English Professor Rachel Buurma Wins Award for Digital Humanities Project

Anna Levine '12

Anna Levine '12 is one of the student researchers contributing to the Early Novels Database.

Assistant Professor of English Rachel Buurma was recently cited for playing an instrumental role in developing an Early Novels Database (END) by the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE), recognizing her work with its Community Contribution Award. The award notes the END project's success in demonstrating "how digital technologies can be used to advance liberal education," as well as offering "an example of innovation that can and should inform broader discourse about learning and teaching in a liberal arts context."

The END bibliographic database is based on the University of Pennsylvania's Rare Book & Manuscript Library's extensive collection of English-language fiction published before 1830 and was produced through the collaborative efforts of faculty, librarians, information technology specialists, and undergraduate researchers from Swarthmore College, the University of Pennsylvania, and Bryn Mawr College.

"We are especially gratified to be honored for the way this project involves undergraduate researchers using digital technology in the creation of new knowledge in the humanities," says Buurma. "When the first phase is complete, the database will include richly detailed records describing more than 3,000 novels and fictional narratives, from the canonical to the almost unknown, from fictions that clearly announce themselves to be novels to the works of fiction (fable, travel narrative, romance) that formed part of that genre's notoriously murky origins."

Buurma teaches and researches in the areas of Victorian literature and culture, the history and theory of the novel, literary and cultural theory, and the history of the book. She is currently completing a project on novelistic narration and Victorian print culture titled A Material History of Omniscience.