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Arguing through Archival Objects: A Z-Axis Method for 3-D-Printed Interpretation

The following paper was delivered at the 2015 Modern Language Association conference and presents work developed by myself, Adèle Barclay, Stephen Ross, Jentery Sayers, Katie Tanigawa, Belaid Moa, and the INKE-MVP research team.


All too often, electronic mapping environments treat historical maps as images rather than artifacts. When we import archival maps into digital environments, they are usually displayed as a base map; this allows us to add data to the map by dropping base pins, annotations, scaling, zooming, and so on. However, these ways of handling geographic data function within the interface of the mapping environment, subjecting historical maps to contemporary ways of expressing and interacting with geography. Reproducing historical and literary maps within mapping environments such as Google Earth imposes GIS-specific understandings of space upon maps that predate GIS or understand space in other ways. Read more

Z-Axis Scholarship: Modeling How Modernists Wrote the City

The following long paper was delivered at the Digital Humanities 2014 conference. Co-authored by Alex Christie, Stephen Ross, Jentery Sayers, Katie Tanigawa, and the INKE-MVP research team.

One of the most basic analytical tools we employ in literary criticism is to consider the setting of a literary work: where does the action take place? Naturally, if the action takes place in a city with the same name and some of the same recognizable features as cities existing in the world, we assume that the fiction is set in the real city. At the same time, no city in a novel is precisely the historical or actual city you could up and visit. We all know that cities in novels are fictitious. They are constructs sometimes used to illustrate characters’ states of mind, sometimes used to point out ideological or political interventions, sometimes used to invoke historical narratives. And yet the impulse persists to think the city of Paris is the same as the Paris in Djuna Barnes’s Nightwood, or Jean Rhys’s Quartet, or Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, or F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night. This list could continue on. Read more

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

Interdisciplinarity at MSA15

Last month, I made the trip from Victoria to Brighton for the fifteenth Modernist Studies Association conference. This was my second outing at MSA, after last year’s conference in Las Vegas. While I battled jet lag, joining my colleagues on the train

from Brighton to the University of Sussex, following the mod symbols across campus and rifling through our newspaper copies of the conference program, I was particularly struck by the diversity of this year’s conference. Although MSA is traditionally a North American phenomenon (see Katherine Ebury’s post here: ), this year I had the pleasure of meeting fellow modernists coming from places as diverse as Greece, Japan, and Poland. And although the conference was still largely populated by Anglophones from either side of the Atlantic (most easily distinguished by how much sleep they were getting),  I found my conversations with colleagues from further away some of the most exciting and most memorable of the week. Read more