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English Professor Receives Research Chair Designation

MAPP is an international initiative to preserve and build upon the histories of lesser-known figures in 20th-century book publication.

Dr. Elizabeth Willson Gordon was in the air, travelling home from a trip to Iceland when she received con­firmation of her Canada Research Chair (CRC) position in modernist literature and print culture.

Under normal conditions, Dr. Willson Gordon’s research affords plenty of travel opportunities between Canada, the United States, and Europe. This is because her work happens alongside a global com­munity of colleagues that spans nine time zones. Her research is focused on the Mod­ernist Archives Publishing Project (MAPP), a digital archive of early twentieth-century publishing history. The Canada Research Chair position will allow Willson Gordon to dedicate more time to this project.

MAPP seeks to give full histories, not just to the already-famous authors of the book world, but to celebrate the value of obscure lives and show the collaborative nature of twentieth-century book produc­tion. It provides free access to this data so researchers can easily access information on genealogy, publishing data, and more.

The MAPP team recently received a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council of the United Kingdom. Worth about £300,000, the grant will help the MAPP team build connections between institutions and researchers, partner with new organizations, enhance digital resources, generate new scholarship, and host public workshops and events.

The increased funding will also allow MAPP to form new partnerships with museums to create online exhibits with remote access to relevant collections. The MAPP website will be redesigned and relaunched as the team considers how best to organize and represent the thou­sands of items in their database and the surprising new discoveries they contain about what was popular and what sold.

MAPP seeks to give full histories, not just to the already-famous authors of the book world, but to celebrate the value of obscure lives and show the collaborate nature of twentieth-century book production.

Much of this work relies on the efforts of hired student researchers.

At King’s, students have written many of the biographies published on the MAPP website, presented their research at a conference in England, been published in book collections, and had opportunities to work with other student research assis­tants from around the world.

Most student researchers at King’s are English students, but the hope is to invite more computing science students into the project in the near future. King’s students have the opportunity to work alongside students from other institutions across the globe who bring other skills and exper­tise ranging across library sciences, digital humanities, and design.

Willson Gordon attributes the success of MAPP to collaboration between friends. “It is a project that began organically. I would not be in the same place I am today with­out my wonderful colleagues and friends,” she says. “King’s has been so supportive of my research. Not every small liberal arts university would have been.”

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