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Digital participation in 20th-century Australian newspaper fiction

This project is funded by an Australian Research Council Special Research Initiative Grant, from 2021 to 2024. It is a collaboration with Dr Roger Osborne, Lecturer in English and Writing at James Cook University, and Alison Dellit, Assistant Director General (Collaboration) at the National Library of Australia.

Literary and book historians have previously thought that the entry of cheap paperbacks into Australia, in the late 19th century, destroyed the market for newspaper fiction in the 20th. Yet initial analysis of newspapers digitised by the National Library of Australia (NLA), conducted for the To be continued … project, uncovered thousands of publications of novels, novellas and short stories between 1900 and 1914. Subsequent exploration has revealed that fiction was widespread in Australian newspapers until the mid-20th century and present until the 1980s. Read all about it will uncover, curate and analyse this extensive record of fiction, while extending opportunities to edit and enjoy these literary works to other researchers and members of the public.

The project has two main aims:

  1. To enhance understanding of Australian literary history by discovering new titles and authors and by providing new knowledge of how newspaper fiction expressed and shaped Australians’ conceptions of the nation and its place in the world in the 20th century.
  2. To build open-access, sustainable digital infrastructure for Australian literary studies by expanding the digital record of fiction in 20th-century Australian newspapers and by creating a Collaborative Digital Editing Platform (CDE) for researchers and members of the public to curate and publish new editions of fiction.