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MKG's To Do List (7/10/17)

1 min read

-Sort through END's data about marginalia and figure out which books to call up so I can look at them in person

-Do I want to sort the marginalia into "types"? Like, inscriptions, lots of writing, a little bit, full sentences, fragments, drawings, etc.? (Think about this)

-Watch Totem Pole documentary (https://www.nfb.ca/film/totem_the_return_of_the_gpsgolox_pole/) and look into museum ethics

-Finish Jackson reading and look at Sherman

-Secondary Sources from the Slack

-Look into online annotation services? Should I use hypothesis.io?

-How to present? Should I use Scalar? Or Omeka? What is the difference? What form will this take? Which platform is best for lots of text? Is there a way you can annotate pictures?

Final Proposal

4 min read

The 18th century saw the rise of the novel and with it, the rise of a new market. Novel readership was often determined by social class and the financial means of a family; literacy itself already was a relatively reliable litmus test for one’s value as a participant in consumer culture. If someone was well off enough to afford novels, it was likely that they would be well off enough to buy other consumer products as well. The content of the publisher advertisements included in the back matter of 18th century novels led me to question whether publishers transpose their assumptions about the audience into their advertising choices. What does being a consumer of novels mean for general consumerism?

The goal of my project is to study how novels and being a novel reader in the 18th century play into the consumer culture of the time. Although it would be interesting to see if the place of the novel as a material object holds true internationally, I will be limiting the scope of my research to Britain as most published works are centered there geographically pre-1800s. Because I am interested in the novel reader’s relationship with consumer culture, I am specifically looking at publisher advertisements that hawk products other than additional novels and texts. Due to constraints within the END dataset, it will not be possible to draw wide-ranging conclusions about the data. For this reason, I will be using case studies to highlight the nuances within these advertising choices that are most salient to the questions am I trying to answer.

There are several stages that I will be implementing in order to complete this project. The first is to pull all the advertisement related data from the END database to create a tabular dataset. I will be specifically looking at category 656 (“Publishers’ advertisements”), field $a for “Miscellaneous” advertisements. However, since that controlled term has only been implemented recently, I will also be looking at field $x for the transcriptions or descriptions of the advertisement content. Category 989, field $7 would also provide some information about the objects represented in these novels.

The second stage is to build a foundation of secondary sources to draw upon when I am studying the advertisements. I will be mainly considering The Oxford Handbook of the History of Consumption and The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain for my construction of a profile of the average 18th century consumer and for the types of items consumers spend their money on. Raven’s The Book as a Commodity, Blackwell’s The Secret Life of Things, and Brown’s thing theory will help me formulate an argument of how people think about the novel as an object and how consumer space is negotiated around it. These two prongs will combine to articulate what being a consumer of the novel means for general consumerism. Additionally, it might be helpful to look into the bookshop as a space of commerce. Many of the objects advertised in the advertisements I have looked at so far could have been easily sold in a bookshop alongside the books. This frame would be another method to contextualize the consumer culture that surrounds novels, as both objects and facilitators of additional commerce.

The third is to start requesting books to look at their advertisements firsthand. The books called will be from the second, consolidated spreadsheet. I will be taking pictures and notes on the content. I think I may also note the content of the novel itself and the publisher or bookseller. Afterward, I will present this information in either Scalar or Omeka; the ideal presentation is an intuitive and visual representation of the information. I also want to consider if analogies both conceptual and visual can be drawn to Google AdSense ads from my study of 18th century advertisements; both involve targeted marketing of consumers’ wants and needs tailored to a specific environment—the website and the bookshop, respectively. It would be interesting to see if the type of marketing strategies and advertisement prediction algorithms prevalent in Google AdSense could have been similarly used by booksellers and publishers in order to best anticipate what novel consumers want or need.

Project Proposal III: MKG

5 min read

Reading is sometimes conceptualized as an act of consumption. Writers produce, and readers consume. However, reading is its own form of production in some ways. The text is inanimate until a reader brings it to life in his or her mind, and from the text, the reader is often creating new ideas and answering new questions, set off by something in the work. The difference, then, between reading and writing is that writing leaves a physical trace-- writing produces an object that can be touched. The matter produced by reading is thought, which, for most of us in our daily lives, we cannot display.

Marginalia gets around the problem of these invisible results. Marginalia is a physical representation of the reader’s participation in the production of the work at hand, whether it includes brackets around a section of text the reader felt was important, notes in the margin recording a reaction to the text, or something completely unrelated like a shopping list written inside the cover. These marks serve as proof that this book was owned and used. We often conceptualize writing as a path to immortality, as authors seem to transcend their own times and live now in our present just as they did in the past, but that sort of immortality is accessible to readers as well through their marginalia. A physical trace of the reader carries forward in time, creating a sort of endless community of readers. An eighteenth century reader, a nineteenth century reader, and a twentieth century reader might all live in the pages of one of the books in END’s corpus. But the twenty first century reader has been denied access to that community due to the nature of rare books libraries.

For reasons that are seemingly obvious, rare books libraries do not allow their patrons to go around marking up the books in their collections. Eighteenth century marginalia is valuable to them, but anything added now might be considered vandalism. The libraries preserve these books, but in preserving them, do not allow them to be really read. The books can be looked at, examined, and studied, but not read in the way that they were once read. There appears to be no way around this. If the books are to be preserved, it seems we must be shut off from the community of readers. But why must the books be preserved? Our urge to preserve comes from a sense of the historical value of the books. From the perspective of a historian, they ought to be frozen in time, preserved exactly as they are in order to allow us to see, relatively unobscured, what the original readers were like. But in a purely literary sense, this might be an incorrect approach. Assuming these books are meant to persist is a big assumption. Perhaps books are meant to be used and used and used until they disintegrate into nothingness. We cannot possibly hold onto everything, after all. Perhaps books are like that couch that exists in many a mother’s parlor room-- no one is ever allowed to sit on it, making you wonder why she bought it at all. Perhaps there is more value in building the community of readers and allowing it to grow to include modern readers than in perfectly preserving the past. History is all a matter of representation anyway. What we know about the past may be no less fictional than what we know about Narnia. Why prioritize history over literature?

In this project, I would like to both explore the value of marginalia from both a literary and a historical perspective through an engagement with H.J. Jackson’s arguments in his book Marginalia: Readers Writing in Books, and experiment with different ways for readers to interact with eighteenth century texts. I would like to produce five physical copies of the 1791 novella The History of Laura and the Handsome Hermit and send them out to modern readers with instructions for them to mark up the text, take it with them on their daily travels, and generally live with it… I would also like to produce an electronic copy and have five readers annotate that with a tool such as hypothesis.io, and have five people (probably the END team, if they are willing) read the original in the Reading Room at Kislak and make our notes on separate sheets of paper, marginalia detached from the text. Using these examples of marginalia as case studies, and referring to the END corpus and its records of marginalia present in the books in our collection, I would like to examine and consider the various methods of producing marginalia and the what is lost and gained in each of them, while also considering why some marginalia is treated as a valuable addition to the book and other marginalia is viewed essentially as graffiti.

Final project proposal

3 min read

How are changing methods of producing, consuming, and interpreting novels reflected in the novel’s existence as a fictional text, a book, and an object? What do books, as material objects, communicate to their readers, and how exactly is this communication achieved? The process of collecting rich, detailed data for the END project—as well as the process of learning how to work with this data—has made evident the exciting analytical possibilities that exist for studying books, for tracing the changes and commonalities within an increasingly larger and more comprehensive corpus of works. However, I am also curious about what new meanings that these individual novels take on in this process. If the novels in the END database first began their lives when they were printed, are they necessarily reborn when they are scanned and digitized? What potential for entertainment and education from the 18th century is carried forward into the present, and what opportunities for scholarship manifest in the horizon, especially in the realm of the digital?

I would like to pursue these questions first through historical research, and then through the creative experimentation of remediating a text. I plan to draw from the theoretical and conceptual frameworks set forth in Leah Price’s How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain (for example, the relationships between reader and author; between successive and simultaneous readers; between unity and division; commonality and distinction; etc.) as well as texts in media studies regarding history and remediation, such as Bolter and Grusin’s Remediation: Understanding New Media and Gitelman’s discussion of media as historical objects. I hope to interweave a growing understanding of current media and material scholarship with research into literary and book history, especially regarding the emergence of the novel and 18th century print culture; in this aspect, I also plan to look into Catherine Gallagher on the rise of fictionality.

Following my interest in the future lives of the books in the Early Novels Database, I hope to present my research on book history and text materiality by creating a dramatically different (but meticulously designed) new version of one of the novels—my current top candidate is Love-letters between a certain late nobleman and the famous Mr. Wilson, due to its epistolary form and its short length. I am interested in epistolary novels because of how their form and fiction depend on their location in time and space. Accordingly, for the creative component of my project, I plan to create a scrapbook-like edition of Love-letters that maps and categorizes the text and paratext of the story, the text, the book copy, and the book object through both real and fictional time and space. My hope is that the decisions made in this creative process will not only mirror the value judgments we make daily as cataloguers, but will also illuminate the subjectivity of those judgments and the immense, irreducible complexity of the relationships between reader, object, truth, and fiction. By closely examining a primary source while also considering its materiality in design and its historical context moving into the present, I hope to be able to explore not only specific social and technological moments, but also larger questions of meaning in literary and cultural understanding.

Project outline

2 min read

  1. Question: How are changing methods of producing, consuming, and interpreting novels reflected in the novel’s existence as a fictional text, a book, and an object?

  2. Tentative argument: The novel’s form and fiction is intertwined with its increasingly complex history. As newer, digital methods of approaching texts emerge, the same texts continue to be rewritten in different ways.

  3. A book - currently tentatively “Love-letters between a certain late nobleman and the famous Mr. Wilson : discovering the true history of the rise and surprising grandeur of that celebrated beau.”

  4. Book and literary history, combined with making

  5. Materiality of books; paratexts; media studies—Gerard Genette – Paratexts: thresholds of interpretation (full text); Catherine Gallagher - Rise of Fictionality ;Janine Barchas – Graphic Design, Print Culture, and the Eighteenth Century Novel; Leah Price – How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain; Bolter and Grusin - Remediation: Understanding New Media

  6. I’m hoping that my project will both respond to and complicate questions such as: Why do we collect END data, and what is it actually about—the book, the text, or the copy of the book? Where does the line blur between fiction, the book, and the object? Can literary understanding be removed from history? How do we change books by holding, distributing, and reading them, versus leaving them on shelves?

Thresholds

For all of you - but especially those of you thinking about new editions of old novels, digital and paper - check out the soft launch of Thresholds.

And I'm looking forward to reading your new project outlines!

outline

2 min read

• Question

o What does consumption of novels imply for general consumerism?

• Tentative Argument (based on initial observations)

o Buying novel implies baseline personal wealth, determining one’s consumer profile

o Aka what else can you buy if you can afford novels

• Object of study and scope

o Publisher advertisements from novels published in 18th century that advertise objects that are not other novels

• Method

o Close reading of ads from category 656 and of category 989 field $7

• Theoretical framework

o I’ll be looking into Weatherill’s Consumer Behavior and Material Culture in Britain for my construction of a profile of the average 18th century consumer and also for what consumers would usually buy. Park’s The Self and It: Novel Objects, Blackwell’s The Secret Life of Things, and Brown’s thing theory will help me formulate an argument of how people think about the novel as an object and how consumer space is negotiated around it. These two prongs will combine to articulate what being a consumer of the novel means for general consumerism. Additionally, it might be helpful to look into the bookshop as a space of commerce.

• Stakes

o How can this kind of advertising develop into the modern data-mined ads of today (from companies like Google)? The negotiation of novel as text and as object

(Very Rough) Project Outline

2 min read

Question: Does our preservation of these books (and our subsequent granting of immortality to those early readers/marginalia writers) necessarily exclude the possibility for us to join that immortal community of readers? If we preserve them, we can’t really read them. If we read them, we can’t really preserve them… How might we join that immortal community? What is the life span of a book? Are we supposed to preserve it?

Tentative Argument: Compiling marginalia might allow us to join that community-- abstracting marginalia from the page… But does that rob the marginalia of some of its meaning? Its placement is important, I think. And over time, we might accumulate too much marginalia to read. Different people’s marginalia will obscure each other’s writing until it just all looks like smudges on the side of the page. But marginalia has meaning for THAT COPY. It says something about the specific object in which it was found. Marginalia is not necessarily about the text, but it about the book. You can’t pin something into a webpage. BUT you can annotate with a link outwards to something else...

Object of Study/Scope: Marginalia recorded in END metadata, marginalia collected by me-- The History of Laura and the Handsome Hermit… Can I find a copy with marginalia?

Method: Book history/materiality of texts, literary history, literary theory, close reading of marginalia? Is that possible?

Theoretical Framework: Marginalia: Readers Writing in Books by H.J. Jackson, Used Books: Marking Readers in Renaissance England by William Sherman

Stakes: The operational practices of special collections/rare books libraries, the lifespan of books

Proposal Rough Draft

4 min read

Although free internet archive initiatives like Google Books and Project Gutenberg have made thousands of classic texts available online for free, actually sitting down to read one of these online editions is an oftentimes excruciating experience. They prioritize accessibility over readability, either through uploading works in plaintext format without accounting for the differences between physical and digital reading or through merely hosting scans of a physical edition online as a surrogate for a physical reading experience. Rather than seek out the definitive edition of a work the most popular archive services host “zombified” versions, stitching together preexisting digital editions to bring to life a text potentially riddled with errors and inconsistencies. If internet archive initiatives endeavor to make knowledge accessible to anyone with access to the internet, then they proliferate knowledge that is inherently lesser than paid alternatives.

For my personal project I am interested in grappling not only with issues that arise from formatting digital texts online, but also with problems inherent to digital and internet archiving. Though digital texts do not suffer the wear and tear of physical ones, we might consider them equally as fragile because of the rapidity at which technology and the internet changes. Just as anything data on a floppy disk is almost unusable today because they are no longer the standard for digital storage, so too may changes in website formatting, the obsolescence of certain programming languages, and fluctuations in the price of server maintenance render “future-proof” online texts quickly inaccessible. Keeping these issues in mind, I intend to produce a variety of digital editions of all or part of The Royal Adventurers, or, The Conflict of Love, an 18th century novel in the University of Pennsylvania Library’s Collection that is not freely available online. The goal of some or all of these digital editions will be to present the text in a manner that provides a pleasurable reading experience, and/or preserves the text in a digital format that will be less-inclined towards obsolescence.

There are a few steps that I will need to take before I begin production of my digital texts. First, I will need to OCR The Royal Adventurers and correct any errors that remain in the resulting fulltext (fortunately, the UPenn Library has already scanned the novel, so I will not have to go through with that step in the OCR process). Next, I need to read at least some of the original novel in person in the Kislak Center’s Rare Book Reading Room so that I encounter the text as it was originally intended. I will need to completely read the novel (though not necessarily once in the digital and once in the physical) to understand whether I should a digital edition of all or some of the novel. Fortunately, The Royal Adventurers is already divided into a series of short chapters, a natural fit for the sometimes bite-sized nature of digital consumption.

Currently, I am considering producing about five digital editions of The Royal Adventurers, although this number may expand or shrink depending on how quickly I am able to complete certain editions. Of these five editions, three will embody the main ideas I am exploring in this project. The first is a copy of The Royal Adventurers produced in Scalar, which is a web tool that allows you to create readable website and online presentations with a host of customization options. In this edition, I will experiment with formatting the text to provide the most pain-free digital reading experience possible. The second is an edition of the novel produced in a comparatively “stable” format, such as .txt or MarkUp XML (is this the right name of the format? I can't remember). While this edition will probably be unpleasant to read, it aims to preserve The Royal Adventurers in a digital format that will remain relevant and accessible in a few years’ time. For the third edition, I plan to remediate The Royal Adventurers in an interactive fiction platform, such as Twine. I am interested in seeing if I can recapitulate a linear story in an inherently linear medium, and also interested in presenting an 18th century novel—originally a “low culture” medium—in the currently “low culture” medium of interactive fiction. The remaining two editions are not set in stone, but I plan on using Jekyll for one of them.

Draft Proposal

3 min read

The 18th century saw the rise of the novel and with it, the rise of a new market. Novel readership was often determined by social class and the financial means of a family; literacy itself already was a relatively reliable litmus test for one’s value as a participant in consumer culture. If someone was well off enough to afford novels, it was likely that they would be well off enough to buy other consumer products as well. The content of the publisher advertisements included in the back matter of 18th century novels led me to question whether publishers transpose their assumptions about the audience into their advertising choices. What does being a consumer of novels mean for general consumerism?

The goal of my project is to study how novels and being a novel reader in the 18th century play into the consumer culture of the time. Although it would be interesting to see if the place of the novel as a material object holds true internationally, I will be limiting the scope of my research to Britain as most published works are centered there geographically pre-1800s. Because I am interested in the novel reader’s relationship with consumer culture, I am specifically looking at publisher advertisements that hawk products other than additional novels and texts. Due to constraints within the END dataset, it will not be possible to draw wide-ranging conclusions about the data. For this reason, I will be using case studies to highlight the nuances within these advertising choices that are most salient to the questions am I trying to answer.

There are several stages that I will be implementing in order to complete this project. The first is to pull all the advertisement related data from the END database to create a spreadsheet in Excel. I will be specifically looking at category 656 (“Publishers’ advertisements”), field $a for “Miscellaneous” advertisements. However, since that controlled term has only been implemented recently, I will also be looking at field $x for the transcriptions or descriptions of the advertisement content. This information will be copied to another spreadsheet to consolidate it all in one place. Category 989, field $7 would also provide some information about the theoretical objects in these novels.

The second stage is to build a foundation of secondary sources to draw upon when I am studying the advertisements. For consumer culture and commodity in the 18th century, I will be reading Luxury and Pleasure in Eighteenth Century Britain (Maxine Berg), Consuming Subjects: British Women and Consumer Culture in the Eighteenth Century (Elizabeth Kowalski-Wallace), and Consumer Behavior and Material Culture in Britain 1660-1760 (Lorna Weatherill). I think I will also be reading The Oxford Handbook of the History of Consumption. For the novel as a consumer object, I will be reading The Self and It: Novel Objects in Eighteenth-Century England (Julie Park), The Secret Life of Things (Mark Blackwell), as well as looking into Bill Brown’s thing theory.

The third is to start requesting books to look at their advertisements firsthand. The books called will be from the second, consolidated spreadsheet. I will be taking pictures and notes on the content. I think I may also note the content of the novel itself and the publisher or bookseller. Afterward, I will present this information in either Scalar or Omeka; the ideal presentation is an intuitive and visual representation of the information.

MKG Project Proposal III

4 min read

The project I propose here has several parts, and thus, several goals. The first goal is the one that has guided my entire process so far: I want people to read these eighteenth century books. These books were not necessarily designed to be studied intensively by people writing dissertations about them, though some were written with moral instruction in mind. Mostly, however, I suspect that they were written to be enjoyed, to entertain, and to teach you a little something about being of good character according to these eighteenth century writers. They were written to be read, and as such, I am torn with regard to my feelings about their preservation in rare books libraries such as Kislak. On one hand, it is thanks to these libraries that the books are preserved and accessible at all. Without such collections, these books might have been lost to history or boxed away in the private collection of someone who owns so many books, they don’t even know what they own. I have Kislak to thank for my interaction with these books. And yet, the fact that they are not in the circulating library stacks means that fewer people might see them. One cannot browse these rare books. You must know what you want to look at in order to call it up and have the person paging retrieve it. They are less accessible to readers than researchers. In a small effort to ameliorate this reservation I have, I will be sending out twenty copies of The History of Laura and the Handsome Hermit to contemporary readers. In order to do this, I will be working with the images uploaded by Alice McGrath and OCR-ing the text in order to create a clean copy that I can manipulate on the computer to change its presentation to a more modern format. After using Abbyy Finereader to OCR the text, I will use Adobe InDesign to reformat it. Once it is formatted, I will print it and create twenty chapbooks to send out to the readers. The second part of the project comes from my readers. When I mail out the chapbooks, I will include instructions to the readers to mark up these books, to live with them, to carry the books around with them for a week and take pictures of any place interesting that they take them. Once they have finished with the book-- ideally this will be a week long bonding experience between the reader and the text-- I will ask them to take pictures of any marginalia they have written into the book and send them to me. With these, I will use Adobe Photoshop to overlay the marginalia and create one master copy full of all of the writings. A small nagging voice still asks me, Why bother? I am physically going to be doing the job of the internet. I could just as easily do this all online, couldn’t I? I could send the readers PDF files and have them download a program that allows you to annotate freely on your screen. I could even make a chain email, with a subject heading full of FWD:FWD:FWD:FWD. Why do I bother with the chapbooks? Why bother with the physicality? I bother with physicality for the sake of the marginalia. Having typed annotations does not allow you to feel the presence of another reader in the way that handwriting does. Handwriting is messy and specific, undoubtedly human. Text on a screen can be written by bots. The readers are the most important part of this project, and as such, it is important that they and their individuality can be felt in the final project.

-Should I send the chapbooks out in batches? -Do I want to make a map? -Should I have them send me a pic/location AND do the marginalia? Is that asking too much? -Should I do something with an email chain to compare it against the physical marginalia? Or is that too complicated?

Draft - final project proposal

5 min read

What do books, as material objects, communicate to their readers, and how exactly is this communication achieved? The process of collecting rich, detailed data for the END project—as well as the process of learning how to work with this data—has made evident the exciting analytical possibilities that exist for studying books, for tracing the changes and commonalities within an increasingly larger and more comprehensive corpus of works. However, I am also curious about what new meanings that these individual novels take on in this process. If the novels in the END database first began their lives when they were printed, are they necessarily reborn when they are scanned and digitized? How were these novels sold and distributed in the 1790s, and what questions of accessibility are raised today, in libraries and online? What potential for entertainment and education from the 18th century is carried forward into the present, and what opportunities for scholarship manifest in the horizon, especially in the realm of the digital? The central goal of my project is to gain a general understanding of the changing position of the novel within the interconnecting facets of a) cultural context, and b) methods of production, consumption, and interpretation—both how novels are created and received through time, as well as how they are perceived by different scholarly and public audiences within those times.

I would like to pursue these questions first through historical research, and then through digital and material experimentation. For research, I plan to first study secondary texts in order to form a basis from which I will be able to approach specific primary works. To begin building this foundational understanding, I have drawn from the numerous readings in the END readings Dropbox as starting points; this project was greatly inspired by the readings we completed for week 2 this summer, namely Janine Barchas’ discussion of graphic design and print culture, as well as the various tensions described by Leah Price in How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain—for example, the relationships between reader and author; between successive and simultaneous readers; between unity and division; commonality and distinction; etc. I anticipate that Phillip Gaskell’s new introduction to bibliography will also be immensely helpful in preparation for digging deeper into material texts, the history of reading, and precisely what the digital entails as media.

Although my research questions appear to rapidly expand outwards, I would like to center my reading on the material and digital aspects of the novel that are captured in the END database (in this aspect, I also plan to work closely with Genette Gerard’s work on paratexts). These aspects will dictate the experimental stage of my project. Following my interest in the future lives of the books in the Early Novels Database, I hope to present my research on book history and text materiality by creating a dramatically different (but meticulously designed) new version of one of the novels. At this moment, I am entirely unsure whether my research will be better represented materially or digitally; it seems that books today cannot be categorized as purely one or the other, as the process of creating either kind of book inevitably also involves material and digital work. I also do not know what will happen with a book that is self-conscious of its journey through time and its present location in culture and history—or if that is even possible to create while modifying only paratexts and design, rather than text.

Although failure is likely and a more focused approach almost certainly expected after the research phase of my project, I nevertheless plan to OCR, correct, and read the 1784 novel Laura and Augustus, an authentic story: in a series of letters alongside my research into secondary sources. Beyond criteria for length, I selected Laura and Augustus because of its epistolary form and its apparent complexity. I am interested in the epistolary form because current modes of communication have dated hand written letters; furthermore, Laura and Augustus interestingly incorporates letters between characters in Great Britain and the West Indies, adding another cultural dimension (also, it was apparently parodied by Jane Austen when she was 14). By closely examining a primary source while also considering its materiality in design and its historical context moving into the present, I hope to be able to explore not only specific social and technological moments, but also larger questions of meaning in literary and cultural understanding.

Secondary sources: Gerard Genette – Paratexts: thresholds of interpretation (full text) Robert Darnton – First Steps Toward a History of Reading Peter Stallybrass – Books and Scrolls Janine Barchas – Graphic Design, Print Culture, and the Eighteenth Century Novel Philip Gaskell – A New Introduction to Bibliography Leah Price – How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain John Smith - The Printer’s Grammar

Project Proposal 2

2 min read

In my project, I plan to explore the ways that books communicate through pretext and design, hopefully illuminating the interpretive and expressive possibilities of END’s rich data. After selecting a novel from the 1790s with Mary Kate to scan and OCR, I will design multiple physical editions of the book, manipulating the paratext, appearance, and formatting of the text in different ways to appeal to different audiences, methods, or reasons for reading. Looking forwards, I plan to research publishing, bookbinding, and aspects of book design such as marketing, typography, and history, in order to gain a better understanding of why books are designed the way that they are. I anticipate that learning about the processes behind designing books will also raise important interpretive questions about literature, such as the necessity of historicization, depending on audience, and the way that marketing affects what we read and how we read it. I also hope that this research will help me locate the role of the book, and the novel, within current popular culture. On the practical side, I will need to learn about typesetting programs, photoshop, and Adobe InDesign in order to create these books and their accompanying paratexts. Furthermore, I plan to create physical copies of these designs, whether in the form of a stapled zine or a handbound book. How do paratexts interact with readers differently when held physically, versus when scrolled through digitally? I hope that going through the actual processes of creating these books will both answer such questions as well as raise further ones. Due to limitations on time and resources, I anticipate that I will not be able to create more than four or five different editions, including the one I will design with Mary Kate for her outreach project. Even so, my goal is to communicate the many possibilities of paratextual expression through the physical copies of the books themselves.

Project Proposal II: Carolyn

2 min read

A time in which social class and financial means often determined literacy creates interesting implications about the place of novel readers in consumer culture and the novel as a material object. I will be exploring the paratextual advertisements—specifically those advertisements that market goods other than books, marked as “Miscellaneous” in the 656 datafield of the XML files—included in 18th century novels published in Britain (given that the American publishing market does not pick up until the 19th century). What does being a consumer of novels mean for general consumerism? Do publishers transpose their assumptions about the audience into their advertising choices? I will be constructing a profile of the average 18th century reader to frame these questions.

Due to constraints within the END dataset that I will be using, a large-scale data analysis will not have high internal validity. It would not be feasible to draw any conclusions about the data, especially considering the small sample size. Instead, case studies will highlight the nuances within these advertising choices that are most salient to the questions am I trying to answer. Currently, I am building a foundation of secondary sources in order to construct a profile of the average 18th century reader and to dig more into the consumer culture of the time.

Project Proposal II: MKG

2 min read

END helps make these eighteenth century novels accessible to researchers, but they are still not necessarily accessible to readers. My primary goal in this project is to essentially “rerelease” an eighteenth century novel in a format familiar to today’s readers-- not the facsimiles found in Hathi trust or the originals themselves cooped up in the library. To accomplish this, in a partnership with Aly, I will select one of the novels in our catalogue, scan, and OCR it and reformat the text so that it resembles a modern novel-- attempting to retain the idiosyncracies of the eighteenth century while accounting for the idiosyncracies of the twenty first. The goal is to put together at least twenty copies of one of these novels and disseminate them, ideally to people from whom we can receive feedback on their reading experience/opinions, allowing the twenty first century audience to participate in the community of readers begun by the eighteenth century audience.

After scanning and OCR-ing the text, we will finish correcting it by hand and then use Adobe InDesign to format our book. We will most likely use photoshop to design a cover, a spine, and back cover. Once we have successfully done that, we will save all of that as a PDF in order to print it on an espresso book machine. With the books printed, I will send them out to 20 readers with the request that they read the book and send me a short review when they have finished it. I will then use those reviews to help cultivate an internet presence for the book by posting them to my website, creating a goodreads record for the book, and potentially engaging in the internet’s fanfiction communities. Essentially this is to be an outreach campaign designed to pique public interest in eighteenth century novels as readable stories, not simply relics of the past.

Project Proposal: MKG

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Although the Reading Room at the Kislak Center may be one of the more liberal rare books libraries as far as allowing its patrons access and freedom to handle the books, it is undeniably an extremely controlled setting, a fact that immediately raised the issue of accessibility in my mind. Because of the way the system is designed, one cannot really browse the rare books collection. One must go in with a title in mind, often for research purposes. Yet, these books were not truly written for researchers. Many of these works suffer from such low self esteem that they apologize profusely for their own existence before they will even let a reader near the plot. Despite this, however, they were written, and thus one can assume they were written to be read. But sitting in the stacks of the rare books library, hidden away from patrons, who is reading them now? We, with END, are certainly not reading most of them.

Upon having this realization, I grew slightly distressed at the idea that we might be preventing the book from doing its job. These books aren’t reaching their audiences anymore, and as such, for my personal project, I would like to try to make at least one of the books do just that by essentially doing a very limited re-release. Along with Aly, I would like to select a text from these eighteenth century works that is not necessarily academically valuable or skillfully written, but entertaining all the same-- an eighteenth century guilty pleasure book-- and construct it for a modern audience. In the process, Aly and I will scan, upload, and OCR the pages of this book in order to allow us to format them as we wish with a modern audience in mind and add modern paratexts where they are necessary, though I would hesitate to remove any of the eighteenth century paratexts. This project is about adding and building, about participating, not about rewriting or removing. Having formatted the books as we desire, we will construct physical copies. After constructing roughly twenty of them, I will send them out to readers who are not part of a research project such as END, potentially requesting that they read the book and then send me a short review or reflection on the text. If I am able to do that, I will collect the responses and attempt to build up an internet presence for the book, beginning with a Goodreads entry. I would also be very interested in analyzing the responses in a program such as Voyant in order to get a better sense of the contemporary readers’ participation in the community created by the eighteenth century novels.

Project Proposal

2 min read

(typing this for the second time because known doesn't like me ;;)

While cataloging over the last few days, what really caught my eye were the advertisements innocuously hiding in the backs of the novels. Specifically, the advertisements that were unrelated to the publisher or the printer hawking other works that had passed through their hands and that instead were trying to sell other things were fascinating. Businesses must have been assuming certain characteristics about the readership of that particular novel, in order to effectively market products that would fulfill the average reader's everyday wants and needs. Could there be a correlation between a novel (and its assumed audience) and the type of ads included? I am interested in answering this sort of question.

I am, however, not entirely certain what methodology I want to use, since different methods will present different facets of the same question. As I am looking to analyze customer data (which I have been told END has compiled), perhaps Google Fusion could be helpful. The network graphs would provide a simple and clear visual representation. I am still holding on to a flame of hope that I could spin this project with a creative (artsy?) slant, but I suppose that depends largely on time constraints and viability.

Test Post

1 min read

Here's hoping

Test Post

1 min read

Personal project proposals

I finally got my technical difficulties sorted out. Here is the link to my project's BuzzFeed quiz: https://www.buzzfeed.com/earlynovels/fact-or-fiction-2h203