C21 Editions

About the Project 

The digital scholarly edition remains central to the intellectual practices of the arts and humanities, and yet, the fundamentals of their form and structure remain unchanged by the affordances of computers. The edition is often the version of the primary source that is most immediate, accessible, and informative to scholars and students alike, and so it is vital that we invest in further enhancing that dialogue and enable researchers to establish the methods and principles for developing the scholarly digital editions of the future. 

C21 Editions is a three-year international collaboration jointly funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AH/W001489/1) and Irish Research Council (IRC/W001489/1). The project involves researchers from the Department of Digital Humanities at University College Cork; the Digital Humanities Institute at the University of Sheffield; and the School of Social & Political Sciences at the University of Glasgow. 

The aim of the project is to investigate and advance the practices of digital scholarly editing and publishing by researching and prototyping data standards that accommodate born-digital content such as social media, while also further integrating the “curatorial” and “statistical” aspects of DH by examining how computer-assisted analytical methods can be embedded into edition making and publishing. 

In essence, C21 Editions will operate as a response to Joris van Zundert, who calls on theorists and practitioners to "intensify the methodological discourse" necessary to “implement a form of hypertext that truly represents textual fluidity and text relations in a scholarly viable and computational tractable manner”. He warns that, without that dialogue, “we relegate the raison d'etre for the digital scholarly edition to that of a mere medium shift, we limit its expressiveness to that of print text, and we fail to explore the computational potential for digital text representation, analysis and interaction”. 

The first phase of the project – which engaged in semi-structured interviews with an extensive group of experts and stakeholders from a range of relevant disciplines, including digital scholarly editing, digital publishing, archiving and preservation, interface design, and creative practice – is nearing completion. Through thematic analysis, this data will help provide a comprehensive overview of how many of the field’s most prominent theorists and practitioners view the present state of digital scholarly editing and publishing, and how the technical systems and models which facilitate the making of digital editions and public resources might and should develop into the future. This data will serve as a vital compendium and roadmap for the future of digital scholarly editions, comprising perspectives by those positioned to realise any such future.

The next phase of C21 Editions will see further stakeholder engagement in the form of participatory design workshops, followed by the development of two prototype digital editions: one will be a new digital edition of The Canterbury Tales which uses unpublished witnesses, the other will curate Tweets relating to Ireland’s literary community. 

Project Investigators 

  • Dr James O’Sullivan (Principal Investigator, Ireland) lectures in digital humanities at University College Cork. He research interests include electronic literature, digital publishing, and computer-assisted criticism. He is the author of Towards a Digital Poetics (Palgrave 2019) and the editor of several scholarly texts on the digital humanities. See jamesosullivan.org for more. 
  • Michael Pidd (Principal Investigator, UK) is Director of the Digital Humanities Institute (DHI), University of Sheffield. He has research interests in edition building, data mining in the humanities, data modelling and ontologies. 
  • Bridgette Wessels (Co-Investigator, UK) is Professor of Social Inequalities, School of Social & Political Sciences, University of Glasgow. She has research interests in new digital media, technological change and methodological innovation, internet studies and inclusive design.
  • Dr Órla Murphy (Co-Investigator, Ireland) is Head of the Department of Digital Humanities at University College Cork. She has research interests in digital textualities, digital pedagogy, knowledge representation and the early medieval period. 



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