Progress update, 6 to 12 July 2013

By Tim Causer, on 12 July 2013

Welcome to the progress update for the period 6 to 12 July 2013, a week in which Benthamic myth became reality.

It is often stated that Bentham’s auto-icon (his preserved remains) attends UCL council meetings, where it is recorded as being ‘present, but not voting’. This is, we are afraid to say, only one of the several myths which surround Bentham: the auto-icon rarely emerges from its box. However, this week marked the occasion of the final council meeting of UCL’s outgoing provost, and as a special treat, what’s left of Mr Bentham put in an appearance. This is has been the cause of much amusement around UCL, and has even garnered some press coverage.

Anyway, enough of that: we here at Transcribe Bentham know that the most interesting thing about Bentham is not his corpse, but his corpus, 6,430 words of which have been transcribed by TB volunteers during the last seven days, along with a further 2,459 words of TEI mark-up.

5,777 manuscripts have now been transcribed, which is an increase of 19 on last week’s total. Of these transcripts, 5,504 (95%) have met the required quality-control standards, and have been locked.

The more detailed state of progress is as follows:

  • Box 2: 441 manuscripts transcribed of 753 (58%)
  • Box 27: 350 of 350 (100%)
  • Box 35: 283 of 439 (64%)
  • Box 41: 33 of 528 (5%)
  • Box 42: 15 of 500 (2%)
  • Box 50: 136 of 198 (68%)
  • Box 51: 361 of 940 (38%)
  • Box 62: 53 of 565 (9%)
  • Box 70: 290 of 350 (81%)
  • Box 71: 663 of 663 (100%)
  • Box 72: 610 of 664 (91%)
  • Box 73: 151 of 151 (100%)
  • Box 79: 198 of 199 (99%)
  • Box 95: 120 of 147 (81%)
  • Box 96: 527 of 539 (97%)
  • Box 97: 60 of 296 (20%)
  • Box 98: 214 of 499 (42%)
  • Box 100: 150 of 422 (33%)
  • Box 107: 385 of 538 (71%)
  • Box 115: 276 of 307 (89%)
  • Box 116: 423 of 864 (48%)
  • Box 139: 38 of 38 (100%)
  • Overall: 60% of the 9,497 manuscripts currently uploaded to the website have been transcribed thus far.

Jottings from another couple of unpublished panopticon manuscripts proved very interesting this week. In one, Bentham imagined what would happen to soliders liberated from the panopticon: they could serve as prison guards, while seamen could be contracted to merchantmen, and convicts transported for life might be ‘educate[d] … at the Panopticon for a year or two’ by Bentham. Most bizarrely, in a flight of fancy Bentham conceived of raising a regiment for the East India Company, some form of ‘Panopticon Corps’, officered, drilled, and educated by Jeremy himself. They would have a separate uniform, and be ‘perfectly silent never having tasted a drop of fermented liquor for many years’ (Bentham clearly had little experience of soldiers, let alone prisoners!)

Elsewhere, Bentham imagines the ‘Panopticon Garden’, and directs how ‘Shrub-Planting’ should be done. The crops would be watered using a ‘Hose-Engine fed by the canal, and cheaply: the only expense would be the hose, as the pumping would be ‘performed by the Convicts’. Bentham also mentions that ‘hollow artificial hills’ might be excavated, and that one ‘may serve as an Ice-house’. Bentham had an interest in refrigeration, a discussion of which can be found in David L. Cohen’s paper, ‘Bentham’s Frigidarium: Utilitarianism and Food Preservation‘, published in the Journal of Bentham Studies in 1997, and downloadable from UCL Discovery.

Thank you, as always, to everyone who has given their time so generously to Transcribe Bentham over the past week. It is greatly appreciated by us all.