The End of an Era. NovelTM celebrates its final workshop, “Ends”

The NovelTM partnership is going into it’s 6th and final year. It has been a tremendous experience. As a team we’ve produced more than a hundred articles, trained over 200 students, held annual workshops, created a methods commons, and soon a collective data set for other researchers to use.

We’ve built a community of trust and mutual interest around issues of data and literary study. We’ve helped normalize the use of data to study literature and created resources, tools, and examples to facilitate its adoption by others. We’ve created important bridges with non-academic partners like the Hathi Trust and Gale Publishing. And finally, we’ve begun to create inter-disciplinary connections with annual guest speakers from computer science, cognitive science, and sociology.

This year’s theme is, appropriately, “ends.” Our question is not only a formal one of how novels end. It is also a way to ask to what ends are novels put? What are their larger function in society, either in the past or present? We see this social dimension of novels as one of the core questions for data-driven literary studies moving into the future.

I am deeply grateful to all of the members of the team who have given their time and expertise over this long haul and done it with a spirit of collegiality, good humour, and intellectual generosity. It has been an amazing experience.

Whatever comes next I am sure this will remain an important landmark for all of us.