Kaarina Mikalson is a Research Assistant for “Canada and the Spanish Civil War,” under the supervision of Bart Vautour of Mount Allison University. For this project, Kaarina’s main objective is to compile bibliographic data of all Canadian literature about the Spanish Civil War, which she then enters into the Canadian Writing and Research Collaboratory (CWRC) Repository. In order to do this work, Kaarina travelled to Winnipeg to scan material in the William Kardash Fonds, and subsequently ingested this material into the Modernist Commons. In addition, she just finished creating a clean text version of Charles Yale Harrison’s Spanish Civil War novel Meet Me on the Barricades.
In working on “Canada and the Spanish Civil War,” Kaarina has run into both practical and technical issues. When she arrived at the Archives of Manitoba to access the William Kardash Fonds, she learned that the rules and restrictions governing scanning had changed earlier that week. Kaarina had only one day to work there, and she spent half of it waiting around for archivists to make decisions according to guidelines they were not yet familiar with themselves. As a result, she was not able to scan all the material she set out to scan, and left somewhat frustrated.
Another of Kaarina’s challenges involves the technical side of working on such a large digital project as “Canada and the Spanish Civil War.” Much of the literature on the Spanish Civil War is obscure, so finding accurate information has been challenging. Also, both the CWRC Repository and the Modernist Commons are still under development, which means that Kaarina is limited in what she can do and encounters occasional errors that delay her work. These challenges, however, are not without their positives. Being involved with the Mods Repository and the Modernist Commons at an early stage means that Kaarina can give feedback to the developers, allowing her to influence — at least to some degree — how these repositories take shape. Plus, Kaarina has already seen amazing developments in the Modernist Commons since she started working with it last spring.
Kaarina will continue to be involved with this fast-moving project throughout the spring and summer. Because Bart Vautour and Emily Robins Sharpe have such a clear plan and keep Kaarina well informed of any developments, she finds her work to be very engaging and rewarding — she can see where the project is going, and how her work fits into the bigger picture.
“Canada and the Spanish Civil War” has taught Kaarina a lot about Canadian history, and she anticipates that the project will have a strong influence on her future academic work. Further, Kaarina sees this project as fulfilling an important role in Canadian society by illuminating this fascinating but underrepresented event in Canadian history.
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