Background to the project
The first version of the Database of Mid-Victorian Wood-Engraved Illustration (www.dmvi.cf.ac.uk) was launched in January 2007, emerging out of a desire to raise the profile and status of Victorian illustration, both within academia and beyond. Based in Cardiff University’s Centre for Editorial and Intertextual Research and with funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the aim of the DMVI project was to digitize and mount on a publicly accessible website a cross-section of illustrations from different literary texts by a range of artists and engravers. Key innovations included the ability to view the over 850 illustrations at high resolutions, a sophisticated system of iconographic classification to describe the content of each image, as well as rigorous bibliographical and technical data.
The current phase
In 2010, a second AHRC grant was obtained to enhance the database and make its innovative technologies accessible to the widest possible audience – in terms of language, location, background and user profile. Elements of DMVI had already been deployed in external projects, and this second phase has opened up the possibilities even further. Working with the University of Sheffield’s Humanities Research Institute, the project team has expanded the core elements of DMVI to include:
- conversion to an open-source platform compliant with today’s web standards
- extension of our iconographic cataloguing system to communicate with other platforms (e.g. ICONCLASS)
- enhancement of the advanced search capabilities and user experience/interface
- integration with Web 2.0 technologies (e.g. Facebook), to support user engagement, interaction and feedback
- development of teaching resources through pilot workshops with local schools and colleges
Perhaps the most significant aspect of this phase will be our release in October of an open-source Digital Image Curation Environment (DICE), which allows users to create web-based systems for displaying, cataloguing and describing their own image collections. DICE is an easy to use system aimed at individual users, groups and small institutions, in order to enable group or public participation in community and outreach projects, making it ideal for local history clubs, galleries and museums, and individual collectors, as well as researchers within academia. By making DICE freely accessible under Creative Commons licensing, the project team hopes to support and encourage other researchers, teachers and collectors, by dramatically reducing the technical development costs and timescales associated with similar projects. From the familiar context of a web-browser, potential creators will be able to upload their collections of paintings, maps, photographs and any other image-based material; describe their content using our preloaded vocabularies or devise their own ones; add important technical and bibliographical data; and supply additional contextual material, such as hyperlinks, essays and annotations.
On 29 September 2011 at 3pm, the DMVI team will be celebrating the completion of this second phase by holding a launch event in the Special Collections and Archives (SCOLAR) for the expanded and enhanced database. The event will include demonstrations about the new DMVI system, an overview of the DICE image management system and a discussion of applications of both resources to research and teaching.
The launch event will be followed at 5pm by a drinks reception and the inaugural Cardiff Rare Books and Music Lecture, to be delivered by Professor Hans Walter Gabler (University of Munich), who will be presenting ‘Ideas towards Interfacing Digital Humanities Research’, as part of the University’s Distinguished Lecturer Series.
Professor Gabler is known for his pioneering work on manuscript and genetic criticism, particularly his landmark genetic edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses. The titles of some of his recent publications testify to the significance of his current research: ‘Making Texts for the Next Century’, ‘There is Virtue in Virtuality: Future Potentials of Electronic Humanities Scholarship’ and ‘Theorizing the Digital Scholarly Edition’. Professor Gabler is currently Chair of the international COST Action Open Scholarly Communities on the Web initiative, the aim of which is to create a research and publication infrastructure on the web and an advanced e-learning system for the Arts and Humanities.
If you’d like to come along to the event, please get in touch via CEIR@cardiff.ac.uk.