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CWRC: Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory

People Involved

Ofer Arazy, Susan Brown (PI), Marie Carrière, Arie Croitoru, Patricia Demers, Carole Gerson, Isobel Grundy, Dean Irvine, Stan Ruecker, Eleni Stroulia


Image:NewsStory FacultyofArts UniversityofAlberta CWRC.pdf

During the Winter of 2010, student team in CMPUT 301, explored some ideas for visualizing the Orlando data set. See two demos at Project Author and at Author Exploration Suite 9000.

Words move. They move us to understand Canada’s tradition and diversity. They move 166,701 majors, including future leaders in politics, business, education, and culture, yearly through humanities programs of Canadian universities. They move $3.3 billion yearly through our publishing industry. They move people halfway around the world to visit Anne of Green Gables’ farmhouse on PEI.

Words move differently now, through semi-conductors, across screens, at lightning speed, and in vast quantities. Scholars have studied how words make and move us for centuries, but the digital turn demands new tools and new tool environments.

The Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory (CWRC, pronounced "quirk") has been funded by the Canadian Foundation for Innovation’s Leading Edge Fund to establish an online infrastructure for literary research in and about Canada.

What is CWRC?

The Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory is an innovative online project designed to enable unprecedented avenues for studying the words that most move people in and about Canada. At this critical juncture when Canada’s literary heritage is moving online, management of information about Canadian cultural history still relies on tools derived from print models, which cannot accommodate the explosion of online materials. Literary studies must shift from the conventional model of solitary scholars working on small groups of texts, towards fertile large-scale cross- disciplinary collaborative energies. CWRC’s specialized interface will connect scattered and siloed data; investigate links between writers, texts, places, groups, policies, and events; advance understanding of past and present cultural change; and produce fascinating new knowledge accessible to Canadians and the world.

The Collaboratory will be an innovative web-based service-oriented platform combining:

  • a database (Online Research Canada, ORCA) to house born-digital scholarly materials, digitized texts, and metadata (indices, annotations, cross-references). Content and tools will be open access wherever possible and designed for interoperability with each other and with other systems. The database will be seeded with a range of existing digital materials, as well as with information to provide the backbone of an Integrated History of Women's Writing in Canada.
  • a toolkit for empowering new collaborative modes of scholarly writing online; editing, annotating, and analyzing materials in and beyond ORCA; discovering and collaborating with researchers with intersecting interests; mining knowledge about relations, events and trends, through automated methods and interactive visualizations; and analyzing the system’s usage patterns to discover areas for further investigation. Forms of collaboration will range from the sharing and building of fundamental resources such as filmographies, and author and subject bibliographies, to the collaborative production of born-digital historical and literary studies.

CWRC’s key is integration: of system components; of information whose value increases exponentially when combined and subjected to new modes of inquiry; of scholarly materials with the massive archive of digital texts; of scholars themselves.

Who is CWRC for?

CWRC involves more than one hundred scholars from across Canada, with the aim of engaging the Canadian writing research community at large and researchers worldwide, as both contributors and users, in the task of devising new tools and methods of scholarship to meet the digital turn. The CWRC infrastructure builds on the Orlando Project's expertise in collaborative online scholarly production.

CWRC’s partners and supporters include:

The CLC provides leadership on the research side of this project, playing a major role on the CRWC Board, convening regular meetings of researchers and projects involved in CRWC, coordinating research grant applications and funding, and contributing to outreach, dissemination, administration and scholarly output in both official languages.