College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Department of English

Project Abstract

Scholars have access to millions of books in digital archives, but a negligible number of these are African American (AA) literary texts. Thus, despite the extensive recovery of AA writing and its growth as part of contemporary literature, its relationship to the Digital Humanities is characterized by a critical invisibility. The Black Book Interactive Project (BBIP) is an eighteen-month project that proposes to create a metadata schema for AA literary texts to make these archives more discoverable for scholarship.

Using approximately 75 novels from the Project on the History of Black Writing digital archive as our model, we will produce a metadata schema that can

  • (a) serve as a demonstration project for scholarly networks that focus on research in AA literature; and
  • (b) enhance access to little known AA texts and link to more familiar texts.

Our belief is that a proper metadata schema would enable text mining and related computational research in AA literature, bridging the gap between these invisible archives and the field of digital scholarship. To the extent that we are able, this metadata schema could become interoperable with other discovery systems and open source data; however, because of the absence of AA digital archives and the absence of metadata schemas that account for race, our hope is that the schema we develop will become a standard for the interactive exploration of similar digitized collections.

Diversifying the Digital Humanities


One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
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Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
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