The Ecology of Databases (feat. Lawrence Evalyn)
Play • 1 hr 24 min

Why hasn’t the third edition of Hannah More’s Coelebs in Search of a Wife been digitized? Why doesn’t GoogleBooks group the different volumes of multi-volume works together in a single catalogue record? And, what do authors and pandas have in common? We bemoan the limitations of our various sources on a monthly basis, but this month we’re digging into why they exist in the first place—especially why digitization can be so uneven.

In Episode 6 of Season 2 of The WPHP Monthly Mercury, “The Ecology of Databases,” co-hosts Kate Moffatt and Kandice Sharren are joined by Lawrence Evalyn to learn more about the issue of uneven digitization. In addition to giving us the hard numbers about which titles appear in the ESTC, ECCO, The Text Creation Partnership, and HathiTrust, Lawrence puts forward his "charismatic megafauna" theory of authorship, shares moon prophecies and invitations to meetings about waterway management, and details the searching strategies he used during the WPHP Summer Readathon. 

Lawrence Evalyn is currently a "pre-doc postdoc," both a Ph.D Candidate and a Teaching Postdoctoral Fellow in English at the University of Toronto, where he is affiliated with the Digital Humanities Network and the Data Sciences Institute. His dissertation, "Database Representations of English literature, 1789-99," measures and historicizes uneven digitization in four resources to examine how digital infrastructure shapes eighteenth-century studies, especially the study of women's writing. His collaborative digital humanities publications include "One Loveheart At A Time," an article on emoji in Digital Humanities Quarterly. He holds a Masters in English from the University of Victoria, where his M.A. essay, supervised by Robert Miles, looked for large-scale trends in late eighteenth century Gothic novels.

If you're interested in learning more about what we discussed in this episode, you can find resources and suggestions for further reading here: 

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