Task: To create a web edition of one small text, exploring opportunities to enhance literature through technology beyond the capabilities of the printed form.
Text: We chose to create a digital copy of “Near Hastings” by Toru Dutt. Our copy was adapted from its first printing in Ancient Ballads and Legends of Hindustan, published by Kegan Paul, Trench and Co. in 1882. Dutt’s manuscript was submitted for publication by her father after her death in 1877. As we were unable to locate a manuscript for comparison with the printed form, we believe this to be the most reliable existing text to draw upon for our digital edition. A facsimile of “Near Hastings” from the 1882 edition can be viewed by clicking the link in the sidebar on the right-hand side of this web page. Here, we have also provided a link to the entire 1882 edition of Ancient Ballads and Legends of Hindustan, which can be viewed for free through Google Books.
Audience: We have designed our digital edition to be useful for students at all levels, particularly college undergraduate, as well as the general English-speaking public at large.
Appearance: Our aim is to display the poem in an inviting, attractive format without overwhelming readers. We want readers to have quick access to supplementary information and resources, but we do no want to detract from the poem by overburdening the page with hyperlinks, images, etc.
Paratext: We chose to annotate the poem with pertinent biographical information that will enhance the readers’ understanding of the social and historical background of the text. Since our digital medium allows quick access to supplemental resources without creating undue cost or bulk, we chose to include images, hyperlinks, and other information in order to highlight the unique capabilities of web publication in comparison to print. This is not a comprehensive edition of “Near Hastings”; rather, this edition intends to illuminate some of the possibilities and advantages of digital editions of poetry.
The Next Step: This is the model of one poem; if we were to expand our web edition to include additional works by Dutt, we would likewise draw from the 1882 text of Ancient Ballads and Legends of Hindustan, providing linked annotations to explanatory notes, scholarly criticism (if available), audio-visual material such as video (if applicable), and so on. Ideally, our expanded project would use an internet host independent of a blogging platform. Such a host would allow us to avoid dated entries and utilize more advanced interface capabilities such as hover-over pop ups.
English 701, Dr. Mary Ellis Gibson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
University of North Carolina Greensboro
Presented on November 15, 2011