Emily McGinn (University of Georgia)
My current research project looks at networks of transnational exchange in literary periodicals in the modernist era (1890-1930). Using data from the Modernist Journals Project as well as data from continental European and Latin American magazines, I am looking specifically for translators, those who are not necessarily reflected in the annals of literary history, but whose contributions made possible a global exchange of literature and theories of modernity. The project follows major periodical studies scholars like Suzanne Churchill and Adam McKible in identifying the collective elements of the production and dissemination of these magazines that includes the economic and distribution systems that help circulate these magazines beyond national borders and regional territories and that rely on the global marketplace for their cultivation.
Yet in exploring this network of contributors in a digital context, this project lays bare the complexities of working in digital sphere dominated by English. From formatting datasets in multiple languages, navigating international copyright laws, and gaining access to texts and databases, to finding tools that can properly handle accent marks and non-English grammars, the obstacles begin to overwhelm the possibilities of this work. While DH and web culture in general profess to increase accessibility and offer a new global interconnectivity, the same issues of canon formation, linguistic access, and international law that have already ossified the academy are replicated in data structures. These structures are often invisible in the final product of DH work, assumed to be neutral elements of computing. This project will make these issues visible, exploring the limits and potentialities of multilingual, transnational DH work.
Emily McGinn is the digital humanities coordinator at the University of Georgia. She oversees the Willson Center Digital Humanities Lab in a role that includes project management and consultation for digital projects, outreach, and the development of DH curriculum. She holds a PhD in comparative literature, and her research is on the impact of technology on Latin American and Irish modernist literature.