sotonDH Small Grants: Visualising intertextual dimensions of the Gothic itinerary in George Sand’s Consuelo (1842) and La Comtesse de Rudolstadt (1843) – Post 2 by Marilyn Mallia and Neville Grech
In the preparatory phase, I cleared the way for copyright free texts, images and open access articles which could serve as links. Putting the project in practice involved a more collaborative dimension, since the ideas needed to be translated in clear visual terms and according to programming practicality.
Our implementation makes use of the latest web technologies. For example, we use some semantic web features of HTML5 such as sections and itemprops. These features do not change the presentation of the tool, but are instead used to annotate the text with machine readable information. This is used in conjunction with client side libraries such as JQuery and techniques such as AJAX to provide an enhanced user experience. The downside however is that our tool can only run on modern browsers.
We chose to host our tool on the google app engine. This choice was made since part of the team has professional experience with this platform and the tools it offers. Google app engine is also very fast, reliable and free for low traffic websites such as this one.
A constant concern while making choices for how best to build this tool was user ease of access and simplicity – what would best facilitate user navigation without losing sight of the complexities of the literary material? We therefore decided that some kind of contextualisation was necessary, which is why we added two sections preceding the actual spiral: one on George Sand, and one on the Gothic itinerary. These lead up to the main section, Consuelo’s gothic itinerary.
We also had to think of ways to integrate helpful prompts to the reader to accompany the reading experience. The solution was to insert the prompts at strategic locations while scrolling. Event handlers were subsequently set up to listen to events caused by a user scrolling through the modal dialog. These inspected the currently displayed HTML for metadata relating to user prompts and the content on a separate prompt window would then be automatically adjusted to reflect the text the user is currently reading. As regards to accompanying pictures, we decided that these will be present as thumbnails that the user can enlarge at any point of his reading of the extract.