New Online Archive Offers Rich Details of Walt Whitman’s Works, from Duke News
Contemporary scholars are painstakingly creating a comprehensive new annotated internet archive to enable poet Walt Whitman’s works to reach 21st-century readers in a way not possible before, according to Matt Cohen, assistant professor of English at Duke University and an editor of the Walt Whitman Archive.
This is a seriously cool digital library. I call it a DL, they call it a digital archive. Potayto, potahto? Some interesting issues are raised here in the intersection of DL work & scholarship:
Spoon said “tagging” text for the Whitman archive is a high-pressure job because “you’re always aware labeling a passage with the wrong ‘tag’ could make a scholar miss something important about a great American figure.” Such “tags” are critical to the use of the archive by literary scholars.
This is my favorite bit:
Cohen said the archive also fulfills yearnings Whitman expressed in his poetry. “Whitman wanted ‘an audience interminable,’ hundreds of millions, across generations,” Cohen said. “He celebrated advances in information technology – the steam printing press and the telegraph. Whitman would have loved the internet and published everything on it.”
Discussion of this issue came up at the “Southern Sources” conference in Wilson Library. We learned that the 19th c. term for “depression” was “homesickness”–as an example of how difficult it is to tag across periods.