Scholarly and Experimental Archives

The scholarly archive, Jane Austen’s MSS Archive, is a collection of “some 1100 pages of fiction written in Jane Austen’s own hand” that follow her writing throughout her entire life. This site allows the reader to see the original, hand written copy of her stories and notes, finished or unfinished, beside a typed version of her work. Another way her writing can be viewed is through what is called a “Headnote” which gives information about the “manuscript’s history and physical description.” This site also offers a feature called “zoomify” that allows the reader to zoom in to one of her manuscripts and get a clear, defined picture. This put the reader face to face with the “real deal” where the roughness and crinkles of the page can almost be felt. In one of her books with printed text, meaning and plot can be understood, but seeing her actual handwriting and the shape of the paper adds a new, revealing dimension. Her feelings can be seen when her handwriting changes, and the wear of the paper could indicate a lot of use and revision. It is almost like the reader can see what she was feeling while she wrote her stories in a whole new way than just her words alone.

The experimental archive, The Ecclesiastical Proust Archive, is an “intensive textual and visual experience of the church motif in Marcel Prousts A la recherche du temps perdu (In Search of Lost Time).” It contains pictures of these churches and “a searchable database that pairs all church-related passages,” allowing the reader to easily browse, search, and find particular information. Along with these features are blog entries from the creators and discussion forums, which continually shape the way the archive is read. With notes from the author, the reader can feel involved and up-to-date with new information pertaining to the church motif in Marcel Prousts. The discussion forum lets a reader become a user because they can interact with the archive.

Both archives interact with the reader, but in different ways. The Jane Austen Archive lets the reader feel a her writing in tangible way, while the Proust Archive continually updates the reader and allows chances for discussion. Both archives are well organized and can be easily searched. Both include meaningful and informative pictures, but in different ways – the Jane Austen Archive shows pictures of her writing while the Proust Archive shows pictures of churches – both important to inferences and conclusions of the archive’s information. Overall, both archives are very useful, insightful, and informative, letting the reader feel and interact with these subjects in a new way than what a book or paper alone could do.


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