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Distributed October 15, 2003
Contact Mark Nickel

Searchable digital editions
Brown and Tulsa to work jointly on Modernist Journals Project

Faculty at Brown University and the University of Tulsa will join forces to work on the Modernist Journals Project. That project, which originated at Brown, seeks to produce digital editions of important modernist journals and to make its work available to scholars on the Web. Faculty at both institutions already have similar but complementary scholarly projects underway.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Faculty at Brown University and the University of Tulsa have announced a joint research project to generate fully searchable digital editions of journals from the early twentieth century. The Modernist Journals Project (MJP), founded and directed at Brown by Robert Scholes, will now be directed jointly by faculty at both institutions: Scholes at Brown and Sean Latham at Tulsa.


The Rock-Drill
Jacob Epstein’s The Rock-Drill serves as an emblem on all pages of the Modern Journal Project’s digital edition of The New Age. The black-and-white drawing appears on the back page of The New Age, Vol. 14, No. 8 (Dec. 25, 1913).

“Both schools have active faculty, library collections and journals in the field of modern literature, which makes this a very suitable connection,” said Scholes, research professor of modern culture and media at Brown. “I have been a visiting professor at Tulsa several times in the past and have sent students there to work with the special collections of the McFarlin Library. The founding of The James Joyce Quarterly at Tulsa by Thomas Staley in 1964 was a major event in the study of modern literature.” Latham, current editor of the James Joyce Quarterly, was a former project manager of the MJP at Brown.

While the MJP’s primary mission is to generate fully searchable digital editions of journals from the early twentieth century, it will also make available digital editions of other resources useful to students of modern culture and media. Its goal is to produce a site on the World Wide Web that all students and scholars of modernism will find indispensable for their work because of the resources available there and the research tools provided.

The MJP will provide scholarly support in the form of introductions to each volume, biographies of contributors and images of artworks discussed in the journals presented on the MJP Web site. The journals represented there will be those that helped shape the transition from earlier modes of cultural production to those called modernist.

Work on the project has already been underway at both institutions. At Brown, the MJP is currently completing an edition of The New Age (edited in London by A. R. Orage from 1907 to 1922), a project supported by a two-year grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The University of Tulsa is currently working on digital editions of the James Joyce Quarterly, from its founding in 1964 to the present, and on an edition of Dana: An Irish Magazine of Independent Thought (1904-1905). All of those editions will be displayed on the MJP site at Brown ( as they are completed and will be backed up at the University of Tulsa.

The Brown MJP site offers the complete run of the Canadian film journal, Ciné-Tracts (1977-1982) and the first 10 years of The New Age under Orage’s leadership (1907-1917).

The Department of Special Collections at Tulsa’s McFarlin Library and the John Hay Library at Brown will be participants in the project. Both libraries have important collections in modernist literature. A likely future project is a digital edition of The English Review, which was a distinguished modernist journal under the editorship of Ford Madox Hueffer from 1908 to 1911. The McFarlin Library has a complete run of this magazine. Lori Curtis, head of Archives and Special Collections there, has served on the MJP External Advisory Board.

MJP digital editions offer facsimiles of the original pages in PDF format. Those PDF files also incorporate text files keyed to each page, allowing users to search both the entire archive and individual documents for particular words and phrases. Additionally, an evolving editorial apparatus, including biographies, essays, image reproductions, introductions to volumes, and other elements is offered on the site to help orient students and scholars.

The actual work of scanning pages to produce facsimiles and of using optical character recognition to create and edit the text files is done by faculty, graduate students and undergraduates at both schools. The project has both local and external advisory boards. Current members of the External Advisory Board include:

  • Ann Ardis – University of Delaware;
  • Shari Benstock – University of Miami, Fla.;
  • Michael Groden – University of Western Ontario;
  • Wallace Martin – University of Toledo;
  • Robert Spoo – Doerner, Saunders, Daniel & Anderson L.L.P.; and
  • Robert von Hallberg – University of Chicago.

Basic funding for the MJP has been guaranteed by the administrations of both Universities, subject to review after four years. This will be supplemented by grants such as the NEH grant that currently supports production of The New Age digital edition at Brown.


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