Digital Anthologist

Chris Leary, English

Digital Anthologist

The Digital Anthologist is a tool in development that facilitates storage, editing, and classification of materials on the web. In the spirit of “folksonomy” — a term used to describe online classification systems that open up the web to organization by “the folks” — this digital anthologizing tool will function as another way for web users to curate online, in ways that tag back to print conventions such as the Table of Contents but also utilize web conventions such as linking and tagging. As these processes play out, editors will reflect on the circumstances swirling around their editorial decisions, thus aiding researchers like myself who are studying the transformation that the anthological genre undergoes as it moves from print to digital spaces.

Introductory prefaces, a staple of the anthological genre, are a key site for research and content analysis. Usually, in the introductory preface, whether online or in print, an editor will write about the process of creation, the circumstances swirling around the production of the anthology, and the constraints she encounters.

I will also draw upon theorizing previously done by the Women Writer’s Project and Julia Flanders. The digital anthology associated with their organization “has been described variously as an ‘archive,’ an ‘edition,’ and an ‘anthology’ and serves, in a sense, the purposes of all three.” Flanders mentions that digital anthologists encounter less rigid space constraints. Whereas in print, an editor thinks very carefully about page count and performs careful excerpting, online, the editor can more easily link from a Table of Contents to the entire text, even if that text runs quite long. As Flanders points out, this isn’t always a positive thing since the excerpting work done by an editor sometimes makes reading more manageable.

In addition, I am curious to see how video and motion graphics continue to infiltrate the anthology and how editors think about and write about these new possibilities.

Those are a few of my foreseeable sites of inquiry. I expect that users of this web tool will open up many unforeseeable ones as well.