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Lit Mod Students Publish Online Scholarly Edition of The Were-Wolf

May 01, 2018

In the Winter 2018 term, students in Lorraine Janzen Kooistra’s graduate course in Digital Publishing (LM8910) experienced hands-on learning in scholarly editing by working as an editorial team to produce an open-access annotated edition of Clemence Housman’s The Were-Wolf (1896). This class was the first in the world to use the editorial toolset of COVE, external link (Central Online Victorian Educator), a digital publishing platform built by an international academic consortium, to create a scholarly edition for peer review. Pending peer review and revision, a prototype of The Were-Wolf, external link edition is now available for reading online.

Clemence Housman’s The Were-Wolf, external link is the outcome of a close collaboration between the author and her brother, Laurence Housman (1865-1959), who designed the book and its bindings, the decorated title-page, a pictorial initial, and six full-page illustrations for engraving by Clemence (1861-1955), who was a skilled wood engraver. The COVE Were-Wolf edition, external link is likewise the outcome of intensive collaboration. The class prepared the source text using html markup; researched and wrote annotations on the textual narrative and its images, external link; created a chronological timeline, external link of events related to were-wolf fiction and the creators of The Were-Wolf; and provided contextual essays, including a Bibliography of Sources, for the Editorial Apparatus, external link. As an image repository and source of metadata, we created The Were-Wolf Gallery, external link.

Students enjoyed the opportunity to work collaboratively, get practical experience in digital publishing methods, and gain a peer-reviewed publication for their c.v. One real pleasure was handling material books from the 1890s, which RULA Special Collections acquired for class use. As one student commented, “Handling the physical books provided an emotional attachment to the text, author, artist, and publisher which made me feel responsible to them – I owed it to them to do my best work.” Students also appreciated the opportunity to work with the support of Ryerson’s Centre for Digital Humanities, which operates at the intersection of the material and the digital. At the end of the course, one student described it as “a multidisciplinary practical learning experience and production based in theory of digital humanities, research, and writing.”

The opportunity to work intensively with a little-known late-Victorian illustrated book also proved popular. Echoing the comments of many of her collaborators, one student wrote: “I loved spending so much time and learning new things just as the rest of our team was discovering them. We weren’t dusting off piles of academic writing on [the novella], rather we had the honour of formulating our own. The Were-Wolf’s unusual voice, subject matter, and painstaking illustrations all imbued it with meaning and new avenues of exploration. After all, Clemence spent so long refining/revisiting/transforming it that it stands to reason it would continue offering us new threads to trace.”

The open-access online edition is primarily directed to classroom use, as we believe Clemence Housman’s The Were-Wolf will be a popular text in undergraduate courses. Because information on both Clemence Housman and her novella is scant, the edition will also be of interest to Victorian scholars and the general public.