Category

Digital Humanities

BAND, Digital Humanities

From William Seward to William Blake—and Back Again: Lessons Learned from the William Blake Archive

As part of my duties as an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in the Digital Humanities, I am required to serve as a Research Assistant for one of the many digital humanities projects at the University of Rochester. I was drawn to the William Blake Archive for several reasons. First, the Archive is a foundational DH project. Its depth and multi-institutional workflow serve as a model for onlookers hoping to recreate a successful digital collaboration. Selfishly though, I was also drawn to the William Blake Archive with an intent to gain more experience in XML, TEI, and digital-documentary editing. I hoped to adapt elements of the William Blake Archive for a more recent digital project ongoing at the University of Rochester, the Seward Family Digital Archive.

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BATS, Digital Humanities

Little Boys Lost

A few years ago I was having drinks with someone I had recently met through an interdisciplinary research/reading group at the University of North Carolina. He was a geneticist. In the course of our conversation he confided that he no longer read books, especially those books having to do with literature. Since everything reduced to genetic coding, which revealed itself in its own inscrutable (to me, even though he tried to explain it) language, all macrocosmic products of human artistry were epiphenomenal, superfluous. We were just humming flesh lumps elaborately but programmatically spun out from inherited scripts. He stared hard into his ice cubes as he said this. I’d quote him, but I can’t remember his exact words.

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BATS, Digital Humanities

Subjective Image Processing?

In my role as Assistant Project Manager, I respond to the many requests for reproducing content from the William Blake Archive, of which the overwhelming majority are for images (a surprise to me). One of the most memorable request so far was a patron asking if he could screen-print one of the images on his home stereo cover. While this was a strange request and much different than the normal reproduction requests for publication, it tells us that the images in the archive contain a tremendous power outside of academic use. I wondered how I can locate that power.

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BAND, Digital Humanities, Uncategorized

Why we should be talking more: office chat and DH

When I look back over many of the most recent blog posts—Rachel’s about how to use notes with a sense of audience, Oishani’s about Blake’s quirky punctuation, my own about the differences between red wax seals and wafers, and other posts from the past several months—I am not surprised to realize that many of these posts began in the William Blake Archive office as informal conversations about digital editing. I remember Oishani asking my input about how to encode a period under a superscript, and I recall spending the better part of an hour with Laura and Lisa discussing why and how we decide that a letter is sealed by wax or wafer. These conversations are illustrative of one of the greatest benefits of digital humanities projects: the opportunity to collaborate and work with a team of scholars from a variety of backgrounds.

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Blake Quarterly, Digital Humanities

“Swift winged words”: the vocabulary and word distribution of Blake/An Illustrated Quarterly

In the process of preparing the team to correct spelling errors in the digital archive of Blake/An Illustrated Quarterly (errors in the transcription and in the original print version), I have made a few interesting observations about word distribution in the BIQ corpus (before the first online issues). On the principle that misspellings occur less frequently than correct spellings, I used a series of PHP scripts to generate a wordlist sorted by the number of instances of each unique word. The team is beginning by checking the spellings of rare words (appearing 1-3 times in the whole print-only run of BIQ), in hopes of encountering a higher percentage of errors more efficiently. The word list itself, however, tells us some interesting things about the word choices of Blake scholars.

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BAND, Digital Humanities, Uncategorized

Managing Marginalia: Two Ways

We are experiencing Real Winter Weather for the first time this season, so it seems apt that BAND are about to re-visit a project that kept us occupied last time the snow fell and the mercury plummeted: Blake’s marginalia.

As Lisa discussed last winter, one of the projects that we have yet to tackle fully is the annotations that Blake made in books from his own collection, a unique and challenging combination of a manuscript and a typographical work. This week, we’ll be holding the first meeting of Team Marginalia, a similar kind of working group as Team Color Code, who will be focusing on the specific problems that this kind of work poses.

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BAND, Digital Humanities

Building better ‘Bus Projects’

I learned a great new phrase at Blake Camp this year: ‘Bus Project’. This is a project that you are in charge of, but that anybody else could take over in the unlikely (and of course, tragic) event that you get squashed by a bus. Usually, this means that you keep comprehensive notes, talk to your colleagues and generally leave a long and detailed paper trail everywhere you go.

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