Adventures in Digital Annotation

My first introduction to annotation was learning how William Shakespeare’s annotations of new words contributed to the English vocabulary and had a huge impact on the standardization of the English language. Whilst several annotations from earlier times were done using pencils, pens, ink, and print media at some point, I find it intriguing that today, annotations can now be made timeless through digitization. Digitizing Mill Marginalia is such an adventure for me, as I have experienced the impact of technology as a gateway across spaces.

Digital annotation is not merely about going through historical books. However, the act of engaging with the historical content is discourse and is also rhetorical. Every (annotated) text in English, French, German, Greek, or Latin and every marking whether a “score”, “bracket”, “circle” or even an “idle mark” is a statement, building on the ongoing conversation. Although I am here now in the 21st century, as I engage with a wide range of Mill’s thoughts, I feel like an active contributor to Mill’s 19th-century discourse.

I am excited to play this role in shaping the discourse of this digital age by making accessible discourse across centuries to contribute to the intellectual and digital landscape of humanities.

Reliance Enwerem, Research Assistant