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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

Vizualizing Communities in Mrs. Dalloway

“It was precisely twelve o’clock; twelve by Big Ben; whose stroke was wafted over the northern part of London; blent with that of other clocks, mixed in a thin ethereal way with the clouds and wisps of smoke, and died up there among the seagulls–twelve o’clock struck as Clarissa Dalloway laid her green dress on her bed, and the Warren Smiths walked down Harley Street. Twelve was the hour of their appointment. Probably, Rezia thought, that was Sir William Bradshaw’s house with the grey motor car in front of it. The leaden circles dissolved in the air.”

According to network analysis, paragraph 349 in Mrs. Dalloway is the most central; that is, in the whole of the novel, this is the paragraph that connects the greatest number of significant character nodes. That it takes place in the middle of the day seems to indicate the extent of Woolf’s, perhaps unconscious, narrative ability. Read more

Bloomsday 2014: Building Communities

(Photos below)

The Modernist Versions Project might just be the only digital humanities project to launch in a pub and partner with a brewery in the celebration of Bloomsday!

On June 16,  2012, the Modernist Versions Project officially started with the announcement of our “Year of Ulysses” initiative celebrated at the James Joyce Bistro in downtown Victoria.

In 2013, MVP Co-Directors Stephen Ross and Matt Huculak taught a versioning course at the Digital Humanities Summer Institute, which ended with a Bloomsday lecture by Hans Walter Gabler (followed by readings at the James Joyce Bistro!).

This year, thanks to a unique partnership with the University Library, The Department of English, and The Electronic Textual Cultures Lab, MVP Co-Director, Dr. J. Matthew Huculak and Kathy Bohlman, MAS, launched “From Paris to Victoria: Giséle Freund’s James Joyce Photographs” in the Mearns Centre for Learning, Special Collections in the University of Victoria Library (June 16-July 10, 2014). This photographic exhibition highlights the Gisèle Freund Fonds held by the University of Victoria Library and includes the most intimate photographs ever taken of Joyce and his family. The exhibit also includes the Joyce-inspired art of Robert Amos, RCA. Read more


The MVP is coming to the MSA in a big way this year! MVPers are presenting on panels and round tables, in seminars, in the poster session, and even organizing panels and seminars. Please see below for abstracts and outlines of what we’ll be bringing to the show – and if you’ll be in Pittsburgh for the conference, please check out some of the work on offer.


Modernist Studies Association Conference 2014 (Pittsburgh, PA) Nov. 6-9.


Participating MVPers: Adèle Barclay, Alex Christie, James Gifford, Adam Hammond, J. Matthew Huculak, Stephen Ross, Katie Tanigawa. Read more

Most Valuable Publication? Versions and Critical Editions

The MVP began with an aim to understand the multiple states of modernist texts as an aid to interpretive work, as well as to develop tools and best practices for the scholarly community. This also included specifically pedagogical aims for student researchers (“players”) on the team and the post-secondary classroom environment more generally. Based on the copyright conditions in Canada that permit versioning a greater swath of modernist material than elsewhere, what of the digital classroom and extensible texts for learning environments in which students might take part in producing the work? What of the first year or survey classroom and textbooks demands in an increasingly mobile-oriented student population? In a more material sense, what too of students struggling under the expense of education or the limitations of print and bound courseware? In the long game, the students are our most valuable players, but the most valuable publication in the democratization of education may be the most available, the most mobile, the most engaged, and the most accessible – the Modernist Versions Project’s MVP may be the facilitator that brings modernism and versioning not to the classroom but to classrooms in the “Big Data” plural. Read more

The Versioning Machine for Audio: Introducing VM 5.0

Over the past year, the MVP team has been working on updates to the Versioning Machine. The Versioning Machine is a framework and an interface for displaying multiple versions of text encoded according to the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) Guidelines. While VM 4.0 had been updated to P5 compatibility, VM 5.0 is now HTML5 compatible too. The most significant outcome of this update is that the VM can now incorporate sound-based, image-based, and text-based versions as part of our understanding of the constellated “text” (in the Barthesian sense). VM 5.0 is still under development and will be released in the coming months with samples that demonstrate the new audio functionality. Tanya Clement, Martin Holmes and Susan Schreibman contributed to this writeup. Read more