Book Unbound

The Book Unbound project addresses  questions of how to bring digital publication of humanities scholarship to a public, multi-layered audience.  Supported  by  a Humanities Collaboratory grant, a College of Literature, Science, and the Arts program that offers funding to innovative, collaborative research projects in the humanities, brings together a multi-disciplinary team. . Heading the project for its first year is Sweetland Center for Writing Director Anne Gere, supported by a team including Sweetland’s Associate Director Naomi Silver; Sweetland Graduate Research Assistants Emily Wilson, Naitnaphit Limlamai, and Adrienne Raw; and faculty, graduate and undergraduate students from across campus. Nicola Terrenato (Classical Studies) will be the project’s principal investigator in its second year. Matthew Solomon (Screen Arts and Cultures) is a Faculty Associate on the project as is Kentaro Toyama (School of Information), who will advise on user experience. Charles Watkinson, Director of the University of Michigan Press and a key originator of the project, and David Stone of the Kelsey Museum are Project Associates on the team.

Focused around three scholarly texts currently in development, Book Unbound explores how digital publication enables different experiences for different users, offering access for a general reading public in one “layer,” an enhanced scholarly publication for academic readers in another “layer,” and entry to a database of primary materials for future researchers in yet another “layer.” Texts in development are

  • an archaeological publication of a second online volume from the Gabii Project, in which 3D imaging software is being used to document an ancient Roman city,
  • and a cinema and media studies publication presenting a multimedia archive edition of the unproduced Orson Welles screenplay “The Heart of Darkness.”

The third text is Sweetland’s writing studies publication, Developing Writers: A Longitudinal Study of Undergraduates, a massive longitudinal study of the multiple and uneven ways students develop as writers in college. The text documents student writing development in print and digital media, and addresses public questions about the value of higher education. In addition to its development through Book Unbound, it is being considered for publication in print and online through the Digital Rhetoric Collaborative book series with the University of Michigan Press.

Digital publications of all texts in the project are facilitated through Fulcrum, a publishing platform being developed at the University of Michigan with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Jeremy Morse and Jon McGlone, of the Michigan Publishing Technologies team, are heading up the project’s work on Fulcrum.

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