In a partnership with the Modernist Versions Project (MVP) between 2012 and 2014, the MLab aimed to advance the potential for comparative interpretations of modernist texts that exist in multiple witnesses by digitizing, collating, versioning, and visualizing them individually and in combination. According to the MVP, the primary mission of this project was to enable new critical insights that are difficult without computation. Working with established digital humanities research teams both within and beyond Canada, the MVP and MLab helped establish a set of best practices—as well as building the necessary tools, workflows, and resources—to allow scholars to digitize modernist texts, compare multiple witnesses, markup the variants, and display the results in an agile and extensible way. To this end, the MLab assisted MVP researchers with the markup, design, visualization, and interpretation of meaningful variants across modernist texts. It also helped the MVP articulate various ways of studying and expressing versions, through tools such as modVers (built by MVP researchers, Tanya Clement and Daniel Carter) as well as through gaming, revision control, and text analysis.

Research Leads, Contributors, Support, and Partnerships

The research leads for this project were Adèle Barclay, Stephen Ross, and Jentery Sayers. Versioning Modernism was conducted in collaboration with the Modernist Versions Project, which—under the direction of Stephen Ross—partnered with Implementing New Knowledge Environments (INKE) and many other scholarly groups and projects. The research was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and versioning researchers in the MLab included Adèle Barclay, Alex Christie, Adam Hammond, Jana Millar Usiskin, Stephen Ross, Jentery Sayers, and Katie Tanigawa, who collaborated with the following MVP members: Daniel Carter (University of Texas at Austin), Tanya Clement (University of Texas at Austin), James Gifford (Fairleigh Dickinson University), J. Matthew Huculak (University of Victoria), Dean Irvine (Dalhousie University), and Susan Schreibman (Trinity College, Dublin).

Project Status

This project was completed in April 2014, after MLab and MVP researchers surveyed, tested, and built tools for versioning modernist texts by authors such as Marianne Moore, Djuna Barnes, Jean Rhys, Joseph Conrad, Wyndham Lewis, and Marcel Proust. The tools used included modVers, Juxta, the Versioning Machine, Modernist Commons, and Git. For details, see the stream of posts below.

MVP Website

Screengrab of the MVP’s website | Post on modVers by Daniel Carter

Post by Jentery Sayers, attached to the ModVers project, with the projects and versioning tags. Featured image for this post care of Adèle Barclay and her use of modVers to version “Poetry” by Marianne Moore. (This post was updated on 16 October 2016.)



More about Jentery Sayers

Associate Professor, English and CSPT | Principal Investigator, MLab in the Humanities