Adapted from Francesco Colonna, Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (Venice: Aldus Manutius ..., Dec. 1499). Courtesy of Special Collections and Archives, Olin Library, Wesleyan University.

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Digital Incunabula
The Best of the Wesleyan Web

About Digital Incunabula


aliincunabula (nkju:næbjl), sb. pl.

[L. incu¯na¯bula (neut. pl.) swaddling-clothes, hence cradle, and fig. childhood, beginning, origin, f. cu¯næ cradle.]

1 The earliest stages or first traces in the development of anything.

-- Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition  


It took decades from the invention of printing with moveable type in the 1450s for books to become the familiar objects they are today. Early printed books were closely modeled on the manuscripts that preceded them, and there was a tension between the pull of the traditional form and the new technology. The early days of book production were marked by a great deal of experimentation both with form and with content, as the early bookmakers discovered the possibilities afforded by this new means of textual and image (re)production.

Just so with the web today. One sees cropping up all over our network wonderful new creations that sometimes simply reproduce what the earlier medium (the book, the pamphlet, the printed syllabus, the printed courseguide, the bibliography) did and does quite well, and sometimes does wholly new things that our older methods of communicating simply are unable to do.

The Digital Incunabula Editorial Collective hopes to bring to the surface the exciting, innovative, and important experimentation that the Wesleyan community is undertaking with this new, perhaps irresistible, and seemingly ever-changing medium.


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last updated: 25 january 1998