The Man Into Woman Project: transgender narratives, editorial practices, and the Digital Humanities

The Man Into Woman Project: transgender narratives, editorial practices, and the Digital Humanities


The Man Into Woman Project aims to produce a comparative scholarly edition of Man Into Woman (or Fra Mand til Kvinde its original Danish version). A print edition will be published by Bloomsbury Academic (London) and it will be accompanied by a digital archive hosted by Loyola University Chicago’s Libraries and supported by the Center for Textual Studies and Digital Humanities. This digital archive will provide searchable versions of all four editions of this work (Danish, German, British and American) as well as the German typescript and the first English language translation of the Danish edition. It will allow users to study how a narrative of transgender was shaped by cultural values, linguistic choices, and editorial decisions.

The conception of this project began years ago, in the Spring of 2012, when Dr. Pamela Caughie, the project director and Professor of English at Loyola, wrote an article comparing Man Into Woman with Orlando, by Virginia Woolf. After this first approach to Man Into Woman, Caughie decided to further explore this narrative and, with the aid of three students, Jonathan Reinhardt, Anthony Betori and Niamh McGuigan (M.A in Digital Humanities and current Head of Reference Services at the Loyola University Libraries) she started comparing the different editions of this work. The comparison between the works continued in the Summer of 2014 when, with the help of two graduate students, Anthony Betori and Hannah Gillow Kloster, who, Caughie performed and extensive comparison between the German, Danish, and American editions. The Man Into Woman Project officially began in 2016 when Dr. Caughie received a contract with Bloomsbury Publishing’s Modernist Archives to publish the printed scholarly edition and the support of the CTSDH and Loyola University Libraries for the development of the digital archive.

Quinn Christianson, who graduated from Loyola last December with a Bachelors in  Computer Science worked on the Man Into Woman Project during his last semester. Christianson started as an English major but switched to Computer Science after deciding that he wanted to go into Information/Library Science. He worked on the first stages of this digital project, helping with the book scanning of the different editions, as well as converting the resultant files into JPEGs that could be easily read by an OCR software. This experience contributed to his future professional plans: “I now know the steps that you have to take to get a project completed and the challenges that you are likely to run into”. Working on this project also allowed him to think more about the intersection of computing and the disciplines of the humanities and how these disciplines can complement each other. “I believe that the humanities and computing can compliment each other by humanities being living data and computing being the tools to process that data, so we can discover facts about people and the world,” he reflected.

Emily Datskos, an English Ph.D. student, has been working with the Man Into Woman Project for the past academic year. She got interested in being involved with  the project because this previously marginalized work deals with various topics related to her research interests in queer theory and gender, sexuality and trans theory, but also because she wanted to work on a Digital Humanities project. For her, “technology has become an important part of our lives, both as students and as academics. And anyone planning on working in academia needs to be able to use technology in their teaching and their own research.” Datskos has worked in the different stages of this project, from the digitalization of the editions to the proofreading the OCR’d versions of the scanned documents. Starting next year, she will be acting as project manager and she hopes that, with a growing team of students, they will be able to have all four editions of the work (German, Danish, British, American) fully digitized and searchable across editions.

By working in the Man Into Woman Project Datskos has learned a great deal about different aspects of Digital Humanities and has become particularly interested in digitization processes and accessibility. “I am most interested in the ways in which digitization allows us to produce a living, evolving document,” she shared. “For example, at the end of this project, we hope to be able to combine the 4 editions of Man Into Woman into one giant compilation to track how the different editions represent certain themes in the text. While this comparison can certainly be done with the print editions, making it digital not only makes the process faster but also more accessible and allows readers to look at a variety of aspects in the text altogether. And it is this accessibility that I think is the most productive element in the relationship between computing and the humanities”.

The Man Into Woman Project engaged Loyola students and faculty with experts on both sides of the Atlantic. Three external consultants have helped with the translation, transcription, and encoding processes and will continue to perform relevant duties in the future stages of the project. Dr. Sabine Meyer will serve as co-editor and translator for all German and Danish materials (except the Danish edition). She will also provide annotations for the scholarly edition, identifying historical figures and places and noting variants across the four editions. Dr. Nikolaus Wasmoen (University of Rochester) is currently the project manager for Modernist Networks, a federation of digital projects in modernism co-directed by Pamela Caughie and David Chinitz of Loyola University Chicago. He will serve as the digital technician and a co-editor for this edition. Dr. Marianne Ølholm (University of Copenhagen), an experienced translator, will translate the Danish edition into English, the first full-length translation of this work. Ølholm will also assist the co-editors in the collation of the Danish, German, and English-language editions.

The success of a DH project can been seen in its ability to attract new partners More Loyola Graduate students will be collaborating on this project in future stages. They will be working in the textual encoding process (TEI encoding), as well as working with a web designer to mount a testing version of the site with indexes, menus, transcription viewer, and initial search functionality provided via COLLEX. They will also develop advanced indexing and search capabilities to support multiple languages and interconnections among text, images, and annotations as well as test, update and maintain the website. Certainly, there is still much work to be done in this ambitious project, and the CTSDH is looking forward to continuing providing the necessary technological and technical resources for the further development of this amazing initiative.