Digital Dickens Notes Project

I am the director of the Digital Dickens Notes Project, which is in the early stages of digitizing and analyzing the working notes Charles Dickens kept for many of his serial novels. This interactive project will explore how Victorian readers experienced serial novels as forms-in-process rather than as complete texts. With support from NINES (the Networked Infrastructure for Nineteenth-Century Electronic Scholarship), the Duke Ph.D. Lab in Digital Knowledge, Duquesne University's NEH Endowment Fund and Wimmer Family Foundation Grants, I am in the process of creating a prototype for this digital project. The Digital Dickens Notes Project will place digitized versions of Dickens’s working notes alongside the serial installments of his novels (beginning with Our Mutual Friend) in order to demonstrate the formation of serial fiction and how it implicated the construction of character. This digital resource will encourage and facilitate a process-oriented Victorian mode of reading serially.

By exploring the serial unfolding of Victorian novels, and the dynamic network form of Dickens’s novels in particular, this project offers an alternative to modes of “distant reading” often promoted by the Digital Humanities. Rather than treating a serial novel as a whole structure to be studied from the retrospection of after its conclusion, the DDNP seeks to help researchers and students experience and interpret the form-in-process of serial fiction. The DDNP will eventually incorporate all six of Dickens's novels for which complete sets of working notes exist, offering a unique interactive resource for researchers and for students learning about serial form.