English Professor Jerome Mcgann Is First Recipient Of Major National
Award For Digital Humanities Scholarship
May 7, 2002-- Jerome J. McGann,
a University of Virginia authority on 19th-century literature,
has been named the first winner of a $25,000 national award that
honors leaders in the use of computers to expand traditional notions
of humanities scholarship and teaching.
the John Stewart Bryan University Professor of English at U.Va.,
received the first Richard W. Lyman Award, presented by the National
Humanities Center, in a ceremony May 6 at the Time & Life Building
in New York. The award is named for Richard W. Lyman, former president
of Stanford University and the Rockefeller Foundation, and is made
possible through support from the foundation.
noted expert on Romantic and Victorian literature and the history
and theory of texts, McGann is also the Thomas Holloway Professor
of Victorian Studies at Royal Holloway College, University of London.
grandson, son and brother of printers, McGann has long been at the
forefront of the application of computer technology in the study
of the humanities. One of his innovative projects was editing "The
Complete Writings and Pictures of Dante Gabriel Rossetti: A Hypermedia
Research Archive," published by University of Michigan Press. The
massive archive allows scholars and students to trace the Victorian
author and artists work from manuscripts into print, and to
view his drawings and paintings, read reviews and scholarship or
use search engines for new research.
is on the advisory board for a similar archive for the 18th-century
poet and artist William Blake. He has also written extensively on
computing in the humanities, most recently in "Radiant Textuality:
Literature After the World Wide Web," published this year.
Lyman Award recognizes the exciting results of these efforts,"
said James ODonnell, professor of classical studies and vice
provost for information systems and computing at the University
of Pennsylvania, who led the committee of seven scholars that selected
McGann. "The award honors an individual who has made important
scholarly contributions that could not have been made without the
innovative and wise use of information technology."
recent years, scholars in the classics, English and American literature,
history and other humanistic disciplines have increasingly used
computers and the Web to create facsimiles of rare manuscripts,
to archive and annotate literary and scholarly materials, and to
link text, visual images and sound, ODonnell said. The results
are breaking down traditional boundaries for learning, teaching
and research by stimulating new ways of exploring materials.
Rossetti archive is among about 40 digital projects affiliated with
U.Va.s internationally known Institute for Advanced Technology,
of which McGann is a co-founder.
Rossetti and Blake are ideally suited to "an all-purpose, multimedia,
hypermedia environment for editing cultural works," McGann
said. "You cant really edit Rossetti in textual form
because he is, like Blake, a multimedia artist."
award also cites McGanns work in creating "the Ivanhoe
Game," a Web-based software application for enhancing the critical
study of traditional humanities materials. He developed the game
with his colleague Johanna Drucker, professor of media studies at
U.Va., and a team of graduate students and computer scientists.
added that he believes digital expertise is an increasingly marketable
skill for the young humanist willing to put in the effort to acquire
it. And at a time when even major scholarly books often fail to
sell 1,000 copies, he sees digital publishing as an important avenue
for a new generation. "I believe that our scholarship will
increasingly be transferred to a digital archiving and delivery
system," he said. "And our scholarship will be even better
numerous traditional studies, McGann also has edited "Byron: The
Complete Poetical Works" and "The New Oxford Book of Romantic Period
Verse" and is author of "Fiery
Byron's Poetic Achievement" and "Poetics of Sensibility." He is
a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and, among
many other honors, has held two Guggenheim and two National Endowment
for the Humanities fellowships.
accomplishments and ambitions place McGann in an important tradition
of humanities scholarship, according to Willard McCarty, senior
lecturer at the Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College
London, and a member of the awards selection committee.
job of the humanities scholar is to look beyond the claims made
for technology and the obvious uses, to question long-term consequences
and implications and, most significant of all, to discover
how the new knowledge-making instrument empowers our imaginations."
David Rice, National Humanities Center, (919) 549-0661 or Bob Brickhouse,
U.Va. News Services, (434) 924-6836