As a staff member on the Modernist Journals Project, I have been working for over a year on digitizing several early twentieth century magazines using ABBYY Finereader 11 for OCRing, Adobe Acrobat for .pdf creation, and Oxygen 15 for xml TEI text encoding and MODS files.  Next year I will assume project manager duties at the MJP.  This experience has, along with my digital humanities class at TU, encouragement from my dissertation committee, and the folks I follow on twitter, prompted me to begin some of my own experimentation with digital tools.

My first project was the Ezra Pound Cantos Timeline which is part of the MIT SIMILE digital tool suite and for which I used this great tutorial.  The initial setup included some modest HTML encoding to create the interactive timeline which is fed by a Google Docs spreadsheet which I populated with author and source text identification from Carroll Terrell’s A Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound and my own topic tagging as I moved through the text.   The timeline’s goal is to visualize the complex publication history of Pound’s Cantos, the significant amount of other work he did, and a few life events I feel become relevant to his work on The Cantos.

The next project I will work on serves as the fourth chapter of my dissertation on modernist textual effects and interface in work by H. D., Joyce, and Pound.  This project will consist of using TEI markup language to encode the full text of Pound’s first major grouping of cantos, A Draft of XXX Cantos.  I have written a bit on the challenges The Cantos present for OCRing, but overall the project is developing steadily.  I posted the introduction I did to the written methodology for the TEI version of the XXX Cantos which you can read here.  The TEI portion of the project is now finished (apart from some careful editing) and will soon be submitted as part of my dissertation.  My next step is to locate some resources for either teaching myself how to build an interface to display the results of my encoding, or to pay someone else to do it.  These additional stages of the project have presented me with some unforeseen challenges associated with “completing” the project.  Unlike written dissertation chapters, the digital project requires further steps and then maintenance in order to be considered complete.

I have worked on or conceived of some smaller projects as well.

  • As I read H. D.: The Collected Poems 1912-1944 I gathered some data thinking it would be helpful for my dissertation.  Eventually I found I wouldn’t end up talking about the poems in my dissertation, but I have a fairly sizable spreadsheet which I look forward to adding to when I begin work on my H. D. dissertation chapter.
  • I have a full text file of Benjamin’s Arcades Project which I am excited to play with using the various text mining tools available online.  So far, I  haven’t had time to do much with this, but is there a text that begs for machine reading more than The Arcades Project?
  • When I was doing my comprehensive exams in the “Transatlantic Modernism” and “Contemporary American” fields as part of the requirements for my degree, I kept a loosely topic tagged and organized list of those texts.  This is likely of very little use to anyone, including myself, but an interesting record of the project and the way I tackled it.  Maybe someday it’ll be of some pedagogical use.

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