Skip to main content

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

3 min read

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

Sleuthing blog post!

5 min read

Prior to my employment at END, I'd never seen an 18th century edition of a novel (or, frankly, many contemporary editions of 18th century novels, either. The earliest book I've read is Huck Finn.) so many of the day's common paratexts and features were unusual and surprising to me. I'd never seen the word 'advertisement' used to refer to anything besides a product listing, I'd never heard of a subscribers' list. I'd never seen books with titles 20 words long, and didn't understand why those titles had so many semicolons in them. I'm a social scientist at heart, however, so the vast majority of my questions focused on the social world that produced the book-artifacts I held in my hands. How did this book move from my mind of the original author to my foam cradle at UPenn's Van Pelt-Dietrich Library, summer 2016?

As a result, I came to love the 700 and 710 fields of my catalogs. In these fields, all of the nonfictional names in a book's paratexts are listed and, if possible, authorized. The author of the text, the authors of the paratexts, the author of the epigraph, a former owner whose name appears on a bookplate or in an inscription, etc. In the best of circumstances, I can just search a given full name on VIAF, find it, an authorize it. Rarely, however, is this the case for the set of novels we're cataloging. For many names, only a last name exists, or none at all. In more challenging circumstances, a library bookplate has covered up an inscription, or else the inscription was written in some illegible hand. In many cases, as with the names of subscribers, the identities of these names are impossible to authorize, if I were to embark on such a task, even with a full name given.

While I could easily just leave a name unauthorized, I have come to enjoy the obscure successes of matching the name in a book to a name online. I've become a literary internet sleuth, combing through bad OCR of a dictionary of Scottish emigrants to Canada, or census lists and marriage licenses for small Virginia towns, or, my slightly morbib favorite, entries on findagrave.com. A book I cataloged recently featured a bookplate signed by the man whose residence, (according to an odd post on an odd website, www.askaboutireland.ie) hosted one of the first meetings of the Westmeath Hunt Club, an Irish organization of recreational hunters who made use of foxhounds. Another had a subscriber named Preserved Fish, a name that is, amazingly, not exclusive to this subscriber--there are at least two others, but this subscriber is the only one from Vermont. One inscriber was the close relative of an Australian colonist responsible for instigating biowarfare on an Aborigine community (He sold them poisoned flour).

My most frequent and most successful 700s Google expeditions are for the first names of publishers, printers, and booksellers listed only by their last name. Only rarely do I have the pleasure to find interesting back stories. Regardless, my frequent Internet detours have all been an incredibly interesting exercise in what search engines can and cannot do. In my conversations with librarians, and the history of librarianship, I've heard often that the advent of the Internet and Google at one time appeared to threaten the entire profession. If someone can simply type in keywords into a search engine, then of what use is a librarian's research skills and resources? Though I knew when I started that libraries and librarians are indispensable institutions, my constant (but enjoyable!) slog through the 700s has proven that to me in full.

Google's ability to predict what exactly it is you are looking for continues (terrifyingly) to improve, but I've found that its powerful algorithms often still don't get me where I need to go. I hit paywalls, French blog posts I can't read, OCR too gibberish-y for me to do a successful command+F search. Google doesn't know that when I search, for example, "smith dublin printer," I'm looking for someone, last name Smith, who worked as a printer in Dublin, and not looking for someone, first name Smith, in Dublin, who happens to be selling their ink jet printer on Craigslist. More scholarly search engines like VIAF or WorldCat or the ESTC or ECCO or the Oxford Biography Index &c. &c., are helpful in some ways but not in others: they often store more relevant and specific information, but at the cost of navigating a badly designed user interface and poorly linked data.

While I look forward to the web sleuthing of the 700s fields in each book I catalog, I'm so grateful when I find the information I need quickly and accurately. Working at END has encouraged me to rededicate myself to providing accessible, precise, user-friendly data, online and in print. I think more critically now about tagging, error-free text transcriptions, data organization, and online interfaces. The internet does a lot for libraries, and libraries do a lot for the internet, and my trials and victories in the 700s fields have me excited for the future of that relationship.

Blog post-materiality and the book as object

4 min read

Theory Thursday on July 1 helped me better understand the role of mediation and materiality in the book as object, and brought to light through a theoretical lens questions I had during cataloguing. On page 5 of “Knowing Books”, Christina Lupton writes that mediation and materiality are distinct, mediation representing an interface between reader and work that is temporally and materially transcendent. I wondered whether it might be possible to conceive of a definition of mediation that did incorporate some elements of materiality or was in some way linked to materiality, or whether the two really were separable. While I have not yet answered this question completely, my interest in the necessity of the object in connecting reader and text has grown as I have interacted with books that are valued for their status as material entities, and at the same time have been subjected to a process of time and use that has altered them as objects.

One of the questions that remained on my mind while cataloguing was the question of the book as object when some part of that book had been destroyed, abridged, or replaced with other matter. I wondered about the relationship between abridgments, new editions, or excerpts of books and the status of those books as objects and examples of materiality. What is the role of completeness, continuity, or wholeness, in the concept of a book as object? Throughout the process of cataloguing, I thought specifically about incomplete or altered objects in one of two ways: those that had been physically torn, annotated, or stitched together, or those that comprised edited compilations of other works now included by the publisher in one volume, or abridgments of once longer works. One of the most interesting examples of alteration to the book as object is the tradition of binding together periodicals received over a subscription period to form one larger volume.

Certainly, there’s a sense of continuity or comprehensiveness, even status, that comes with a complete set of matching volumes, a gilt-edged collection of encyclopedias. Part of the appeal of this, however, might at one time have been that the one who owned a complete set of encyclopedias did in fact possess a good portion of all officially recorded, general knowledge--a possession that, in the digital age, would be simultaneously impossible in physical form and accessible to everyone through the Internet. Still, the trend of buying books by the foot for show alone is not unknown, as evidenced by this website or a New York bookstore that came up in discussion, Strand Books. As an extreme example of the book as object, the Bible, although it certainly exists in many digitized versions today, still possesses among some groups a symbolic power that I’d argue is unusually concentrated in its status as object: without any particular passages read aloud, it is used to swear in some officials, and in some circles stepping on it (while others might argue it is “just an object”) is a high form of blasphemy.

Perhaps this question of the book as object, and specifically as spliced, desroyed, or abridged object, is most viscerally represented in works such as “Adventures of a Quire of Paper”, which we discussed during Theory Thursday on July 1st. This 1779 story is told from the perspective of an object which is both fragmented and inconstant in its physical character (it is atomized, torn, stitched together again) and remarkably continuous in its narrative voice. Christina Lupton writes that “a text that refers to its own mediation...represents a process that exceeds the moments in which a text is written and published” (5). Might the valuing of a book’s material nature as an essential component of itself in some way threaten that book’s reference to its own mediation, when its objecthood is altered over time? After cataloguing, I might have said yes, but the quire of paper presents a rather unusual case for the endurance of the books’ soul.

Genius works!

1 min read

If anyone's interested, here's one of my Genius pages (currently un-annotated) for a fragment of poetry in Clarissa. (Featuring Nathaniel Lee, produced by Harrison and Co., released 1784).

http://genius.com/Samuel-richardson-page-of-clarissa-with-fragment-of-lees-oedipus-annotated

Blog Post Draft --Digital Confidence

4 min read

As English majors without a lot of prior experience with or exposure to digital humanities, the idea of using digital tools in conjunction with studying eighteenth century novels felt somewhat foreign to Colette and me at the start of the project. We agreed that one of the great things about END is the fact that it helps us reconcile these two fields, by demonstrating how digital tools can be integrated into the study of English. END emphasizes the fact that the humanities and the digital are not two totally separate spheres, and it’s been useful to see how the two can work together and reinforce one another. It’s been especially helpful to learn this through actually working on a project, as opposed to reading theory about digital humanities. Writing code in MarcXML while simultaneously paging through fragile eighteenth-century novels may sound odd, but it’s become routine and feels completely natural at this point, which says a lot about how successfully END links the material and the digital spheres.

Because this feels so natural, coding and digital tools as a whole seem less intimidating now. As Colette mentions in her post, so much of my intimidation in this realm has stemmed from my lack of exposure to it, while what exposure I have had has often felt discouraging. Here, however, the fact that I had no experience with MarcXML, and had never heard of topic modeling prior to this summer wasn’t treated as a drawback, and I echo Colette in saying how much this has impacted me. For instance, we’ve started playing around with the command line, and while we may not be able to do anything significant there (or even fully understand what it is, let alone what it does) knowing that it exists still feels significant. While I doubt I’ll use the command line much outside of END, it’s been so affirming to be treated as though I can learn these tools.

Because we’re in such a supportive and comfortable environment, and because we’re beginning to see how digital tools and the humanities can be related, we’re also motivated to learn more about digital tools. In the past, my perception of computer science, coding, and digital tools was that they belonged in the realm of the sciences or STEM; I felt intimidated by them, didn’t understand them, and didn’t really want to understand them, because it didn’t seem like there was much point for someone with my interests. As a result, the fact that END makes coding and the digital realm relevant to English and the humanities feels like a huge deal to me. If I’m being completely honest, my heart still belongs more to the humanities aspect of DH than to the digital one, but I do feel like I have a much better understanding of what it actually means to work with digital tools, and my attitude towards them is much less reluctant than before.

In discussing this with Colette, we both agreed that this evolution has been possible largely because of the encouraging, open setting we’re in at END. Being able to talk casually with one another and pose questions to the group makes the job less stressful and more fun, and it removes any degree of intimidation we may have felt at the start. We’ve both been struck by how we’ve never been made to feel bad about our lack of knowledge or understanding about a topic, and the way we’ve been encouraged and patiently taught has also done a lot to motivate us to learn more.

Social Cataloging

3 min read

A lot of the Early Novels Database project feels like common data entry. We see the paratexts, learn the various data fields, and plug and chug from one record to the next. Except for the very first week on the job which was spent learning with our more experienced peers, the day to day protocols have little to do with social interactions. Looking at it this way, the act of cataloging itself seems like it should be a solitary experience. That couldn’t be more wrong. The END Project in its entirety revolves around the idea of access, shared knowledge, and communal interest. Every step of the novel documenting process we employ here expands the sphere of communications exponentially.

Let’s start from the very beginning: many of the novels we work with were once part of private libraries. Their original owners and maybe a couple of friends and acquaintances had the opportunity to handle them, and that’s it. From there the novels passed from hand to hand until eventually they ended up here in one our libraries’ collections. With this simple move, private becomes public. However, though thousands of curious people can get in to interact with the novels, this level of access is not enough because for the most part these lesser known texts are still hovering in dusty obscurity in dark shelving units.

Now END plays a more active role in the socializing of these novels. Why are we cataloging these things? Who really cares that Blah-Blah a Novel was written in 1863? The answer is we do. There is a reason we, the catalogers, sit in a single room together for nearly seven hours Monday through Friday when there are plenty of places (warmer places) we could spread out to. Instead of burying our heads completely in clicking keys and XML displays we ask questions, share amusing footnotes, and work together to puzzle out whether messily written inscriptions say “Bill” or “Belle.” This isn’t just for the sake of accuracy in the records, but for our own curiosity as well. There is something exciting about the act of discovery that compels us to share our finds, if for no other reason than one person finds it interesting and another might as well.

So far this is only one group of catalogers in one room, but the END has branched off to another school as well and is hoping to bring in even more. Now there is twice as much exposure for the novels as we swap back and forth with check-ins, discussions, and all manner of live interaction. We get to know each other in this digital humanities community. On top of that we are generating a discourse through our records.

By far the largest step cataloging takes into the social sphere—and the last step of our process—is digitizing various pages of the novel and throwing them up on to various social media platforms. Illustrations and titles that used to only be seen by a handful of people over the course of a lifetime have become available for literal millions to observe. It is quite common of the course of a cataloging day to hear someone casually mention tweeting one of their pictures or commenting verbally on another person’s withknown post. To put it simply, cataloging with this project is a highly social experience not just for the catalogers but for the novels as well.