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CIRSS Seminar - Mass-digitization and literary history: Sustaining discoveries and building communities

Friday, April 27, 2018
4pm - 5pm

126 IS

Event Details

Session leaders: Katherine Bode, Associate Professor at the Australian National University in Canberra
Description: In the nineteenth century, newspapers were the main publishers of fiction in Australia; in the twenty-first century, the National Library of Australia’s Trove database represents the largest collection of mass-digitized historical newspapers internationally. These conditions present an ideal test case to demonstrate the potential of mass-digitization to transform humanities research. Analysing Trove uncovered over 21,000 novels, novellas and short stories published in Australian newspapers between 1865 and 1914. This fiction encompasses canonical works alongside many hundreds of previously unrecorded titles, and represents titles from around the world, with extensive publication of British, Australian, and American stories, significant amounts of French and German literature in translation, as well as fiction from as far afield as Austria, Canada, Holland, Japan, South Africa, Sweden, Russia, and beyond.
The first part of my paper focuses on the discovery and description of this expansive record of literature in Australia and Australian literature, including the paratextual method that I used to identify these stories and an approach to metadata that combines descriptive bibliography with computational modelling. In the second part, I elaborate on the collaborations I have undertaken to improve the quality and ensure the sustainability of these records. These include collaborations with members of the public to edit and add to a public database of fiction in digitized Australian newspapers, and with the National Library of Australia and Trove to ingest those records into their catalogue. To my knowledge, this is the first digital humanities project that both draws on and feeds into a national library’s digital collection, and as such, it suggests new research practices and communities for humanities in the digital age.
Katherine Bode is Associate Professor of Literary and Textual Studies in the School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics at the Australian National University in Canberra. She has published extensively in literary studies, digital humanities and book history, and her latest monograph, A World of Fiction: Digital Collections and the Future of Literary History, is forthcoming with University of Michigan Press in July 2018.

[Hosted by Ted Underwood.]