Lost visions: a descriptive metadata crowdsourcing and search platform for nineteenth-century book illustrations

Havery, I and Lloyd, N (2016) 'Lost visions: a descriptive metadata crowdsourcing and search platform for nineteenth-century book illustrations.' Studies in the Digital Humanities - Proceedings of the Digital Humanities Congress 2014. ISSN 2050-7224

Official URL: http://www.hrionline.ac.uk/openbook/pdf/dhc2014-ha...


Despite the mass digitization of books, illustrations have remained more or less invisible. As an aesthetic form, illustration is conventionally positioned at the bottom of a hierarchy that places painting and sculpture at the top. The hybridity or bi-mediality of illustration is also problematic, the genre having fallen between the cracks of literary studies and art history. In a digital context, illustration has fared no better: new technologies can aid the editing of a literary text far more successfully than they can deal with the images that accompany it. This article considers the challenges and research implications of the AHRC-funded ‘Lost Visions’ project. The project focused on the development of a fully-searchable online database of over a million book illustrations from the British Library’s collections. The images span the late eighteenth to the early twentieth century, cover a variety of reproductive techniques (including etching, wood engraving, lithography and photography) and are taken from around 68,000 works of literature, history, geography and philosophy. A ‘big data’ project of this nature inevitably raises a variety of challenges: this paper focuses on the methods undertaken to supplement the initial bibliographic metadata for the collection and to analyse and tag iconographic features of illustrations in order to aid searchability. In doing so, it reveals a number of new research questions about the digital image archive and about how we might read images in the digital age, allowing for further development in the fields of both illustration studies and digital humanities.

Item Type: Article

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The official citation to be used is:

Havery, Ian and Nicky Lloyd. 'Lost Visions: A Descriptive Metadata Crowdsourcing and Search Platform for Nineteenth-Century Book Illustrations'. In: Clare Mills, Michael Pidd and Jessica Williams. Proceedings of the Digital Humanities Congress 2014. Studies in the Digital Humanities.
Sheffield: HRI Online Publications, 2014.Available online at:<http://www.hrionline.ac.uk/openbook/chapter/dhc2014-harvey>

Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Divisions: School of Writing, Publishing and the Humanities
Identification Number: http://www.hrionline.ac.uk/openbook/book/dhc2014
Date Deposited: 16 Jun 2016 15:51
Last Modified: 15 Aug 2021 09:42
URI / Page ID: https://researchspace.bathspa.ac.uk/id/eprint/7768
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