11:15pm – Web as Literature Talks/Workshop at BL in June

At the very end of DoDH (but too late to want to blog about it) I found an announcement for a interesting DH workshop at the British Library in June during the 3 weeks that I will be working there. I am going to register for this event this morning. Registration is free but spots are limited – here is the event website: http://webasliterature.org/.

Here’s the event: “The Web As Literature: A one day event of talks and workshops exploring Linked Open Data and its revolutionary potential for the humanities”

When: Monday, June 10, 2013

Where: The British Library, Conference Center


  • Keynote from Ted Nelson (Inventor of Hypertext)
  • Digital Humanities Panel on modelling the scholarly domain in the humanities with Professor Stefan Gradmann (Universiteit Leuven), Dominic Oldman (Research Space, British Museum), Tobias Blanke (Kings College London)
  • Talk on Linked Open Data and Europeana from Antoine Isaac (Europeana)
  • Presentations from the Digital Scholarship team at the British Libary
  • Hands on workshop with DM2E tool-set led by leading Digital Humanities development team, Net7



Revising the Vision for Next Year – Stainforth

So due to the news about the ISG, the Stainforth team is re-envisioning next year. We have already started transcribing the Stainforth, so we’re committed to completing the project to the best of our ability with the resources that we have. This will certainly involve scaling back our vision of what we will accomplish this coming academic year, but that may be a good thing: we can focus on completing an initial phase of the project that sets us up to be an even better candidate for a grant.

Since we so recently learned about not receiving the grant, the team has yet to meet to determine our plan of action. Here’s what I’m thinking about:

  • Creating a manageable time-line to get the rest of the manuscript transcribed into the database without simultaneously adding related research links that include author bio, etc. Just clean transcription to get the data explicitly in the manuscript into the database, so that we can start sorting it.
  • Evaluate how much student help we will have either through volunteers or potentially through classes.
  • Make sure all team leads receive intro to TEI training and start establishing a workflow for encoding select works in the archive.
  • identify texts in the archive for which electronically published and encoded texts are already available. See if it is possible to import other’s XML files for these.

I’m not the only team member who has been thinking about the big picture today despite our small funding set-back. Holley and Debbie both sent me a link to another Day-of-DH blog post about Angles — an online XML editor. I had never heard of Angles, but I’m reading about it right now!



No Seed Grant, Alas – But An Encouraging Bid for Next Year!

So we — the collaborators for the Stainforth project — applied for a seed grant through CU Boulder to fund work on the Stainforth project. Holley put a ton of incredible work into the proposal and collaborated on it closely with Debbie Hollis. I reviewed a couple of drafts as well and incorporated my ideas. After many, many revisions, we submitted the proposal in early March and have been waiting since then to learn our fate: lots of funding or no funding. Turns out: no funding. However, we were told by our reviewer that our proposal ranked very high and we were encouraged to apply for the grant again next year — with requested revisions, we have a great shot at winning. That’s promising! Here’s what we learned from the reviewer about how we need to improve our proposal. I include this here on my Day of DH blog because it may help those of you who are in the grant-writing process.

Though we felt really positive about our proposal, we learned that from the reviewer’s position it has several weaknesses. Here’s what we need to do to strengthen our proposal for next year:

  • show how our database and archive will be different from those that are already out there
  • make clearer the diversity of the contributors (women authors) to the library – the reviewer thought they were only English, but that is not the case — we included author names that we thought would be well-known, e.g. the early African American author Phyllis Wheatley, but did not specify how they are diverse
  • make explicit how funding would be sought after the seed grant phase
  • include faculty from other disciplines besides the libraries in the proposal — despite the clear interdisciplinarity that the proposal demonstrates for the project. Our proposal features graduate students across several disciplines, from English to computer science, but we need to make the faculty involvement across disciplines more explicit.
  • make clearer how the Stainforth library appeals to a wide variety of disciplines — not just 18th-19th c. literature scholars. Again, I thought we did this, but it looks like we need to hammer it home in a better manner.
  • make more explicit the impact this project will have beyond CU-Boulder

For all of these points I felt as though we provided this information, but it appears that we need to work on clarifying the broader scope and impact of the project. We can certainly do this and will try again next year.

Teaching with WordPress

It’s mid-day-of-DH and I have already taught my 11am class and my 2pm class is approaching  quickly. I was hoping to get a little grading done in the interim that is office hours, but instead had a fabulous writing workshop with one of my students. To see a student find perspective on her own writing, admit that it needs work, laugh about it, and then revise, really made my day. We worked on an essay of her in Word and revised in Track Changes so that she has a record of the revisions we made together.

In my classes today, we are workshopping our final projects and discussing a short story by Edith Wharton called “Afterward.” The final project drafts are first drafts of electronic essays that will be published on our class WordPress blog. Today, the sections of the essay that we will address include author bio and summary, which are exercises in finding authoritative sources for this information and learning how to stylistically include that information in an electronic essay using linking and images.

Last week I taught a few mini lessons on WordPress skills, including creating a hyperlink, embedding images and image galleries, finding images that are not under copyright and citing them properly, and linking an image to its source page. Today I will give a short tutorial on embedding a youtube video in a post on our WordPress blog. These are skills that will help my students improve their ability to be persuasive in an electronic medium — increasingly the medium through which information is disseminated and received.

Stainforth Database Project Collaborators

Collaborators and their roles, all affiliated with University of Colorado at Boulder:

  • Deborah Hollis, Associate Professor, Associate Faculty Director of Archives and Special Collections, CU Libraries; Managing Editor of The Stainforth
  • Kirstyn Leuner, PhD candidate in English Literature; Editor of The Stainforth. As an editor, Leuner TEI encodes texts in the archive and trains undergraduates in TEI so that they have the technical skills to help with the encoding process.
  • Holley Long, Associate Professor, Digital Initiatives Librarian, CU Libraries; Technical Editor of The Stainforth, architect of its relational database and all website interfaces

Stainforth Database Project Description

I. The project aims to turn a manuscript catalog of a 19th-c. gentleman’s private library into a digital archive that recreates that private library. The library contains only books authored by women.

Throughout his life, Rev. Stainforth (1797-1866) collected an unprecedented archive of over 6,000 works by female authors and housed these books in his private library. CU-Boulder Libraries holds the original manuscript of The Catalogue of the Library of Female Authors (1866) by F. J. Stainforth (1797-1866), a detailed record of his enormous library of women-authored books published between 1546 and 1866—one of the largest 19th-century collections of women’s writing. Featuring an array of nationalities, genres, topics, and publication dates, Stainforth’s collection raises questions about how women’s writing was circulated, valued, collected, organized, and displayed in the nineteenth century.  The range of Stainforth’s library includes works from 17th-century author Aphra Behn (1640-1689), African American 18th-century author Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784), and Victorian-era author Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861); genres represented in the collection include poetry, plays, novels, essays, letters, and more.

The Catalogue documents not only the private library of women authors but also includes a wish list of titles that Stainforth sought to complete his collection. Thus, researchers can study not only what was in the library, but what was not collected as well as how and when those works were acquired.

The Stainforth Catalogue is but one title in the CU-Boulder Libraries Women Poets of the Romantic Period (WPRP) Collection — a collection that I have spent a tremendous amount of time with as a Researcher in CU Libraries Special Collections.

II. What we are doing with the Catalogue: turning it into a database and a digital archive through transcription, text encoding, and data collection

  1. First, the project team will transcribe the Stainforth Catalogue into the database. This is the stage we are currently working on and we have already transcribed the first 100 pages of the manuscript Catalog. Once we finish transcribing the manuscript into the database, we will create TEI-encoded XML files for texts in the Catalogue and will use pre-encoded XML files where these works have already been published online and their encoding is available. During this phase, team members will also conduct research on the writers to uncover biographical information and significant geographical points, as well as relevant data about their printers, publishers, and patrons.

III. What we will do with the database: visualize the data

The team will use this data to produce 2 main visualizations:

  1. A virtual reproduction of Stainforth’s library, as it was organized according to his shelfmarks (these are included in his manuscript with each title in the left-hand column)

  2. A graph of the professional network of the authors in Stainforth’s library that we will create using social network analysis of the connections between authors, editors, printers, and publishers

Reassembling the library according to the shelfmarks in the manuscript will enable the study of how women’s writing was collected, organized, and archived by Stainforth. The works in his Catalogue are ordered alphabetically by author, for the most part. Each entry contains a shelfmark and the shelfmarks are not consecutive in the alphabetical list, which indicates that he organized his books in another fashion. Collecting, organizing, and displaying one’s private collection was a popular hobby in the nineteenth century, especially for those with disposable income, such as Rev. Stainforth. Knowing the organization of this collection, and why Stainforth would want to reorganize it and “display” it in his Catalog differently than it appeared on the shelf, may reveal important information about how these books were obtained, used, and valued by their collector, as well as how he wanted his library to be treated after he died.

Graphing the professional network associated with each book in his list — publishers, printers, authors, editors, translators, and subscribers — will suggest a network of circulation for that book and will indicate trends in professional relationships that women writers had in the book market. Visualizing these networks creates an image of the community of published women writers across a variety of genres and nationalities — a significant data set. It will also enable us to think about what kinds of works did not participate in these networks and what avenues of access their were to successful circulation of women’s writing.


Additional Links to The Stainforth Database Project (in progress):

  • Find the unreleased Stainforth Database Project website here (this is a work-in-progress).
  • Find PDF images of the complete Stainforth Catalog manuscript here, courtesy of CU-Boulder Libraries.

A few questions:

1. Does anyone know where I can find more information specifically about collections of women’s writing in the nineteenth century or eighteenth century? I would like to find libraries to compare Stainforth’s with.

2. Stainforth biographical information: we need to learn more about the collector. Perchance, has anyone studied Rev. Stainforth? We have some information on this collector — what is easy to find — but I am not-so-secretly hoping that one day a Tweet or a blog post will conjure a Stainforth expert (if there is one out there) to comment or reply to a post.

Stay tuned for more blogging — I will report on our Seed Grant application and our presentation at MLA 14 next year.

Getting ready for Day of DH 2013

It’s almost Day of DH 2013, so I’m spending a little time this morning putting my blog together. This year, DoDH falls after receiving some disappointing news about a grant that the Stainforth Database Project team did not receive. I’m planning to spend some time on this day thinking about ways that we can modify our project plan to move ahead — albeit more slowly and with little to no funding, but reminding myself that we still have resources! More updates to follow. I will be teaching two Intro to Women’s Lit classes on Monday, so the whole day will not be Stainforth oriented — I will also be doing some pedagogical DH work. As our Chair, William Kuskin says: Onwards!