Editing Modernism in Canada


March 20, 2012

Audrey Alexandra Brown: A Scholarly Exhibit

This semester I’ve been taking a class in the digital humanities with Jentery Sayers and am now beginning work on a larger project to digitize, annotate and present the photographs, newspaper articles and audio in the Audrey Alexandra Brown fonds at UVic. Under the supervision of Professors Ross and Sayers, and with the help of Chris Petter and John Frederick in UVic Special Collections, I hope to provide a data model, sample images and audio, and a narrative, which will delineate the ways in which an increasing reliance on these media to market Brown’s work undermined her supporters’ hope of establishing Brown as one of Canada’s Romantic poets. As such, her example may speak to larger questions concerning the interplay between East/West divisions and the impact of modern media on the marketing of Canadian poetry in the 1930s.

My project on Brown will take the form of a scholarly exhibit.  I plan to scan archival material from the Audrey Alexandra Brown fonds in The Special Collections Unit to .jpeg form. The media will be housed on the UVic server, and I will back up the material on an external hard drive. To display and annotate the digitized material, I plan to use Scalar, a platform which we are piloting in the DH class. Embedded media will include the scanned images of selected photographs and poems published in various newspapers. I plan to use Dublin Core to ensure that each image is well documented so that scholars will be able to cite the material in future work. I also plan to provide an .xls spreadsheet for those interested in finding the original materials modeled on the Deena Larsen Finding Aid. The fields will include the title, description, date, author, source and file number, type, format, and rights for each image. The narration will comment on how increased marketing through the different media influenced reception of Brown’s poetry.

Future work on the exhibit could follow the trajectory of Brown’s later work, and might focus on how modernity impacted her writing style and later reception in academic circles. Since Brown’s work has suffered as a result of what Dean Irvine calls ‘literary-historical amnesia,’ further examination of the archival material might suggest to what extent shifts in media focus accounted for this dismissal.

Many questions have arisen as I have delineated this project and I look forward to all thoughts and suggestions:

1) How might a 1930s readership have encountered this media differently from readers today, and how can my model draw attention to these differences? Can I in any way reproduce some of the ways a 1930s audience might have encountered the media? How can my model best represent the overlap between materials?

2) How can I build a model that will allow others (librarians, other scholars and historians) to expand upon this work?

3) How do I best draw attention to the process of digitization as a transformation of the archival experience?

3 Responses to “Audrey Alexandra Brown: A Scholarly Exhibit”

  1. I am the Project Manager for Dr. Carole Gerson’s Canada’s Early Women Writers (CEWW) project at Simon Fraser University, which aims to construct an online database of all Canadian women who published—in any genre, in any forum—before 1950. Like EMiC, CEWW is one of the seed projects for the Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory (CWRC).

    Our updated database will include images, and I love the images of the young (1935) AA Brown on your blog. Could you please tell me how I might gain permission to use the upper left-had image for our database? To view how the image will be used, you can visit our “mock-up” pages at . Credit will, of course, be given below the image, as in the case of Annie Glen Broder.

  2. jana_mu says:

    The mock-ups look great Karyn and what an important project! I’ll email you privately with the executor’s address, and it would probably be a good idea to check with The University of Victoria Special Collections.

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