Foregrounding the Woman: Digital Projects and their Implications

multipaper session
  1. 1. Miranda Beaven Remnek

    University of Minnesota

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Descriptive Statement
The traditional canon of literary studies has been maintained in part by the availability of texts, both in print and in libraries.Researchers interested in evaluating works by little known writers first face the problem of locating copies of their works; instructors wishing to use certain texts in their classes are constrained by what is available in print. The Internet provides an unparalleled opportunity to publish works by underappreciated writers, and several projects have chosen works by women writers as their focus.
In fact, women's studies digitization projects are proliferating in various countries on both sides of the Atlantic. They include a variety of projects at the following universities: Brown, Indiana, California (Davis), Minnesota, Alberta and Oxford. Brown's Women Writers' Project covers women's writing 1330-1830. Indiana's Victorian Women Writers' Project covers British writers 1830-1901. The British Women Romantic Poets project at UC Davis covers the period 1789-1832. Minnesota's Women's Travel Writing project will emphasize American travel in the years 1830-1930, especially to the non-Western world. Alberta's Orlando Project is developing "An Integrated History of Women's Writing in the British Isles." The Electra Project at Oxford University focuses on the period 1780 to 1830.
This development is promising in several respects. It clearly raises new and interesting possibilities at the level of scholarship: indeed, it suggests a real potential for reshaping the literary canon, and foregrounding the woman in ways not possible before the advent of widespread distribution enabled by electronic textbases. At the level of creation, production and service, moreover, the presence of additional textbases augurs new possibilities for a more cooperative approach to text generation--and this will no doubt be seen as a positive development.
Nonetheless, the new complexities militating in favor of cooperation will ipso facto bring their challenges. First, they include the need for even greater vigilance with regard to the definition of boundaries and selection of texts. True, the numbers of relevant texts are huge; some of the well-established projects have already discovered their pool to be much greater than they imagined, and have had to revise their sights. But given the expense involved in assembling a high-quality electronic text there is still a need to avoid duplication at all costs. Second, the proliferation of projects suggests the need for careful examination of encoding practices and a collaborative approach to further refinements. Third, these developments call for a greater appreciation of the varieties of use to which the texts will be put, and greater responsiveness to new and emerging user demands.
But despite the proliferation of issues to be faced, the emerging numbers of women's digitization projects all have the ultimate goal of making works by women more widely available for study. Despite the fact that they all have somewhat different foci and approaches to encoding and delivering texts, with this common goal they are working cooperatively to face common issues. This session will attempt to discuss a number of these issues in greater depth.

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Conference Info

In review

"Virtual Communities"

Hosted at Debreceni Egyetem (University of Debrecen) (Lajos Kossuth University)

Debrecen, Hungary

July 5, 1998 - July 10, 1998

109 works by 129 authors indexed

Series: ACH/ALLC (10), ACH/ICCH (18), ALLC/EADH (25)

Organizers: ACH, ALLC