Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Cultural Mapping and the Digital Sphere: Place and Space

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Cultural Mapping and the Digital Sphere: Place and Space

Article excerpt

Ruth Panofsky and Kathleen Kellett (eds), Cultural Mapping and the Digital Sphere: Place and Space (Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 2015), 336 pp. Paper. $39.95. ISBN 978-1-77212-049-3.

This is an important book which both demystifies and challenges in its accounts of research possibilities in the field of digital humanities. The 14 essays here, which are the product of a conference at Ryerson University organised by the Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory (CWRC) at the University of Alberta, highlight the 'digital turn' which is transforming humanities scholarship in a variety of ways: in research methodologies, in forms of communication and publishing, and in the online management of libraries and archives. Interestingly, this two-part collection brings together seven cutting-edge digital humanities projects and seven traditional individual research projects, inviting readers to look at the relationship between these two very different kinds of research practice which coexist in the scholarly community.

The essays in part I, 'Place and the Digital Frontier', deal with large-scale collaborative projects like Editing Modernism in Canada, or Orlando: a history of women's writing in the British Isles, where massive amounts of data need to be organised electronically for web publication. 'Mapping Tags and Tagging Maps' describes the CWRC's team's experiments with various electronic mapping tools, a reminder not only of the steep learning curve for literary scholars wishing to engage with digital projects, but also of the need for technical expertise and institutional structures that support these projects. And 'collaboration' itself needs to be regulated according to principles of good practice, as Paul Hjartarson and his colleagues explain in 'Modelling Collaboration'. An impressive range of innovative projects includes the computerised Simulated Environment for Theatre (SET) which initiates a new kind of theatre history creating performance histories to supplement print-based records, and 'Edmonton Pipelines: Living and Playing in the Digital City', a project which superimposes interactive historical and contemporary digital maps to illustrate how the city is a dynamic construct that changes over time. …

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