholarly monographs; tools to convert text to braille for the visually impaired; improvements to OCR correction technology; software adapted to enable better identification and cataloguing of various features within illustrations in the English Broadside Ballad Archive, a prototype application to promote analysis of visual features such as typeface, margins, indentations of printed books, to name a few.

"While these grant-winning projects all carry brief descriptions, they are still in their gestation or early implementation phase. A better sense of what this funding yields can be gleaned from the NEH “Videos of 2011 Digital Humanities Start-Up Grantees” as well as the other online material that has emerged in connection with these projects. The following showcases a few of the 2011 DH Startup grantees most likely to interest EMOB readers.

"As the project’s title “New Methods of Documenting the Past: Recreating Public Preaching at Paul’s Cross, London, in the Post-Reformation Period” suggests, this project seeks to reproduce the seventeenth-century experience of hearing a sermon in Paul’s Cross. To do so, it employs architectural modeling software and acoustic simulation software to re-create conditions that will mimic those of a time in which unamplified public speaking competed with the sounds of urban life. One of the questions this simulation aims to answer is whether the printing of many Paul’s Cross sermon points to their popularity among those who gathered to hear them or, instead, to the need to distribute printed versions because their original oral delivery was inaudible save for a few. English professor and Project Director John Wall’s The Virtual Paul’s Cross website details the project’s objectives and its progress. The site also contains a blog that offers occasional updates."

Then, in her response to a comment by a reader of her blog, she elaborates:

"[T]his sampling of grantees reminds us how far technology is enabling the pursuit of projects just not possible before. Wall’s Paul’s Cross project, for example, goes beyond merely imagining how a 17th-century Londoner might have heard these outdoor public sermons preached often to crowds numbering in the thousands. Instead it aims to re-create the actual aural experience of hearing (or not hearing!) these public performances–that is, to enable a twenty-first century person to experience an aspect of the oral past through a simulated rendering of it.

"As for technical expertise, these projects are a clear testament to collaboration. Most have computer scientists or graduate students in the field on their teams. In the case of Wall’s project, his production team consists of an acoustic engineer, an archaeologist, a professor of architecture, a linguist, and graduate research assistant. While there’s no computer scientist on his team, the group nonetheless collectively possesses the advanced expertise needed for what the project seeks to accomplish. The 3D modeling is being handled by a graduate research assistant who is using Google’s (well, now no longer Google but instead Trimble) SketchUp. Google, in fact, has been hosting an official SketchUp channel that provides tutorials and other ideas for using this free 3D-modeling software. In other words, it’s a tool that potentially anyone could learn to use."

Thank you, Eleanor, for your kind comments!

Official Announcement of the VPCP Website

This is the official "press release" for the new Virtual Paul's Cross website.



John N. Wall, Project Director and Professor of English Literature at NC State University, announces that the Virtual Paul’s Cross Project website is now available for exploration at http://vpcp.chass.ncsu.edu.

The Virtual Paul’s Cross Project uses visual and acoustic modeling technology to recreate the experience of John Donne’s Paul’s Cross sermon for November 5th, 1622. The goal of this project is to integrate what we know, or can surmise, about the look and sound of this space, destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1666, and about the course of activities as they unfolded on the occasion of a Paul’s Cross sermon, so that we may experience a major public event of early modern London as it unfolded in real time and in the context of its original surroundings.

The Virtual Paul’s Cross Project has been supported by a Digital Start-Up Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The Virtual Paul’s Cross Project has sought the highest degree of accuracy in this recreation. To do so, it combines visual imagery from the 16th and 17th centuries with measurements of these buildings made during archaeological surveys of their foundations, still in the ground in today’s London.  The visual presentation also integrates into the appearance of the visual model the look of a November day in London, with overcast skies and an atmosphere thick with smoke.  The acoustic simulation recreates the acoustic properties of Paul’s Churchyard, incorporating information about the dispersive, absorptive or reflective qualities of the buildings and the spaces between them.  

This website allows us to explore the northeast corner of Paul’s Churchyard, outside St Paul’s Cathedral, in London, on November 5th, 1622, and to hear John Donne’s sermon for Gunpowder Day, all two hours of it, in the space of its original delivery and in the context of church bells and the random ambient noises of dogs, birds, horses, and crowds of up to 5,000 people.

There is a Concise Guide to the whole site here: http://vpcp.chass.ncsu.edu/quick-guide-to-the-site/

In keeping with the desire for authenticity, the text of Donne’s sermon was taken from a manuscript prepared within days of the sermon’s original delivery that contains corrections in Donne’s own handwriting. It was recorded by a professional actor using an original pronunciation script and interpreting contemporary accounts of Donne’s preaching style.

For John Donne's Paul's Cross sermon for November 5th, 1622 (in 15-minute segments), as heard from 2 different positions in the Churchyard, go here:  http://vpcp.chass.ncsu.edu/listen-the-sermon/

On the website, the user can learn how the visual and acoustic models were created and explore the political and social background of Donne’s sermon. In addition to the complete recordings of Donne’s Gunpowder Day sermon, one can also explore the question of audibility of the unamplified human voice in Paul’s Churchyard by sampling excerpts from the sermon as heard from eight different locations across the Churchyard and in the presence of four different sizes of crowd.

For excerpts of the sermon from eight different locations and in the presence of different sizes of crowd go here:  http://vpcp.chass.ncsu.edu/experience/ 

The website also houses an archive of materials that contributed to the recreation, including visual records of the buildings, high resolution files of the manuscript and first printed versions of Donne’s sermon for Gunpowder Day 1622, and contemporary accounts of Donne’s preaching style.  In addition, the website includes an acoustic analysis of the Churchyard, discussion of the challenges of interpreting historic depictions of the Cathedral and its environs, and a review of the liturgical context of outdoor preaching in the early modern age.

To see the visual model in detail on a fly around video go here:  http://vpcp.chass.ncsu.edu/fly-around-the-visual-model/.   This is especially dramatic if viewed in HD video and at Full Screen display. 

This Project is the work of an international team of scholars, engineers, actors, and linguists.  In addition to the Project Director, they include David Hill, Associate Professor of Architecture at NC State University;  Joshua Stephens, Jordan Grey, Chelsea Sacks, and Craig Johnson, graduate students in architecture at NC State University;  John Schofield, Archaeologist at St Paul’s Cathedral and author of St Paul’s Cathedral Before Wren (2011); David Crystal, linguist; Ben Crystal, actor; Ben Markham and Matthew Azevedo, acoustic engineers with Acentech, Inc; and members of the faculty in linguistics and their graduate students at NC State University, especially professors Walt Wolfram, Erik Thomas, Robin Dodsworth, and Jeff Mielke.

Wall’s team is now planning a second stage of this Project, with the goal of completing the visual model of Paul’s Churchyard, including a complete model of St Paul’s Cathedral as it looked in the early 1620’s, during John Donne’s tenure as Dean of the cathedral. This visual model will be the basis for an acoustic model of the cathedral’s interior, especially the Choir, which will be the site for restaging a full day of worship services, including Bible readings, prayers, liturgies from the Book of Common Prayer, sermons, and music composed by the professional musicians on the cathedral’s staff for performance by the cathedral’s organist and its choir of men and boys.  They will be competing for our attention, as they did in the 1620’s, with the noise of crowds who gathered in the cathedral’s nave, known as Paul’s Walk, to see and be seen and to exchange the latest gossip of the day. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

John N Wall Awarded Fellowship for the National Humanities Center



John N Wall, the Principal Investigator for the Virtual Paul's Cross Project, has been awarded a Fellowship for a year of research and writing at the National Humanities Center, in Research Triangle Park, NC.

Wall's project at the Center will be to complete a book entitled Hearing Donne: The Experience of Preaching in Early Modern London, a project that is a direct outgrowth of his work with the Virtual Paul's Cross Project.

Wall will focus in this book on John Donne's engagement with time in his preaching. Wall will argue that Donne viewed preaching sacramentally, not simply as lectures that communicate ideas but as performances that enact their meaning. 

For Donne, Wall believes, time provides the context for structuring his interactions with his congregation as well as the content of his discourse.  Thus, Donne's sermons are about performing the meaning of time; they enact, as they unfold in time, Donne’s understanding of how God’s saving acts in human history connect humanity in its fallen temporal state to our future with God in eternity.  

In Wall's view, Donne's theology of preaching ties outcome to performance, makes meaning contingent on voice and on the timing and pacing of delivery, but also on Donne's choreographing of interactions with his audience, pacing his delivery and cueing their response within the one or two hours allotted him by the social conventions of congregational expectation.

This will be Wall's  second year as a Fellow of the National Humanities Center. 

During his first year as a Fellow, in 1980-1981, he wrote his first scholarly monograph, Transformations of the Word: Spenser, Herbert, Vaughan (1988), a work that traced the implications of worship as choreographed by the Book of Common Prayer for religious poetry in the early modern period.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Wall Delivers Paper on Virtual Paul's Cross Project at Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America




John N Wall delivered a paper entitled "Interpreting the Manuscript: MS Royal 17.B.XX. and the Virtual Paul's Cross Project" at the annual meeting of the Renaissance Society of America, held in San Diego this past weekend.

Wall's paper explored ways in which traces of earlier stages of Donne's sermon construction may well survive into the manuscript, especially of Donne's Gunpowder Day sermon for November 5th, 1622.

Wall pointed out that all the texts of Donne's sermons are ex post facto memorial reconstructions of what Donne actually said during the course of his sermon.  The sermon itself, not read from a script but improvised on the spot using notes, is in its particulars lost to us, but may be glimpsed from traces in the texts that do survive.

Wall argued, for example, that the sentence fragment "use his means and stay his leysure," that comes about a half hour into the sermon, is actually a survival of one of the notes that Donne had before him while preaching.

The text that surrounds this sentence fragment suggests what Donne made of this note to himself while preaching. So the text of the sermon we have at this point gives us a clue as to what Donne's notes were like as well as how he expanded his notes into the actual text of the sermon as he delivered it.

Here is the text without the fragment. The 3 X marks show where the fragment occurs in the manuscript of this sermon.

You said to me, says Samuel, Nay but a king shall r├Žigne over vs, when the lord your God, was your king. They would not trust Gods meanes, theire was their first fault; And then though they desird a good thing, and intended to them, yet they fix God his tyme, they would not stay his leasure; and both these, to aske other things then God would giue, or at other tymes then God would giue them is displeasing to him. XXX. But yet though God were displeasd with them, he executed his owne purpose; he was angry with their manner of asking for a King but yet he gaue them a King. Howsoeuer God be displeasd with them that prevaricate in his cause, who should sustayne him, and do not, Gods cause shall be sustaind, though they do it not.

 The process of discovery continues!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Virtual Paul's Cross Project Featured in NC State's RESULTS


The Virtual Paul's Cross Project is part of a feature story on NC State's new Hunt Library in the latest issue of NC State's Magazine RESULTS, which reports on topics in research, innovation, and economic development.

The full story, with a photograph of yours truly, is here. 

We are working up to our installation of the project at the Hunt Library in September. This story talks about uses of technology in humanities research projects.

They get up to saying things like this:

To pull together a state-of-the-art multimedia project takes Wall far outside his discipline. On any given day you may find him working with a linguist, architect, actor, acoustic engineer, archaeologist or research assistant. Experts from Oxford, Cambridge, the British Library and, of course, St. Paul's Cathedral are among the project's advisers.

It's good to live "far outside" my discipline. Takes a certain discipline to do that. And especially all the great collaborators I'm privileged to work with. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

New Website Up and Functional!




The Virtual Paul's Cross Project has a new website here that is fully featured and rich with information.

Included is a significant body of audio files that allow the user to hear John Donne's complete sermon (all 2 hours and 15 minutes of it) from 2 different positions in Paul's Churchyard. One of these recordings is heard from the Sermon House, the other from a spot in the ground in front of the Paul's Cross preaching station.

 
Also included are excerpts from the sermon heard from 7 different positions in the Churchyard and in the presence of 4 different sizes of crowd.

There are also extensive discussions of the process we have been through to create this site, as well as a library of all the historic and contemporary materials we have brought together to create the visual and the acoustic models and to recreate Donne's sermon for Gunpowder Day, November 5th, 1622.



There are also a large number of images of the visual model, in both its basic and rendered states.

Please explore the site, and let us know what you think.