Project Proposal: Analyzing the Social Functions of Front Paratext
My research project will focus on front paratext. I’d like to answer the question: “What can front paratext tell researchers about how the author and the society in which they lived viewed the novel at the time, and how did the authors view themselves as writers?” Additionally I’d like to explore how these elements were influenced by the author’s gender. So far, I know that I would look over END data from the 520 and 599 columns (which contain information about front paratext and the author’s gender) and arrange them in chronological order in order to see if there are any noticeable trends. For the sake of simplicity, I would use programs such as Microsoft Excel, Fusion Tables, OpenRefine, and Voyant to locate and manipulate relevant data, finally, I would produce an essay based on the conclusions I draw from these searches. As my secondary sources, I would use:
“Gendered Strategies in the Criticism of Early Fiction” by Laura L. Runge (1995)
"Stop a Moment at This Preface": The Gendered Paratexts of Fielding, Barker, and Haywood by Cheryl L. Nixon (2002)
“Bulwer's Godolphin: The Metamorphosis of the Fashionable Novel” by William E. Cragg (1986)
4Paratexts and the Construction of Author Identities: The Preface as Threshold and Thresholds in the Preface by
Plan for the week:
- make a list of all the things that ideally would be represented in the book, map how they relate to each other + what needs emphasis
- determine sizing and spacing; find notebook or scrapbook with appropriate size/page count
- decide on glue method
- start planning pages: there are 30 letters, with additional cards
- transfer important notes/ info from readings onto plans for book; incorporate reading into documentary process
- maybe read the book in the rare book room
- be documenting things (go back and record things already finished! --> developing idea, choosing text, OCR correction, current organization)
- where to put documentary process? website? --> organize notebook + keep notebook organized
- by the end of the week: loose outline of the progression of the book, and how each development of the book is distributed through the text
I finally got my technical difficulties sorted out. Here is the link to my project's BuzzFeed quiz: https://
Here's a link to my new Twitter bot....it tweets bits from 18th century prefaces/To the Readers/Introductions, etc. If anyone has a full text that has any of those, I'm on the hunt!
We've been talking about "black boxes" a lot; we put our data into computer programs whose code is not comprehensible to us as users, and it spits out information. I find this idea overwhelming and unreliable. How can I believe the information these programs give me when I can't understand how that information was produced? Yet, we talk about DH and its tools as democratizing, more accessible to individuals outside the high walls of academia.
While I stand by the tenets of open access and non-proprietary tools, it still feels like DH is far from accessible to a layperson, or likely even talented academics. How do we fix this? Are we just waiting for everyone to learn how to code? Does everyone need to learn how to code? Further, what is the point of open access scholarship and DH tools if the only people who appear (I think?) to be using them are academics anyway?
brief reflections on Theory Thursday: Despite all their flaws with definitions, I do really like Moretti's idea that his graphs reveal problems, not solutions (implying that these problems weren't so legible without vast quantities of data/"distant reading"). How could we turn this around and try and use close reading to ask a question we can't answer?
Here is the link to my project proposal! There's a bit of my own thinking out loud so it's rather long.
My website is a little rough right now, I'm still trying to make it look nice and pretty. I'm having fun doing this but I'm a little frustrated trying to figure out how HTML works. This is my post about my idea for my personal project for the summer, though that's still in the works as well. http://
the link I was talking about. An excerpt: "But if you follow the thread of McCracken’s “despites” and “impossibilities” and “buts,” you start to get caught on the knots in which Alexie has caught himself, the need to strive for perfection and select for merit, even as the process makes achieving it impossible."
Algorithmic versification--seems like a great teaching tool. Also, Hamilton. http://
Whitney Trettien's article on OCR and the Print-on-Demand industry:
Relevant to our readings on reading and materiality:
I've been working to solidify the idea for my personal project. While cataloguing "Vaughan's Voyages" (1760) last week I was struck by the geographical footnotes, among other things. I wanted to try to incorporate geography and mapping into my personal project, if possible, so this ended up being a great jumping off point for me in developing my project idea and starting to think about research questions. What is the significance of referential vs. fictional geographical locations in footnotes? What is the relationship between locations in footnotes and locations on title pages, if they coexist? How does this related to locations within the text? What can we say about novels with respect to their incorporation of international/national/provincial locations? I still need to do some more planning and brainstorming to refine these research questions and create others. My project idea is still a work in progress, but I feel good having decided on a topic! In planning my project I have since become our group's "footnote person" and I will eagerly take on this role. My assigned project will be transcribing the vast number of footnotes we have compiled in our flickr footnote album. My wrists and I are excited to start typing!
Possibly helpful for cleaning 18th C OCR, @ihoffman. http://
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