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Making Modernism Big

This semester, with the Modernist Versions Project (MVP) and Maker Lab in the Humanities, I have been creating a repository of modernist texts for the purposes of text analysis and machine learning. The scope of this project requires a powerful infrastructure, including hardware, software, and technical support, provided in part by Compute Canada, a high performance computing resource platform for universities and institutions across Canada. Last semester was spent aggregating a significant number of modernist texts (in TXT format) and learning the affordances of computer vision. The goal is to mobilize machine learning techniques to infer as yet unseen patterns across modernism. We hope that scripts written in collaboration with Compute Canada will allow us to be comprehensive and equitable in our articulation of modernism.

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Reading and Georeferencing Rhys

What underpins the data points in the z-axis maps?

Midway through reading Jean Rhys’s Good Morning, Midnight in Luxembourg Gardens I pause. I exhale. I look to the left to a bench where I sat with a friend the last time I was here. I envision the route we took winding out of the garden and onto the streets.

Midway through georeferencing Jean Rhys’s Good Morning, Midnight I pause. I stretch my arms and twist to the left and crack my back. I exhale. I open Google Maps in a new tab and search to verify the location of the street the protagonist and her stray companion drunkenly saunter down in need of a café. Read more

Visualizing a Changing Nostromo

Conrad First provides an excellent digital archive of Conrad’s serialized fiction and features scholarship on Conrad’s work in periodicals. What follows is the first paragraph of and link to my article published by Conrad First, which highlights one of the first versioning projects conducted by the MVP:

Developments in the digital humanities continue to expand the possibilities for exploring the relationships between serial publications and their later novel editions by allowing for the collation and visualization of major revisions, detailed edits, and the trends of revisions that run within and between texts. Conrad’s Nostromo is ideally suited to this particular digital approach to genetic criticism because of its evolution from a serial publication in T.P.’s Weekly and later publications as two unique but related novel editions. Although Nostromo continues to receive much critical attention, the texts studied are usually composites of the 1904 Harper edition and the 1918 Dent edition, rather than the 1904 T.P.’s Weekly serial (Watts 98). However, as the primary genetic critic of Nostromo, Cedric Watts, has shown, significant changes between the editions of this text mean how we understand Nostromo is heavily dependent upon which edition is being studied. Because of the substantial and incremental revisions between all three editions, genetic critical approaches to Nostromo can elicit new understandings of the texts as individual and related entities….

For the rest of the article, and to see how I used the Mandala Browser to analyze the text, please visit Conrad First.

Hands-On Textuality

Last spring, I conducted research on the editorial history of Marcel Proust’s unfinished nineteenth century novel, Jean Santeuil. Encoding the differences between the first two published editions of the novel, and using a tool called modVers to express the differences between those two editorial efforts, I suggested that the task of working through these editorial processes engages Proust’s modernist conceptions of temporal and individual development. As I described in my previous post on Jean Santeuil, versioning Proust’s unfinished novel did not simply allow me to read Proust’s modernist technique; it also allowed me to actively work through the genesis of that technique. This hands-on, procedural experience of encoding Proust forced me to unpack Proust’s fragmented construction of narrative chronology. Read more