- Lori Emerson ~ Writing Telematics // Other Networks in Canada
Lori Emerson is an Associate Professor in the Department of English and the Intermedia Arts, Writing, and Performance Program at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She is also Founding Director of the Media Archaeology Lab. She writes about media poetics as well as the history of computing, media archaeology, media theory, and digital humanities. She is currently working on two book projects: the first is called “Other Networks” and is a history of telecommunications networks that existed before or outside of the Internet; the second is called “THE LAB BOOK: Situated Practices in Media Studies” (under contract with the University of Minnesota Press) which she is co-writing with Jussi Parikka and Darren Wershler. She is the author of Reading Writing Interfaces: From the Digital to the Bookbound (University of Minnesota Press, June 2014). She is also co-editor of three collections: The Johns Hopkins Guide to Digital Media, with Marie-Laure Ryan and Benjamin Robertson (2014); Writing Surfaces: The Selected Fiction of John Riddell, with Derek Beaulieu (Wilfred Laurier University Press, 2013); and The Alphabet Game: a bpNichol Reader, with Darren Wershler (Coach House Books 2007).
- Lindsay Bannister: Peering into the Margins: The Canada’s Early Women Writers Project and the Unusual Story of Martha Craig
In the early 1900s, Irish-born writer, lecturer, explorer, and scientist Martha Craig (1866-1950) adopted the stage persona of Princess Ye-wa-go-no-nee. “Will you believe me,” Craig once asked a rapt audience, “when I tell you that in the life before this one, I was a Canadian Indian girl?”
I first learned about Martha Craig through my work as a Research Assistant for the Canada’s Early Women Writers Project (CEWW), a biographical database supported by the Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory that will launch in May 2016. A pioneering explorer, the Irish writer’s encounters with First Nations people in Labrador and Northern Ontario inspired her popular lecture circuit. As a researcher interested in the intersections between gender, Indigeneity, appropriation, and Canadian literary celebrity, my work with CEWW has enabled me to peer into the borderlands (to evoke W.H. New) of Canadian cultural history and into the spaces where national, gendered, and racial identities become destabilized, re-negotiated, and re-inscribed.
Using CEWW’s work with Martha Craig as a case study, this paper will consider the ways in which CEWW challenges entrenched literary histories by gathering, collating, and making accessible data relating to obscure, forgotten, or transnational women who either lived in or wrote about Canada. This paper will also explore how CEWW’s tools and features help readers and researchers situate this data within larger contexts and patterns. For instance, CEWW uses a timeline mapping tool that locates the histories of forgotten writers within the landscape of Canadian literary and cultural production. In doing so, CEWW will show how forgotten histories converge, thus enriching contemporary conversations about gender, early Canadian literary production, and (as is especially pertinent in the case of Martha Craig) colonialism.
Lindsey Bannister is a third year PhD student at Simon Fraser University’s Department of English and a Research Assistant for the Canada’s Early Women Writer’s Project, a biographical database supported by the Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory. Her research project examines literary culture in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Canada, with a focus on literary celebrity and performance. Other areas of interest include Canadian popular print culture and the gothic.
- Paul Barrett: Surviving Surviving the Praphrase: Problems of Distant Reading in Canada
Austin Clarke’s work represents something of a strange outlier for Canadian Literature. He is at once one of Canada’s most prolific, earliest (his first novel predates Frye’s infamous Introduction), best-reviewed, and awarded authors, yet critical material on Clarke’s writing is relatively sparse. To address this apparent aporia in the field of Canadian criticism I engage in a topic modeling experiment that models Clarke’s entire corpus as well as the journals Canadian Literature and Studies in Canadian Literature. My hypothesis in this project is that the models will identify previously-unperceived links between Clarke’s work and the broader field of Canadian Literature as well as provide new perspectives on interpreting the critical field itself.
I also use this project to reflect critically on the relationship between digital humanities, distant reading, and traditional forms of interpretation in specifically Canadian contexts. My argument is that in much DH work, the ‘digital’ and the ‘humanities’ are placed into a difficult relation and destabilize one another. This productive destabilization is particularly important to the field of Canadian Literature where crisis and instability are organizing tropes. Linking the work of DH scholars with the A.J.M. Smith’s notion of “eclectic detachment”, I investigate how the productive crisis of the digital humanities might offer new perspectives on understanding Canadian literature.
Paul Barrett is a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University. He is the author of Blackening Canada: Diaspora, Race, Multiculturalism (University of Toronto Press).
- Jordan Bolay: Digitisation vs. Digital Re-mode-ification: A Meta-Cognitive Engagement with the Production of a Digital Exhibit
In early 2015, a group of undergraduate and graduate students in the University of Calgary’s English Department, myself included, constructed an exhibit of digitised archival materials from Western Canadian authors whose fonds are housed in the university’s Special Collections. These authors include Earle Birney, bpNichol, George Ryga, Rudy Wiebe, Guy Vanderhaeghe, and Aritha van Herk. After we premiered the exhibit, McGann’s claim that a digital collection’s “historical backwardness” begins to show as soon as it is completed came to mind (189). As a result, the University of Calgary Digital Collections serve as a case study to examine what McGann calls the “social and conceptual limits of the digital ecology that spawned” the collections (189). Reflections on the UCDCs also allow us to engage with Drucker’s concern that “[a]fter decades of digital work, the question remains whether humanists are actually doing anything different or just extending the activities that have always been their concerns, enabled by advantages of networked digital technology” and her question as to whether “the humanities [have] had any impact on the digital environment” (85). I posit that there is a distinct difference between a digitised text and what I will call a digital re-mode-ification of a text. Using the UCDCs as an example of technologically, socially, and conceptually limited re-mode-ification that never-the-less facilitates meta-cognitive reflection, I argue that a fully digitised artefact—in this case text—does allow humanists to do new work and that this work impacts the direction of the digital environment.
Jordan Bolay is a Doctoral student at the University of Calgary where he is studying the Guy Vanderhaeghe archives with the support of a SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship. In addition to the social politics of Western Canadian literature, he is interested in contemporary mass culture, including the study of genre fiction, comics, and videogames. Jordan has extensively studied the Canadian Literary Archives in the University of Calgary’s Special Collections and is presenting some of that research this summer at ACCUTE and CASBC’s conferences at Congress. He has also studied digital textuality within the context of videogame narratology as a part of his MA project at the University of Saskatchewan.
- Susan Brown: Dynamic Scholarship and Emergent Linked Knowledge
Embracing the capacity of digital media to handle frequent edits and updates has the potential to produce a paradigm shift in the way that online scholarly knowledge works. This capacity has been there from the beginning in the fundamental CRUD functionality of the databases and files used to populate the web, and was fundamental to the shift to what is called Web 2.0 with its emphasis on user-created content. Scholars use many of the tools associated with Web 2.0 as a complement to their more traditional research activities, but these tools haven’t much affected central activities such as publication, which rely on notions of a static and completed set of content, a finite set of contributors, and a linear quality control model. This paper envisions a rather different model of scholarly publishing, drawing on the examples of the Orlando Project as a research project and the CWRC project as an infrastructure project. Orlando is a born-digital scholarly resource that both conforms to a traditional model of peer review and departs from it in some crucial ways that are allowing both project and its main publication with Cambridge University Press to evolve over time. CWRC has an interface layer adapted for dynamic scholarship on top of a platform geared for long-term preservation, bulk digitization, and the dissemination of static resources. This paper will talk about the tensions involved in these transitional projects and the potential of linked knowledge environments to support new forms of dynamic scholarship.
Susan Brown is Canada Research Chair in Collaborative Digital Scholarship and Professor of English at the University of Guelph, and Visiting Professor at the University of Alberta. Her research interests in Victorian literature and women’s writing inform her ongoing work as co-director and co-editor of the Orlando Project, an ongoing experiment in digital literary history published by Cambridge University Press since 2006. She directs the Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory, an online research environment for literary studies in Canada, and through that infrastructure project engages with humanities-centered tool development, interface design and usability, visualization, annotation, and the semantic web.
- David Buchanan: Introduction to Popular Print Edmonton
Popular Print Edmonton is a collaborative digital humanities project at the University of Alberta. This online resource site describes what most people in Edmonton read as well as other aspects of the production, dissemination and reception of popular print culture. The work involves collecting popular print items in Edmonton; describing them to make an open access database; carrying out field research, including interviews and surveys, on the publishing, distributing, selling, buying, borrowing and reading of popular genres and forms; and writing short, accessible articles on these subjects. The research proceeds by way of case studies on topics such as: comic book culture; the secondhand book market; reading in the Chinese community; distribution and selling; libraries and outreach programs; print and reading in everyday life (e.g. cards, self-help, religious print). The project is concerned with documenting the variety of print resources available to readers but also more specifically with the varied uses of print in everyday life. As a result, Popular Print Edmonton provides an example of how we might go about investigating local communities of print and the book to better understand what most people read as well as the role reading practices plays in peoples’ lives. The researchers involved are undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral researchers in the Faculties of Arts and Education at the University of Alberta. This presentation will describe the methodology and summarize the initial research results of Popular Print Edmonton.
David Buchanan is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta and an Instructor in the Centre for Humanities at Athabasca University. He is the coordinator of Popular Print Edmonton.
- Treena Chambers
Treena Chambers is an International Studies student at Simon Fraser University. Treena brings her experience as a mature student and her Métis background into her studies of nationhood and identity. Treena’s past experience as a co-curator and organizer of the Robson Reading Series and work in the bookselling industry helps to inform her varied contributions to The People and the Text.
- Carole Gerson
Carole Gerson, director of Canada’s Early Women Writers (CEWW), is a professor in the department of English at Simon Fraser University. Co-editor of volume 3 (1918-1980) of History of the Book in Canada / Histoire du livre et de l’imprimé au Canada, she has published extensively on Canada’s literary and cultural history with a focus on women writers. Her book, Canadian Women in Print, 1750-1918 (2010), won the Gabrielle Roy Prize for Canadian criticism. In 2013 she received the Marie Tremaine medal from the Bibliographical Society of Canada.
- Lee Hannigan: In/Audible History: Developing a Literary Audio Archive at the University of Alberta
In 2014, the University of Alberta’s English and Film Studies Department uncovered a large collection of literary sound recordings. These recordings—reel-to-reel and cassette tape—include poetry readings, conference panels, book launches, lecture series, interviews, and other literary events that took place at the university between 1960 and 1990, containing approximately 250 recordings and over 350 hours of audio. At this particular moment, however, the history that these tapes represent is mostly incoherent, as they are only partially catalogued, mostly unheard, and have not yet been digitized or transcribed. In the fall of 2015, the EFS department initiated a research project to organize, catalogue, digitize, and re-present the collection in a web-based audio archive—to regenerate the tapes in a new contemporary moment, one in which literary scholars are developing new vocabularies for working with and talking about the effects of digital media within the humanities. Thus, in their current state the tapes mark an important point in the archive project, and provide a productive opportunity to think about some of the questions surrounding archival materials and their digital transformations. How, for example, might these tapes be defined in their current state? In what ways are they useful? What material technologies made them possible, both then and now? One way to consider these questions is in terms of the agency of technology. My paper will use this project’s nascent state as a case study, to explore the implications of digital regeneration in the spoken word archive. By investigating and theorizing the network of agents—human and non-human—that constitute this kind of literary archival research, I will explore the ways in which this complex network of institutions and desires create and give meaning to communities around poetry’s oral/aural aspects.
Lee Hannigan was born and raised in the Alberta prairies. He earned a BA in English and Creative writing from the University of British Columbia (Okanagan) in 2013, a MA from Concordia University in 2015, and is currently in the first year of a PhD at the University of Alberta. His research explores the connections between erasure poetics and the politics of time-capture media technology in the United States in the second half of the 20th century, as well as the institutional histories of literary reading events in Canada since the 1960s.
- Craig Harkema: The Al W. Purdy Digital Archive: Archival or Scholarly
When Al Purdy passed away in 2000 it reminded us that we were in possession of a great manuscript collection in the Special Collections at the University of Saskatchewan, one that is surely worthy of the increased access and publicity of an online presence. The recent news about Al Purdy’s death with dignity reminds us again that our haphazard and positivist approach to scanning and uploading arbitrary documents from this archive was, in retrospect, one not befitting a scholarly community. Now seems like an appropriate time for a re-appraisal of the Al W. Purdy Digital Archive. One challenge any archive has in putting materials to use is balancing the need and strengths of the archive itself with the needs of the scholarly community. Each scholarly community expects and requires different functionality from an archive yet libraries and archives tend to put their materials online in a uniform way that approximates the physical archive. This often fails to meet the needs of a rigorous scholarly community and serves mainly to increase access for the broadest audience possible. Therefore, it is most important that the Al Purdy Online Environment be useful for Al Purdy scholars. It deserves to be given scholarly treatment, even if it is the construct of an archive, and that the creators of the site should have an understanding of Al Purdy’s writing and the Purdy scholarly community and not simply create the environment from a library’s perspective. Throughout the talk we discuss what might be required to accomplish this guided by the question: “how do we negotiate how much of this web presence is “archival” and how much of it is “scholarly” and who should build it: the archives or scholars?”
Craig Harkema is the Digital Projects Librarian at the University of Saskatchewan Archives and Special Collections. He has been involved in many digital projects over the years, most recently leading the development of Sask History Online. Harkema’s research focuses on digitizing cultural heritage materials, providing ways to explore and interact with digital content, and the implications of use and reuse. Joel Salt is a PhD candidate in English at the University of Saskatchewan and Digital Projects Coordinator at the University of Saskatchewan Archives and Special Collections. He has published on digital scholarly editions and worked creating digital content with Canadian literature collections in Special Collections.
- Karyn Huenemann
Karyn Huenemann is the project manager for the revision and expansion of the Canada’s Early Women Writers database project at Simon Fraser University; she has been working with Carole Gerson on the project since its inception in 2010. In addition to her work with CEWW, she has published on topics in early Canadian literature, children’s literature, and the literature of British India.
Canada’s Early Women Writers was first created as a bio-bibliographic database at SFU on an ancient platform called BRS, which at that point was only accessible through Telnet. In the late 1990s, it was given an internet front-facing presence, and in about 2010 was moved over to ContentDM. At that point, we were given the opportunity to join CWRC, which provides us with semantic web capabilities. The original database is available through SFU library; the augmented database is currently in development.
- Dean Irvine: Modernist Commons mini-workshop
Participants in this workshop will be introduced to the Modernist Commons (http://modernistcommons.ca) — a digital repository, editorial workbench, and critical-edition publication platform designed by Editing Modernism in Canada (http://editingmodernism.ca). It integrates a wide range of open-source systems and tools (Islandora, Tesseract OCR, CWRC Writer, Shared Canvas, Internet Archive Viewer, Open Seadragon Viewer, Calliope, and CollateX). With these tools, users can ingest images and generate transcriptions, as well as edit and mark up both transcriptions and images using a single graphical interface, which supports overlapping TEI-XML and RDF markup. Users can also perform algorithmically generated collations of transcriptions, which can be visualized in several ways. The Modernist Commons provides a critical-edition interface so that editors can assemble images, audio and video, critical apparatus, and variant visualizations in a configurable reading environment.
Dean Irvine is an associate professor at Dalhousie University. He is the founder and director of the open-source software, web design, and consulting company Agile Humanities Agency. Since 2008, he has been the director of Editing Modernism in Canada and, since 2004, the general editor of the Canadian Literature Collection at the University of Ottawa Press. His publications include Editing Modernity: Women and Little Magazine Cultures in Canada (University of Toronto Press, 2008), Editing as Cultural Practice in Canada, co-edited with Smaro Kamboureli, (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2016), Making Canada New: Editing, Modernism, and New Media, co-edited with Bart Vautour and Vanessa Lent (University of Toronto Press, 2016), and Translocated Modernisms: Paris and Other Lost Generations, co-edited with Emily Ballantyne and Marta Dvorak (University of Ottawa Press, 2016).
- Dean Irvine: Iterative Networks: An Agency and Engine for Scholarly Publishing
Building on Editing Modernism in Canada’s partnership with CWRC to create the Modernist Commons, Agile Humanities Agency is now working on the production of a generalized Islandora scholarly publishing platform, an iteration that we call the Agile Publishing Engine (APE). We plan to extend the Modernist Commons’ multimodal functionality to accommodate not just critical editions but multiple scholarly genres (monographs, essays, collections, anthologies, etc.) and integrate a production workflow designed for Open Access scholarly publishing. This will require an investment of additional resources in the development of EMIC’s open-source web-based repository, editorial workbench, and reading interface. Leveraging open-source and community-supported versions of the Islandora environment as well as its own modular customizations for previous and current clients, Agile Humanities Agency is currently working with the University of Ottawa Press on the creation of its Open Access publishing platform. This presentation will address three different APE configurations: 1. APE Cloud; 2. a subscription based SaaS (Software as a Service) system; 3. Open APE, an open-source option.
- Paula Johanson: Where Heidegger and Doctorow Intersect in the Creative Commons Licensing of Pirate Cinema
This paper was for the symposium “The Many Masks/Masques of Heidegger: Technology, Poeisis and Humanism” May 7th, 2014 at Vancouver Island University, directed by Richard J. Lane and Emily Marroquin for their research series on “Heidegger in the Digital Age: Being and Time, Technology and Humanism” organized by the Seminar for Advanced Studies in the Humanities. This paper was also presented at the poster colloquium at Digital Humanities Summer Institute June 2015 at University of Victoria.
It might seem odd to discuss a science fiction novel for young adults at the same time as an article by Heidegger which calls for an understanding of technology which primarily involves creativity, but there is a place where the interests of the philosopher Heidegger intersect with the interests of novelist Cory Doctorow. That place is the issue of Creative Commons licensing. The novels of Canadian author Cory Doctorow have all been released in free digital download format simultaneous with each title’s release in print format. This controversial marketing strategy is a crucial element in Doctorow’s creative paradigm and in his entrepreneurial activities in the emerging digital economy. For the release of his 2012 novel Pirate Cinema, Doctorow has amended his usual Creative Commons License for this novel to indicate that no derivative works are to be allowed without permission. This subtle but significant change allows him to keep track of any foreign translations for his literary agents, and shows how Doctorow, like Heidegger, is calling for an understanding of technology which primarily involves creativity.
Author keywords: Cory Doctorow, Pirate Cinema, Creative Commons licensing, copyright, publishing, Heidegger, “The Question Concerning Technology”, Digital Rights Management, DRM, poesis
Paula Johanson (MA in Canadian Literature) is in the Digital Humanites Graduate Certificate program in the English Department at University of Victoria. She was a Community Fellow at UVic’s Centre for Cooperative and Community-Based Economies. Her published fiction includes a novel, short stories, and poetry, while her published nonfiction includes thirty books on science, health, and literature for educational publishers, written while teaching writing workshops, working an organic-method small farm, and raising gifted twins. She has twice been shortlisted for the Prix Aurora Award for Canadian science fiction, and served on the 2015 jury for the Sunburst Award for Canadian speculative fiction. Check out her author website at http://paulajohanson.blogspot.ca — and ask how hearing aids have improved her studies!
- Joel Katelnikoff: Inhabitation: Johanna Drucker: “no file is ever self-identical” :
Inhabitations: A Recombinant Theory Project uses techniques conventionally associated with plagiarism and copyright violation in order to build a collaborative model of critical writing. The proposed paper, Inhabitation: Johanna Drucker: “no file is ever self-identical,” investigates Johanna Drucker’s poetry and poetics by engaging directly with the materials of her textual corpus, applying a cut-up / remix / montage technique to these materials. The result is an essay that is capable of simultaneously: 1) speaking about Drucker’s critical concepts; 2) speaking through Drucker’s language and syntax; and 3) producing a metanarrative theorization of the cut-up / remix / montage process, resulting in a story of reading, writing, and recombination.
Inhabitation: Johanna Drucker: “no file is ever self-identical” demonstrates a deformative mode of reading that “favours bugs and glitches over functionality” and sees the text as “a field of potential” rather than a fixed entity (as inspired by SpecLab 2.0). And as Drucker says in What Is?, a text “is not an inert thing that exists in advance of interaction, rather it is produced new by the activity of each reading.” As the paper simulates this readerly productivity, it will state its own objectives directly and overtly, in part through the language of Drucker, who predicts that, in the book of the future, “we will ‘publish’ our data trails as guidebooks for the experience of reading, pointing to milestones and portals for in-depth exploration of stories, inventories, and the rich combination of cultural heritage and social life in a global world” (Graphesis).
This project has been undertaken with the permission and support of Johanna Drucker.
Joel Katelnikoff holds a PhD in English from the University of Alberta. He is currently working on Inhabitations: A Recombinant Theory Project, which uses techniques associated with plagiarism and copyright violation to produce a collaborative model of scholarship.
Amanda Montague (U of Ottawa): Mobile Memories: Locative Media and Cultural Memory in Canada’s National Capital Region
- Chelsea Miya
Chelsea Miya is a PhD student in English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta and a Research Assistant with the Orlando and the Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory. At DH 2016 in Kraków, Chelsea participated in the New Scholars Seminar, a pre-conference event (sponsored by Kias, CHCI and centerNet) for emerging digital scholars. Chelsea’s dissertation research explores the history of datafication in the 19th century and how dreams and anxieties around information gathering influenced the literature of the American renaissance.
- Amanda Montague: Mobile Memories: Canadian Cultural Memory in the Digital Age
Today the ubiquity of mobile technologies in the form of smartphones and tablets is changing the way in which information is acquired and disseminated on a daily basis. In the last decade these devices have gained traction as platforms for generating site-specific memory narratives, creating new ways of engaging with cultural memory and spatial history through augmented reality applications. These geolocative mobile apps have prompted media scholars, such as Jason Farman, to pose fundamental questions about the ways in which narratives are accessed and experienced in an increasingly digital world. As Farman puts it, “Since mobile media are becoming the most pervasive technology on the face of the planet right now, how does such pervasiveness change the way in which we tell stories and read stories?” (8). This paper will consider Farman’s question in relation to cultural memory discourse in Canada. It will examine various examples of mobile memory applications created around sites of memory in the National Capital Region, including monuments and national landmarks, to explore how the spatial and narrative parameters of national memory discourse are enhanced, altered, and at times constricted by new forms of mobile locative storytelling. As these memory platforms continue to emerge it is essential to understand how they intervene in conceptualizations of Canadian cultural history and literary-historical landmarks, as well as how they impact the user’s relationship to that history and to the physical environment to which these narratives are linked.
Amanda Montague is a PhD candidate in the department of English at the University of Ottawa. Her research focuses on the impact of digital technologies on cultural memory and commemorative practices in Canada.
- Joseph Pivato: Canadian Literature and Hypertext: Slow Food vs. Fast Food
This paper examines the interactions of authors, editors and translators of Canadian writing with digital media. The topics I will focus on are:
The translation of Canadian works between English and French and between our national languages and foreign languages.
The dissemination of Canadian writing internationally as well as the study of Canadian literature abroad and the spread of digital texts and e-books.
Canadian authors’ use of foreign words in their works.
A possible form of literary hypertext.
The teaching of Canadian literature using digital media.
The use of digital media for research such as the Canadian Writers site at Athabasca University.
The argued links between literary theory and digital media.
The slow food movement began in 1986 to promote traditional, local cuisine based on locally produced food. One aim was to protect the identity of local, traditional foods against the threat of industrial fast food and the homogenizing of agriculture by globalization. Can we apply this argument to the production of Canadian writing?
Joseph Pivato is Professor Emeritus of Literary Studies at Athabasca University and has been a visiting professor at Australian and Italian universities. His M.A. and Ph.D. are in Comparative Literature.
Between 2002 and 2011 he taught a course on Literature and Hypertext at Athabasca University. He developed a number of online courses in Canadian Literature, and in Literary Theory. He created the Canadian Writers online resource on the Athabasca University site.
In 1985 he edited Contrasts: Comparative Essays on Italian-Canadian Writing, the first critical analysis of this emerging literature. He held The Mariano Elia Chair in Italian-Canadian Studies at York University in 1987-88, and offered the first ever course on Italian-Canadian literature. His publications include: Africadian Atlantic: Essays on George Elliott Clarke (2012), Echo: Essays on Other Literatures (1994), The Anthology of Italian-Canadian Writing (1998), Sheila Watson: Essays on Her Works (2015), and 6 other books.
- Daniel Powell: Usable Texts: The Anthology of Medieval and Early English Drama, 900 – 1576
Since at least the founding of Iter at the University of Toronto Scarborough in the mid 1990s, Canadian researchers have been at the forefront of the convergence of digital humanities and medieval and Renaissance studies. Iter, A Social Edition of the Devonshire Manuscript, the Renaissance Knowledge Network, the Map of Early Modern London, and ArchBook all represent innovative interventions at the intersection of early modern studies and digital knowledge work.
Inspired by by the BC Open Textbook Project and by a complementary project at the Folger Shakespeare Library, this presentation will discuss and solicit feedback on an effort to produce a classroom-ready anthology of medieval and early modern drama. Tentatively known as The Anthology of Medieval and Early English Drama, 900 – 1576, the anthology will provide access to approximately 250 dramatic texts in formats optimised for end-users in pedagogical settings. Primarily on account of a longstanding focus on Elizabethan drama and Shakespeare, it is exceedingly difficult to locate scholarly or teaching editions of these texts. Despite this, scholarly interest in these varied works (religious, secular, comedic) is steadily growing; further growth is hampered by the paucity of editions meant for undergraduate and graduate use. A major early outcome of this project will be the collection of and production of systematic metadata for the substantial number of editions that have been digitised by the Internet Archive. As a Canadian project developed in partnership with Iter and INKE, the anthology is an extension of existing institutional strengths in research and teaching.
Daniel Powell is a Marie Skłowdowska-Curie Fellow in the Digital Scholarly Editions Initial Training (DiXiT) Network. He is based in the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College London and affiliated with the Electronic Textual Cultures Lab and Department of English at the University of Victoria, with research interests in scholarly communication and editing, the digital humanities, and early modern drama. He is Associate Director of the Renaissance Knowledge Network and serves on the Scholarly Advisory Committee for the Folger Shakespeare Library project A Digital Anthology of Early Modern English Drama, a hub for exploring data and hosting editions of over four hundred extant printed English plays by Shakespeare’s contemporaries. From 2012 – 2015 he served as Assistant Editor for Digital Publication on Early Theatre; since 2015 he has served as Editor for Digital Initiatives at postmedieval: a journal of medieval cultural studies.
- Geoffrey Rockwell, Mark McKellar, Jinman Zhang, Grady Zielk: Introduction to a class based online writing environment: GWrit (Game of Writing)
GWrit (Game of Writing) is an online writing environment, which aims to improve students’ writing skill in an digital environment with gamification features and analytical support. GWrit has been developed by the Arts Resource Centre team at the University of Alberta over the past two years and has been used with hundreds of students. The majority of this paper will talk about the design of the gamification system and discuss how social interaction impacts students’ learning. As well, we will present development process of GWrit, including usability test and user behavior analysis. In this paper, we will first present a straightforward demonstration of GWrit from the system architecture perspective. Secondly, we will look at the way the system was designed to support experimentation with gamification. The third part will identify the types of online practices that correlate with academic success by looking at the statistics on commenting within the course and comparing it to the grades of the commenters on GWrit. Pedagogically, the structured commenting tools are potentially the most effective in getting students to reflect on writing. In doing so, we hope to understand the ways in which GWrit is most successfully used to teaching writing and revision. Finally, we will present the result of interface evaluation on GWrit and user behavior analysis. With the Cognitive Walkthrough and Heuristic methodologies, we identified and addressed problems from both program and design perspectives; with Google Analytics, we will go deeper by analyzing common user habits, and evaluating basic user information.
Dr. Geoffrey Martin Rockwell is a Professor of Philosophy and Humanities Computing at the University of Alberta. He has published and presented papers in the area of philosophical dialogue, textual visualization and analysis, humanities computing, instructional technology, computer games and multimedia. He is the project leader for the GWrit.
Mark McKellar is a Senior Research Computing Analyst for the Arts Resource Centre team at University of Alberta. He is one of the developers responsible for the implementation if the GWrit system. His main focus has been the development of the user interface, and implementing GWrit’s gamification features.
Jinman Zhang is a Master student in University of Alberta majored in Humanities Computing. She did research on usability test and interface design on GWrit.
Grady Zielke is a Master student in University of Alberta majored in Humanities Computing. He did research on usability test and the impact of social interaction on students when writing in GWrit.
- Alix Shield
Alix Shield is a PhD student at Simon Fraser University. Her research concerns contemporary methods of Indigenous digital heritage management and repatriation, specifically through the works of Mohawk writer E. Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake). For this project, Alix is currently compiling an extensive digital collection of the works of E. Pauline Johnson, as well as assisting with the production of Coast Salish app for mobile phones and tablets.
- Alois Sieben: Haunted Pasts, Haunted Software: The Intrinsic Criticism of Mediality in Janey’s Arcadia
Introducing Rachel Zolf’s 2014 performance at Vancouver’s Gallery Gachet, Amy De’Ath stated that “the object of analysis in Janey’s Arcadia is not a ‘thing’, but a mediation.” Concentrating on the use of OCR-software in Zolf’s writing of Janey’s Arcadia, my paper will position her work as productively intersecting with recent debates (Dean 2010, Emerson 2014, Fuller & Goffey 2012) concerning the ways in which the seemingly neutral mediation of the interfaces and software of the Digital Age actually distances users from any sense of the complicated and contested histories of these devices. Through unsettling and physically draining performances, Zolf re-orientates the driving logic of the computer to steer users safely and pleasurably through information overload into noisy and dissonant crashes between mediums and interfaces, by jumping between film, projectors, violins, audio recordings and her own voice as a medium. Through these media crashes, Zolf summons the haunted mediality of software, which through its own erasure of its “gendered and military history” (Chun 2011) mimics in repression the Canadian settler colonial texts that Zolf represents in her work. The parallels between the Canadian state’s constant misrecognition of its own settler colonial past and the OCR-software’s mechanical misrecognition of the settler colonial texts are placed into a direct relationship by Zolf’s work. Through both performance and text, Zolf works to transform both the ideological neutrality of the Canadian liberal, multicultural state and the ideological neutrality of software into simultaneous sites of struggle.
Alois Sieben is a first-year PhD student in Simon Fraser University’s English Department. His research project interrogates digital futurities posited in the Digital Humanities field with the technologically activist practices of a group of Canadian digital poets, including Jordan Abel, Christian Bök, Bill Kennedy, Erin Mouré, Darren Wershler, and Rachel Zolf. He looks at how poetry reconceptualizes and revalues imperceptible computational processes that subconsciously shape the production of new thoughts, desires, and actions in participants of digital culture, by making them literary, and therefore, critically readable. He is learning how to code so that Word won’t sometimes refuse to indent his paragraphs.
- Stéfan Sinclair and Geoffrey Rockwell: The CWRC Catalogue
The CWRC Catalogue is a prototype interface built within Voyant Tools that is intended to provide users with a convenient and user-friendly way to explore and study the rich content aggregated by the CWRC project. It is a proposed solution to a common problem, namely the gap between text repository (for browsing and discovering texts) and text analysis (for harnessing the potential of digital analytic tools). The CWRC Catalogue allows users to explore the entirety of indexed content, using metadata facets (such as author, publication date, collection), much like a library database. Furthermore, the interface provides functionality for performing powerful full-text queries (individual words, phrases, proximity searches, etc), and as such surpasses the capabilities of most text databases. But perhaps the most significant feature of the CWRC Catalogue is the ability to filter texts in order to produce a workset (or subset) of texts that can be transferred to Voyant as a corpus or downloaded for use with other tools.
During this presentation we will discuss the motivations for developing the CWRC Catalogue, we will summarize some of the technical and methodological challenges, we will demonstrate a working prototype, and we will outline some of the future directions of this collaboration.
Stéfan Sinclair is an Associate Professor of Digital Humanities at McGill University. His primary area of research is in the design, development, usage and theorization of tools for the digital humanities, especially for text analysis and visualization.
Geoffrey Rockwell is Professor of Philosophy and Humanities Computing and Director of the Kule Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Alberta. He has published and presented papers in the area of philosophical dialogue, textual visualization and analysis, humanities computing, instructional technology, computer games and multimedia.
Sinclair & Rockwell are co-developers of Voyant Tools and co-authors of Hermeneutica: Computer-Assisted Interpretation in the Humanities (MIT, 2016).
- Dani Spinosa: Towards a Theory of Canadian Digital Poetics
Over the last year I have been writing and presenting conference papers and applying for funding for projects that all attempt (in different ways) to develop and archive what a Canadian electronic literature might look like following early probes into the subject by Karl Jirgens, Kate Eichhorn, and others. So, seeing “Canadian electronic literature” stated plainly as the fourth bullet point on this conference’s CFP was an absolute joy. But, it also signaled to me that we are at the perfect moment in which a theory of a Canadian electronic literature needs to be fully realized in a way that opens up scholarship of these texts and encourages the production and distribution of Canadian elit. This needs to be done especially to bring to light those works produced by authors/artists/programmers of colour, women, and queer writers who have generally been overlooked in favour of a the kind of white, male, cisgendered, and heteronormative privileging that tends to occur in genres associated with the avant-garde. Following the lead of Luciana Gattas’s work in the electronic book review in her theorizations of her work creating an ELO-affiliated database of Brazilian Electronic Literature, this paper looks at my own work attempting to develop a database of Canadian literature to theorize the place of a national eliterature in a DH that is working now to resolve the qualitative datasets of its “first wave” with the emotional and experiential practices of its “second wave.” To follow Gattas’s lead, this work works towards a theory of Canadian digital poetics and electronic literature as one that recognizes national literature as both “incommensurable” and “mere[ly] a geo-tag” simultaneously.
Dani Spinosa is adjunct faculty in the Department of English at York University. Her work has appeared in ESC: English Studies in Canada and is forthcoming from the Canadian Review of American Studies, the Journal for the Study of Radicalism, and Canadian Literature. She can be found online at www.genericpronoun.com.
- Nora Stovel: “Ivory Tower of Grass Roots?: Digitizing Margaret Laurence’s Essays
I propose a presentation on editing and digitizing a collection of nearly 100 of Margaret Laurence’s previously uncollected (and, in some cases, unpublished) essays. Laurence (1926-87) is arguably the most revered, read and studied of Canadian authors, and yet no digital resources exist. It is important for Canadian scholars, students, and public to make available difficult-to-access texts of such a canonical writer.
Laurence’s essays illuminate her literary vision and demonstrate her passionate commitment to socio-political concerns, including nuclear disarmament, ecology and the environment, pro-choice or anti-abortion legislation, Canada’s First Nations peoples, religious tolerance, and political and gender equality. These essays illuminate her works of fiction. “Man of Our People” a sympathetic portrait of Gabriel Dumont, for example, illuminates her compassionate portrayal of Métis characters in her Manawaka Cycle.
A SSHRC Standard Research Grant enabled me to collect Laurence’s texts from McMaster and York’s archives, and an Editing Modernism in Canada GRA Grant helped me digitize this material. EMiC and CWRC have revised the scholarly landscape. I plan to employ CWRC-Writer to encode these texts, tagging names of persons, places, texts, and publication venues, plus literary, socio-political and cultural movements. Such annotating will have pedagogical value, assisting scholars, teachers and students of Canadian literature by making Laurence’s texts accessible to academics and public alike, offering contemporary perspectives on a canonical writer. Such encoding will be invaluable for the paper and on-line publication of this edition, which has been contracted by the University of Alberta Press.
Nora Foster Stovel is Emerita Professor at the University of Alberta, where she taught English and Film Studies from 1985 to 2014. She has the Honours BA, Honors MA, and Ph.D. from McGill, Cambridge, and Dalhousie Universities, followed by SSHRC and University of Calgary Postdoctoral Fellowships. She has published books and articles on Jane Austen, D.H. Lawrence, Margaret Laurence, Margaret Drabble, and Carol Shields, including Divining Margaret Laurence: A Study of Her Complete Writings (2008). She has edited Laurence’s Long Drums and Cannons: Nigerian Dramatists and Novelists (2001) and Heart of a Stranger (2003), plus Jane Austen Sings the Blues (2009) and Jane Austen and Company: Essays by Bruce Stovel (2011). She is composing “Sparkling Subversions”: Carol Shields’s Vision and Voice and Women with Wings: The Romantic Ballerina and editing “Ivory Tower or Grass Roots”: Margaret Laurence’s Essays and The Creation of iGiselle: Classical Ballet Meets Contemporary Videogames.
- Bart Vautour and Kaarina Mikalson: Negotiating Public Enquiry and Academic Objectives in a Digital Research Environment
When the “Canada and the Spanish Civil War” project was first envisaged in 2011, the co-directors (Dr. Bart Vautour and Dr. Emily Robins Sharpe) came together to combine academic interests in order to facilitate their own, separate critical writing on the Spanish Civil War. The project had only a modicum of hopefulness that the primary texts we were working with would be taken up by other scholars in an intellectually sustainable and ongoing manner. As the project developed (and other scholars and a project manager joined) it became clear that the most interactive audiences were either citizen-scholars looking for “memory making” texts or scholars from outside of Canada more interested in methodology than (Canadian) content. This paper builds on the project work that has theorized event-based literature and editorial practices in order to think through some of the methodological and theoretical challenges of doing academic recovery work that is also public memory work. In which ways, exactly, are these types of work different? How best to undergo thorough planning while remaining responsive to public enquiry? Do we change research goals and our direction of academic enquiry when a reading public (digitally constituted, yet constantly in flux) asks for materials outside the original purview of the state-funded project? How do we address the shifting ground of knowledge mobilization for disparate audience expectations? This paper responds to a desire to work across disciplinary, institutional, and community divides while necessarily having to work within academic structures that are often rigidly organized (academic pace of work/publishing, need to produce peer-reviewed work, academic precarity, etc.).
Bart Vautour is Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Dalhousie University. His research examines Canadian cultural production of the twentieth century with a focus on modernism, politics, poetics, and editing. He is co-editor (with Erin Wunker, Travis V. Mason, and Christl Verduyn) of Public Poetics: Critical Issues in Canadian Poetry and Poetics and (with Vanessa Lent and Dean Irvine) Making Canada New: Editing, Modernism, and Digital Media. He is also editor of scholarly editions of Ted Allan’s Spanish Civil War novel, This Time a Better Earth (1939) and (with Emily Robins Sharpe) Charles Yale Harrison’s Meet Me on the Barricades (1938) from University of Ottawa Press. He is co-director of a multi-phase SSHRC-funded project , “Canada and the Spanish Civil War.”
Kaarina Mikalson is a PhD student in English at Dalhousie University, where she holds a Nova Scotia Graduate Scholarship and a Killam Predoctoral Scholarship. She is the project manager of “Canada and the Spanish Civil War.” She completed her MA at the University of Alberta, where she wrote a thesis on Canadian fiction from the Great Depression. She is currently co-editing, with Bart Vautour and Dean Irvine, a new scholarly edition of Dorothy Livesay’s Right Hand Left Hand.