About Reading New England

Notes on work in progress

Under the auspices of the University of Massachusetts Press, Reading New England will publish an ongoing series of digital critical editions of landmark works by our region's most important authors. Like paper-based critical editions of classic texts, each digital critical edition will include a comprehensive introduction, detailed annotations, and expert commentary. However, unlike paper-based books, our editions will also feature a wealth of documentary images, historical newspaper and periodical articles, and, as appropriate, sound and video files. These multimedia materials will be configured to locate primary texts within their historical eras, document their initial reception, and provide educational insight into especially important themes. While each digital critical edition will be designed for adoption in standard college courses, the inclusion of lively analysis and multimedia resources will make these editions appealing to first-time readers and established scholars alike.

Our first three digital critical editions, Louis Brandeis and Samuel Warren's "The Right to Privacy" (1890), Henry David Thoreau's "Resistance to Civil Government" (1849), and W.E.B. Du Bois' The Souls of Black Folk (1903) will be made freely available to the public in late 2009 and early 2010. We plan to make subsequent publications similarly accessible, but we also intend to explore the feasibility of offering some digital critical editions, especially those that would appeal mainly to advanced students and scholars, available via individual and institutional subscriptions.

The future of Reading New England will be determined by our success in obtaining external funding and institutional support. However, our guiding purpose is to take advantage of digital technologies to promote public understanding of the most significant contributions to New England's rich intellectual history. Towards that goal, we are currently seeking long-term funding to sustain the production and publication of freely accessible digital critical editions of works by other important authors including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, and Lydia Maria Child.

Our work on Reading New England during 2008-2009 has been generously supported by a grant from the President's Creative Economy Initiatives Fund at the University of Massachusetts.

UMass Participants

  • Susan E. Gallagher, Political Science Department, UMass Lowell, P.I.
  • Amilcar Shabazz, Chair, Afro-American Studies Department, UMass Amherst, Advisory Editor
  • Bruce Wilcox, University of Massachusetts Press, Consultant

External Participants

  • Michael Fredrick, Executive Director, Thoreau Society, Advisory Editor
  • Brianne Keith, Thoreau Society, Archival Research
  • Robert Gross, History Department, University of Connecticut, Advisory Editor
  • William G. Staples, Sociology Department, University of Kansas, Advisory Editor
  • Judith Wagner DeCew, Philosophy Department, Clark University, Advisory Editor
  • Cheryl Gray, Multimedia Applications/Academic Technology Specialist
  • Yvette Perullo, Web Site Design and Implementation