Category Archives: George Eliot

UVa Library: Digital Initiatives – R&D – American Studies Grant

UVa Library: Digital Initiatives – R&D – American Studies Grant.

Here is the link to the proposed American Studies Information Community at the University of Virgina that sounds very much like the kind of portal I would like to develop for George Eliot studies.

An Information Community is a group of scholars, students, researchers, librarians, information specialists and citizens from similar or dissimilar fields, whose common link is a shared information need. This information need can be oriented around a subject, a field, a methodology, or a data type. The information can include text, data, digitized media, images, and formal and informal scholarly exchanges of ideas. Information Communities exist as a medium for bringing people together and making them aware of opportunities and resources. Community is fostered by personal communication, shared interests, shared research materials, shared tools, and shared standards. Information Communities add value to information, and offer opportunities for using information in new and different ways. Activities of the community can include creation of web-based materials, development of portable tools for enhancing access to the materials, and managing of conferences and publications. Information Communities foster innovation and spark new areas of research, and usually result in a tangible body of knowledge for consumers.

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Filed under Digital Collections, Digital Humanities, George Eliot, Library science, SIRLS 675

Diffuse Libraries: Emergent Roles for the Research Library in the Digital Age

I was excited to read this article for class, because it describes the kind of collaborative digital environment I want to create for George Eliot studies. Now I have some models to examine, and some protocols to follow!

As an example of a specialized service, the University of Virginia’s proposed American Studies Information Community will draw on harvesting protocols to bring together disparate types of information (text, data, media, images) for a community, defined as a group of scholars, students, researchers, librarians, information specialists, and citizens with a common interest in a particular thematic area. The project is being undertaken collaboratively with other institutions and content providers (e.g., Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Virginia Tech University, and the Smithsonian National Museum of American Art). The University of Virginia describes these information communities as “learning and teaching environments in which subject-driven websites are developed around print and digital versions of our collections and the teaching interests of our faculty members . . . Information communities will foster interdisciplinary and collaborative research and publication amongst scholars with common interests.”2

This access model is interesting because it reflects several trends that are also evident in the broader landscape. The new service will take advantage of a distributed collection model and a range of partners. The descriptive techniques will reflect enhanced attributes appropriate to the subject area and the diverse formats in the distribut ed collections. Analytic tools will be incorporated to add value to the content and to stimulate collaboration. Perhaps most significant, the access system is explicitly designed to serve a social role as a catalyst for an interdisciplinary community—a far more intrusive role than is provision of access alone.

via Diffuse Libraries: Emergent Roles for the Research Library in the Digital Age.

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Filed under Digital Collections, Digital Humanities, George Eliot

IRLS 675 Unit 1 – proposed digital collection

My eventual idea is for a site pertaining to the nineteenth century writer George Eliot. There are a variety of materials about her scattered all over the net, but no one main web portal that collects and makes a wide variety of materials available about her in one place. She was a nexus for British Victorian literary culture; she read and participated in the major discourses of the time, in science, literature, art, theology, psychology, sociology, etc. She was copious writer and critic; her novels, essays and poetry are available in various formats all over the web (these are public domain); but she read very widely, wrote major reviews in the best literary journals of the day, and translated materials from German, French, Latin, Greek and Hebrew. I guess what I envision is a major research portal that enables (for example) textual analysis over a wide corpus of her reading as well as her writing. For example, I think it would be very interesting to be able to search for terms and see where they appear in what she read (which are also public domain, of course) as well as what she wrote. I’m especially interested in a semantic web or knowledge base; I’m curious about whether software can be designed to do the kind of textual analysis/criticism that literary critics do. I’d like it to be collaborative, so that other researchers can add materials as well, and have the material able to be tagged by viewers/users. I’d also like to be able to extend the semantic network to encompass the reading/writings of her major literary interlocutors, such as GH Lewes, Herbert Spenser, and the Rosehill circle. And I especially would like to see such a collection focused around Eliot, because she was such a knowledgeable character in Victorian intellectual discourse, and yet at once so socially isolated once she became a “fallen woman.”

Some of this functionality is available but spread all over the web; there is no one search that could pull up all of this stuff. I’ve seen knowledge base software that uses algorithms to create links between material in a collection (such as in zotero). One has to download files into something like zotero or another content aggregator; and then you can search it, and analyze it.  This works for private research, but I would like to see a collection available on the web that makes this easier, so that individual researchers all over the planet are not replicating work in formats that can’t be shared.

Anyway, that of course is a huge project; for this class though I was thinking about making a very small model of what I would like to do on a large scale. I’d like to have a couple of text files of things she read (Rousseau’s Confessions, a children’s book The Linnet’s Life, Daniel Defoe’s History of the Devil), some text files of articles/books about her that are also public domain, text files of a novel, a poem, and an essay or two, text file of one of her theological translations from the German, some images associated with these texts, and sound file(s) of the novel/essay/poetry being read aloud.

I envision the main audience being researchers in Victorian British literature and culture; although I would like the interface to be such that the Eliot aficionado and the casual user could get some benefit as well.

The terms I would be thinking about include location tags, subjects, genres, date, author(s). Location would include the place of composition as well as places mentioned in the text or shown in the images; subjects would include terms like psychology, morality, theology, education, science; genres would include terms such as fiction, biography, poetry, essay, book review, autobiography, children’s literature, nonfiction, play.

I am interested in semantic tags as well; since what I think a piece of literature is “about” may be different than someone else’s take, I’m wondering if they just need to be user-created; or if I could, for example, search the contemporaneous reviews of Eliot’s novels for common terms that could then be used as tags. This would be important to get the Victorian language of the discourse of the time; we probably wouldn’t use a term like “moral disapprobation” although that was common then. And the writers who reviewed her works in the 1920s would use terms distinctly different from those that reviewed her work in the 1860s-1880s.  A tag cloud of those terms would be very interesting.

Since I’m also interested in affect theory, I have thought about creating a list of key words or phrases that map to or signal basic affects like shame, disgust, or delight (using Silvin Tomkin’s taxonomy). This is where the literary criticism comes in. There are so many literary theoretical lenses that could be applied to Eliot’s work, each with their own vocabularies/taxonomies. I think just doing a semantic analysis of word usage would not get at what I want. Shame is an emotion/affect that happens in interactions with another, and the quality of that interaction has to be assessed.

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Filed under Digital Collections, Digital Humanities, George Eliot, Library science, SIRLS 675, taxonomy