At the end of last week (October 17-19), I had the pleasure of attending, moderating, and presenting at the 2019 North American Victorian Studies Association conference in Columbus, Ohio. There were several excellent papers there on digital projects, including a pechakucha roundtable devoted exclusively to the subject that really illuminated the breadth of Victorian scholarship being conducted and presented using digital tools and platforms.
I presented in panel 11C, “Seriality: Continuity, Sequence, Absence,” alongside two brilliant papers on the effects of serialization on narrative structure and ways in which we might reframe our understandings of seriality beyond periodical fiction. My paper, by contrast, was a kind of process piece on TDWW that was designed to showcase the various tools I used in creating the site, some of the insights I’ve been able to glean from approaching Wells’s novel using digital tools and methods, and the logistics and time commitment the project involved. The paper constituted the official “launch” of TDWW, as I had only discussed it within my institution and privately with outside colleagues before that point.
At first, I was somewhat disappointed to not have been placed on a panel with other DH projects, and to note that none of the DH scholars I knew were in attendance. I also experienced that dreaded moment where none of the questions in the Q&A were directed at me. However, halfway through the Q&A, there was suddenly a serious interest in the project. I received questions about everything from how I would teach a course using TDWW to how I would advise scholars on finding the time and resources to create a similar project. I left the panel with a great deal to think about as well as a better understanding of how TDWW might be perceived by scholars and educators who are not very familiar with digital humanities.
During the digital humanities pechakucaha roundtable, Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, co-editor of The Yellow Nineties Online and creator of Yellow Nineties 2.0, asked, “How does a prototype argue?” The questions I received during my panel seem to suggest that TDWW, as a prototype and “critical making” project, does make some critical and pedagogical arguments.
Many thanks to everyone who attended my panel and who have shown interest in the project on Twitter and other social media venues since the project’s launch last weekend. You have given me much to think about, and I have no doubt that our conversations and your feedback will aid me in improving the site. If you’re interested in the paper itself, I’ve made a PDF of my slides and text available here. (I’m happy to provide a read-aloud compatible document of the text upon request.)