I have undertaken a labor, a labor out of love for
the world, and to comfort noble hearts: those that I
hold dear, and the world to which my heart goes
out. Not the common world do I mean, of those
who (as I have heard) cannot bear grief and desire
but to bathe in bliss. (May God then let them dwell
in bliss!) Their world and manner of life my tale
does not regard: it's life and mine lie apart. Another
world do I hold in mind, which bears together in
one heart its bitter sweetness and its dear grief, its
heart's delight and its pain of longing, dear life and
sorrowful death, dear death and sorrowful life. In
this world let me have my world, to be damned
with it, or to be saved.
GOTTFRIED VON STRASSBURG
29 November, 2006.
So began the first "Letter from the Editor" on this site several years ago. On this, the 10 Year Anniversary of the Luminarium site, it still rings true. I will preserve the old letter intact at "Old Letter" — though I will retain much of its fabric and content in this letter, some new things must be added.
This site combines several sites first created in 1996 to provide a starting point for students and enthusiasts of English Literature. Nothing replaces a quality library, but hopefully this site will help fill the needs of those who have not access to one.
Luminarium is the labor of love of Anniina Jokinen. The site is not affiliated with any institution nor is it sponsored by anyone other than its maintainer and the contributions of its visitors through revenues from book sales via Amazon.com, poster sales via All Posters, and advertising via Google AdSense.
For all materials, authorities in a given subject are consulted. The Norton Anthology of English Literature, The Encyclopaedia Britannica, and The Cambridge Guide to Literature in English are some of the general reference works consulted for accuracy of dates and details.
Many of the materials collected here reside elsewhere. Quality and accuracy are concerns, and all materials are checked regularly. However, "Luminarium" cannot be held responsible for materials residing on other sites. Corrections and suggestions for improvements are encouraged from the visitors.
The site started in early 1996. I remember looking for essays to spark an idea for a survey class I was taking at the time. It seemed that finding study materials online was prohibitively difficult and time-consumingthere was no all-encompassing site which could have assisted me in my search. I started the site as a public service, because I myself had to waste so much time as a student, trying to find anything useful or interesting. There were only a handful of sites back then (read: Internet Dark Ages) and I could spend hours on search engines, looking for just a few things. I realized I must not be the only one in the predicament and started a simple one-page site of links to Middle English Literature. That page was soon followed by a Renaissance site.
Gradually it became obvious that the number of resources was ungainly for such a simple design. It was then that the multi-page "Medlit" and "Renlit" pages were created, around July 1996. That structure is still the same today. In September 1996, I started creating the "Sevenlit" site, launched in November. I realized the need to somehow unite all three sites, and that led to the creation of Luminarium. I chose the name, which is Latin for "lantern," because I wanted the site to be a beacon of light in the darkness. It was also befitting for a site containing authors considered "luminaries" of English literature.
I wanted the site to be a multimedia experience in the periods. I find it easier to visualize what I am reading when there is a small illustration or a tidbit about the background of the author or his work. The music and art of the period serve to complement one's rational experience of the site with the emotional. There are people who write to me who seem to think that if something has a beautiful wrapping, it cannot possibly have scholarly insides. But I do not see why something scholarly cannot at the same time be attractive. It is that marriage of form and function, so celebrated during the Renaissance, for which my site strives.
Over the years, I have been encouraged much by letters from around the world, especially from non-English speaking countries, from people who do not have access to English literature libraries and journal services like American, English, Canadian, and Australian students do. For them, the existence of etexts is vital; and more importantly, the existence of free materials.
Every year I get tens of offers and suggestions to convert Luminarium to a pay service, or partial pay service—offers to partner, offers to buy the site—but I've always held a firm line. I remember very well how I would have to pay for a journal article (my university at that time did not yet subscribe to J-STOR or Project Muse), and $20 was and still is a lot to a poor student. Not to mention how expensive access to information is to people in developing countries. The "Luminariums" of the world should stay free for the end user.
For the first ten years of the site's existence I paid all the expenses out of my own pocket, and somehow managed to do it without advertisements (which I generally loathe, to tell you the truth). Now, however, the site has over 3300 pages, and is getting roughly 1.5 million individual visits a month, with over 10 million page views. The storage space for the information, and the bandwidth required to pump it out, cost quite a bit, as I'm sure you can imagine, and my slim purse could no longer afford it. Thus, the addition of Google AdSense to the site. Some of the links that pop up in these ads are actually interesting — I've found out about books and sites I otherwise might not have immediately discovered. Most importantly, however, it is the only way to keep the site free for students and educators around the world.
On the site's 10 Year Anniversary, new sections were added to Luminarium: The Restoration and 18th Century; English Renaissance Drama; and Renaissance English Religious writers. These sections took the better part of a year to create, even though I was not without help. I would especially like to thank Dr. Wayne Narey of Arkansas State University for his sections of the introduction to Renaissance Theatre. All three sites are in their "Bare Bones" stages and will be improved and expanded in the coming year.
The site's look and organization have changed slightly as well. A new search engine and a "What's New" page have been added, Luminarium Editions is linked from the main pages for the first time, as is the fledgling Luminarium Encyclopedia. A poll is currently active, to see which improvements visitors would like to see next, suggestions ranging from Wiki to Blogs. For all the technical and user-friendliness aspects, I am grateful to Vik Phatak for being my Jiminy Cricket, always at my ear, nagging me to "Improve! Optimize! Organize!" - thank you.
I wish to thank Luminarium's loyal visitors for their contributions and support. The site is dedicated to them, with love.
Luminarium is ever indebted to:
Dr. Ann Matonis of Temple University;
The Picture Library at the National Portrait Gallery, London;
John Butler of the University of Manitoba, Canada;
R. S. Bear of the University of Oregon;
Roy C. Flannagan, Scholar-in-Residence at USC-Beaufort;
Terry Gray of Palomar College;
Kari McBride of the University of Arizona;
Dana F. Sutton of the University of California, Irvine;
Ian Lancashire of the University of Toronto;
Michael C. Best of the University of Victoria;
Sister Julia Bolton Holloway of Florence, Italy;
Lee Patterson of Texas;
Allan Alexander of New York;
Eric Blomquist of Sonnet Central;
Carol Gerten of Carol Gerten Fine Arts Gallery;
Curtis Clark of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona;
Matt Steggle of Sheffield-Hallam University, UK;
The Scholars at Chaucer MetaPage;
Jack Lynch of Rutgers University;
James Eason of the University of Chicago;
Ron Cooley of the University of Saskatchewan;
Wayne Narey of Arkansas State University;
Arnie Sanders of Goucher College;
And the countless others who have contributed their
time, work, and expertise to illuminating the Web.
In the future, Luminarium will continue to grow as existing sites are expanded and new sites created.
Sites in the planning stages include Early Modern Women Writers, Medieval English Drama, and a site
for William Shakespeare. All offers of help honored.
In this Work when it shall be found that
much is omitted, let it not be forgotten
that much likewise is performed.