January 25, 2022

University of Kansas: Metadata Project to Seek Trends, Themes in African-American Literature

From KU News:

2016-09-13_22-22-28The University of Kansas’ Project on the History of Black Writing has received a startup grant that will seek to develop a process to pave the way for examining texts in ethnic literature, especially those that deal with the complexities of race.

“In traditional literary research, you can’t work with 70 books at a time, like you can in this research. In a way, that can limit the broad analysis, and scholars are left to make assumptions about what the main subjects are — based on a limited pool of work — in a genre,” said Maryemma Graham, HBW’s founder and director. “But with technology, scholars are able to look, and in many cases, bring more important trends and themes to light.”

The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded the $40,000 grant to HBW, whose partners include the KU Institute for Digital Research in the Humanities, The Chicago Text Lab at the University of Chicago and the College Language Association.

The Black Book Interactive Project, or BBIP, for the next 18 months will connect a team of African-American scholars with digital humanities specialists.


The HBW, founded in 1983 and now based at KU, is the oldest and longest continually active literary archive that connects black writing and culture with the public humanities in United States and abroad.

Graham said the metadata schema developed for the BBIP will seek to create and model settings that can help scholars create and identify the critical factor of race and reflect those discourses in which African-American literature scholars are engaged. The project also aims to give increased attention to limitations of the current experimental data-mining tools that exclude significant groups of writers and relevant collections.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.