A friend of mine once joked that so many Victorianists become digital humanists because Victorian novels weigh so much. If the Victorianist is drawn to DH because of the ease—and chiropractic benefits—of digitization, then the Modernist might stay away for similar reasons. Hamstrung by copyright laws, modernist scholars like myself find it quite challenging to undertake a large-scale digital project with the texts we find so interesting. Of course, this is too simple: a number of online repositories, such as the Modernist Journals Project, the Modernist Versions Project, and Editing Modernism in Canada have done so much to increase digitization efforts and make rare texts available to scholars digitally. Yet, I couldn’t help but wonder at the relative lack of digitally-inflected panels, workshops, and seminars at the Modernist Studies Association’s most recent annual conference in Boston last week (2 workshops, 2 roundtables, 1 panel, 1 seminar, and a “digital exhibition,” featuring 8 projects).
I set aside lobster rolls and Sam Adams and oh-so-good East Coast pizza to attend one of the pre-conference workshops that took up this issue. Led by my new #scholarlygirlcrushes Shawna Ross and Claire Battershill, “Digital Modernist Texts in the Classroom,” addressed questions of access and digitization for research and teaching. Shawna and Claire are a part of a group working on Open Modernisms, designed for digitizing, archiving, and anthologizing modernist texts. In many ways, Open Modernisms is a crowdsourcing anthology project: users can upload their own texts to the database and access others, creating their own anthologies for teaching. (Undoubtedly, Open Modernisms will have other uses, but our workshop focused on teaching).