Because I am planning to launch a curated scholarly exhibit on Audrey
Alexandra Brown in 2013, I felt it appropriate to also curate a project
timeline of my progress thus far. For this, I used TimelineJS
(http://timeline.verite.co/) software, and am much indebted to Dr. Huculak
for helping post the material to the blog. Enjoy!
Over the past year, I have been working on creating a digital resources website to support research and study of Wyndham Lewis’s first published novel, Tarr (1918, 1928), a project I am grateful to have had funded through an EMiC Master’s Stipend. The project has included summarizing the 1928 edition by chapter, compiling introductory information and bibliographies on Tarr and Lewis, and digitizing newspaper reviews and secondary sources relating to Tarr from the C.J. Fox Wyndham Lewis Collection housed at University of Victoria’s McPherson Library.
For those unfamiliar with Tarr, that might not be without reason: until recently, the book could only be found on the shelves of libraries, private collections, and second hand shops. After shocking early readers with its raw satire of the “bourgeois-bohemian” expatriate artists who populated Paris prior to WWI, Tarr faded into relative obscurity despite post-war revisions and multiple republications. However, Oxford’s 2010 inclusion of the novel in its World Classics series has rescued the novel from the “out of print” abyss, making the 1928 edition again available to scholars, students, and general readers.
Oxford’s republication of Tarr as a classic rightly signals that the novel holds much value for Modernist studies and pedagogy. Tarr is, in effect, a Modernist novel about early Modernism, and it offers unique insight into and critique of the social, economic, political, and cultural contexts of the art scene that birthed pre-WWI avant-garde movements.
Lewis first wrote Tarr during the period he was developing and expounding his Vorticist aesthetic prior to departing for war, and he extensively revised it a decade later, by which point his aesthetic and politics had inevitably changed. The Tarr resources website I’ve been developing, and in particular the nine digitized reviews of seven different publications of novel from the C.J. Fox Collection, are intended, in part, to provide a departure point for scholarly inquiry into the changing reception of Tarr, a topic that could also be fuelled by analysis of variations between editions. Recognizing the textual variants of the versions as a potential source of fruitful academic inquiry, the Modernist Versions Project, an online resource for collating and editing multiple versions of Modernist texts, will include the 1918 and 1928 editions of Tarr among its first digitization projects. Along with Oxford’s publication, the MVP editions will hopefully spark renewed academic interest in Tarr that the resources website could help to support.
Approaching the project without a background in web design and digitization, I have benefitted from the generous guidance and support of the EMiC community, the UVic English Department and McPherson Library Special Collections staff, and the Digital Humanities Summer Institute. I attended the DHSI course Digitization Fundamentals: Principles and their Applications at UVic in June 2011 and learned the basics of digitization. I also audited Dr. Arnie Keller’s UVic graduate seminar Creating Websites for Literary Studies and learned HTML5 and CSS3 in order to develop the site from scratch, and I received continual guidance from my MA supervisor, Dr. Stephen Ross. I also received the enthusiastic support of C.J. Fox, without whose incredible collection of Lewis-related materials the project would not have been possible.
I was additionally very fortunate to attend EMiC’s Exile’s Return Colloquium at Paris’s Sorbonne Nouvelle in June 2012, where I presented a draft of the website and received helpful feedback and encouragement. There, I had the pleasures of meeting the EMiC community and collaborators in person and attending engaging presentations on current Modernist Studies research. In the evenings, I was thrilled to explore the city that inspired the very Modernist works we had spent the day analyzing and to tour Montparnasse and Montmartre almost a century after Lewis wrote fictionalized accounts of those restless artistic neighbourhoods in Tarr.
Developing this project has been an invaluable learning experience in website design and the editorial decisions involved in producing a tool for digital literary studies. As I continue to refine the Tarr resources website, I am very grateful for all of the support the EMiC community has provided.
I am very grateful to have received an EMiC MA stipend for the 2012-13 academic year and I wanted to take this opportunity to share my plans for my project.
I previously discovered Canadian poet bpNichol when I created a mini-critical print edition of six of his poems for Dean Irvine’s Editing Canadian Modernism class. In part, I used this edition to explore the ways in which editing theory can be applied to texts that are as non-conforming, non-codex-based, and continually evolving as Nichol’s. I will continue down this avenue for my Masters thesis, which I hope to connect to a three-part digital editing project:
Firstly, I would like to create a digital mini critical edition of bp’s works that represent Dada aesthetics or have been influenced by Dadaist thought. The edition will be fairly small (perhaps only a dozen texts), but I hope that a narrower focus will allow me to draw clear connections to Dadaist theory, writings, and art. I will be exploring such bp pieces as “Dada Lama” (bp’s homage to Hugo Ball) and “Eyes,” and possibly some of the sound poetry that bp created with The Four Horsemen. My goal is to make the edition available online as an electronic text.
Secondly, I am interested in exploring genetic criticism by comparing the three editions of Konfessions of an Elizabethan Fan Dancer (1967, ’69, and ’73). My previous edition of six poems focused on the various versions of each text. I am interested in applying this type of genetic study to an entire Nichol work, maybe even comparing individual poems within Konfessions to later reprints. I am eager to see how versioning software can make these comparisons possible in a digital medium.
One of my favourite bpNichol works is Still Water. For my third project I would love to reintroduce this work to today’s readers in a digital format so that it is more accessible. My main goal with a digital format is to create an interface where the images (one image for each card in the Still Water box) can be randomized by the user/reader. This interface would allow countless (maybe endless?) combinations of the individual visual poems, creating a multitude of ways in which the complete work could be read and interpreted. If possible, I would also like users/readers to be able to arrange the images as they please. I am very keen to preserve bp’s ideas of communication with the reader—allowing the reader to become editor of the work and interact with a text in an out-of-book format.
Ellie Nichol has graciously given me permission to reproduce bp’s works online. I have also spoken to Lori Emerson about potentially integrating my projects into bpnichol.ca (An Online Archive for bpNichol). I also plan to ingest my scanned material into the Modernist Commons to encourage future projects based on bp’s works.
Most of all, the project is a lot of fun. It’s great to study a writer/artist/(“communications researcher” in bp’s words) who always brings a smile to your face. Stay tuned—updates to follow!