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Abstract Detail

The Future of Digital Projects for Research and Teaching in Botany

Wisnicki, Adrian [1].

Livingstone Online’s Potential Value for Research on Victorian Botany.

Livingstone Online is a peer-reviewed digital museum and library focused on the history of the British empire. The site uses the legacies of Victorian traveler David Livingstone (1813-1873) to engage ongoing critical debates about colonial archives. In a thirty-year career of exploration, Livingstone traveled over vast parts of Sub-Saharan Africa and produced an array of manuscripts on topics such as African cultures, linguistics, economics, geography, animals, and botany. Livingstone Online argues that colonial travel manuscripts (like those of Livingstone and others) should be read as part of their global and non-western local histories; the site seeks to recover and explore such histories. Livingstone Online has recently completed several concurrent phases of development (2013-2018). The site now publishes rich critical essays on the colonial archive, the history of nineteenth-century Africa, British imperial discourse, and Livingstone's manuscripts. The site also offers open access to over 15,000 images of manuscripts and historical illustrations, 5,000 pages of critically-encoded transcriptions, and 3000 metadata records. From another perspective, Livingstone Online draws on critical analysis, manuscript contextualization, and the application of advanced spectral imaging technology to develop "thick" histories of notable Livingstone manuscripts. Such manuscripts embrace every facet of his career. Through its TEI-based encoding practices, Livingstone Online also provides access to critically-edited versions of hundreds of items. In many cases, this coding - including in the area of botany - records textual information to which the project team has not yet applied advanced digital analysis. This paper will use one exemplar critical edition (1870 Field Diary) to pursue several lines of exposition. The paper will explore the development of the edition's core TIFF, XML, and MODS data. The paper will illustrate the critical analysis made possible by exploitation of encoding combined with study of spectral images and web-based representation. The paper will also outline the process of integrating this edition into Livingstone Online. Ultimately, the paper will use this edition to argue that Livingstone Online as a whole - as a collaborative, interdisciplinary digital humanities endeavor - offers the potential to: 1) illuminate the impact of broader colonial processes on Victorian-era practices of botanical documentation, collecting, and preservation; and 2) apply advanced digital humanities methodologies to existing and new site data in order to reveal previously unknown information about nineteenth-century African botany. More broadly, the paper will use this argument to underscore the value that digital humanities projects like Livingstone Online offer for innovative botanical research.

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Related Links:
Livingstone Online

1 - University of Nebraska-Lincoln, English, Lincoln, NE, 68502, USA

digital humanities
spectral imaging
david livingstone
preservation and sustainability
travel writing.

Presentation Type: Symposium Presentation
Session: SY4, The future of digital projects for research and teaching in botany
Location: 103/Mayo Civic Center
Date: Tuesday, July 24th, 2018
Time: 3:45 PM
Number: SY4006
Abstract ID:648
Candidate for Awards:None

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