Archive for the 'News' Category

Jeremy Bentham, revision, and self-censorship: the ‘Third Letter to Lord Pelham’

By Tim Causer, on 10 October 2018

To say that Jeremy Bentham was a prolific writer would be a massive understatement: UCL Library Special Collections and the British Library hold between them some 100,000 manuscript pages which he either wrote or composed. According to Bentham’s literary executor John Bowring—who oversaw the production of the eleven-volume edition of Bentham’s works and correspondence published from 1838 to 1843—Bentham wrote, ‘on an average, from ten to fifteen folio pages a-day. He was seldom satisfied with the first expression of his thoughts, and generally developed his views over and over again’. Bentham would also have written many more than the 100,000 or so extant pages, as when he printed or published a text he typically destroyed the manuscripts on which it was based, making it impossible to trace the iterative development of a text in the manner described by Bowring. (For more on Bentham’s writing process, see P. Schofield, Bentham: A Guide for the Perplexed, London, 2009, pp. 30-5).

‘Jeremy Bentham writing, 1827’, engraving by George Washington Appleton after Robert Matthew Sully, ‘The Yankee: and Boston Literary Gazette’, vol. i (1829).

Editing Bentham’s ‘Third Letter to Lord Pelham’ (1802-3), which exists only in manuscript and has recently been made available for the first time for a volume of his Writings on Australiaprovides a brief glimpse at certain stages of Bentham’s writing process. In two preceding ‘Letters to Lord Pelham’ (Pelham then being the Home Secretary) Bentham had condemned both the practice of transporting convicts to New South Wales and the government’s preference for transportation over his panopticon penitentiary scheme, which he had spent much of the last decade trying to persuade the British government to adopt. In the ‘Third Letter’ Bentham turned his attention to the other two major forms of punishment which the government also appeared to prefer over the panopticon, namely what he referred to sarcastically as the ‘improved prisons’ of England and Wales, and the prison hulks, dismasted ships moored on the Thames, at Plymouth, and at Portsmouth.

Surviving among UCL’s Bentham Papers are two (perhaps two and-a-bit) versions of the ‘Third Letter: first is a manuscript draft, dating from November and December 1802, in Bentham’s hand and featuring heavy revisions on several pages; second is a revised fair copy, based on the draft and presumably dating from early 1803, in the hand of Bentham’s amanuensis John Herbert Koe, though with corrections and emendations in Bentham’s hand; finally, the ‘bit’ is a printed sample proof of the first six pages of the prospective text which Bentham had presumably sent to the printer in 1803, before he ultimately decided to abandon the ‘Third Letter’.

First page of the ms draft of the ‘Third Letter to Lord Pelham’, in Bentham’s hand.
(UCL Bentham Papers, Box 116, fo. 534

First page of revised fair copy of the ‘Third Letter to Lord Pelham’, in Koe’s hand with corrections by Bentham.
(UCL Bentham Papers, Box 117, fo. 254)

First page of the sample printed proof of the ‘Third Letter to Lord Pelham’, with corrections by Bentham.
(UCL Bentham Papers, Box 117, f. 261)

 

In late 1802 and early 1803 Bentham had privately printed the first two ‘Letters to Lord Pelham’ and a connected work, ‘A Plea for the Constitution‘, in the hope that the arguments they contained would cajole the government into proceeding with the panopticon. In addition he threatened on several occasions to publish the texts and go public with his allegations about the various illegalities of New South Wales and the corruption of the ministers who had sanctioned them, but each time he held back from following through on those threats. The suspicion is that Bentham realised that to publish these quite radical and subversive texts, so critical of the government and its ministers at a time of fear of political radicalism, could have been calamitous for his reputation and perhaps even for his liberty. (For instance, in February 1803 war with France loomed, and Colonel Edward Despard had been convicted of leading a conspiracy to overthrow the government and assassinate George III). Bentham expressed a particular fear that if his argument, made in ‘A Plea for the Constitution’, that New South Wales had been illegally founded and that the governors’ various local ordinances were all illegally issued, it could prompt a convict uprising and see the ‘setting of the whole Colony in a flame’. Bentham may have feared prosecution for not only seditious libel, but plain libel as well. In this sense, Bentham’s revision of certain parts of the ‘Third Letter’ might have seen Bentham engage not only in self-censorship, but also self-preservation.

 

The Juxta Commons interface, showing the side-by-side visualization of a source and witness text.

Thanks to the wonderful Juxta Commons, a tool produced by Networked Infrastructure for Nineteenth Century Electronic Scholarship (NINES) which allows for the comparison and collation of versions of the same text, it is possible to more closely examine the differences between the draft and the revised fair copy of Bentham’s ‘Third Letter’ (which we have made accessible through the Juxta Commons interface—please see the links below). Juxta Commons’s side-by-side visualization feature displays the draft and the revised fair copy alongside one another, and highlights where the differences between them are found. The majority of these differences consist of relatively slight changes to words and phrasing, correction of spelling, punctuation, and other alterations for sake of clarity—or, in other words, the typical finessing of a text which any writer goes through when drafting and redrafting a work.

There are, however, a number of significant differences between the draft and the revised fair copy, with Bentham presumably having decided that it would be wiser not to include in the latter several rather incendiary passages which he drafted for the former, which touch upon what in Bentham’s view was the deliberate cruelty and corruption of the ministry. The revised fair copy was sharp enough in Bentham’s personal criticism of Pelham and his immediate predecessor as Home Secretary, the Duke of Portland, for having overseen the conditions leading to the appalling mortality aboard the Portsmouth hulks; in the draft Bentham’s criticisms on this point were if anything more vicious.

For instance, Bentham drew comparison between the mortality on the hulks of Langstone Harbour, where in 1801 120 of 500 convicts had died, with the infamous ‘Black Hole’ of Kolkata, a small prison in which, according to the East India Company employee John Zephaniah Holwell, 143 of the 164 British prisoners-of-war died when confined there on the night of 20 June 1765. Invoking the rhetorical power of the ‘Black Hole’, Bentham claimed that conditions on the hulks were in fact far worse and were the result of Home Office policy. As Bentham put it, the ‘Black Hole’ would ‘henceforward yield in proverbiality to Lord Pelham’s and Mr King’s and Mr Baldwin’s Hulk: the Hulk La Fortunée: for such, by a horrible catachresis, happens to to be the denomination of this ever memorable scene of official barbarity and negligence’. (Mr King was John King, Under Secretary at the Home Office 1791-1806, and Mr Baldwin was William Baldwin MP, counsel for criminal and colonial business at the Home Office 1796-1813.)

An extract from the draft (left) and the revised fair copy (right) of the ‘Third Letter to Lord Pelham’ in Juxta Commons, showing the passage comparing the hulks to the ‘Black Hole’ of Calcutta

The draft also contains Bentham’s blunt allegation of corruption and cronyism at the Home Office which was removed from the revised fair copy of the text. Bentham complained about the circumstances of the appointment, provided for by the Hulks Act of 1802, of Aaron Graham, a stipendiary magistrate at Bow Street, as Inspector of the Hulks on a salary of £350 per year. As a London police magistrate Graham’s salary had already been £400 per year, but had recently been increased to £500 per year by the Metropolitan Police Magistrates Act of 1802. Worse still for Bentham than this unwarranted augmentation of Graham’s salary was that Graham had not been appointed on merit but because he was a friend of John King, the Under Secretary at the Home Office, and because he would be willing to whitewash what had been happening on the hulks. Bentham suggested that conditions on the hulks had been allowed to become so bad until there came:

the occasion for recommending a friend [of King’s] to look at it. … A gentleman whose whole time had already been bought for the public and twice overpaid for it: paid by one Act, overpaid by another Act—an Act made on purpose. Two Acts made for one gentleman: both of them at the instance of Your Lordship’s Secretary—both of them under Your Lordship’s auspices. One to overpay a man for business he was already paid for … another to call him off from that to other business, pay and overpay still continued: one for making him receive more money: another for making him do less service.

Though this overt allegation of corruption was excised from the revised fair copy, it must be said that Bentham still hinted darkly at the circumstances around Graham’s appointment, but the point is made in a more subtle manner.

* * *

To compare for yourself transcripts of the draft and the revised fair copy of the ‘Third Letter to Lord Pelham’, please visit the links below. As it can take some time for Juxta Commons to load the visualization for longer texts we have separated the text into the four sections in which Bentham presented it, namely:

Please note that the third section of the text is the longest and it may take a little longer for the visualization to load than the others. The comparison has been set to ignore differences in punctuation and capitalization. Many, many thanks are due to NINES for producing Juxta Commons and for making it freely available.

Readers can also download for free a pre-publication version of the ‘Third Letter to Lord Pelham‘, which is based on the revised fair copy of the text, though collating it where appropriate with the few printed pages and the draft. The other texts constituting Bentham’s Writings on Australia can also be downloaded for free from UCL Discovery.

Reflections on two years as a Transcription Assistant

By Tim Causer, on 9 October 2018

By Dr Katy Roscoe (ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Liverpool/Institute of Historical Research Associate Fellow).

For the past two years I’ve been working as a Transcription Assistant, helping prepare Jeremy Bentham’s Writings on Australia for publication. Despite my title, I spent little time transcribing Bentham’s scrawled handwriting—in large part thanks to the efforts of dedicated Transcribe Bentham volunteers! Instead, I spent most of my time fact-checking the editorial annotation to the text written by the editors, Dr Tim Causer and Professor Philip Schofield.

Having written a PhD on 19th century Australian convicts, I was eager to learn more about the first decades of the penal colony. Bentham was the first ‘anti-transportation’ campaigner, and in three ‘Letters to Lord Pelham’ (1802-3) he seethes at the government’s choice to transport convicts to New South Wales rather than support his Panopticon prison design. His revisionist ideas were remarkable and rehabilitation for convicts was as much as priority to him as was being economical. I took the inner workings of the transportation system for granted, so Bentham’s argument that denying convicts the opportunity to return home meant 7 or 14 year sentences of transportation were illegal, was a real eye-opener for me. On the other hand, thanks to an over-reliance on David Collins’ Account of the English Colony of New South Wales (1798 and 1802), I was disappointed by Bentham’s barely concealed disdain for the convicts themselves—particularly the women—who he depicts as lazy, promiscuous and arson-prone. These are stereotypes we know today to be untrue.

As well as deepening my knowledge of the Australian convict system, checking the annotation of Bentham’s Writings on Australia meant forays into unexpected avenues of research. I perused travel narratives for references to a dog who went abroad and lost its sense of smell, looked at floor plans of the Treasury Building, and scoured Don Quixote for one (of many) incidences of mistaken identity. It was certainly a lesson to me, as a junior academic, on reading widely to create a framework on which to hang arguments and ideas. It was also a lesson on the importance of proper referencing and checking your figures—a mistaken page number in Collins’ Account or inaccurate calculation of passengers on board convict vessels could take hours or days to untangle. Somewhere along the line my academic writing started to feature just as many dashes as Bentham favoured, and my supervisors were less forgiving than Bentham’s editors. I resisted for the most part, the temptation to add too many Benthamite phrases into my thesis. Though Bentham coined well-known words like ‘international’ and ‘maximise’, I avoided his lesser-known neologisms like ‘uncircumlocatory’ and ‘incongnosibility’.

Working at the Bentham Project sometimes feels like we were working for an (absent) celebrity. Not only was Bentham’s face on ID cards and screens on campus, he appeared on BBC’s Have I Got News, Private Eye, major news outlets and in museum exhibitions. He also had some pricey jewellery—mourning rings—one of which was recently auctioned at Christie’s. I discovered that everything I thought I knew about him was wrong, and ended up having to explain this to everyone I met at a party (No, he wasn’t the founder of UCL; no, his head wasn’t used as a football). It certainly felt like having a VIP backstage pass when the team got to see his auto-icon up close when it underwent conservation work by UCL’s Museums and Collections’ team prior to his visit to New York (though I’m not sure if seeing his underpants being washed was rock and roll or not!). But the real stars of my stay were the Bentham Project team themselves – so all my thanks to them for being wonderful as I bid them farewell after two years.

Of Sexual Irregularities, and Other Writings on Sexual Morality

By Kris Grint, on 3 February 2014

The Bentham Project is pleased to announce the publication of the 30th volume in the Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham series. Of Sexual Irregularities, and Other Writings on Sexual Morality was published by Oxford University Press on 30 January 2014.

The present volume contains three essays, ‘Of Sexual Irregularities’, ‘Sextus’, and ‘General Idea of Not Paul, but Jesus’, written in the mid-1810s but have never before been published in authoritative form. Bentham presents the utilitarian case for sexual liberty on the grounds that the gratification of the sexual appetite constituted the purest form of pleasure, in opposition to the traditional Christian view that the only morally acceptable form of sexual activity was between one man and one woman, within the confines of marriage, for the purpose of procreation. Bentham offers classical Greece and Rome, where certain male same-sex relationships were regarded as normal, as alternative models of sexual morality, condemns the hostile portrayal of homosexuals in eighteenth-century literature, and calls for the removal of sanctions, whether imposed by religion, law, or public opinion, from all forms of consensual sexual activity, at least in so far as practised in private. Bentham was, moreover, persuaded by Malthus’s argument that population growth tended to outstrip food supply. In these circumstances, non-procreative sexual activity had the additional benefit of not contributing to an increase in the size of the population. In the course of his discussion, Bentham expresses forthright views on various aspects of sexuality.

A discount of 30% on the list price is offered for online orders of this volume until 31 March 2014. Please download the promotional flyer for information on ordering.

A related text to the present volume, the preliminary version of volume 3 of Bentham’s Not Paul, but Jesus was published online by the Bentham Project in April 2013.

Transcribe Bentham on display

By Tim Causer, on 6 June 2013

Earlier this year, UCL opened its new Octagon Gallery, a new exhibition space for displaying research being carried out at the College. Each exhibition lasts six months, and the newest is on the theme of ‘Digital Transformations’, curated by Claire Ross, Research Assistant at UCL’s Department of Information Studies and Centre for Digital Humanities (amongst other things, Claire is the lead researcher on the award-winning QRator project).

Claire has very kindly included Transcribe Bentham in her exhibition. Four Bentham manuscripts have been installed in the exhibition: JB/027/026/004 (transcribed by Diane Folan), in which Bentham recalls setting fire to ear-wigs as a child; JB/107/110/001 and JB/107/110/002 (transcribed by Joy Lloyd, Chris Leeder, and Melissa Rogers), in which Bentham sets out a series of recipes for his panopticon prison; and JB/079/047/001 as an (admittedly extreme) example of the challenges faced by Transcribe Bentham volunteers in attempting to decipher Bentham’s manuscripts. Below the manuscripts is an interactive ‘data rail’, which shows the transcripts and some contextual information.

Needless to say, we are delighted that the work of Transcribe Bentham‘s volunteers is being showcased in such a prominent spot, and will show off both their considerable efforts and the sort of discoveries which are being made through their transcripts.

We hope that those in the London area might be able to visit, and for those further away, below are a few pictures of the TB part of the exhibit.

(Thanks again to Claire for having TB included in the exhibition, and to UCL Special Collections for their work in preparing and installing the manuscripts).

20130603_10343120130603_10322420130603_10324920130603_103319

 

Foreign language Bentham scholarship

By Tim Causer, on 10 May 2013

International Bentham scholarship has rarely been in a more healthy shape, and is if to prove the fact, we have received several non-English works on Bentham which we are delighted to tell you about

 

http://www.daysart.gr/thumbnail.php?im=images/4466.jpg&py=200

First is Ο Ιερεμίας Μπένθαμ και η Ελληνική Επανάσταση (Jeremy Bentham and the Greek Revolution), published by the Greek Foundation for Parliamentarism and Democracy (Athens, 2012). The volume was composedby Konstantinos Papageorgiou (scientific direction, Introduction, Appendix, translation, and commentary), Filimon Peonidis (Introduction, Appendix, translation, and commentary), Andreas Takis (translation and commentary), and Yiannis Tassopoulos (translation and commentary).

The book seeks to study the relationship between Bentham and the revolutionary Greek governments, and presents the first critical Greek translations of the many essays and letters Bentham addressed to the Greeks, in the hopes that his philosophy might be put into practice.

Cover Das PanoptikumCover Der radikale Narr des Kapitals

Bentham’s Panopticon is given attention in two German works. First, Panoptikum, oder Das Kontrollhaus (Panopticon, or the Inspection House), published by Matthes & Seitz (Berlin, 2013), edited by Christian Welzbacher and translated by Andreas Leopold Hofbaueur, provides the first critical German translation of Bentham’s Panopticon writings.

Also by Christian Welzbacher is Der Radikale Narr des Kapitals: Jeremy Bentham, das Panoptikum und die Auto-Ikone (The Radical Fool of Capital: Jeremy Bentham, the Panopticon, and the Auto-Icon), published again by Matthes & Seitz (Berlin, 2011). According to the publisher’s website, Welzbacher explores Bentham’s ideas, and ‘shows how the Panopticon and the Auto-Icon were developed in a cosmos of bourgeois cultural history full of abysses and scurrilities’.

Another work in German is Eine Einführung in die Prinzipien der Moral und Gesetzgebung, a translation of Bentham’s Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, published by Verlag Senging (2013), and translated by Irmgard Nash and Richard Seidenkranz.

Finally, is Una Protesta Contra las Tasas Judiciales, a translation of Bentham’s Protest Against Law Taxes, introduced and edited by Andrés de la Oliva Santos, and translated by Guadalupe Rubio de Urquía, published by Thomson Reuters (Madrid, 2013).

If you know of any other recent translations of Bentham’s works, or scholarship on Bentham, do let us know!

 

tranScriptorium

By Tim Causer, on 8 February 2013

We are delighted to say that the Bentham Project, along with UCL’s Centre for Digital Humanities, is taking part in tranScriptorium, a project funded by the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme in the ICT for Learning and Access to Cultural Resources challenge.

tranScriptorium intends to develop innovative, efficient and cost-effective solutions for the indexing, searching, and full transcription of manuscript images, using Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR) technology.

The project consortium is as follows:

For our part, UCL will be providing expertise in manuscripts, transcription, digital humanities and crowdsourcing, and images and transcripts of Bentham manuscripts.

tranScriptorium promises to be an extremely exciting project, and one in which we are greatly looking forward to participating in. For more detail, please visit the project website, and keep up to date at the Facebook page, or follow @tranScriptorium on Twitter.

Transcribe Bentham’s second anniversary

By Tim Causer, on 14 September 2012

On 7 September 2010, Transcribe Bentham was officially launched upon an unsuspecting public, with the aim of recruiting volunteers from around the world, whatever their background, to help transcribe the unpublished manuscripts of Jeremy Bentham. Our initial progress was steady, if not necessarily spectacular: by the end of our testing period on 8 March 2011 (funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council), 1,009 manuscripts had been transcribed or partially transcribed, of which 569 (56%) were complete. The end of April 2011 also saw the cessation of our twelve-month AHRC grant, and the project’s future did not look particularly promising.

A recent Chronicle of Higher Education article (citing a paper by TB staff published in Literary and Linguistic Computing earlier this year), notes our finding that had the two full-time members of staff employed for Transcribe Bentham instead been devoted to transcription alone for twelve months, then they could have produced around two and-a-half times as many transcripts as volunteers would have done in the same period. This finding is certainly true of the state of play at the end of the testing period, but due to the vagaries of academic publishing schedules, it by no means represents what TB and its volunteers have done since, nor the current state of progress. After the testing period ended, Transcribe Bentham won a major international award, its ‘Transcription Desk’ software (developed by the University of London Computer Centre) was released on an open source basis for others to reuse and customise, and (we hope) the project has helped to promote scholarly crowdsourcing and Bentham studies over the past two years.

Most impressive of all, however, has been the sheer volume of work carried out by (an admittedly small core of) TB volunteers, despite the project being run on minimal funding for the past eighteen months, and having rather less staff time devoted to it than is ideal. As 7 September 2012, 4,255 manuscripts have been transcribed or partially transcribed. 4,033 (94%) of these transcripts are now complete. This means that they are of the required standard for uploading to UCL’s digital repository, and for use, ultimately, in the production of future volumes of The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham.

This means that volunteer transcribers have achieved yet another landmark, having completed over 4,000 transcripts (or over 2.1 million words, plus extensive XML markup). There are often worries about the quality of the products of crowdsourced tasks, but we are delighted to report that despite having to deal with Bentham’s handwriting, syntax, style, and occasional habit of almost obliterating a page with deletions, marginalia and interlineal additions, the work of transcribers is of an extremely high standard. The amount of effort, care and attention that TB volunteers put in to ensure that their work is accurate is second to none. They are also transcribing at a faster rate than one full-time member of staff could manage if she or he were devoted solely to transcribing; an unlikely scenario, given our multifarious duties! We are very lucky that they have chosen to participate, and that they continue to do so.

So, where next for the intiative? Transcribe Bentham will at the heart of the Consolidated Bentham Papers Repository, a project funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation which begins officially on 1 October, and is funded for two years. This will see much of the UCL Bentham Papers digitised and made available for transcription and research, as well as all of the Bentham material held by our new partner institution, the British Library. Significant improvements will be made to the transcription interface to make the process more straightforward for volunteers, and we will be consulting with transcribers as to what kind of improvements they would find useful (this software will, again, be released on an open source basis for other projects to utilise). We hope this new interface will prove to be more attractive to current and potential volunteers, and further increase the rate of transcription. We have also received some further exciting news, and look forward to talking about that in the coming months.

As ever, we end by thanking our volunteers as without them, there would be no Transcribe Bentham. We remain hugely grateful for their time and efforts, and think that the work they do should be celebrated. You can keep up to date with the progress of Transcribe Bentham at the project’s blog, and register to participate at the Transcription Desk.

Bring me the (third) head of Jeremy Bentham

By Tim Causer, on 23 July 2012

Of those who know something of Jeremy Bentham’s auto-icon—his preserved skeleton, dressed in his clothes, which sits in a box here at UCL—some will be aware that Bentham originally planned that his real (preserved) head would form part of the display. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view) the result of the preservation process was decidedly unpleasant; those with a strong enough constitution can have a look at the real thing in this Bentham Project video. Though the real head has been displayed at Bentham’s feet, and in a box of its own on top of the auto-icon’s cabinet, it is no longer on public display as it has been classed as human remains.

The head is extremely fragile (don’t believe those myths about students kicking it around like a football), and is now stored in environmentally-controlled conditions at UCL’s Institute of Archaeology. Access to it is very rarely granted, as even the slightest motion can cause hairs to fall off.

Bentham’s auto-icon, with Bentham’s first head

Despite Bentham’s intentions, the preserved original head has never been part of the auto-icon. Since the process went so awry, a second head was created and it is this one with which most will be familiar. It wears Bentham’s hat, and some of his real hair was threaded into the wax. This second head is apparently an extremely good likeness—Bentham’s friend (Lord) Henry Brougham suggested that it was ‘so perfect that it seems as if alive’—and is certainly far less disturbing than the first.

The second head: the official version

Much less well-known is Bentham’s third head, which is far less official a version than the other two,  a crude plastic head and upper torso dating from the 1980s. One suspects that Brougham would not have been as taken with this likeness, which is disturbingly orange and much more country squire than utilitarian philosopher. Housed in a wooden box of its own, it was on display at the Jeremy Bentham pub—located just a quick walk from the auto-icon, on University Street—until a few years ago, when the pub underwent renovation works. The head was to be disposed of until rescued by the Bentham Project, and was stored in Room 112 at 26 Gordon Square (formerly my office) until summer 2012.

 

The third head: a little too long out in the sun

We moved offices in August 2012, and there was no room for the third head in my new room. Fortunately, UCL’s Student Union is providing it with sanctuary, and it should ultimately be displayed there. We are very glad that it is going to a good home, and look forward to seeing it on public access again. I must admit that I won’t miss its orange visage staring out at me from its box while I’m trying to work, as though the big man himself was keeping an eye on me.

Update, 21 May 2013: If you want to see Bentham’s third head, it is now on display in the Huntley Bar at UCLU.

Journal of Bentham Studies relaunched

By Tim Causer, on 13 December 2011

The Bentham Project has recently been working in association with UCL Library Services on the JISC-funded EPICURE project (E-Publishing Infrastructure Capitalising on UCL’s Repositories), which has introduced a model for e-publishing across the college.

Our open-access forum for debate and discussion of all aspects of Bentham’s life and thought, and utilitarianism more generally, the Journal of Bentham Studies, was selected as the pilot publication for this project. Work was carried out to reformat all of the articles published since the journal’s inception in 1997, and transfer them to new, more attractive home. The Bentham Project are delighted to say that this work is now complete. The Journal can now be accessed via http://ojs.lib.ucl.ac.uk/index.php/jbs, and its archive from http://ojs.lib.ucl.ac.uk/index.php/jbs/issue/archive.

This year’s volume (vol. 13) contains the following papers:

If you have any queries or comments regarding the journal, please contact Tim Causer (t.causer@ucl.ac.uk).We are very grateful to the generous funding from JISC which made this work possible.

Transcribe Bentham and the 2011 Digital Heritage Award

By Tim Causer, on 8 December 2011

Hot on the heels of Transcribe Bentham‘s Award of Distinction in this year’s Prix Ars Electronica, the world’s premier digital arts competition, we learned in mid-October from Dr Melissa Terras, of UCL’s Centre for Digital Humanities and part of the TB team, that the project had been nominated for the 2011 Digital Heritage Award. This award was to be voted on and presented at the Digital Strategies for Heritage conference in Rotterdam, from 6 to 9 December.

The other nominees for the award were as follows:

The award focused specifically upon crowdsourcing projects, and it was a great honour to be nominated among such exalted company – any of these four would be more than worth winners.

Melissa, who is giving a full paper on Transcribe Bentham at the conference today, presented the project to the conference attendees to a warm reception. Here is an extract from Melissa’s blog:

Yesterday was a fairly big day: Transcribe Bentham was one of the 5 international projects nominated for the Digital Heritage Award 2011 (you can see our specific nomination here). I had to give a 3 minute pitch in front of the entire crowd on behalf of the project team, bright lights and all, in the opening plenary session, followed by manning an information booth, above, in all the breaks to solicit votes. You can see the voting system above – people had to place a sticker on our sheet. By the end of the day we had filled quite a few of these – fantastic to have such support, and I talked to a lot of very interesting and interested people about the project. The winner of the award was Digital Koot, well done all! – a little bird tells me we came a close runner up. But to be honest, having the opportunity to pitch to such a large audience, and meet so many interesting people, was wonderful, and it was an honour to be nominated. All good fun.

A hearty well done to the Digital Koot team from all here at the Bentham Project and Transcribe Bentham, and congratulations to Melissa for running it so close! Many, many thanks too to all for the support shown to the project.