Victorian Web

The Victorian Web is a hypertext project derived from hypermedia environments, Intermedia and Storyspace, that anticipated the World Wide Web. The 1,500 or so documents that constitute its kernel were created in 1988–90 by its current webmaster and editor-in-chief George P. Landow (Professor of English and Art History Emeritus at Brown University), with his then graduate assistants David Cody, Glenn Everett, and Kathryn Stockton, as part of the IRIS Intermedia Project at Brown University. This was funded as a proof-of-concept networked hypermedia project by IBM, Apple, the Annenberg Foundation, and other sponsors. It was expanded by contributions from a professor at Vassar College (Anthony S. Wohl), material from the Intermedia Dickens Web (Landow, Julie Launhardt, and Paul Kahn), material from the In Memoriam Web (Landow, Jon Lanestedt), and other sources.[1]

In 2000–2001 when Landow was the Shaw Professor of English and Digital Culture (Comp. Science) at the National University of Singapore (NUS), that university paid for an Apache server, staff to set up and maintain it, and undergraduate research assistants, who did scanning and OCR work, and Postdoctoral and Senior Fellows, who created content. Dr. John van Wyhe created the vast majority of material in the science section, which includes primary materials in both French and English, and Dr. Marjorie Bloy created almost all the material about Victorian social and political history. Dr. Tamara S. Wagner, a fellow who worked primarily on a sister site, the Postcolonial Literature and Culture Web, also contributed essays on literary subjects. Philip V. Allingham spent a month at NUS as a Research Fellow, where he began the large section on book illustration and Victorian novelists to which he still contributes. Since 2000, hundreds of scholars, chiefly from the UK and North America, have contributed more than 50,000 documents and images. The University Scholars Program of the National University of Singapore hosted the website until 2008.[2]

Members of the present editorial board, who are all frequent contributors, are Dr. Jacqueline Banerjee (Associate Editor, UK); Professor Philip V. Allingham (Contributing Editor, Canada); Dr. Andrzej Diniejko (Contributing Editor, Poland); Dr. Derek B. Scott (Music Editor, UK); Dr. Diane Greco Josefowicz (Science and Technology Editor, USA); Dr. Simon Cooke (Assistant Editor for Book Illustration and Design, UK); and Robert Freidus (Contributing Photographer for Sculpture and Architecture, UK).[3]

The Victorian Web incorporates primary and secondary texts (including book reviews) in the areas of economics, literature, philosophy, religion, political and social history, science, technology, and the visual arts. The visual arts section ranges widely over painting, photography, book design and illustration, sculpture, and the decorative arts, including ceramics, furniture, stained glass and metalwork. Jewelry, textiles, and costume are amongst other topics discussed and illustrated on its website. Awards indicate that it is particularly strong in literature, painting, architecture, sculpture, book illustration, history and religion.

In contrast to archives and web-based libraries, the Victorian Web presents its images and documents, including entire books, as nodes in a network of complex connections.[4] In other words, it emphasizes links rather than the searches. The Victorian Web has many contributors, but unlike wikis, it is edited. Originally conceived in 1987 as a means of helping scholars and students in see connections between different fields,[5] the site has expanded in its scope and vision. For example, commentary on the works of Charles Dickens is linked to his life and to contemporary social and political history, drama, religion, book illustration, and economics.[6] Translations of this and earlier versions: Italian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish.

In 1990 its pre-web version received the EDUCOM/ENCRIPTAL Higher Education Software Award from National Center for Research to Improve Postsecondary Teaching and Learning; in 2000 it won the Art History Webmasters Award in Paris; in 2010 the London Times declared it "An outstanding resource for literature and history students," saying that it "also makes for fascinating reading from anyone interested in matters ranging from what aspects of Victorian culture have been lost with decimalisation to how people sent letters in those days and the rhyming slang of the day."[7] It has received many awards both for the entire site and specific sections, such as history, visual arts, evolution, and religion. It has been recommended by Britannica, the BBC, the History Channel, and agencies or organizations in England, France, Italy, Netherlands, Russia, Singapore, Sweden, and the United States.[8] As of December 2012, the Victorian Web had over 66,000 documents and images. Nearly 4,500 websites link in,[9] and it receives over 1.5 million pages views in a month.[10]

A Spanish version of the Victorian Web ( began in October 2009 as part of an intercultural experiment under the direction of Landow and Dr. Asuncion López-Varela Azcarte of the Facultad de Filologia de Universidad Complutense de Madrid. The translation project was initially supported by grants from her university and from Madrid (Comunidad de Madrid CCG08-UCM/HUM-3851) and the Ministry of Science and Innovation (Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación MICINN FFI2008-05388/FISO). López-Varela has recruited approximately 100 volunteers, and thus far 5,000 documents have been translated. There is also a much smaller French version of the site. On 29 March 2010 Landow gave permission to the Library of Congress to archive the Victorian Web for its historical importance.[11]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Credits: Who Created the Victorian Web?" Retrieved 19 December 2012.
  2. ^ "What is the Victorian Web?" Retrieved 19 December 2012.
  3. ^ "What's New in the Victorian Web?" (see side panel). Retrieved 19 December 2012.
  4. ^ George P. Landow. "The rhetoric of hypermedia, some rules for authors." Journal of Computing in Higher Education 1(1).
  5. ^ George P. Landow and Paul Kahn. "Where's the hypertext: The Dickens Web as a system-independent hypertext". ACM. Retrieved 22 April 2012.
  6. ^ George P. Landow. "The Victorian Web and the Victorian course wiki: comparing the educational effectiveness of identical assignments in web 1.0 and web 2.0". ACM. Retrieved 22 April 2012. See also Landow's Hypertext 3.0: New Media and Critical Theory in an Era of Globalization." Baltimore; Johns Hopkins, 2006, especially Ch. 6, “Reconfiguring Writing” (pp. 144–214,) and Ch. 7, “Reconfiguring Literary Education” (pp. 272–320).
  7. ^ Times of Thursday 28 Dec. 2010, p.26.
  8. ^ E.g. see "Best of History Websites" (Ed TechTeacher Resources site), which calls it "broad and comprehensive." Retrieved 19 December 2012.
  9. ^ Alexa Web Traffic Statistics. Retrieved 19 December 2012.
  10. ^ "What is the Victorian Web?" Retrieved 19 December 2012.
  11. ^ "What's New in the Victorian Web?" (see March 2010). Retrieved 19 December 2012.

External linksEdit