[Cross-posted from http://www.mith.umd.edu/dhwi/]
The Editing Modernism in Canada (EMiC) project and the Digital Humanities Winter Institute (DHWI) are delighted to announce the 8th course for the upcoming 2013 institute. Digital Editions, led by EMiC director Dean Irvine, is designed for individuals and groups who are interested in creating scholarly digital editions. Topics covered will include an overview of planning and project management, workflow and labour issues, and tools available for edition production. Participants will be working with the Modernist Commons, a collaborative digital editing environment and repository designed by EMiC in collaboration with Islandora and its software-services company DiscoveryGarden.This course was made possible through the generous sponsorship of EMiC. We invite you to visit DHWI and EMiC to learn more about this training opportunity and this exciting international project.
EMiC participants (faculty, postdocs, graduate and undergraduate fellows) and other students affiliated with EMiC co-applicants and collaborators may apply to attend DHWI online at http://editingmodernism.ca/training/summer-institutes/demic/.
Read the new DEMiC, DEMiC Travel, and DEMiC Accommodations pages and Application Form carefully. There are new deadlines and new mechanisms of oversight for booking travel and accommodations for both DHSI at Victoria and DHWI at Maryland.
Looks like we’re going to have to update that summery URL. Welcome to winter training. Now there’s no off season for DH enthusiasts.
The editors of Book 2.0 invite articles on the rapidly growing application of digital tools to research and publishing strategies in the humanities and social sciences for a special issue scheduled for 2013.
Contributions may relate to curating online collections and archives, the design and implementation of new applications that support or enrich research, and emerging forms of cross-disciplinary scholarship that are supported by technology. In particular, we welcome submissions on innovative publishing and dissemination models that increase access to digitised and born-digital materials. Abstracts of no more than 200 words should be submitted to Dr Mark Turin <firstname.lastname@example.org> and Dr Mick Gowar by 4 August 2012.
Book 2.0 is a new, interdisciplinary peer-reviewed journal focusing on developments in book creation and design—including the latest in technology and software affecting illustration and production. Book 2.0 also explores innovations in distribution, marketing and sales, and book consumption, and in the research, analysis and conservation of book-related professional practices. Through research articles and reviews, Book 2.0 provides a forum for promoting the progressive practice in the teaching of writing, illustration, book design and publishing across all sectors.
(This post originally appeared on the Proletarian Literature and Arts blog.)
I’m at the Digital Humanities Summer Institute at the University of Victoria this week. I’m taking a course on the Pre-Digital Book, which is already generating lots of interesting ideas about how we think and work with material texts, and how that is changing as we move into screen-based lives. There are, of course, many implications for how these differing textual modes relate to how we study and teach proletarian material, and more importantly, how class bears on these relationships. I hope to share some of these ideas as they have developed for me over the week. The course has taken up these questions in relation to medieval manuscripts and early modern incunablua and print, but the issues at stake are relevant for modern material as well. The instructors and librarians were kind enough to bring in a 1929 “novel in woodcuts” by Lynd Ward for me to look at – more on that will follow.
But, for fun, I also wanted to post about a little analysis experiment I did with some textual analysis tools.
I used the Voyant analysis tool to examine a set of Canadian manifesto writing. I transcribed six texts either from previous print publications or from archival scans for use as the corpus. These included: (1) “Manifesto of the Communist Parties of the British Empire”; (2) Tim Buck, “Indictment of Capitalism”; (3) CCF, “Regina Manifesto”; (4) Florence Custance, “Women and the New Age”; (5) “Our Credentials” from the first issue of Masses; and (6) Relief Camp Workers Strike Committee, “Official Statement”. [The RCWSC document remains my favorite text of all time.] Once applied, the tools let me read the texts in new ways, pulling out information or confirming ideas that I had about them in meaningful ways. You can find the summary of my corpus here.
The simplest visualization is the Cirrus word cloud, which at a glance shows that these texts are absolutely dominated by the language of class and politics (unsurprising, as they are aimed at remaking the existing class order). Michael Denning’s statement in The Cultural Front that the language of the 1930s became “labored” in both the public and metaphoric spheres is clearly reflected in this image.
Looking at the differences among the materials, an analysis of distinctive words is a simple way to get at the position of a given text in relation to the others. We might think of these Canadian manifestos as occupying the same ground of debate (though they are not responding to one another directly), but not necessarily sharing the same tent. For example, the “Manifesto of the Communist Parties of the British Empire” shows a much higher concentration of the term “war”, which helps situate it to later in the 1930s. The “Regina Manifesto” is overwhelmingly concerned with the “public” as it plans for a collective society. Florence Custance’s feminist statement shows itself to be more unique in its own time, as it uses “women” and female pronouns far beyond the other texts. And the Masses text betrays its literary periodical background with its heavier use of “art”.
The density of vocabulary in the texts can tell us something about intended readerships, and purpose of the text. Masses plays with the linguistic conventions of the manifesto to develop a text that is both assertive and creative; accordingly, it uses the largest variety of words to do so. However, the RCWSC is not far behind in its forthright call to action, which tells me something interesting about the role of the imaginative mode in connecting revolution with creative acts. Buck’s “Indictment” is the least dense text. It’s also the longest, which makes for a highly repetitive text. The “Indictment” has a strong oral quality to it, commenting on Buck’s trial and defense and with response and Marxist analysis. It is also highly indebted to that style, parsing its terms minutely and using them for step-by-step explanations. It is in many ways the most didactic of the texts, as the word density suggests, though such analysis misses the purposeful element of the limited word choices. I find Buck’s repetition to have an incantatory quality connecting it more closely to spoken debate than the other texts, an impression that comes out of working with the text closely, while typing and re-typing, and reading it aloud for myself. Word density is not for me an assignation of value; rather, it is one of many ways of framing some thoughts on how these texts – and manifestos more broadly – employ particular rhetorical modes and how we can follow them through.
Here is the link to the Voyant analysis of my manifestos. I invite you to take a look, play around, and consider throwing up some text from other working-class and proletarian sources. It seems to me that a lot of textual analysis begins by reaching for “important” texts – those that are canonical, or historical. The tools make no distinction – I would like to see more examples of writing from below feeding into the ways we think about texts in the DH realm.
In my “Digital Romanticism” class with Michelle Levy at SFU, we recently hosted Professor Andrew Stauffer, Director of the NINES project at the University of Virginia. The resulting conversation touched on some core questions about the purpose of the digital humanities, and its future potential, particularly as it pertains to the question of scholarly communities. I think EMIC scholars will find there are interesting points of reference here for our own community-building efforts.
In preparation for the class, we read John Unsworth’s article “Scholarly Primitives: what methods do humanities researchers have in common, and how might our tools reflect this?” In this article (taken from a presentation he gave at a symposium in London) he gives a list of scholarly “primitives” - “basic functions common to scholarly activity across disciplines, over time, and independent of theoretical orientation.” These are: discovering; annotating; comparing; referring; sampling; illustrating; and representing.
Unsworth is clear that he doesn’t think this list is exhaustive, and I wonder if he (or you) would think that “creating community” should qualify as a primitive. Scholars have been incredibly good at creating communities (if you agree, contra i.e. Wendell Berry, that a community doesn’t need to inhabit one geographic location). The conversation that happens in these communities across space and time is crucial to scholarly work.
What excites me about NINES is that the community-oriented features of other non-scholarly online spaces are built into it in in a unique way. I haven’t seen other scholarly sites foreground tagging and discussing, with activities attached to personalizable profiles, in the same way NINES and 18thConnect have.
Sadly, these features are under-used. Talking with Professor Stauffer, I can see the clear need for NINES to use its limited resources on improving the more standard database functions that are the primary reason scholars find NINES so useful (improvements include building a tool, Typewright, that will allow scholars to correct OCR scans, for example).
If we agree that creating community is indeed a crucial part of scholarly work, however, then there is ample incentive to persist in community-building online. The added advantage of the web is that it often creates less hierarchical, more transparent communities with a lower barrier to entry than a non-digital community has. The general tendency of DH to reflect the decentralizing and empowering nature of the web within its own projects and communities is part of what, I think, makes it so exciting and potentially transformative.
It would be fantastic to focus on encouraging people to use the community-oriented functions on NINES (especially the tagging, since it has a clear link to democratizing the classification [and therefore control] of knowledge) but, as I said, NINES faces resource constraints and has other tasks it needs to do.
Getting creative, someone from our class had the fantastic suggestion that NINES could mirror the conversations that take place on some of the bigger nineteenth-century listservs. it seems scholars often don’t feel these conversations are the best use of inbox space, but that having a searchable archive of them would be very valuable and perhaps even help these conversations flourish. I also suggested trying to popularize a #nines hashtag on twitter, hopefully creating another conversation that could simply be mirrored on NINES (this would take time and resources to accomplish, however).
It’s not that scholarly conversation isn’t happening on the web – it’s just that it’s often not happening on purpose-built tools like the Nines discussion boards. One major learning in online outreach over the last few years has been to recognize that the phrase “If you build it, they will come” is simply not true. Instead, you need to find ways to meet people where they are, and then integrate conversations happening in different places.
I’m really impressed with the collaborative effort it must have taken just to get all of the NINES federated sites to play nicely with each other (a Star Trek joke just flickered across my mind, but I’ll leave it to your imagination). The EMIC Commons will be another example of a large-scale scholarly collaboration. But the online community-building efforts seem to lag behind. That’s to say nothing of the efforts to bridge academic and non-academic communities. Online scholarly community building will definitely require some very creative approaches, given some of the challenges Professor Stauffer outlined for us.
A quote from Unsworth’s article is relevant here: “The importance of the network in all of this cannot be overstated: with the possible exception of a class of activities we’ll call authoring, the most interesting things that you can do with standalone tools and standalone resources is, I would argue, less interesting and less important than the least interesting thing you can do with networked tools and networked resources. There is a genuine multiplier effect that comes into play when you can do even very stupid things across very large and unpredictable bodies of material, with other people.”
Keeping the potential of the multiplier effect in mind, I’m wondering if people have other thoughts about this question of creating community online. How does the aim of community-building fit into your DH/EMIC work, if at all?
I have been a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with Editing Modernism in Canada for just over a year now, so it gives me great pleasure at this midpoint in my position to announce two major partnership agreements signed last week. First, EMiC has finalized it contract with Islandora at the University of Prince Edward Island to build our very own Digital Humanities module. Second, EMiC has partnered with another DH project with which I am involved: The Modernist Versions Project. Both partnerships promise to provide resources, training, and infrastructure not only EMiC scholars, but to the DH community as a whole.
1. Integrated Digital Humanities Environments: Islandora
Anyone who has been in DH for a while knows that there is a long history of tool-creation for our scholarly endeavours. Some of these projects have been successful (The Versioning Machine, Omeka, etc.), and some, unfortunately, have not. One “problem” we face as DH’ers is that there is simply so much to do. Some of us are interested in visualization software and network relations (Proust Archive), some are interested in preserving disintegrating archives (Modernist Journals Project), and others of us are firmly rooted in TEI and textual markup. Moreover, with the growth of GIS software, mapping texts has become a great way to have students interact with texts in spatial terms and to communicate with a non-academic public using a language most of us are familiar with: maps.
But what happens in DH when we move into the classroom?
I recently read a stunning syllabus created by Brian Croxall at Emory University, in which he provides his students with a solid (and diverse) introduction to the Digital Humanities. But one thing researchers and teachers like Brian, or any other DH’er faces, is providing students integrated learning environments where they can edit texts in a common repository AND have all the tools they need at their disposal in the browser. If you want to teach TEI right now, you have to buy Oxygen (a life-saving program when it comes to XML markup); For versioning, you must install Juxta or The Versioning Machine. For publication/exhibition you must install Omeka. But what if we had ALL of those things in one learning environment, in one common and open system? This is what we’re trying to accomplish with the EMiC Digital Humanities Sprout.
EMiC Digital Humanities Sprout
An issue EMiC faces in providing tools for our researchers is the sheer diversity of work being undertaken right now by EMiC scholars who have varying levels of experience with digital environments. EMiC needed to find a way to allow its members to preserve, edit, and publish digital editions of archival material in an intuitive way; moreover, we wanted to make to sure our archival practices conformed to international standards. Moreover, most of us are teachers too. How do we teach our students what we are doing in our research? Enter Islandora.
Nine months ago, I Googled the phrase “TEI, ABBYY, XSLT” on a whim (actually, I was being lazy: I was looking for an XSLT sheet that would transform ABBYY HTML to simple TEI). The first result listed was a page from the University of Prince Edward Island—just down the road so-to-speak. Not knowing much about Prince Edward Island outside of L. M. Montgomery, I keep browsing, and to my amazement, found that the library at UPEI had created a project called “Island Lives,” a resource developed using the home-grown Islandora digital repository. Mark Leggott, Donald Moses, and others, had built precisely what I was looking for: a digital asset management system using a Fedora Commons repository wrapped in Drupal shell. Islandora allows users to easily upload an image of text to its database, edit that image (TEI), and then “publish” a complete text (book, pamphlet, etc.) to the web. Dean Irvine and I realized that if we could expand this system to fit EMiC’s needs, we could create a Digital Humanities module that would serve our members perfectly. We decided to focus on the core issues facing EMiC editors: Ingestion (including OCR based on Tesseract), Image Markup, TEI editing, Versioning, and Publication (for the full list of what we’re building, see below*). Moreover, Islandora is tested and true and is being used by NASA, the Smithsonian, among many other institutions.
Thank You, DH.
We have years of successful work to emulate for this DH module. And just as the DH community has given to us, we expect the give back to the DH community by keeping the DH module open to use. Yes, we plan on creating an EMiC/Islandora DH install that you can download and use in your classrooms.
As part of this initiative, I have moved to Prince Edward Island to work with the Islandora crew as we develop this module. There’s some other news about what I’ll be digitizing there to “test” our system—but you’ll have to wait to hear about that. In the meantime, we are planning unveiling our functioning module at DHSI2012.
2. Modernist Versions Project
If you haven’t been to the Digital Humanities Summer Institute hosted by Ray Seimens at the University of Victoria, do plan on going! It is an incredible week of DH training, and it is one of the most memorable “unconferences” I have ever attended. One wonderful result of this year’s camp was the creation of the Modernist Versions Project (MVP), an international initiative to provide online resources for the editing and display of multiple witnesses of modernist texts. In what was truly a conversation over coffee, Stephen Ross shared with me his desire to create the MVP. Having served the Modernist Journals Project (MJP) at the University of Tulsa and Brown University for over six years, I said, “Stephen, let’s do this!” And we did. With the help of James Gifford, Jentery Sayers, and Tanya Clement (who along with Stephen and I serve as the Board of the MVP), we have secured tremendous support for a major SSHRC application this fall. The MVP promises to be an important project in the field of Digital Humanities and modernism.
But what does this have to do with EMiC?
I am impressed by two aspects of EMiC. First, the recovery of modernist Canadian texts in our project is truly spectacular. Second, the training EMiC facilitates at the University of Alberta, Dalhousie University, The University of Victoria, and Trent University (among many other institutions) is edifying. Just look at our graduate student editors who are engaged in serious textual editing projects across Canada: http://editingmodernism.ca/about-us/. We are really building the future of Canadian studies here.
As an international scholar, I am concerned, like many of you, with the networking of Canadian modernism across the globe. How does Canadian modernism fit into the greater narrative of modernity across the world? (this is a topic we’ll be exploring in Paris 2012: http://editingmodernism.ca/events/sorbonne-nouvelle/).
The Modernist Versions Project is one way of creating networks of modernist textual criticism and production across the world; that is, the MVP is interested in the editing and visualization of multiple textual witnesses no matter where those witnesses were created. Though located in Canada, the MVP’s scope is much larger, and EMiC’s partnership with the MVP will allow EMiC scholars interested in “versioning” to use MVP resources as they are developed. The MVP has already developed partnerships with the Modernism Lab at Yale University, Modernist Networks at Chicago, and NINES, which is letting us use and develop their Juxta software for periodicals and books.
Dean Irvine has been very generous in allocating my Postdoctoral hours towards the formation of the MVP. Once again, EMiC is nurturing young projects and helping create a truly global network of digital modernist studies. And I think I’ll end on this note: EMiC’s primary focus has been collaboration: collaboration among peers, and now collaboration among projects. And by collaborating with other projects around the world, we hope to create tools that will last, be useful, and really change the face of modernist studies.
Welcome to EMiC. Let’s go build something.
*Details of the EMiC Digital Humanities Sprout
Existing Islandora Code
1. Islandora Core
a. Integration with the Fedora repository and Drupal CMS
b. Islandora Book Workflow
c. Islandora Audio/Video
d. Islandora Scholarly Citations
New/Enhanced Functionality for the EMiC Module
1. Smart Ingest
2. Image Markup Tool
Proofs of concept and models:
Image Markup Tool (IMT)
3. TEI Editor
Proofs of concept and models:
Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory (CWRC) – CWRC Writer
Humanities Research Infrastructure and Tools (HRIT) – Editor
4. Collation Tool
Proofs of concept and models for development:
5. Version Visualization Tool
Proofs of concept and models:
6. Dynamic Version Viewer
Hypercities database: Transparent layers interface
7. Digital Collection Visualization Tool
Proof of concept:
Having been an English student for more years that I want to count (but if we’re keeping track, nine—yipes!—years at the university level), it’s sometimes easy to feel like I’ve got the basics of being an academic figured out. Much of the time, the learning I do is building on things I already know or refining techniques that I’ve long been practicing. My thinking often shifts and slides, or becomes more nuanced, but I think it would take a lot to completely transform the way I understand, say, Canadian modernism.
As a DH student, though, those statements absolutely do not apply. Every time I walk into a DH classroom—at DEMiC or at TEMiC, or even just in conversation with other DHers—it’s all I can do to keep up with the ways in which my thinking and practice are continually transforming themselves. The Wilkinson project is a case in point. I started out thinking that I’d be able to do a digital collection of all of her poems—after all, there are only about 150. Then I recognized that facsimiles on their own were inadequate, so the project grew exponentially when I took into account all of the versions—up to 30, for one poem—that I would have to scan, code, and narrativize to create a useful genetic edition. That project was clearly too big to even mentally conceive of right now, so I broke it down into smaller chunks: the 1951 edition first, then the 1955, then the 1968, and so on. Then I broke those chunks down into smaller parts, all the while keeping in view everything I was learning from the EMiC community about DH best practice as I made more and more specific choices about the edition.
As my three weeks in DH studies this summer have made very apparent to me, modularity is now the name of the game (and all credit for this recognition on my part goes to Meagan, Matt, Zailig, and Dean). The idea of modularity is important for my editorial practice, my future as an academic, and my mental health. I always have my ultimate goal—The Collected Works of Anne Wilkinson—in view, but what I used to think of as a small-ish project I now realize will probably take me a decade to completely finish. A more manageable chunk to start with is one module (of probably 10): a digital genetic/social-text edition of Counterpoint to Sleep, Wilkinson’s first collection. Even the first edition, which I’m aiming to have ready for final publication by the time I finish my PhD this time in 2013, can be broken down into smaller modules. First will come the unedited facsimiles. Then, the transcriptions. Then, the marked up facsimiles with their revision narratives and explanatory notes. Each of these modules can be published as soon as they are complete; they don’t represent my final goal for the edition, but they will certainly be useful to readers as I work on the next layer of information.
Modularity makes a lot of sense to me. Counterpoint can be published in the EMiC Commons and go on my CV before I go on the job market, which should help make possible my having the chance to keep working on the Wilkinson project as an academic. By breaking it down, I don’t have to try to mentally wrangle a huge and complex project. And if I hate how Counterpoint turns out, if someone has a really great criticism that I want to act on, if DH best practice changes significantly, or if the EMiC publication engine means that I can do things quite differently, I can completely re-theorize the next edition, The Hangman Ties the Holly, and do quite different things with it. This is especially important when it comes to peer review. If a modernist peer-review body gets created for our digital projects, I want to be able to design my editions so that they will be successfully peer reviewed, and I likely won’t know what those criteria are until after the first edition is done.
The idea of modularity also works quite well for edition and collection design. You’ll note that I’ve given up debating what to call the Wilkinson project, at least for the moment. The individual modules will be called editions, and the modules together will be called collections. I might change my mind later, but rest assured, this will never be called the Anne Wilkinson Arsenal (no offence to Price). I’ve mocked up the splash page for what the Wilkinson collection will look like when the five poetry editions are done.
As you can see, it’s really just a bunch of boxes. And I can have as many, or as few, boxes as I currently have work complete. Those boxes can also become other things as the project gets bigger. In the end, they might say something like Poetry/ Prose/ Life-Writing/ Juvenilia/ Correspondence. They’re endlessly alterable and rearrange-able, which seems to be the core of my new editorial philosophy.
If I can sum up the sea-change that has happened in my thinking about digital editing this year, it’s a shift from thinking big and in terms of product to thinking small and in terms of process. If I didn’t learn anything else, that would be a huge lesson to have grasped. I did learn lots else—the importance of user testing and project design, how committed I am to foregrounding the social nature of texts, how much I love interface design, how much I believe that responsible editing means foregrounding my role as editor and the ways I intervene in Wilkinson’s texts—and I’m looking forward to learning lots more in my hopefully long career as a digital humanist. It’s been a big summer for Melissa as DHer.
There’s a lot I can’t do with the Wilkinson project while Dean, Matt, the PEI Islandora team, and all sorts of other EMiC people work together to get the EMiC Co-op and Commons up and running. It’s just not quite ready for me yet. But there’s a lot I can do: secure permissions for all of the versions of poems that aren’t in the Wilkinson fonds and scan them, create a more refined system to organize all of my files, start writing my editorial preface (very roughly, and mostly so that I don’t forget what I think is most important for readers to know about the edition and my editorial practice), and start narrativizing the revision process of the Wilkinson poems that undergo significant alteration. And (you’ve probably guessed what I’m going to say), I’ll try to make sure that however Islandora turns out, the work I do can be altered and shifted to work with it. It’s going to be a fun fall.
This morning’s work can easily be summarized with one word: energy. Our session began with Melissa Dalgleish’s discussion of her current work involving the digitization of the collections of Anne Wilkinson. As part of her discussion, Melissa gave a demonstration of an alpha version of her digital interface. I was not alone in being impressed with the elegant, clean, and extensible qualities of the few pages she demonstrated. She also addressed some of the challenges she faces, such as how she intends to label her project (since “archive” and “edition” seem to be misnomers, and “collection” and “collected” both seem insufficient), how she plans to prioritize and organize her data (at which point Melissa re-iterated her principle of modularity; that is, to work with smaller projects that can be incorporated into a larger architecture), and what to do with the vast raw material she has at her disposal.
From Melissa’s engaging talk, our group quickly branched out into a larger discussion of the issues and complexities surrounding digital humanities. Matt Huculak, Dean Irvine, and Zailig Pollock all contributed their vast expertise to the conversation. Zailig highlighted the opportunities stemming from digital representation of original manuscripts, and specifically offered kind words for Melissa’s project and her rationale. Matt stressed the importance of working with reproductions of your original files, while Dean encouraged us to re-consider how we manage our workflow, asking us to take a scientific approach and to offload raw data onto databases, rather than rely on our own machines for data storage. Extending this line of thinking, Dean talked about SourceForge and GitHub, two portals for dissemination of and collaboration with beta versions of software. He reminded us of the importance of sharing our groundwork, so that future scholars needn’t re-invent the wheel every time we begin a new markup project. He pointed to a number of resources, including Juxta, the Versioning Machine, and a proof-of-concept transparency viewer at MITH.
We also talked about the culture surrounding academic work and the spirit of collaboration that typifies the EMiC experience. During the conversation, we all agreed that there is very much a feeling of ‘stumbling around in the dark’ in regards to digital humanities scholarship, which could be remedied (or at least addressed) by further collaboration. However, we also acknowledged that many scholars involved in EMiC already have ample demands upon their time and resources. We brainstormed the possibility of some form of EMiC mentorship program, wherein an experienced scholar or researcher could be asked to mentor a new member of the EMiC community. In this scenario, new members would not only learn the skills already acquired by more senior EMiC community members, but also benefit from the comfort of knowing that it is alright (and normal!) not to start from a position of expertise; indeed, that EMiC’s membership comprises all sorts of skill levels and competencies.
Our afternoon was a lot more free-wheeling. The session opened with a discussion of the idea of co-authorship, and Deans’ sketches for a plan for establishing standards, again drawing upon the scientific model for inspiration. Zailig then talked specifically about his experiences on his various editorial projects, and how he operated as a member of an editorial board, and his views on the role of junior scholars on these boards. He then discussed some other editorial projects, citing what he felt worked well and what didn’t.
Dean then postulated the creation of an EMiC Editions in order to avoid the label of EMiC projects becoming “coterie publications.” He suggested implementing a peer-review process in order to lend more credence to the work produced by EMiC scholars. However, since over a hundred researchers are now involved in EMiC across Canada, he realizes that arms-length peer-review becomes difficult. He suggested that EMiC might need to cultivate relationships with other Modernist organizations, specifically in the United States (although I imagine he would extend his vision globally as well). This, he believes, will foster a greater level of respectability for EMiC, cultivate a common vocabulary for assessment, and create a de-centred model for digital humanities scholarship. In the process of introducing this idea, Dean talked a bit about the history of EMiC, how it has developed as a network and the ways it has evolved since its inception.
Finally, Dean talked about how to fund our research projects. He spoke at length about the idea of leveraging the resources already at our disposal, such as cultural capital and organizational affiliations, and how to use these (and many, many other) resources to succeed in securing funding.
We covered a lot of ground in the afternoon, and I found my mind bouncing from topic to topic. Not that I wasn’t interested in our conversation: in fact, the opposite was true! Again and again, I was jotting down all kinds of notes, half-formed ideas, twists, turns and re-imaginings I might want to incorporate into my own research – and all from the discussion that was generated today! It was fantastic to share the air with EMiC’s zeitgeist incarnate. Dean’s vitality is infectious, and the enthusiasm he imparts, coupled with Zailig’s immense experience and knowledge, and Matt’s incredible expertise, has me feeling inspired, energized, and eager to dive into my research!
Suffice to say, our morning energy carried through to the end of the day, and is likely to carry me forward as I make my way back to New Brunswick at the end of the week, and beyond…
For day two of Textual Editing Modernism in Canada (TEMiC) our discussions focused on planning both Digital and Print editorial projects. Because we are all at different stages in our projects (or yet to be determined projects) we tried to approach the subject as broadly as possible, sharing and elaborating at points of interests for all. For the sake of simplicity I am going to break the day into three sections (excluding lunch, though our conversations at lunch are often fruitful) and provide a snapshot of what we covered at each point in the day.
We had some exciting news to start off the day. Apparently, Zailig Pollock’s grandchild has been potty trained. All it took were a few M&M’s. Exciting, no?
Part 1: Sage Advice from Zailig Pollock
First, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Dr. Zailig Pollock whose advice has been invaluable to our discussions. His experience has provided me (and others, I am sure) with a unique and informed perspective on textual editing. My thinking has advanced exponentially in the past week and two days.
Our morning focused on the question “How should we approach editing projects?” And so we spent the morning creating a road map to begin to answer this question.
1. Choosing your institution: Its always important to find an institution with scholars who would be interested (or sympathetic) to your work. If you want to work on a digital editing project, you should try to find an institution with a potential supervisor/advisor who is interested in the Digital Humanities (DH). The same rule applies to Non-DH editing projects.
2. Choosing the author or group you would like to focus on: Try to choose an author or body of work you can justify editing, but also an author/work you are genuinely interested in.
3. Figure out where your material is located: It might be necessary to carry out extensive archival work. Being near (or far) from your material can have a dramatic impact on your work.
4. Permissions: Permissions can be tricky to acquire. Find out who holds the rights to the work, and be sure to consider issues such as privacy and ethics that may crop up.
5. Get to know your body of work: An editing project should be informed by the body of work and the work surrounding the body.
6. Theorizing your project: Decide on the methodolog(ies)y you wish to employ for your project. Deciding this early will help determine the work you do on the text and also shape the output.
After you theorize your project there are many different avenues you can take. The list above is a basic approach and of course there many variations.
Our conversations also stressed the importance of building realistic timelines and carefully considering the amount of work we take on. In addition, we discussed the complicated task of gaining permissions. Potentially stellar projects can be quashed if an editor is denied access or rights to the material. Many factors need to be considered by the editor(s) and those who hold the rights. Factors that can influence these issues include finances, competition, privacy, image control and more.
Part 2: Guest Speaker, Carole Gerson
In the afternoon we were visited by the esteemed and experienced Dr. Carole Gerson. Gerson’s work focuses primarily on early Canadian literature and Canadian book history. She has edited a number of volumes including Pauline Johnson: Paddling Her Own Canoe: The Times and Texts of E. Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake) (2000) and E. Pauline Johnson, Tekahionwake: Collected Poems and Selected Prose (2002). Gerson’s talk consisted mainly of anecdotes. She focused not only on her successes as an editor, but also the issues she has faced over her career. These issues ranged from typos, reprints, and problems of design to lack of information access at crucial moments. A discussion of these issues was especially useful because we were able to see what we may be faced with in the future.
Part 3: Image Markup Tool
We spent the remainder of the afternoon looking at the work Zailig Pollock has been doing on The Digital Page with the Image Markup Tool (IMT). For those of you unfamiliar with the markup tool… IMT is a unique and simple tool which allows editors to focus (or tag) interesting points of a document. It is especially useful for annotating, marking up, and noting revisions in materials. One simply scans the image in and then uses IMT to tag the desired space (its a lot like tagging a friend in a photo on facebook). IMT is an extremely valuable and exciting tool because it allows the viewer to get as close to the document as possible without having to go to the archive (a trip we should encourage).
After the IMT tutorial we knocked off for the day. We covered a great deal of ground and I think we all have a better idea of the work we face and the options that are available to us as we proceed.
I’d like to cap this post with a photo of a small token I received from Zailig. The image below presents a worm-cast that he found in Prince Edward Island. What weird and relevant artefact!
“and many and many
come up atom by atom
in the worm-casts of Europe.”
– from “I’ve Tasted My Blood” by Milton Acorn
It seems I have concluded this post the way it has been prefaced…
Wyndham Lewis—the Canadian-born modernist painter, writer, critic, pamphleteer, etc.—is undergoing something of a renaissance at the moment. Two examples should suffice to make the point: Lewis’s work is the highlight of a major Vorticist exhibition at the Tate Britain this summer; and his first (and, to my mind, best) novel, Tarr, has recently been issued in the Oxford World’s Classics. That this renewed attention should be focused on his earliest work, however, is indicative of a lamentable tendency to concentrate on Lewis’s early activities as an avant-garde provocateur and to ignore a fascinating period of his later career—one of central interest to the study of Canadian modernism: the time he spent in Canada during the second world war.
Lewis spent the entirety of the period 1939-1945 in North America, living mostly in Toronto and Windsor. He published one book in Canada—Anglosaxony: A League That Works (Ryerson Press, 1941)—and planned another, which he published on his return to England, America and Cosmic Man (1948). Both books demonstrate an important shift in Lewis’s political thought, from the strongly-advocated nationalism of the early to mid thirties towards an equally adamant espousal of internationalism. In Anglosaxony, Lewis praises the “flexible,” “non-absolutist,” and “rootless” character of North American citizenship (29). He develops this in America and Cosmic Man, where he describes North America as “a laboratory for the manufacture of Cosmic Man” (201-2), the “perfectly eclectic, non-national, internationally-minded creature” (203) he takes as his ideal citizen.
Neither of these works has received the attention it deserves. The case is particularly acute for Anglosaxony, which Thomas Dilworth describes in The Talented Intruder as “virtually unobtainable” (159). The book was printed in a tiny edition in 1941, which sold so poorly that the majority of copies were pulped. Lewis produced a revised edition in 1941, in which he attempted to reflect the rapidly-changing political situation. Because of the poor sales of the first edition, however, it was never printed (the manuscript is available in PDF format, however, on the website of the Wyndham Lewis Society.)
It was with a view to remedying this situation that I attended DEMiC at the Digital Humanities Summer Institute in early June. I participated in the Text Encoding Fundamentals class, where my goals were (1) to learn the TEI encoding procedures by which I could make the first edition of Anglosaxony available in a digital edition and (2) to learn more advanced coding techniques that would allow for the production of an edition reflecting Lewis’s unpublished revisions to this first edition. With much help from my instructors and classmates, I now have the encoding knowledge that will eventually allow the reader of a digital Anglosaxony to view the text in its original 1941 edition, to see it as it would have appeared in a revised second edition, or to see a version that registers the differences between the two editions.
Anglosaxony and America and Cosmic Man demonstrate the extent to which Lewis was influenced by his period of residence in North America—their celebration of multiculturalism and internationalism result directly from is observations of life in Canada and the United States. But they do not register the enormous influence that Lewis exerted on Canada—in particular, on the development of Canadian Modernism. Scholarship is only beginning to explore the full scope of this influence. In The Talented Intruder, Thomas Dilworth provocatively claims, “[b]y crossing the Atlantic in 1939, Lewis brought Canada into the history of literary modernism” (157). In his forthcoming Avant-Garde Canadian Literature: The Early Manifestations, Gregory Betts of Brock University devotes a chapter to what he calls the “Canadian Vorticists,” a community of Lewis-inspired Canadian modernists that includes such influential figures as Marshall McLuhan, Sheila Watson, and Wilfred Watson.
I began to sketch the outlines of Lewis’s relationship with Canada in an article for The Walrus in October 2010. A few weeks ago—in late June—I pursued my research by presenting on an EMiC-sponsored panel devoted to Sheila Watson and Marshall McLuhan at the 2011 convention of the Media Ecology Association at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. This panel, organized by Paul Hjartarson and Kristin Fast of U of A, gave me an opportunity to advance my argument that Sheila Watson (who wrote her dissertation on Lewis) and Marshall McLuhan (a friend of Lewis’s in Windsor who drew heavily on Lewis’s work) should be regarded as Lewis’s “ideal readers”: that they were not merely influenced by Lewis, but were able to extract the best from his style and ideas, and thus to turn him into an influence on Canadian letters and society.
The conference also put me in touch with a network of scholars who are actively exploring the importance of Lewis’s Canadian works to the development of Canadian Modernism. A fascinating paper by Elena Lamberti of the University of Bologna discussed the links between Lewis’s America and Cosmic Man and McLuhan’s 1954 Counterblast (itself a response to Lewis’s 1914 Blast.) At another EMiC-sponsored panel on the relationship between McLuhan and Wilfred Watson (who once began a dramatic adaptation of Lewis’s The Apes of God), Gregory Betts of Brock dealt extensively with America and Cosmic Man and presented a number of illuminating connections with McLuhan’s ideas. In a post-conference workshop, I was able to discuss my work with Linda Morra of Bishop’s, Paul Tiessen of Wilfred Laurier, and Wayne DeFehr of the University of Alberta—the other presenters at the EMiC-sponsored panels—who provided me with numerous leads to pursue in my work on the influence of Lewis’s Canadian texts. I’m pleased to say that I will be collaborating with this group of scholars on a book that will explore the network of influence between Sheila Watson, Wilfred Watson, and Marshall McLuhan in the context of Canadian Modernism. I’m even more pleased to say that this group has understood the crucial role of Wyndham Lewis in this network, and that the book will contribute to promoting understanding of this fascinating relationship.
It was a wonderfully productive June, in which I took major steps in my research: first learning the fundamentals of text encoding at DEMiC that will allow me to make Anglosaxony available to the growing community of scholars interested in Lewis’s Canadian works; and second attending the EMiC-sponsored panels at the Media Ecology Association’s 2011 conference, and discussing my ideas with prominent members of this very community. I owe enormous thanks to the Editing Modernism in Canada project for both.
Adam Hammond, University of Toronto
This past week, I had the opportunity to teach a course on digital editions at the Digital Humanities Summer Institute with Matt Bouchard and Alan Stanley. It was my first time as an instructor at DHSI, and I was filled with nervous excitement on Monday morning. What I wanted to do with the course this year was to offer a holistic approach to building a digital edition that challenged the participants to think about their projects not only as a whole, but also as iterative and modular. The two themes that I tried to highlight were the importance of project management and the user-experience design. We talked quite a bit about planning and project management, workflow, information architecture, and for the first time, we worked with the alpha version of the Islandora editing toolkit.
All in all, I think the course went very well! Below are some of the highlights. I’ve included my classroom slides and handouts in the hopes that these materials will be useful for those who were unable to attend the course and who may be beginning to think about building a digital edition, and for anyone who is interested in what we were up to this week!
Day 1 Overview
On the first day we began with an overview of print editions, and talked a little bit about some of the benefits of text-based versus image-based digital editions. The class came up with quite a substantial list of the elements that comprise a print edition, including:
biographies (author, editor)
table of contents
appendices (contextual, editorial)
images (photos, illustrations)
I encouraged students to think about these elements as they began to to conceptualize their digital editions. Many or all of these features might need to be included in a digital edition, and the challenge was to think about how we might represent them digitally. I also gave a very brief introduction to some of the current tools and platforms available for building digital editions. In the afternoon, we worked through a “Site Audit” of some existing digital editions, and considered what worked (and what didn’t) in the digital editions that are currently available.
Slides for day 1:
Day 2 Overview
On day two, we focused on project management. Borrowing heavily from Jeremy Bogg‘s work, I talked about the importance of thinking of the project in terms of different phases. Then I introduced the ever-so-important “Scope Document”, and asked the students to spend some time conceptualizing their project(s) as a whole. I suggested that before beginning to implement (read: code) a digital project, one must consider the project from multiple perspectives and have a rock-solid scope document and technical / feature specification in place. Building a project in phases allows for an iterative process that keeps the project moving forward, without the too-often paralysis that faces digital humanities projects that suffer from scope creep (or, more often, scope explosion). Instead of starting to code an entire collected works, I argued, try starting with a small subset that can serve as a robust working model for the project as whole.
I provided a handout with a long list of questions to ask at each stage of the project. These questions are meant to serve as a guide for project planning (and, if you so choose, a grant application).
Phase 1: Strategy / Project Objectives
Phase 2: Scope
Phase 3: Content
Phase 4: Design
Slides for day 2:
Day 3 Overview
On Wednesday, we moved into some hands-on technical work, and had the opportunity to begin using the Islandora editing system for the first time. Islandora is an editing workflow that integrates a Fedora Commons backend with a Drupal front-end. EMiC is working in partnership with the great folks at UPEI to create a fully-functional editing toolkit that allows users to pull materials from the commons (housed in the Fedora repository) and edit them in a web-based environment. Alan Stanley was an invaluable asset, and the testing and editing process would not have run as smoothly as it did without his help on the ground. It seemed like every time we found a bug, Alan was able to step in and fix it almost immediately.
Here are a few screenshots of the system:
The login screen and home menu:
MODS metadata editing for a Book object:
Object Description page:
Image Markup Tool Integration:
The participants in the digital editions class showed remarkable patience and understanding working with a tool that, at its core, is still in alpha phase (pre-alpha, even). Thanks to everyone in the class for serving as the first user-testers for the Islandora editing suite. At times, I’m sure you felt more like bug hunters than editors, but please know that your feedback will be invaluable in the development of the EMiC/Islandora editing workflow. Kudos!
Day 4 Overview
Once we’d had a chance to work with some of the technical aspects of editing a digital edition, we took a step back and talked a bit about design. I argued that design is visual rhetoric, and that as editors, it is as important to think about aesthetics as it is to consider content. In fact, I would go so far as to say that in building digital editions, form and content are inseparable. Good design, built with the user-experience in mind, often means the difference between a usable and unusable tool. On the afternoon of day four, participants worked on various aspects of their projects, depending on what they deemed most important to them.
Slides for Day 4
Day 5 Overview
On Friday morning, each person in the class gave a brief presentation of their projects and what they learned this during the course. I think Yoshiko’s slide captures the week quite aptly:
Over the course of the week, the students worked through site audits and project scope documents, design specifications, user personas, and wireframes for their digital projects. We talked a lot about designing for the user experience and the importance of bringing together form and content. “Modularity” was certainly the word for the week, and I hope that the students left with a solid understanding of all of the various pieces (and people) that are part of the process of creating a digital edition. Thanks to all of the participants for your generosity, patience, engagement, and brilliance. I had a fabulous week, and I hope you did too!