The Brontës in the World

The Brontës in the World:

Creating a Digital Bibliography to Expand Access to Single-Language Sources

A collection of Brontë-related Japanese works on a tableThis website will serve as the home for a collaborative project to explore the circulation and popularization of the Brontë sisters’ work throughout the world.  Leading this project are Professor Judith Pascoe, the George Mills Harper Professor of English at Florida State University (FSU), and Matthew Hunter, the Digital Scholarship Technologist at FSU Libraries. Prof. Pascoe’s research interests include Romantic-era literature and cross-cultural adaptation. Mr. Hunter’s work centers on applications of emerging technology in humanities scholarship and pedagogy.

This page will soon host the first iteration of a collaborative, multidisciplinary project carried out by a team of researchers at Florida State University under the direction of Pascoe and Hunter. In this initial stage, the research team is focusing on the cultural impact of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights in Japan. Our work is enabled by a partnership with the FSU Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP), which encourages undergraduate students to discover and explore their own research interests with mentorship from university faculty. We designed this project to build on Pascoe’s Brontë research, but also to allow undergraduate researchers to track the Brontës’ legacy in a variety of cultural contexts. Although we have focused on the Brontës in Japan for this first iteration of our project, the project will develop in keeping with the foreign language strengths and particular research interests of subsequent generations of student researchers.

An open Zotero library will be made available as part of this project to gather, organize, and augment bibliographic metadata related to Brontë adaptations. We set out to compile and enrich open data culled from library catalogs and catalog aggregator sources, such as OCLC’s WorldCat and the National Diet Library Search. We do so in order to create a new contact point for enriched bibliographic data, a reference site that illuminates how Western literature has been transformed through translation and adaptation in non-Western contexts, and that makes information about these adaptations more broadly accessible.

As a key research interest in producing this bibliography, we grapple with how bibliographic structures fail to accommodate non-Western cultural markers present in materials such as the Brontë adaptations. For example, our students have noticed that some adaptations’ multiple creator roles (artists, editors, directors, storyline adapters, inkers, etc.) are not reflected in “standard” bibliographic categories, and that non-Western naming conventions are often not easily represented.

Together with our students, we will engage with Zotero as a hermeneutic device that helps us think about the organizational structures imposed by current cataloguing systems. As our research team adds bespoke tagged and relational data to our library, we see how connections among our sources enable some forms of relationship-building but delimit others. For us, tagging is meaning-making. While interacting with this tool, our students and we have, by necessity, questioned how we access and compartmentalize knowledge.

“The Brontës in the World” stands as an effort to showcase the transmission of the Brontës’ work, but also as a meditation on data organization that, we hope, will fuel conversations in the international DH community about the affordances and limitations of current resource management infrastructure.