Editorial Principles

Editorial Principles and Practice

The Yellow Nineties Online publishes facsimile editions of aesthetic, avant-garde periodicals chosen for their significance in relation to The Yellow Book, the defining cultural document of the yellow nineties. Preserving the physical features of each periodical in virtual form, together with paratexts of production and reception (such as cover designs, advertising materials, and reviews), enables users to analyze the significance of each periodical’s materiality as well as its content. To enhance contextual study, the editors write critical introductions for each volume and publish peer-reviewed biographies of the periodicals’ contributors and associates by experts in the field. We also publish self-reflexive essays on the critical processes involved in this large-scale digital humanities project, as we believe the aesthetic periodicals of the long 1890s anticipate key conceptual and methodological concerns of digital humanities publishing practices. Committed to collaborative scholarship, the editors welcome submissions to the “Pedagogical Applications” page from teachers using the site. Both primary and secondary materials, including all visual and bibliographical materials, are marked up in XML using the TEI (Textual-Encoding Initiative) markup language.

Our editorial horizon encompasses the long 1890s and the international community of authors, artists, editors, publishers, photographic engravers, readers, and reviewers who contributed to the production and reception of the period’s aesthetic periodicals. Our editorial method is informed by social-text editing principles. By “text” we mean visual and verbal printed material, including non-referential physical elements such as bindings, page layouts, and ornaments. We view any text as the outcome of collaborative processes that have specific manifestations at precise historical moments.

We have decided to produce digital editions of selected 1890s periodicals for the following reasons: 1)their crumbling paper makes virtual preservation a matter of cultural urgency; 2) their location in rare book libraries and private collections makes access difficult for users; 3) the size and material complexities of these periodicals make print editions too expensive to publish; 4) digitization allows us to do things as editors that we could not do in print: situate a facsimile of each volume within both an enriched historical archive of contemporary paratextual material and a peer-reviewed environment of scholarly resources; 5) computer technology empowers new ways of reading, viewing, and analyzing the aesthetic magazines of 1890s print culture; and 6) encoding all digital documents in markup language facilitates the complex searches these aesthetic objects demand, not only within The Yellow Nineties Online, but also across the federated sites of nineteenth-century electronic scholarship within the NINES consortium.

Editorial Decisions

We chose the thirteen-volume Yellow Book (1894-1897) as our site’s central focus because it is a defining cultural document of the period. We included the single-volume Pagan Review (1892) in the initial phase of The Yellow Nineties Online because of its many connections to The Yellow Book, its extreme rarity (only two copies are known to us), and its expansion of the publishing context from urban London to rural Sussex. The publication of these two periodicals and their respective paratextual materials allows users to juxtapose key print documents of the aesthetic/decadent movement and the Celtic Revival and neo-paganism.

The next stage of site development will produce searchable facsimile editions of The Dial (five volumes, published occasionally between 1889-1897), The Evergreen (four volumes, 1895-97), The Green Sheaf (13 volumes, 1903-6), and The Savoy (two quarterly and six monthly issues, 1896).

Our theory of text as socially and collaboratively produced is made explicit in the Biographies section of the site. We aim to publish a peer-reviewed scholarly biography for every contributor to the periodical editions we publish—not only authors and artists, but also editors, publishers, and engravers. In order to ensure a supportive historical context of people associated in various ways with the period, we also include biographies of individuals who made significant contributions to the 1890s in the areas of culture, literature, visual art, book-design, publishing, and technological innovation.

With a view to our mixed audience of scholars, students, and the general public, we provide an editorial introduction for each volume we publish.

Future site developments will include visualization tools to facilitate new ways of viewing objects, relationships, and networks on the site, and thus new ways to approach aesthetic periodicals within fin-de-siècle cultural studies.

All scholarly material on the site is vetted by the editors and peer-reviewed by them and an internationalboard of advisors. The site as a whole is peer-reviewed by NINES (Networked Infrastructure for Nineteenth-Century Electronic Scholarship). Contributors to the site retain personal copyright of their material. The site is licensed with a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 license.

Technical Decisions

Sponsored by the Faculty of Arts’ Centre for Digital Humanities, The Yellow Nineties Online is housed on Ryerson University’s MS SQL server. The site combines PHP and ASP (for generating dynamic page content) with HTML.

The verbal texts of all periodicals are scanned by Optical-Character Recognition software and checked against copy text as part of the markup process. Where possible, we use first editions of the periodical as copy text. All visual images (including cover designs, decorated title pages, illustrations, and textual ornaments) are photographed in 600 DPI for archival storage as tiff files, and (because of size considerations) displayed on the site as jpegs in 120 DPI. Visual images have been minimally edited using Photoshop to adjust colour and resolution in order to enhance accuracy of representation.

The TEI (Textual Encoding Initiative) markup of our documents is available to all users. We have chosen to encode in the Textual Encoding Initiative’s XML to facilitate interoperability within the wider digital humanities community. All TEI-encoded materials are transformed into HTML using Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations prepared by The Yellow Nineties Online team. Our metadata is indexed using the NINES Resource Description Framework.

Searching The Yellow Nineties Online is achieved through either a general or advanced full-text search. Both query methods take advantage of Microsoft SQL Server’s full-text search algorithm in order to rank search results from most relevant to least through the use of predefined full-text indices. The general search queries the database for records that match the meaning, rather than the exact wording, of a user-defined search string. The advanced full-text search returns records that more precisely match the words/phrases within a user-defined search string while also accounting for the proximity of words. The advanced search can also be further refined with the use of structured filters.

In order to return visual texts along with verbal texts in all searches, we have adapted the iconographic proforma developed by Dr. Julia Thomas at the Database of Mid-Victorian Victorian Illustration (DMVI) to markup periodical images. Our iconographic proforma expands on the pre-fabricated search algorithm by adding metadata that is specifically relevant to the period and medium. As this is something computer programmes cannot do for us yet, The Yellow Nineties Online research team is developing new methodologies for scholarly, contextual image searching. In addition to bibliographic and iconographic metadata, our proforma include prose descriptions that are not only marked up for searching but are also available as descriptors of images for the visually impaired. The markup draws on a restricted vocabulary list established by an iconographic index we have developed for the site, using the following broad categories: period, geography, setting, people, objects, and transcription. This dual mark-up system for images ensures that image searches using, for example, the keyword “bird” will return visual records of swans, flocks, and other aviary images.

To ensure maximum flexibility for users, textual materials are available on the site as virtual objects (facsimiles) in flipbook form, in HTML for online reading, in PDF for downloading and collecting, and in XML for those who wish to review our tag sets.

The Ryerson University server that houses our site backs up changed files on a daily incremental basis, with full backups every week. In addition, we have stored all of the site’s documents on two external hard drives (one reserved for image files) and new files are backed up weekly.