Reading East: Irish Sources and Resources has been developed as a postdoctoral research project by Dr Marina Ansaldo, under the supervision of Dr Jane Grogan, at the School of English, Drama and Film, University College Dublin. The project was developed from January to December 2012 under the Government of Ireland Research & Senior Research Fellowship Project in the Humanities and Social Sciences, funded by the Irish Research Council. The website itself has been created in collaboration with Niall O’Leary of the Digital Humanities Observatory, a project of the Royal Irish Academy.
The Catalogue hosts early modern printed texts that attest to contact between Europe and the East, and that are held in Dublin research libraries. It is a selective descriptive catalogue. Its purpose is not to offer an exhaustive list of all the books about the East present in these libraries, but to provide a selection of books representative of the holdings of each of the libraries, supplying as much bibliographical information as possible about these texts. We hope that such data may be useful to further scholarly research.
The books have been selected on the basis of a number of guiding principles. One of the key aims of the project is to show the range and diversity of texts about the East that are present in the participating libraries. As a consequence, a variety of genres have been included: travel accounts and geographical descriptions, works on medicine, oriental languages, astronomy, science, and early modern editions of classical works about the East, for example. The catalogue does not, however, include genres that are predominantly fictional in the modern sense, such as drama and poetry, nor does it include manuscripts or collections of maps.
In selecting the geographical boundaries of the project, similar principles have been adopted. By ‘East’ it is intended the whole of the Asian continent, from the European regions of the Ottoman Empire to Japan. This is to emphasise that the interest in the East in the early modern period extended from the very near East to the coasts of the Pacific Ocean.