University of Virginia, College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

The future of literary history: Mass-digitized collections, literary data, and American fiction in the Antipodes

April 24, 2018


In the 19th century, newspapers were the main publishers of fiction in Australia; in the 21st century, the National Library of Australia’s Trove database represents the largest collection of mass-digitized historical newspapers internationally. These conditions present an opportunity to explore the capacity of mass-digitized collections to transform how we approach and understand literary history. Analyzing Trove uncovered more than 21,000 novels, novellas, and short stories published in Australian newspapers between 1865 and 1914. This fiction encompasses canonical works, alongside many hundreds of previously unrecorded titles, and represents titles from around the world, with extensive publication of British, Australian, and American stories, significant amounts of French and German literature in translation, as well as fiction from as far afield as Austria, Canada, Holland, Japan, South Africa, Sweden, Russia, and beyond.

Bode’s research considers the new insights into past literary cultures, as well as the new practices for present and future literary history, that mass-digitized collections enable. She first explores how these discoveries expand the transnational history of American literature, by investigating the publication and reception of American fiction in 19th-century Australia. Bode then suggests new research practices that mass-digitized collections necessitate and enable for literary history. In her lecture, she will focus on the approaches to data required of literary history in the digital age, as well as the new collaborations and publics for literary history that data-rich research makes possible.

About Katherine Bode

Katherine Bode is Associate Professor of Literary and Textual Studies in the School of Literature, Languages, and Linguistics at the Australian National University in Canberra. She has published extensively in literary studies, digital humanities, and book history, and her latest monograph, A World of Fiction: Digital Collections and the Future of Literary History, is forthcoming with University of Michigan Press in July 2018.

All are welcome to attend both the talk and DH Mixer following, with or without registering here. We ask you to register so we can get a rough count for the caterer. Thank you!


Brooks Hall Commons (Anthropology Building)
4:00 - 5:30pm followed by a DH Mixer from 5:30 - 7pm