This project was funded by an Australian Research Council Discovery Grant, from 2013 to 2016.
In 19th- and early 20th-century Australia, newspapers were the main source of fiction. But the size of that archive meant that little was known about where this fiction came from, how it was sourced, where it was published, and the authors, titles, and genres in circulation. The possibilities for research changed profoundly with the National Library of Australia’s Trove database and its mass-digitisation of historical Australian newspapers. As the largest open-access collection of its type in the world, Trove made it possible to discover the fiction that early Australians read and wrote for the first time in a reliable and systematic way. By employing traditional bibliographical and book historical methods, alongside new forms of digital analysis (such as data- and text-mining, topic modelling and network analysis) the To be continued project identified over 21,000 publications of novels, novellas and short stories in 19th- and early 20th-century Australian newspapers.
The project’s main outcomes include:
To be continued . . . The Australian Newspaper Fiction Database
This database represents extensive bibliographical details and text files for the fiction discovered in digitised historical Australian newspapers. It is fully open and editable, and since it was launched in March 2018 members of the public have added almost 2,000 titles and corrected the text of many thousands more. You can use the database to:
- Explore: search for fiction by author, title, newspaper, keyword, nationality or more to discover fiction
- Correct: access Trove to read and correct story text or edit the database
- Add: identify and add new instalments and stories you find in the digitised newspapers
- Export: download a story you have corrected or generate textual and bibliographical data for research
A World of Fiction: Digital Collections and the Future of Literary History
This monograph is the main scholarly output of the project and was published by the University of Michigan Press in July 2018. The book is in two main parts. The first offers a new framework for data-rich literary history based on the theory and technology of the scholarly edition. The second applies this framework to analysing almost 10,000 works of fiction published in Australian newspapers in the 19th century in ways that re-conceptualise how fiction traveled globally, and was received and understood locally, in this period. You can access more information about this book, including an open access version, here.
“To be continued . . .” series, with Orbiter Press
I am currently working with Orbiter Press to publish some of the newly discovered Australian fiction in digitised newspapers. The first edited collection, “How I Pawned My Opals” and Other Lost Stories publishes five previously lost stories by important Australian author, feminist, socialist and world-traveller, Catherine Martin. The second edited collection, Christmas Eve in a Gum Tree offers a collection of original Australian Christmas stories. A third collection, on Australian gold-mining fiction, is forthcoming.
For other publications and presentations from this project see:
- ‘Uncovering the True History of Australian Literature,’ Public lecture at the Australian National University 1 March 2018. [listen here]
- ‘Fictional Systems: Mass-Digitisation, Network Analysis, and Nineteenth-Century Australian Newspapers,’ Victorian Periodicals Review 50.1: 100-38. [website; preprint; data/figures; appendix 1; appendix 2; appendix 3 – draft]
- ‘The Equivalence of “Close” and “Distant” Reading; Or, Toward a New Object for Data-Rich Literary History.’ Modern Language Quarterly 78.1 (2017) [draft; preprint]
- ‘Thousands of Titles Without Authors: Digitized Newspapers, Serial Fiction, and the Challenges of Anonymity,’ Book History 18 (2016): 284-316. [preprint; datasets all data, known authors, inscribed authors]
- with Carol Hetherington. ‘Retrieving a World of Fiction: Building an Index, and Full-text Archive, of Serialised Novels in Australian Newspapers’, Script & Print 38.4 (2014): 197-211. [here]
- * ‘Digital Humanities and Digitised Newspapers: The Australian Story’. Digital Scholarship Group seminar. Northeastern University, Boston. 30 September, 2014. (Transcript and Slides)
- * ‘New Literary Histories: The Digitisation of Print Culture and Transformation of the Archive’. English Department Seminar Series. King’s College London. 16 June, 2014. (Transcript and Slides)
- * ‘Mining a “Trove”: Modeling a Transnational Literary Culture.’ Digital Humanities 2014. University of Laussane, Laussane. 7-12 July 2014. (Transcript and Slides)
- * with Carol Hetherington. ‘A World of Stories in Colonial Periodicals.’ Association for the Study of Australian Literature (ASAL) Annual Conference. Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga. 3–5 July 2013. (Transcript and Slides)*
* I don’t read papers aloud when I give a presentation, but I do write a full script to organise my thoughts. What I’ve included here are those full scripts (which would usually take twice the time to read aloud as I’m allocated to speak!). The actual presentations missed some of what is included in these transcripts, while including other things that occurred to me at the time.