Tasman writing world

My ‘Tasman writing world’ research project examines the literary relationship between Australia and New Zealand. The premise of the research is that the two literary communities used to be highly interconnected, but now are very separate. Key research questions are:

  • How did the relationship change over time and why?
  • Are there still trans-Tasman writers and communities?
  • What can we learn from refocusing on trans-Tasman literary people and works?

Using the Linked Archives tool (see below) and material gathered on a research trip funded by the New Zealand History Research Trust, I am exploring these questions by looking at the cultural materialist underpinnings of the Australasian book trade as well as the unique trans-Tasman perspective.

Preliminary research has been published in a number of outlets, most recently Script & Print: the journal of the Bilbiographical Society of Australia and New Zealand (see publication list for others).

Linked Archives

From 2016-2019 I was Research Officer for the ARCHIVER/Linked Archive project based at Western Sydney University (run by Dr Jason Ensor). The aim of the project was to redesign a digital archive curation tool to harness the potential of large manuscript archive collections (such as the Angus & Robertson publishing archive housed in the State Library of New South Wales, which comprises somewhere around a million documents).

Using a carefully designed metadata structure and controlled vocabulary based on Linked Open Data standards, the Linked Archives tool allows for constellations of connected documents to be gathered across vast collections, recreating conversations from the past in chronological order. Functionality allowing Optical Character Recognition (and thus full-text search and automatic keyword tagging) and the creation of bespoke datasets for various kinds of visualisations (e.g. mapping correspondence networks) vastly increase the possibilities for this tool, especially when applied across different collections and institutions. See my 2019 article in History Compass for further details.

New Zealand publications database

Part of my PhD research involved putting together a list of New Zealand writers and their works between 1890 and 1945. While other New Zealand bibliographies exist, none of them met my requirements, which were: clear criteria for inclusion (what makes a writer a New Zealand writer?), integrated biographical details and easily accessible datasets. The original database is published with some search functions here.

I am continuing to develop the bibliography, extending it up to 1960 and hoping to make it interoperable with other lists. I am also interested in exploring the nature of bibliography and collective biography as a source of scholarly information – what can a national bibliography really tell you about a nation, and is bibliography an inherently colonial practice?