Video trailer: My new Spring ’15 English course “Women’s Literature and Technologies”

Presenting the video trailer: New Spring 15 English course “Women’s Literature and Technologies”*:
Women Literature and Technology on Vimeo
This video is about Women Lit and Tech
Spring 15 English Course 53.06, taught by English/Neukom postdoc Dr. Kirstyn Leuner

“Women’s Literature and Technologies” (ENGL 53.06) MWF at 2 Hour.
Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group III

  • Read works (like Frankenstein) on the themes of identity, authorship, and technologies alongside breaking news coverage of current events relating to gender, digital technologies, programming, Silicon Valley, copyright, authorship, and more.
  • Explore hypertext fiction and electronic literature (works designed to be “read” on a computer)
  • Handle/study very old and rare books in Rauner Special Collections
  • Make 19th-century letterpress prints in the Book Arts Workshop
  • Encode and publish digital poetry and prose in multiple platforms
  • Play with my postdoctoral project that builds a digital model of an actual 19th-century library
  • Design/execute a final project all your own
  • Feel free to email me with questions:

Special thanks to Dartmouth Instructional Designer Michael Goudzwaard for editing and producing the trailer. #boom

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Spring 2015 Course: “Women’s Literature and Technologies”

See full syllabus (draft): “Women’s Literature and Technologies of Transmission from the Long 19th century to the Present

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The Stainforth Digital Library Under Construction, for the Arts & Humanities Resource Center “Gear Up” 2015 (Dartmouth 1-22-15) | The Stainforth Library of Women Writers

A recent post I published on the Stainforth project blog regarding my presentation at Dartmouth’s “Gear Up” event last week. I presented vast quantities of raw transcription — dirty data — as well as some of our processes, tools, and goals.

The Stainforth Digital Library Under Construction, for the Arts & Humanities Resource Center “Gear Up” 2015 (Dartmouth 1-22-15) | The Stainforth Library of Women Writers.

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Francis John Stainforth: A Biographical Sketch

[first published on CU-Boulder University Libraries Special Collections website and the Stainforth project blog]


Knowledge of Francis John Stainforth’s life enables a more thorough understanding of the important private library of women’s writing that he collected. A larger project is underway in which we strive to answer more questions about Stainforth’s collections, personal life, and education, for instance, what he studied at Cambridge, how his sermons and studies relate to his various collections, when he started the book collection, how and why he began that enterprise, who his principle sources were for obtaining volumes, and why he preferred poetry and plays over novels. We will augment and revise this sketch of Stainforth’s life as we learn more. If you have research to contribute or feedback please email it to both and Thank you.



Francis John Stainforth (1797-1866) was a British Anglican clergyman who also left his mark as a consummate collector of books, stamps, and shells. He owned what was perhaps the largest private library of books by women writers in the nineteenth century, and he was an early and influential philatelist who helped establish the Royal Philatelic Society London. Continue reading

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Stainforth Project Update, December 2014

Team Stainforth has had an extremely productive summer and fall, as we began to work collaboratively across two institutions: CU-Boulder and Dartmouth College, where I’m managing the project for my Neukom Institute postdoctoral fellowship. Follow our project blog for more frequent updates.

  • We added two important mentors to our team, both at Dartmouth College: Professor Ivy Schweitzer, English Dept. and Women and Gender Studies, and Professor Mary Flanagan, Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor in Digital Humanities and Professor of Film and Media Studies. I also want to thank Professor Dan Rockmore, Director of the Institute, and the Neukom staff who have made my transition to working here an absolute joy.
  • I published a biographical sketch of Stainforth on the CU-Boulder University Libraries Special Collections website as well as the project blog. This essay is the first part of a longer biographical research project devoted to Stainforth.
  • I delivered two talks at Dartmouth college on the project, the first at “The Digital Crucible: Arts & Humanities & Computation” conference, hosted by the Leslie Center and the Neukom Institute (Dartmouth College). Find a video of the Digital Crucible conference’s 19th-century panel here; my talk starts at 19:00. The second talk introduced the Stainforth Library of Women Writers project at the Fall Term Neukom Institute dinner reception.
  • Catalog data: our research and transcription team completed raw transcription for the entire acquisitions section of Stainforth’s catalog manuscript. That is 509 pages of bibliographical entries, and each page contains 24 lines. This massive effort required several months of careful editorial work by a team of transcribers including myself, Kyle Bickoff, Michael Harris, Erin Kingsley, Elizabeth Newsom, and Deven Parker. Our next step is to edit this data for a selective release scheduled for Spring 2015. This release will help us begin to visualize the titles as they appeared on Stainforth’s bookshelves.
  • We created a youtube video that demonstrates how _The Catalog of the Library of Female Authors of the Rev. J. Fr. Stainforth_ (1866) works. There are two catalogs within one binding: the library holdings and the “wish list” of books the collector wanted to acquire. Special thanks to Stainforth Project Team members (at CU-Boulder) Michael Harris, Sean Babbs, and Katelyn Cook.
  • We have also begun the process of locating Stainforth’s actual books as they have been dispersed in various libraries and institutions across the US and Britain. We locate them by searching for Stainforth bookplates listed in provenance metadata. Here is our up-to-date list, which includes 23 editions as of 12/3/14. If you would like to help us with this book hunt, simply do a general search for “Stainforth” in your home library catalog and comb the catalog results for Stainforth bookplates (in provenance or notes metadata). Please email me if you find one or think you may have found one: Thank you!

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Stainforth Project Introductory Presentation, Neukom Institute Event, 20 October 2014

[Reblogged from, a short invited talk on 20 October 2014, delivered at the Hanover Inn, Dartmouth College, for the 2014 Neukom Institute dinner. ]

Slide1 My Neukom postdoctoral project here at Dartmouth creates a digital model of Francis John Stainforth’s library, which was an actual private library in London collected in the 19th century that contains only books by women who were writing poetry and plays – some of the most popular genres of the day. What makes this library special is that it was the largest library of books by women writers that we have a record of from the 19th century, until the 1893 World’s Fair.

Slide2Recreating this library as a publicly accessible online resource will offer access to works by five centuries of women authors, ranging from 15th-century writer Juliana Berners, to 18th-century African-American poet Phyllis Wheatley, to Victorian poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Though scholars of literary history may be familiar with one or all four of those writers and their famous works, there are thousands of titles in this library by women writers who are understudied, fairly unknown, un-anthologized, working class poets and playwrights who merit our attention. Together, the works in this library comprise a deep historical collection from which students, teachers, scholars, and the curious public will benefit greatly.

To summarize, there are several payoffs for this project. It draws much-needed attention to a large population of understudied women writers–and, in doing so, it answers a call that scholars of 18th and 19th-century literary history have been issuing repeatedly. The digital archive also offers a a new view of the extent of poetry and drama published by women writers that was in circulation in the 19th century. That is, we now know from someone collecting and reading at that time–rather than, say, the editors of a Norton anthology–what the corpus of women’s literature in circulation really looked like in London, Europe’s book capitol, between 1830 and 1866. Stainforth teaches us that it was at least 7,000 titles in size.

Slide3 Since all of the books in Stainforth’s home were auctioned off in 1867, after his death, we must use his library catalog manuscript to tell us what he owned as well as what books were on his radar to find and add to the collection. To put it simply: I’m turning Stainforth’s library catalog into a database. Then that database will be published online as the electronic library.

The library will have 2 interfaces:

(1) a searchable catalog view much like the Baker-Berry Library’s online catalog that you use everyday, and

(2) a view that shows the titles as they appeared on Stainforth’s shelves with each book as a clickable object that opens up and reveals the text of that book.

Click on the next slide to see a short video demonstration of how the catalog manuscript works. It is, actually, a very complicated book technology.


Click on the image to link to the Youtube video, which demonstrates this bibliographical technology.

In this thick lined account book, handled by my colleague Michael Harris, Stainforth painstakingly logged the author, title, edition, publisher, and date of each item in his vast private collection. He lists them here in alphabetical order. You can also see, in the left-hand column, the shelf mark for each title, which we will use to visualize how Stainforth organized the books on his shelves.

Furthermore, this video shows that he used the back of his manuscript as a kind of wish list, he calls it a “Wants” list, of titles to acquire, like an wish list, and when he found a book, he crossed it out in the wish list and added it to the front of the manuscript where he lists his shelved books.

I want to close by thanking the people and resources that make Digital Humanities archival projects like mine possible. They’re like mountaineering expeditions, and they can’t be pulled off alone. The Stainforth project is newly underway here at Dartmouth and I’m looking forward to building this digital archive over the next three years and offering the project as a learning opportunity for my students and colleagues here. Please contact me if you want to talk more about this project, and I would also love to hear about your work.


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The Stainforth Project and Digital Humanities at Dartmouth College

The Stainforth Library of Women Writers digital archive project now has a second home on Dartmouth’s new Digital Humanities website and among other DH projects at Dartmouth. Projects that it has the most in common with include The Occom Circle project as well as the Media Ecology Project. See below for project descriptions and links.

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The Dartmouth DH website situates the Stainforth project among other DH projects underway at Dartmouth, including (and there are more!)

  • The Bregman Research Studio’s study “Brain, Music, and Auditory Representational Space” (BMARS) and work on the nature of audio-visual experience seeks to answer questions like: What makes music move us? How do we derive meaning from music and images? What new types of experiences and technologies are possible in the audio-visual domain? What is the future of audio-visual art and music?
  • The Dante Lab: Dante Lab is an online application that allows students and scholars of the Divine Comedy to read and compare up to four text editions from the site’s database simultaneously. The objective of Dante Lab is to create a virtual workspace that accounts for the needs of both students and novices to the poem, as well as serious scholars engaged in contemporary Dante Studies. The Dante Lab reader was inspired by the ‘analogue’ workspace of the professional Dantista, who needs quick and easy access not only to the text of the poem’s three canticles, but also to the early commentaries, notes from numerous recent editions, and a concordance that facilitates philological research and interpretive criticism.
  • The Media Ecology Project (MEP) is a digital resource at Dartmouth that will facilitate the awareness of and critical study of Media Ecology: the dynamic ecology of historical media in relation to the public sphere and public memory. The Media Ecology Project provides online access to primary moving image research materials, and engages dynamic new forms of scholarly production and online publishing.
  • Metadata Games: a digital gaming platform for gathering data on photo, audio, and moving image artifacts. The platform entices players to visit archives and explore humanities content while contributing to vital records. Metadata Games is free and open source software (FOSS) developed by Tiltfactor, Dartmouth College‘s socially conscious game design laboratory, with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the ACLS.
  • The Occom Circle Project: a freely accessible, digital edition of documents by and about Samson Occom (1727-1792) housed in Dartmouth College. Occom was a Mohegan Indian, Presbyterian minister and missionary, intertribal leader, public intellectual, and important Indian writer. Dartmouth’s archives hold a wealth of primary materials pertaining to Occom and his circle, which included Eleazar Wheelock, founder of Moor’s Indian Charity School in Lebanon, CT, other Native American students at Moor’s, and a wide range of prominent figures in North America and Great Britain involved in Indian missionary efforts.

What does this mean for the Stainforth Project?

At base, it means that the Stainforth project team has a community of digital humanists at Dartmouth, in addition to those at CU-Boulder, to work with and alongside. Even if this community is a sort of virtual community, it is within an institution as well as between several institutions. For most of my time as a DHer, dating back to 2008, I have rarely felt like my institution housed a community of DH scholars and projects in addition to the one project I happened to be working on and/or the one DH scholar I happened to be working with. For example, this one scholar and project was, at Miami U, Laura Mandell and The Poetess Archive or whatever NINES or Romantic Circles project she was involved with. At CU-Boulder, the library started building such a working group last year, and Special Collections, in particular, supports several initiatives and projects that fall within DH methodologies and products. This kind of institutional support, for me, is new. The Media Archaeology Lab at CU-Boulder is an example of a project there that helped make a DH “community” of scholars and work in addition to the Stainforth project.

Having an institutional population of projects means, for one, that DH work has a shot at being perceived as scholarly production, and it also has a shot at counting toward promotion and tenure, despite the fact that DH projects tend not to fit a singular mold or genre, like a book project does. The range of scholars and departments represented in Dartmouth’s DH website hub traverses a spectrum of disciplines, including history, musicology, physiology, art history, women’s studies, literary studies, American Indian studies, and film studies, to name a few. The projects themselves range from games to digital archives.

Having a DH hub here also means that we can, I hope, share our resources and knowledge on campus to get more done, or do things we might not on our own know how to do, in a shorter amount of time and on a skinnier budget. For example, when brainstorming how to approach designing interfaces for the Stainforth, I will approach the DALI lab or Tiltfactor for ideas in addition to my own initial plan to use Processing and ideas the CU-B team has. I recently had coffee with an editor of the Occom Circle Project and compared my own editorial procedures for transcription and markup of the Stainforth catalog with their markup and transcription procedures. I learned that, in this particular instance of wanting to transcribe first and then revisit to markup the transcription, my instincts were correct. I also confirmed hunches for things we will need to change during our editorial passes.

What are we doing right now, and how does that relate to the group of DH projects at Dartmouth?

Right now, the Stainforth team is completing raw transcription of the manuscript’s 508 pages of acquisitions–the list of the books that Stainforth acquired through purchases or other means. Transcribers (myself, Michael Harris, and Deven Parker) are about 50 pages away from finishing this massive effort. Our next step is to edit the transcription files and then apply TEI tags to the elements in the transcription in order to make them searchable. The Occom Circle’s editorial team in the English Dept. and the library, in particular, will be a very valuable resource to consult in establishing the guidelines for our post-transcription editorial and tagging phases.

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