This article focuses on the uses of the Early English Books Online (EEBO) database as a case study for how to introduce undergraduates to archival research. I provide four cases in which working with the digital archive has allowed my students to attend to variations in typography, spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and overall design in early modern printed texts. Working with the EEBO database challenges students to reconsider how a printed text represents a series of editorial choices; it encourages them to make persuasive claims about the differences in the appearance of an early modern lyric or dramatic text when it is situated in different contexts; it enhances the students’ ability to work independently and derive pleasure from the serendipity of the archive; and perhaps most important, it can actually help students develop a clearer and more effective practice of close reading in the twenty-first century.

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