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BCcampus Open Textbook Summit 2015

May 29th was a busy day in Vancouver. Bif Naked played the Rickshaw Theatre, the FIFA Women’s Cup Trophy Tour arrived in Vancouver, and the Gastown Women’s TEDx hosted its Fearless event. If this wasn’t enough to quench everyone’s thirst, the Vancouver Craft Beer Week made an early start before its June opening. In other words, it was a day for gender equity, women’s rights, women’s sports, and a deep ethical question of which event would be the most appropriate to attend, in all likelihood with each of them followed by craft beer…

Miraculously, however, the BCcampus Open Textbook Summit soldiered on and even drew in a record number of attendees. MVP and Open Modernisms were prominent in the proceedings, which means its panel was right before lunch when late risers are sure to jump into sessions (and then eat lunch guilt and gluten free). The responses show that beyond BCcampus, the Open Modernisms anthology builder is going to find traction across Western Canada. James Gifford presented a paper co-authored with Stephen Ross and Matt Huculak on the major innovations coming to BC as Open Modernisms prepares to launch its Phase 1 with a custom Islandora build for preparing modernist texts that are in the public domain in Canada. With its “core” and “module” system, Islandora will allow users to upload PDF page images of documents with metadata, OCR them automatically, hand-correct the OCR, and queue it for moderation.

As a first step, this places Open Modernisms at the ready for Fall 2015 modernist anthologies for classroom use across the country. The key, however, is copyright… Read more

Dr. Matt Huculak’s Guide to the Professions of Ulysses; or What to Read on Bloomsday

Not sure what part of James Joyce’s epic you should read on Bloomsday? Why not read a section based on your work? Here is Dr. Huculak’s Guide to the Professions of Ulysses. (Don’t see your profession? Email me, and I’ll choose something for you).


People in the know (pedants & twits) don’t call the parts of Ulysses “chapters.” We call them “episodes,” but I’m going to use the terms interchangeably below.

Episode 1. Telemachus: Graduate Students & Dairy Farmers 

A bunch of poor students wake up, eat breakfast, and try to find money to pay the milk lady. A great choice for those of you with housemates who eat your food in the fridge and routinely wake you up because they’ve locked themselves out of the flat.

Episode 2. Nestor: Historians, Teachers, Schoolboys, and Parents of Ugly Children Read more

Bloomsday 2015: You’re invited!

Amanda Visconti Launches Infinite Ulysses

Big Modernism Goes Macro

Work on Big Modernism goes macro! In the past year, with the Modernist Versions Project and Compute Canada, we’ve been expanding the plain-text repository of modernist prose from thirty-two to eighty-six texts. We’ve added texts by key authors (Katherine Mansfield, Dorothy Richardson, and John Steinbeck, among others), as well as additional texts by the authors we had already included. While still unable to access many modernist texts online (I’ve written about this here), we are now able to experiment on a bigger canvas of literary modernism.

Using scripts that incorporate topic modelling software and Bayesian analysis algorithms, Compute Canada researcher Belaid Moa and I have constructed a multidimensional space in which to better understand the intricate relationships among the novels in our corpus. The scripts position texts according to their topical relevance, as I’ve explained in a previous post. With a larger data set, however, different patterns emerge (see the raw comparison data here). Read more

Open Modernisms Wins Grant

The Open Modernisms Anthology has been awarded $15,000 in grant funding by the BCcampus Open Textbook Project to produce a free, open-access teaching resource. This funding supplements funds already in place from the Modernist Studies Association ($1,000) and Douglas College in Vancouver ($3,500), as well as the MVP ($1,000).

In its first phase, the Open Modernisms Anthology aims to build and populate a site that will host PDF page images with backing corrected OCR text of modernist primary materials such as those typically found in anthologies and used in course packs. Users will be able to mix and match documents, re-arrange them, add their own notes, and output the results as a single PDF document for use as a course pack in the classroom.

In its second phase (being pursued concurrently), the OMA will convert text to Markdown and allow users to download materials in a variety of formats for print, digital presentation, text analysis, and other uses.

The site is Open-Source and the materials it hosts will be Open Access.

We would like to thank in particular the Modernist Studies Association, whose listserv ( was the form in which the idea first gained popular support. We would also like to thank David N. Wright for facilitating grant funding through Douglas College in Vancouver, and James Gifford for facilitating in-kind support through the Fairleigh Dickinson University in Vancouver, and the Provost’s SEED Grant funding.

We would also like to thank all those teachers of modernism around the world who told us about their anthology and course pack use, helping us to make the case that something like the Open Modernisms Anthology is needed. Many of them will be active participants in establishing the site, and we are eager to begin working together.

The team responsible for the Open Modernisms Anthology Builder includes Claire Battershill (University of Reading), Jim Benstead (University of Edinburgh), Chris Forster (Syracuse University), James Gifford (Fairleigh Dickinson University in Vancouver), Matt Huculak (University of Victoria), Andrew Pilsch (Arizona State University), Shawna Ross (Arizona State University), Stephen Ross (University of Victoria), and David N. Wright (Douglas College).