Editing Modernism in Canada


Archive for February, 2012

February 21, 2012

The Modernist Versions Project: Versioning Part III of Nostromo

Hi, my name is Katie Tanigawa, and I am a new addition to the EMiC community. It has been wonderful reading about everyone’s projects (Dr. Bessette’s study of translation in Anne Hébert’s poetry and the possibilities for interacting with Hébert’s materials in different ways is fascinating).  As someone new to DH, reading EMiC scholars’ takes on the role of digital humanities in building scholarly communities and the relevance of DH has been particularly helpful (I have really appreciated Rilley Yeo’s series among others).

As an EMiC funded RA for Dr. Stephen Ross at the University of Victoria (UVic), I am currently working with Martin Holmes from UVic’s Humanities Computing and Media Center (HCMC), Dr. Stephen Ross, Dr. Jentery Sayers, Dr. Matthew Huculak, and Julian Gunn on the pilot project for the Modernist Versions Project (MVP). The MVP will be an online database for comparative editions of various modernist texts such as A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Tarr, and Ulysses. For the pilot project, we are versioning two editions of part three of Nostromo by Joseph Conrad that were both edited by Conrad himself: the serial published in T.P.’s Weekly from January 27, 1904 to October 7, 1904 and the 1904 Harper’s edition.

In line with the vision for the MVP, the digital editions of Nostromo will be a research resource and framework for the collation of textual variants.  This resource will allow researchers to easily explore the variations between texts and thus spend more time extrapolating the significance of these variations.  The methodology used to uncover the differences in the varying editions of Nostromo involves scanning the different editions, light structural mark-up to the text, difference identification, and semantic mark-up to yield a display.  The end product is an intensive mark-up of the variants using a technical mark-up language, Textual Encoding Initiative (TEI), to produce a searchable critical, digital edition.

Because naming is so important within Nostromo, the characters have multiple aliases, and because the aliases used for characters in different circumstances shifts between editions, person names are one of the key elements we are tagging. Julian Gunn and I are currently finishing the mark-up of the two variant texts and have encountered a few key editorial questions along the way.  For example, what counts as a person name?  Does the name have to be in the form of a proper noun? Can a name simply be what someone is called? When is a job title someone’s name? Who counts as a character? Does the owl who cries “Ya-acabo” get a tag?

While the questions may seem relatively insignificant, they play a large roll in designing the accompanying ographies, the xml:ids , identifying who said what and which alias a quote is attributed to.  These tags will affect how the versioning tools are able to search for certain attributes, how the differences and which differences will be visualized, and how scholars will be able to interact with the MVP’s edition of Nostromo. As part of the pilot project I will produce a document of editorial decisions that explains why certain decisions were made such as whether or not the owl is tagged (I’m still undecided), and why names that include an adjective such as “old Viola” are considered names and not simply pared down to the proper noun, e.g. “Viola.” I look forward to collaborating with the EMiC community as the project goes through these editorial and soon, the versioning and visualization stages.

February 11, 2012

CFP: Women’s Fiction, New Modernist Studies, and Feminism (deadline 1 Mar 2012)

Call for Papers: Upcoming Special issue of Modern Fiction Studies
Women’s Fiction, New Modernist Studies, and Feminism

Editor: Anne Fernald
Deadline for Submission: 1 March 2012

The editors of MFS solicit new feminist scholarship on neglected women writers from the first half of the twentieth century. Feminist readings of single texts, essays on groups and/or movements, and overviews of a single woman’s career are equally welcomed. We are particularly interested in new theoretical approaches to modernism emerging out of feminist theory, imbued with what Sianne Ngai calls “a feminist attentiveness to the persistence of sexual hierarchies” (2). How can a feminist approach to women writers shape the conversation at a time when New Modernist studies have largely shifted the focus away from gender toward history and nation? How do recent developments in transnational modernism, urban theory, material, textual, and cultural history affect our readings of texts by women? Most of all, this issue’s double focus on neglected women writers and feminist theory seeks to make a critical intervention: What might new theory of modernism, taking as its foundation a feminist approach to a woman writer, look like?

This issue seeks to represent the full range of womanhood in the early twentieth century: conservatives and radicals, feminists and anti-feminists, lesbians, mothers, professionals, urban and rural women, women of color, white colonialists. Most importantly, it hopes to offer readings of texts by women through new feminist theoretical approaches with continuing resonances for all scholars in the field.

Essays should be 6000-8000 words and should follow the MLA Style Manual for internal citation and works cited. Queries should be addressed to Anne Fernald (fernald@fordham.edu). Online submission is at http://www.cla.purdue.edu/english/mfs/special_issues/

February 5, 2012

The English French-Canadian Modernist Canon: The Case of Anne Hébert

I suppose I should start by introducing myself; my name is Dr. Lee Skallerup Bessette and I am the newest member of the EMiC family. I am very new to digital humanities, but not so new to the Modernist period in Canada. One of my areas of interests is comparative Canadian literature, and I specifically looked at how the poetry of Anne Hébert was translated into and published in English for my dissertation.

I became fascinated by her poetry and their translation when I took a course on Québécois poetry at the Université de Sherbrooke with Richard Giguère as an undergraduate. He had us read the Dialogue sur la traduction, the correspondence that took place between Frank Scott and Anne Hébert about the translation of her poem “Le Tombeau des rois.” Researching for my final paper, I discovered multiple other translations of the poem and was immediately hooked on learning as much as I could about the process of translating Hébert’s dense and hauntingly beautiful poetry.

In 2007, I defended my dissertation. I had consulted 15 different archives in both Canada and the United States. I had found 27 collections and anthologies that had included her poetry in translation and for each one I tried to find out as much as possible about the process of putting the collection together as well as how Hébert’s poetry appeared and, whenever possible, was received. I collected four full file boxes of notes, photocopied letters, manuscripts, reviews, and other materials. Somehow I wrestled it down to 235 pages of dissertation. It won honorable mention for the 2009 Prix Anne-Hébert.

In 2011, I traveled to Toronto for the Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory Conference. I had already begun to explore digital humanities, but I hadn’t tied it to my own research. A light went off while I was at the conference: why am I sitting on these boxes and boxes of research? Why is the only way I could imagine sharing my research the dissertation/scholarly monograph? The theme of the conference was Space/Place/Play, and I began to think of ways I could “play” with my research, making it more engaging and accessible.

A few short months later, and here I am, a part of EMiC. I am really excited to be a part of this research group, a community of scholars who are interested in digital humanities as well as the Modernist period in Canada. Right now, I am a complete novice (or n00b in proper geek-speak) at things like encoding, programing, and visualization. I will be attending this summer’s DEMiC session in Victoria and I look forward to meeting everyone as well as finally figuring out how to do what I want to do with my materials.

And what is it that I want to do? I envision something along the lines of the Digital Thoreau project, enabling readers to trace the evolution of Anne Hébert’s poetry in English, compare the different translations, as well as peek behind the curtain to read the relevant letters and manuscripts behind the translations, which include the input of the author herself. I want to make the interface dynamic but also a little unstable, visually representing the instability of language and the slippery nature of translation. Frank Scott, in Dialogue (adapting Paul Valery), wrote that a translation is never finished, only abandoned. How can that sort of indeterminacy be represented in a digital way?

Could it also be possible to let readers create their own mashups of the translations, incorporating their own interpretations? There is precedence for such a project; the 20th anniversary issue of the translation journal Ellipse asked 20 poet-translators to translate the same Anne Hébert poem and provide a brief explanation. These sorts of exercises could reach a larger audience, be used as a teaching tool, as well as open up the aspect of “play” when it comes to poetry and translation.

These are just some of the ideas I have. As I learn the tools as well as how to encode and manipulate the texts (and collaborate with my peers at EMiC!), I’m sure there will be other, better ideas. I’m just excited to be able to do something with all of my research, as well as build something potentially more meaningful and lasting than a monograph.