[Cross-posted, with permission, and with thanks to ghostprof.org.]
We have lift-off! The Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism goes live today with the first 1000 entries at rem.routledge.com. The REM aims to provide the most comprehensive resource in existence on modernist aesthetic practice around the world and across the arts. It includes entries written by subject experts in Dance, Film, Visual Arts, Architecture and Design, Literature, Intellectual Currents, Music, and Drama/Performance. Over 1000 specialists have contributed material to an editorial team of over 60 to bring this project to fruition. If you are one of them, THANK YOU! The REM is truly a communal project on a scale well beyond anything I, for one, ever imagined attempting. Some might say it was a mad enterprise. They wouldn’t be wrong. And yet here we are. So, again, thank you.
Why not breeze by the site now, and take a tour or sign up for a free trial?
This launch includes 1000 entries. We are already preparing the first major update to the REM, and will launch that material by the fall of 2016. We have much more to post, so if you don’t see what you are looking for (yet), please hang tough. If you think we may have missed the entry altogether, please by all means let me know. And if you’re game to write the entry, let me know that too!
Finally, please consider checking out Linked Modernisms, the companion site for the REM, which uses RDF, domain expert verification, and machine reasoning to plumb the REM‘s content for metadata and connections among terms. It features some pretty cool visualisations, and you can use the RelFinder tool to check out how many degrees of separation there are between your favourite figures, movements, places, works, techniques, etc. Again, we are constantly updating the content, enhancing the density of the metadata you can explore, so if you notice something missing (even something pretty central) please hang on for more updates. Many thanks to Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for funding the development of the site.
Like what you see? Please let me know at saross ]at[ uvic.ca
Don’t like what you (don’t) see? Also let me know (or wait a bit first, then let me know when you run out of patience).
Finally, I want to be sure to thank the Subject Editors of the REM:
Dance — Allana C. Lindgren
Film — Rahul Sapra
Architecture and Design — Michael Johnson
Visual Arts — Hazel Donkin
Literature — Megan Swift
Music — Jonathan Goldman
Intellectual Currents — Vincent P. Pecora
Drama/Performance — Sheila Rabillard
Each of these Subject Editors commissioned, managed, edited, and selected hundreds of entries. Some of them will stay on as we move into production, while others will move on to other responsibilities, but they all have done enormous work to ensure that the REM is as good as it possibly can be. They oversaw teams of between 3 and 15 Editorial Board Members, whom I cannot list here, but who have likewise lifted enormous burdens in getting this material to the screen.
My tireless Project Managers Laura Dosky, lately replaced by Amy Tang, have made the project possible when it seemed completely overwhelming. The legion of graduate students who helped prepare entries by formatting them for web presentation, copy editing, and fact-checking, likewise merit a great big thank you.
Lastly, Polly Dodson, Senior Editor at Routledge, indefatigable champion of the project, wry interlocutor, and kind but at-times demanding partner in crime has been a complete joy to work with. We’ve torn through a number of other team members at Routledge over the years, but Polly has remained the backbone of this operation. Thanks for not breaking!
by Stephen Ross (@ghostprof)
I have been asked to reflect on my experiences as an EMiC funded RA. This post looks at my ongoing involvement with the critical edition of Dorothy Livesay’s Right Hand Left Hand. In my previous post, I thought through my work with Canada and the Spanish Civil War (CSCW).
In a panel last April called “What the eFs!?!: Why Our Research Matters Now,” Hannah McGregor talked about how digital humanities work taught her how to fail. If I recall correctly, she described the necessity of failing in digital work: errors in code can crash a website, or you can spend an afternoon trying to perfect a PHP script that still refuses to function, but at the end of the day its alright. You will start again tomorrow, with more help and new ideas, and move a little closer to success. In contrast, failure in the humanities is terrifying. I don’t want to write about what failure looks like in the humanities–it is the stuff of anxious dreams, and that is where it should stay.
What is essential about failing in digital humanities is the trying: each time you try something, you learn a little more about what doesn’t work, and inch closer to what does. When I began working as a research assistant for the critical edition of Dorothy Livesay’s Right Hand Left Hand, I experienced this failure with a great deal of frustration. A new scanner meant I had to rescan Livesay’s work. Errors in file naming meant a great deal of manual renaming, or wrestling with unreliable file naming programs. OCR readers, in all their imperfect glory, required me to carefully reread and correct text. And through it all, programs crashed, mistakes were made, equipment and files were (quite literally) stolen, and I did it all over it again. Every time I failed, I became more vigilant, until I was checking and rechecking obsessively.
As frustrating as this was, it was productive failure. By the time I advanced from RA to co-editor, I knew the material from every angle. I had read Livesay’s words again and again–I knew them so well that as I wrote my own thesis on literature of the Great Depression, I felt compelled to cite Livesay constantly, as all my research echoed her memories, poetry, and journalism. As I moved onto new DH projects, I was constantly surprised at how much all those failures had taught me about working carefully and effectively, about data management, and about digital research tools. All that failed work that had felt wasteful paid off in the long-term–at least for me, and I hope for the projects as well.
Now that I work mostly on Canada and the Spanish Civil War, I am confronted with another kind of failure: the failure of the international movement against fascism. It seems to me that this failure reverberates in the lives and work of so many Canadian modernist authors. I don’t have much to say on this yet. I know that addressing this particular failure has been the most challenging part of my thesis work. I know that failure will continue to be a challenge in every aspect of my life. But it is heartening to know that, in its own small way, DH work makes failure more familiar and less devastating.
Three years after I began my RAship, the Right Hand Left Hand text is almost ready for submission. When I look at the single document that lives in my dropbox, I think of all the documents, folders, spreadsheets, bibliographies, and files that brought this edition to life, and of all the work that was undone and redone to bring this single text to life. And, of course, building on my last post, I think of the team of people that made it happen: Bart Vautour, Dean Irvine, Emily Ballantyne, Leslie Gallagher, Karen Smith at Dalhousie Special Collections, the staff at the University of Manitoba Archives, and many others. Ultimately, their knowledge and support made this project a successful one.
“Meeting people, all the people, all the time” makes Anouk Lang’s list of “Thirty-three ways of Looking at a DHSI Week.” Similarly, DHSI is all about networks for Hannah McGregor. Reading through the many posts about DEMiC 2015, I am reminded about what I missed most about DHSI—the people. That’s right, I did not attend DHSI this year, but, in a fit of nostalgia, I am thinking about my past experiences. Last year, I wrote about the Digital Databases course. This year, I want to talk about what I left out: the qualitative research.
DHSI is, at least in part, about meeting people. Last year, I met “all the people,” which included two scholars who had worked on Carroll Aikins. As a bit of a recap, I am working on a critical edition of Aikins’s play “The God of Gods” (1919), which premiered in Birmingham, England, and involves Nietzschean intertexts, theosophy, an Aboriginal reserve, a loose adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and anti-war sentiment, to name a few. DHSI brought me to Victoria, B.C. and to the stomping ground of James Hoffman (Thompson Rivers University) and Jerry Wasserman (University of British Columbia). Jerry offered to send me photographs of the first Birmingham production, which were waiting in my mailbox upon my return from the West Coast. James met with me several times to discuss his past research of Aikins, he lent me the manuscripts of Aikins’ unpublished plays, he shared theatre reviews of The God of Gods (some of which I had not yet uncovered!), and last but not least, he regaled me in stories about meeting Aikins’s family. Qualitative research, it seems, also played a major part in James’s work. I should probably mention that all of this wonderful research and sharing was unplanned: I met Jerry and James at separate talks, introduced myself and my work, and they offered the rest.
As if DHSI 2014 wasn’t already a gold mine of learning and of scholarly networks, it was also during a DEMiC social event that I connected with Melissa Dalgleish. As a result of that meeting, Melissa (who writes a series of posts about alt-ac work) is now working as a RA on the Aikins project (more about her RA work to come in a later post).
I can’t help but feel how indebted I am to qualitative research and to the generosity of scholars like Jerry, James, and Melissa as well as to networks of people like EMiC.
Figure 1Hart House Theatre: The God of Gods was performed at Hart House Theatre in 1922.
Qualitative research is important in the field of drama because the form relies on theatre reviewers or people’s personal notebooks to record production details. Do you engage with qualitative research in your work?
Since returning from my second DHSI, I’ve had a little time to reflect on my experience and to bask in the glory of my new—but still fledgling—programming skills. Like Chris, Emily, James, and Mathieu, I spent last week happily enrolled in Josh and Zailig Pollock’s course on “A Collaborative Approach to XSLT.” And, like my classmates, I was encouraged to embrace aspects of what the instructors referred to as an “Agile development method” (in essence, an iterative and adaptive approach to coding and project management). As we worked through exercises to reinforce each of the day’s lessons, we learned to test and tweak our code obsessively, and in this small way we began to see how an “agile” approach to DH projects might prove valuable on a larger scale.
For the benefit of those who haven’t read it, the “Manifesto for Agile Software Development” reads as follows:
We are uncovering better ways of developing
software by doing it and helping others do it.
Through this work we have come to value:
Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan
That is, while there is value in the items on
the right, we value the items on the left more.
(Source: agilemanifesto.org; emphasis added)
As one can see, the agile method offers a number of practical, even common-sense suggestions that can be usefully incorporated into most collaborative DH projects. In terms of my own DH work—and I’m thinking specifically here of my role in getting the Canadian Modernist Magazines Project up and running—an agile workflow or development approach will likely benefit the project in several ways. For example, I hope to successfully model the agile method’s emphasis on openness (to collaboration, to changing tools and conditions in the digital landscape, or even to the overall direction of the project). Perhaps even more importantly, however, I want to avoid being paralyzed by obsessive over-planning or inflexible long-term projections; instead, I want to work incrementally, letting each small step or misstep guide the next. The reality is that any new DH project is the product of innumerable blunders and misgivings, just as any “polished” essay is (in my experience) the product of multiple drafts and, initially, ill-conceived thoughts or malformed sentences.
Finally, I think it’s important for institutions that wish to support DH projects to recognize, and perhaps to help mitigate in some small way, the institutional pressures that confront English literary critics qua DH scholars in their work as DH scholars. But I guess what I really mean to advocate is an understanding of the similarities between literary critics and programmers or DHers, not the differences that make collaboration between them a potentially overwhelming undertaking. As those of us who have been lucky enough to participate in DHSI are well aware, the literary critic and the technogeek no longer occupy mutually exclusive domains. While I acknowledge the dangers of getting entirely immersed in the DH world and thus neglecting to hone one’s unique skills as a literary critic, I also acknowledge the need to constantly re-think my own research in light of rapidly changing disciplines, departmental practices, and institutional exigencies. So thank you for the education, Josh and Zailig—and thank you, EMiC, for another great week at DHSI.
For DHSI 2014, I had the pleasure of being a part of the Augmented Reality class with Markus Wust. In this class, we were introduced to using the technology of Layar to build a mobile application. One of the most interesting potentials of building a mobile applications that Markus introduced to the class was that of “serendipitous learning”. The idea behind this kind of learning is to build applications that would allow for learning to happen spontaneously as users navigate through their environments. For example, someone could be walking home from work and suddenly get an alert on their phone that they are close to a historical landmark. They could then bring up the application and discover a part of history that they didn’t realize existed before then. One of my favourite augment reality applications that allows for “serendipituous learning” is that of the Museum of London. I believe that being able to overlay the past with the present allows us to look at our world in a new way and to have a better appreciation for our history. Using augmented reality gives us with this appreciation.
Now that I am home unwinding from what was such an incredible and busy week, I can finally speak about my experience at this year’s DEMiC. This was my first time at DHSI, but it was not my first course through EMiC. Last summer I attended TEMiC in Kelowna where I had the opportunity to learn about different theoretical approaches to editorial work. The course was very useful to orient the beginnings of my editorial project, and for this reason I was eager to attend DEMiC. Although it differed from the course I did last summer, it did not disappoint. I had the opportunity to gain valuable hands-on experience with computer coding by working closely with fellow EMiC students and teachers Zaillig and Josh Pollock in the “A Collaborative Approach to XSLT” course. Following the completion of a challenging but useful week of training, I now come away with a strong foundation in XSLT that will be invaluable to the future of my editorial project, and feel as though I am part of a strong and close community.
Last week’s course promoted exactly what its name proposes: a collaborative approach to XSLT working through the interests of computer coding and literary scholarship. While the course demanded a lot of hard work, it was very well organized which enabled a manageable workload. Josh helped students learn the fundamentals of XSLT, and Zaillig provided his own feedback on the challenges he faced while working with this type of coding on his P.K. Page digital project. In addition, both Pollocks worked together to give insight into multiple possible ways of incorporating XSLT into digital editorial projects and also emphasized the importance of working in teams to generate new ideas. Although I was intimidated at first by the course due to my lack of familiarity with XSLT, both teachers were very patient and open to questions, and for this reason they created a very comfortable learning atmosphere. I was also able to consult other students in the class for guidance, as they were willing to help me work through any kinks I faced throughout the course. It was evident that the sense of collaboration that Zaillig and Josh tried to foster was not limited to their charismatic relationship, but also extended to their interaction with the class and the interaction they encouraged between the students. Albeit I will have to continue working diligently on becoming more comfortable with this new coding language; however, I feel as though the Pollock team has left me with the necessary tools to do so. I would recommend the course to anybody interested in doing digital editorial work, and/or interested in exploring new coding languages in a comfortable and productive learning environment.
Not only was the course a great collaborative learning experience, but I also enjoyed the opportunity to meet many EMiCers outside of class, and catching up with people I met at last year’s TEMiC. I come away from this experience not only feeling more comfortable with the concept of creating a digital project, but also as though I am part of a close community that is very supportive of its members. While I am sad that this was the last time DEMiC will happen, I am happy to have met so many interesting individuals, and to have learned from them. The course has only heightened my excitement for TEMiC next month where I will have the opportunity to gain more theoretical knowledge on sound archiving, and where I will be rejoining my fellow EMiC friends. For those who will be at TEMiC next month, see you soon! For the others, I look forward to crossing paths with you sometime soon!
I have spent the last few days in Scott Weingart’s class (scottbot.net) on Data, Math, Visualization, and Interpretation of Networks. We’ve been working on the basics of network analysis and learning some new lingo around networks and visualizations, such as nodes, vertexes, degrees, directed and undirected, weighted and unweighted edges. The tools we have being using, and the questions and discussions that have arisen in the class have been both practical and critical of the concept of network analysis, possible data bias, and semantic generalization. Nevertheless, we’ve forged on in our quest to create the most beautiful, eye-catching visualizations, and have I been able to see the possibilities in reading data differently through network visualization, and have a wider perspective on the concept of networks in general.
I came to the class without a particular project in mind, so once we started working on NodeXL, and I needed to insert data sets into the program, I sought out some data on the statscan site that I thought might be useful to interpret in relation to networks. I found some data related to Aboriginal languages in Canada from a study produced in 2011 and published in 2013: Aboriginal Languages in Canada. As the title of the table suggests, the data represents three main “nodes” – language, province, and concentration of population with regards to peoples with Aboriginal languages as a mother tongue. Although incomplete, the table does offer the possibility to map the data as a network across geopolitical borders to see where language groups could possibly meet at the edges. Here is the graph that was produced using the data from the survey:
The main nodes on the graph are the different Aboriginal languages, and the provinces in which they can be found as of 2011. It is a directed graph, which simply means that the language nodes point to the different provinces to which they are connected by an arrow pointing in the direction of their presence. Some of the languages only point to one province, while others point to multiple provinces. The edges of the graph, the arrows themselves, indicate the population size of those that speak the language in relation to their concentration in the particular province to which the edge points. The graph offers a few possible readings, and a number of problems. It cannot really tell us anything about the historical relationship between the different languages because it is based on data compiled in 2011 about people living with a particular nation-state constructed through colonial practices. It tells us nothing about the linguistic relationship between or amongst the various languages, although it is possible to see that the concentration of Cree and Algonquian-speaking peoples could possibly have linguistic similarities due to their proximity (which is true, but not expressed by the graph specifically).
What the graph does tell us, which might not be made clear simply by reading the data table, is that there are in fact three networks of Aboriginal languages as expressed in the data. The largest network stretches geographically from Quebec to Alberta to the Northwest Territories. On either side, we get two distinct networks of Aboriginal languages that are isolated along the Atlantic and the Pacific. It is possible to read this visualization of the data beyond the numbers – or at least ask some questions about what it is showing us. Why exactly do the coastal nations exist in isolated spaces? Is it possible to argue that coastal dwellers had different social practices that made them less likely to travel far from the coast, and thus have less interaction with other groups? Does the topography of the landscape have an effect on the fact that Northwest Coast First Nations languages do not cross over into Alberta as of 2011? Or is it simply that the data is insufficient, and we are only able to see how colonial practices produced these isolated networks of linguistic speakers through forced assimilation and the reservation system? I’d be interested to hear what anyone thinks about the visualization, and if there are others questions that could be asked by looking at the networks of Aboriginal languages in Canada. Happy DHSI to all!
Instead of sharing four separate Facebook or Twitter posts, I thought I would collect some recent discoveries of materials that might be of interest to the EMiC community and put them into one blog post. So here is my Friday sampler:
I will be writing more soon on the audio edition of Sepass Poems as I continue to correspond with Ann Mohs of Longhouse Publishing prior to the official launch. For now, check out the audio glossary that has been created to accompany the audio edition. It is a great reminder that paratext (or in this case perhaps a term like paranarrative would be more appropriate) should reflect the medium of the principal text or narrative. It seems fitting that the glossary for orally presented poems is an oral glossary, returning to the tradition of learning new terminology through listening and repetition.
For those collecting audio and video in its original form (i.e. magnetic media: floppy discs, cassette tapes, etc.), the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) has published S. Michalski’s “Incorrect Temperature” chart as a guide to how long different objects will last at different temperatures based on their vulnerability. The highest sensitivity group includes magnetic media and colour photographs, and various other types of paper (for those of us with large book collections) can be found under the other sensitivity groups. Technically I didn’t discover this online, but the workshop organizer who passed it on during a museum workshop took it from the CCI website. If you’re curious to know how long that copy of bpNichol’s First Screening is going to last in your basement, or what kind of decay rate your collection of rare chapbooks and Modernist periodicals have, this document is worth a glance. If nothing else, it is a reminder of why digitization is necessary for preserving literary works that have a finite lifespan in their original physical form.
This last find is not as directly related to Modernism or editing, but it has filled my head with possibilities. Poet Adrian Sobol has created a digital chapbook by self-publishing poems on Instagram under the account “Selfies with the Moon.” Check it out here.
After thinking about digital strategies for engaging an audience with tools like social media, I am in love with Sobol’s idea! #crowdsourcing #instaeditions #hashtagannotations ? #bpNicholOnInstagram ?? It certainly is something to think about.
Since finishing my MA and deciding to pursue a career outside academia instead of a PhD, I have encountered plenty of discussions and discovered several resources that could fit just as well within academic projects in the humanities. As a Museum and Communications Coordinator for a non-profit heritage organization, issues surrounding collecting, archiving, and organizing information, cultural objects, and historical narratives are always present in my work. Many of these issues are related to how we can best engage an audience in these materials and narratives using digital platforms. This is the first of a few posts that I hope to write in order to share tools from my work outside academia that I feel would be useful to the EMiC community. Anyone else who has ideas and resources to share that bridge the divide between academia and post-ac / alt-ac careers should feel encouraged to do the same.
I attended two workshops at the Canadian Museums Association conference in Toronto this April, one of which was about incorporating digital strategies into project planning. The workshop was led by Jasper Visser, who travels the world to give talks on The Digital Engagement Framework. This framework is a tool that helps you decide which digital technologies will best achieve your goal and engage people in your project. The framework encourages users to map out who their audience is, what they can offer this audience, and what the audience can offer in return. The next steps involve planning how digital tools can be used to facilitate a mutually beneficial relationship between the project organizers and their audience. Visser has created an entire book on the topic that includes worksheets and case studies. It can be downloaded (along with the worksheet pictured above) from the digital engagement framework website.
I found the tool very useful for streamlining ideas about crowd-sourced projects that depend on audience contributions. Visser’s workshop asked participants to think past the initial engagement of an audience and also create a strategy that will retain an audience and cause an audience to be invested in a project. Since invested audiences need to feel that they are adding value to a project and that their efforts are recognized, the workshop included ample discussion on social media and how it can support crowd-sourced projects. The workshop also forced me to realize that, since only about 1 out of every 100 people remain interested in a project after initial engagement, targeting an audience 100 times the size of my ideal audience is a necessary first step in obtaining the participation levels I would like to achieve.
All in all, I think this resource is a useful tool for anyone planning a digital project that will use crowd-sourcing to obtain materials (such as an online edition that will ask for annotations from readers), for anyone who has a non-digital project that will require digital tools to engage with an audience (such as a textual edition that will be promoted through social media and other online platforms), or simply for anyone who has a project in mind and wants to take the first steps in considering how to get people interested in it– specifically in a world where digital interactions are not only the norm, but a necessity for generating a large and invested readership.
The Editing Modernism in Canada Project has awarded the following students PhD Stipends for 2014-2015. Congratulations to this year’s winners!
1) Michael Nardone
Project Title: PHONOTEXT.CA
Phonotext.ca is a project initiated for the creation of a comprehensive open-access digital index of sound recordings related to modernist and postmodernist Canadian poets and poetry. The site will index recordings in all available formats, document any relevant bibliographic information, list where recordings are physically located, and provide links to access recordings that have been made digitally available.
In addition to providing a platform for listening to Canadian poets and poetry, phonotext.ca will serve as an important tool for preserving and accessing phonotextual materials, acting as a hub to catalyze future research and critical study. Funds from Editing Modernism in Canada support developing the site’s indexing and metadata protocols, the initial compiling of resources, and outreach to acquire additional resources among communities of poets, scholars, researchers, librarians and archivists.
2) Carl Watts
Project Title: Laura Goodman Salverson’s The Dove
In addition to works of autobiography and realist fiction, Laura Goodman Salverson published a little-known novel called The Dove (Ryerson Press, 1933), in which a group of Icelanders is kidnapped by corsairs and sold as slaves in Algiers. While much has been written of the arrangement of realism and romance that informs Canada’s modernist literature, The Dove is unique in that its peculiar historical romance registers a radical inversion of commonly expressed relationships between Europeans and non-Western peoples. It is for this reason that I am proposing a digital edition of the long-out-of-print novel. Based on the first edition as well as the novel’s typescript at Library and Archives Canada, this edition will also include an introduction and notes that draw from archival materials and critical work on Salverson’s corpus.
3) Graham Jensen
Project Title: The Canadian Modernist Magazines Project
The Canadian Modernist Magazines Project (CMMP) will focus its attention on the digitization and transcription of a limited selection of Canadian “little magazines” so that their constituent poems, essays, and editorials can be read, searched, and analyzed by scholars within EMiC’s Modernist Commons or using a variety of existing third-party digital humanities tools. Following the precedent set by similar projects—such as the Modernist Journals Project (U.S.A.) and the Modernist Magazines Project (U.K.)—the CMMP will attempt to digitize complete runs of two important Canadian magazines of the 1940s: Preview (1942-44) and First Statement (1942-45). Once these initial goals have been met, the CMMP will have established the online infrastructure and editorial processes necessary for the digitization and transcription of additional magazines. Following the initial funding period, Graham hopes to expand the CMMP through other grants or as part of a postdoctoral research position.
4) Alix Shield
Simon Fraser University
Project Title: Curating Digital Aboriginal Orature and Literature
This project will focus on the digitization, editing, and critical analysis of First Nations orature and literature, looking specifically at the collaboration between Chief Joe Capilano (Sahp-luk) and E. Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake) that culminated in the text Legends of Vancouver (1911). The project will begin with the gathering of versions of the Legends text, and will then move to the digitization stage, where scans of the various editions will be ingested to EMiC’s Modernist Commons repository and web-based versioning platforms will be used to collate variant texts and produce visualizations that highlight exact instances of change across versions. Finally, the project aims to produce a digital scholarly edition of this collaboratively-authored text, and in doing so engage in the process of repatriation by creating an archival space that involves members of the Coast Salish and Mohawk communities and respects cultural codes and protocols.