TNA Fellow Louis Burnard: Reviving the Victorian Plays Project

The project aims to investigate the feasibility of reviving and bringing up to date the Victorian Plays Project, currently hosted in Galway but apparently inactive since 2015.  Its chief deliverable will be an enhanced digital catalogue, and an accompanying corpus, representing a major collection of English language dramatic texts from the  Victorian period. The corpus will combine transcription and images of the Lacy’s Acting
Editions of Plays, as published between 1845 and 1870. It will be consistently and accurately encoded following the Guidelines of the TEI, as will the accompanying bibliographic and other descriptive metadata. It will be maintained as an open repository on GitHub, with all converted
materials made available under a CC-BY licence.

A further goal of the project will be to investigate and report on the the applicability of “machine  learning” techniques as a means of enhancing the performance of existing OCR platforms, to facilitate the automatic transformation of page images to structured transcripts, leveraging the information provided by the typography of this complex but highly conventionalised material. With the availability of a large and uniformly encoded corpus, the project will focus will shift to considerations and experiments showing how computational methods  may invigorate the investigation of such topics as continuity and change in theatrical discourse, the emergence and mutation of dramatic stereotypes, or the mutual dependency of
Victorian theatre and Victorian novel.

Check this short video to find out more about the project aims and outcomes as Louis Burnard talks us through his developments during his TNA fellowship