Let us not begin at the beginning, nor even at the archive. -J.D.
So we begin at a computer screen in the Electronic Texts and Cultures Lab, where I sit in a small room looking out into a conifer-filled courtyard. My colleague sits across from me attempting to prototype Jonathan Safran Foer’s The Tree of Codes for the digital environment. I envy him his project. I am a scholar in search of an idea, and there is an anxiety that accompanies an untenured scholar who needs to perform in terms of research and publication. The fear of failure accompanies each uneventful search in WorldCat and Google. But in DH we are beginning to embrace failure. As we adapt lab-models of research in the humanities, we must record each experiment so that we know a “thousand ways not to build a lightbulb,” until, that is, the lightbulb goes off over our head.
And then it happened.
For all the electricity that surrounds me, it was the nudge of human instinct that made me look. My current project is to create a prototype and archive for the first four episodes of James Joyce’s Ulysses (The Telemachiad + 1). My postdoctoral research at the Modernist Versions Project has been generously supported by Stephen Ross, Ray Siemens in the ETCL, as well as my colleagues and friends in the library’s Special Collections. My goal is to bring together each published version of Ulysses in one system. For my prototype, I am using the first
two periodical versions published in the Little Review and the Egoist.
That is, until I found the rare, pirated edition of Ulysses by Samuel Roth hidden in the archives at the University of Victoria. Read more