About the site and project
This site is the product of a collaboration between JSTOR Labs and a team led by Carolyn Oulton, Professor of Victorian Literature in the School of Humanities and Educational Studies, Canterbury Christ Church University.
The site provides a set of themed essays about Kent, a county in South East England. Kent has a rich history and provided inspiration for a number of writers and artists including Charles Dickens, who is featured in the early essays available on the site.
The JSTOR Labs team is providing tools and infrastructure for presenting the essays with interactive visualizations that are generated from annotations inserted in the text by the essay authors. The visualizations include interactive maps with feature overlays that provide context for associated paragraphs in the essay. Much of the data used in the contextualized visualizations is obtained from open access knowledge graphs such as Wikidata, the primary data source behind Wikipedia.
Framed by the idea of ‘writers and their times’, the project is researching historic, literary and geographical records to create an interactive experience seen through multi-disciplinary lenses. This approach contextualises literature and textual records of historic events through an emphasis on the material conditions in which they were produced and circulated.
But rather than simply recreating a historic experience, the research aims to problematise the ways in which we interpret and represent the past. What do we think we know about the history of local landscapes? How do conflicting perspectives and gaps in the record remind us that representation is always selective and that hi_story_ is just that – a story we tell to others and ourselves?
As the map grows so too will the capacity for making unforeseen connections. While the project inevitably reflects the interests of the research team, it is highly collaborative and is not designed to showcase or privilege any one argument over another. Instead it will help you find your own answers to questions you haven’t thought of yet.
Carolyn Oulton is Professor of Victorian Literature and Director of the International Centre for Victorian Women Writers at Canterbury Christ Church University, where she also teaches on the Creative and Professional Writing BA. Her research interests include seaside literary heritage and the culture of shared reading. While carrying out research in Dickens Land she infringed enough bye laws to get herself hanged under the Bloody Code. But it was all Pip’s fault.
Dr Claire Bartram is the co-director of the Centre for Kent History and Heritage. Her research interests include book history and she has recently edited a collection of essays entitled Kentish Book Culture: Writers, Archives, Libraries and Sociability 1400-1660.
Michelle Crowther is the Learning and Research Librarian for the School of Humanities at Canterbury Christ Church University. When she's not teaching students how to search 19th century periodicals, marking hyptertext up and down, or chasing Dickens around a virtual map, she is doing a PhD in Victorian literature.
Laura Allen is a PhD researcher at CCCU and obligatory president of the Mary Eliza Haweis Fanclub. When she’s not busy reading advice on how to be a proper Victorian lady, you will likely find her in a quaint old pub with a Kentish cider and a battered old copy of Jane Eyre
Dr Fran Allfrey completed her AHRC-funded PhD at King’s College London in 2020. She researches the post-medieval reception of early English archaeology and literature, with a focus on how the past is remade in museums, mass media, and in community arts and regeneration activity, and the emotional, social, and political stakes of these remakings.
Brooke Altringham is a history student with a passion for twentieth century history.
Dr Pat Argar has a PhD from Canterbury Christ Church University. Her research interests include the writing of Sheila Kaye-Smith, the family history of the Comport family and all things rural (especially with relation to Romney Marsh, where she lives). Before the Covid19 pandemic she regularly gave presentations and talks to groups and societies on local history and literature. She was born and grew up in East Sussex and spent most of her adult life as a teacher. Her pandemic “lockdown” diary can be found at theruralwriterblog.wordpress.com
Dr Sophie Baldock holds a PhD from the University of Sheffield. Her research focuses on twentieth-century poetry, poets’ letters and literary archives. She held a British Library collaborative doctoral award, which involved cataloguing emails in the contemporary poet Wendy Cope’s archive, one of the first hybrid (part-paper, part-digital) literary archives acquired by the Library. She has published essays on the letters and poems of Elizabeth Bishop in Reading Elizabeth Bishop: An Edinburgh Companion (2019) and The Review of English Studies (2020). She grew up in Kent, and in the summer enjoys swimming in the sea along the east Kent coast.
Alexa Barrett is an undergraduate English Literature and Creative and Professional Writing student at Canterbury Christ Church University. She has lived in Kent her whole life, getting involved in learning about Canterbury's history and reading Victorian novels in her spare time. She is currently focusing on her own creative writing projects with many set in the Victorian Era.
Ben Bethell received a PhD in history from the University of London in 2020. He is Lecturer in Cultural Histories at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. His first book, ‘Star Men’ in English Convict Prisons, 1879-1948, published in 2022, examines prison history through converging lenses of class, sexuality, and labour.
Simone Blandford is an undergraduate BA English Literature student at the University of Exeter. She’s an aspiring academic looking to continue her studies beyond her BA. She can usually be found researching authors in dusty old libraries or telling everyone who’ll listen fun-facts about said authors.
Bethia Carter is currently in her third year studying at Canterbury Christ Church University, for a BA (Hons) degree in English Language and Communication and French. Her aim is to become a French teacher, and although a work placement in France was not possible during her course, this work placement with the Kent Digital Map project enabled her to delve into translations of some classic English literature, combining her interests of the interpretation in translation and classic literature.
Carina is a 2nd year undergraduate Civil Engineering student at the University of Sheffield. She aspires to travel around the world and share her engineering skillset throughout other countries to improve other peoples’ quality of life. She also wants to help create a sustainable future and believes that learning from history is vital to unlocking this theoretical utopia. Her inspirations are derived from historical figures and past events, as tragic as they can be, there are great lessons to be learnt from them.
Dr Susan Civale is Senior Lecturer in Romanticism at Canterbury Christ Church University. Her research focuses on women’s writing of the long nineteenth century, life writing, and authorial and textual afterlives. Her monograph, Romantic Women's Life Writing: Reputation and Afterlife (Manchester University Press, 2019), explored how the publication of women’s ‘private’ lives, through diaries, auto/biographies, letters, and memoirs, influenced their literary afterlives.
Carla Danella has a BA from Wellesley College (in the US) and recently completed her MA in English Literature at Canterbury Christ Church University, studying the writing and life of the English writer and eccentric, Christopher St John. When not creating occasional exhibitions for the National Trust at Smallhythe Place, or at her day job as web content manager, she can be found hiking in Kent with her dog Max.
Laurie Duggan was born in Melbourne and was involved in the poetry worlds of that city and Sydney through the 1970s and 80s. In 2006 he moved to England, living in Faversham, Kent until 2018 when he returned to Sydney. His most recent books are Homer Street (Giramondo 2020), Selected Poems 1971-2017 (Shearsman 2018), No Particular Place To Go (Shearsman 2017).
Nick Evans has been a career journalist for more than 45 years, working mainly in the specialist arenas of public relations and internal communications. He grew up in Birchington during the 1960s and 1970s. His first foray into journalism came in 1977 when he left school, aged 17, to become a trainee reporter with the Isle of Thanet Gazette in Margate. He has since worked for large corporations, public sector organisations, PR agencies and newspapers, in a range of writing, design and production roles. While resident in Whitstable for 34 years, Nick has long been interested in the county’s social evolution. He has written several local books, most notably about the histories of Broadstairs, Birchington, Cliftonville and Westgate as well as the Dreamland amusement park in Margate. Another of his recent works has explored the history of British petrol stations which will be followed in 2023 by a new book about popular classic cars.
Dr Michael Goodrum is a Senior Lecturer in Modern History at CCCU. His most recent book is Printing Terror (Manchester UP, 2021), co-authored with Philip Smith. His research interests include comics, superheroes, Cold War science fiction and horror, and the work of Capt. W.E. Johns.
Maggie Harris is a Guyanese writer living in Kent. Winner of the Guyana Prize for Literature and Regional Winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, she has taught Creative Writing at Kent and was International Fellow at Southampton University. Her poetry is published by Cane Arrow Press, and her short stories by Cultured Llama and Seren. Photo by Eleanor Marriot.
Lisa Hawkins has a first-class degree and an MA in Fine Art, her main subject is landscape as a vehicle to explore visually how it feels to “be” in the world. This interest in the interplay between the interior life and the external landscape led her to complete a second Master’s degree in Myth Cosmology and the Sacred an experience that fostered a deep and continuing interest in psychology and mythology. She works from life, memory and imagination – welding the spirit of place with an exploration of the human condition. Developing a relationship with a place is central to Lisa’s practice, as the memories of each subsequent visit changes her perceptions – the weather, her own moods, current affairs, together with personal and collective associations.
Debbie Hickman spent four years as Operations Manager for the Brogdale Horticultural Trust, before setting up and running her own businesses at Brogdale for twelve years. She embarked on a degree in Creative and Professional Writing at Canterbury Christ Church University at the grand old age of 58, and now divides her time between various writing projects and working for a national charity. She lives in Whitstable.
Arriving in East Kent two days before her second birthday, Diana Hirst has been rooted in its landscape ever since. While in exile, first on London clay and subsequently on Suffolk clay, she has regularly returned to Deal. As a poet, much of her early work was about Kent, particularly its chalklands, and she was 2008 Deal and Dover Poet of the Year. Now at Canterbury Christ Church, she has completed a PhD on Elizabeth Bowen, a writer she’s been interested in since she first read Eva Trout in 1969 and discovered the heroine trampling over landscapes she had fondly imagined belonged to her alone. But this began to make sense when she discovered that Bowen, too, had put down roots in East Kent ...
Dr Katie Holdway is a Research Fellow in the Department of English at the University of Southampton. Her project, funded by the Wolfson Foundation, is entitled ‘Pickwick in the Papers: Dickens and the Politics of Appropriation in the Newspaper Press, 1836-1900’. Katie has also written theses on George Gissing’s 1880s novels and the British Della Cruscan coterie. She is co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of the open access, nineteenth-century research journal, Romance, Revolution & Reform and a member of the Dickens Society Communications Committee.
Phil Hubbard is Professor of Urban Studies and leader of the Urban Futures group at King’s College London. His work bridges sociology, geography and legal studies, and has focused on issues of urban social change, with a recent focus on the Kent coast. Borderland: identity and belonging at the edge of England was published in June 2022 by Manchester University Press, with his royalty going to the Kent Refugee Action Network.
Dr Alyson Hunt is a recent PhD survivor and long-time research associate of the International Centre for Victorian Women Writers at Canterbury Christ Church University. Her research interests include Victorian crime fiction and denigrating Dickens in favour of his [contentious point] much more interesting contemporary, Wilkie Collins.
Dr Mandy Jones has completed a PhD at CCCU entitled Unjustly neglected: reclaiming Victoria Holt as a pioneer of Neo-Victorian fiction. She spends her time telling anyone who’ll listen (and even those who won’t) that Victoria Holt is an important but neglected author who needs reclaiming as a neo-Victorian novelist. She is thrilled that this project is literally putting Victoria Holt on the map.
Miroslava is an undergraduate student from Slovakia, studying combined honours History with Film, Radio & Television studies at Canterbury Christ Church University. She hopes to continue her academic journey focusing on cultural history and portrayal of history in film, while practising filmmaking in the form of documentaries. In her free time, she presents two radio shows on the Canterbury Community and Student Radio, and she is a die-hard arts and crafts enthusiast.
Dr Helena Kelly holds a doctorate from the University of Oxford but is currently an independent scholar, her most recent academic position being a stipendiary lectureship at Mansfield College, Oxford. She is the author of a number of academic pieces on eighteenth and nineteenth century literature and of a popular book, Jane Austen, the Secret Radical (2016). Her work on Charles Dickens includes articles (published and forthcoming) in The Dickensian, Dickens Quarterly, and Notes and Queries and a biography, which is still a work in progress. She grew up in the Medway Towns.
Richard Maltby, retired head of history at The King’s School in Canterbury and author of an illustrated history of Canterbury (Pevensey Press, 1994), takes us through the growth of Canterbury in the 20th century to become the foremost commercial, educational and tourist centre in the south-east outside London. He takes us through the maps of the human and physical impact of two world wars and the accelerating economic pressures of the late 20th century upon the historic and spiritual character of England’s most ancient cathedral city. A section to be completed offsets the 20th century urban and commercial expansion of the city by the successful preservation of recreational areas and the green spaces along the banks and islands of the river Sour as it divides through the city.
Fred is a retired civil servant and lives in Norfolk with his wife and their small terrier.
Dr Peter Merchant is Principal Lecturer in English at Canterbury Christ Church University, and the U.K. member of the Journal of Juvenilia Studies Editorial Advisory Board. His most recent foray into local literary studies is “The Life of Betty Trask (1893–1983): Fiction, Fame, and Frome,” in the Frome Society Year Book 23 (2020): 70–78.
Ken Moffat is Headteacher of Simon Langton Boys’ Grammar School in Canterbury.
Dr Pete Orford is Course Director of the MA in Dickens Studies at the University of Buckingham. His most recent publication is The Mystery of Edwin Drood: Charles Dickens' unfinished novel and our endless attempts to end it for Pen & Sword, and further details of Drood and its legion of solutions can be found on his website www.droodinquiry.com He is currently completing an edition of Pictures from Italy for the Oxford Dickens, writing a Dickens biography for the Blackwell Literary Lives series, and co-editing a volume of plays by Dickens for Edinburgh UP.
Jeremy Page has published several collections of poems, among them In and Out of the Dark Wood (HappenStance, 2010) and Closing Time (Pindrop, 2014), and translations of Catullus, Leopardi, Rimbaud, Verlaine and Boris Vian. His novella London Calling was published by Cultured Llama in 2018. He is the founding editor of The Frogmore Papers.
Christiana Payne is Professor Emerita of History of Art at Oxford Brookes University. Exhibitions that she has curated or co-curated include A Walk in the Woods: A Celebration of Trees in British Art (Higgins Art Gallery and Museum, Bedford, 2017-18) and Pre-Raphaelites: Drawings and Watercolours (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 2021). She is currently working on an exhibition on the theme of Earth, to be held at the Royal West of England Academy, Bristol, in 2022.
Publications: Where the Sea meets the Land: Artists on the Coast in Nineteenth-century Britain (Sansom and Company, 2007), Silent Witnesses: Trees in British Art, 1760-1870 (Sansom and Company, 2017).
Madeleine Pettit is a History student at the University of Leeds. While in the sixth form at The Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys, she did her EPQ on Belgian refugees in Folkestone during WW1, which sparked her interest in local history. Researching the project gave her a good grounding in undertaking research, which she has since transferred to her studies at Leeds.
Natalie Pietersen is a creative writing student at Canterbury Christ Church University with a talent for illustration.
Andrew Sargent has written about Deal for many years. He is the author of "Drinking in Deal: Beer, Pubs and Temperance in an East Kent Town 1830 - 1914". Profits from his latest book ("From the Rink to the Regent: Seafront Entertainment in Deal since the 1870s", with Colin Varrall) are being donated to the Deal Museum and the Timeball Tower Museum. Andrew is also a regular contributor to the "Mercury Memories" page of the East Kent Mercury.
Professor Max Saunders is Interdisciplinary Professor of Modern Literature and Culture at the University of Birmingham. He was Director of the Arts and Humanities Research Institute at King’s College London. He studied at the universities of Cambridge and Harvard, and was a Fellow of Selwyn College, Cambridge. He is the author of Ford Madox Ford: A Dual Life (2 vols, 1996; paperback 2012); Self Impression: Life-Writing, Autobiografiction, and the Forms of Modern Literature (2010); and Imagined Futures: Writing, Science, and Modernity in the To-Day and To-Morrow Book Series, 1923-31 (2019). He is the editor, with Sarah MacDougall of the Ben Uri Gallery and Museum, of Alfred Cohen – An American Artist in Europe: Between Figuration and Abstraction (2020).
Hayley Smith is a PhD student at Canterbury Christ Church University. Her research seeks to recover and re-examine the life and literary career of a neglected Victorian author, Thomas Anstey Guthrie (1856-1934), who wrote under the pen name “F. Anstey”. Her research interests include Victorian popular fiction, nineteenth-century children’s literature, the Gothic, and contemporary horror films.
Dr Jacquie Stamp has completed a PhD in English Literature at Canterbury Christ Church University, where her research focuses on representations and perceptions of the Arctic in the Long-Nineteenth-Century. Having gained an MA in Dickens and Victorian Culture at the University of Kent in 2016, she maintains an active interest in all things Dickensian as well as in the history and condition of her adopted county. In the summer months, however, she can often be found dancing either Cotswold or Molly Style Morris at a variety of locations around the UK – and beyond.
Marnie Stanley is a student at Canterbury Christ Church University
Dr Sheila Sweetinburgh’s book on English medieval hospitals looks especially at the hospitals of Sandwich, Dover, and Canterbury. She has also edited four books and written numerous articles on a wide variety of medieval and early modern social history topics that use case studies from Kent, ranging from late medieval rebellion to immigration in fifteenth-century Kent. She is particularly interested in medieval towns and their townspeople, and she uses such studies in her postgraduate teaching at Canterbury Christ Church University and at the University of Kent.
Dr Christian Taylor is Head of English at the Langton Grammar School for Boys, Canterbury. He was born in Blackpool last century, slithered down to London to teach the scions of the well-heeled and double-barrelled, then slinked into Kent by a trap door in Ramsgate. His research passions are singularly monomaniacal: all things Eliot (TS); anything Tony Harrison and Peter Reading; trying to prove to a cruel and dismissive world the truth of Calvin Hoffman's thesis that Christopher Marlowe wrote all the plays attributed to Shakespeare. Yes. All of them.
Professor Peter Vujakovic is Emeritus Professor of Geography at Canterbury Christ Church University. His research and publications cover cultural aspects of maps and mapping; landscape, heritage and ‘sense of place’; and landscape ecology (biogeography). For much of the last two decades he has lived close to the River Stour (near Wye) from where he has explored the world of Riddley Walker. He has also co-ordinated/written two series of popular articles on Kent’s landscape for Kent Life and is editor of the Christ Church Heritage A to Z.
Elizabeth Waterman-Scrase is a writer, historian, and experimental surrealist. She has spent almost 30 years rummaging about in museums and castles across the UK and Europe researching the human story, following the footsteps of our collective history. Elizabeth has taught history across Europe, built siege engines, cannons, and been shot with an arrow (it was believed to be an accident). As of 2016, Elizabeth has been studying at Canterbury Christ Church University, completing her BA (Hons) in Creative and Professional Writing. Elizabeth is now onto her Masters in Creative Writing and heading towards the study of a Ph.D.
Dr Martin Watts is Senior Lecturer and Principal Research Fellow in Modern History at Canterbury Christ Church University. His research interests include the industrial revolution, welfare and the state, the two world wars and naval history. Martin has written courses covering the effect of the industrial revolution and the world wars upon society in Kent, with an emphasis on the strategic importance of the county to the defence of the United Kingdom.
Dr Beth Whalley received a PhD from King’s College London in 2020, and has recently undertaken a Postdoctoral Fellowship at Freie Universität Berlin. Her research focuses on early medieval literature and its contemporary reimaginings, and she is especially interested in literary engagements with place, space and the environment. She has articles forthcoming in Yearbook of English Studies and in edited collections on medieval ‘lost objects’ and the Chapel of St-Peter-on-the-Wall in Essex..
Dr Simon Wilson is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Education at Canterbury Christ Church University, and an elected member of the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies in Cambridge. He has a special interest in landscape, co-creation, love of learning, and the theology of the Orthodox Church. His latest publication is “The Fierce Urgency of Now and Forever and unto Ages of Ages: Study and the Restoration of Paradise on Earth”, International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 23 no. 1 (2022), pp. 29-40.
Charlotte Worthington is currently a third-year history and French undergraduate, with the intention to go into translation. She was born in the UK but lived in the Lot in the south of France from the age of 11. A keen interest in literature has led her to do her work experience for one of the third-year French modules with the Kent Digital Map project.
Kaitlyn Cowling is a recent BA Creative and Professional Writing graduate from Canterbury Christ Church University. In 2019, Kaitlyn co-wrote a 'Murder Mystery Trail' event for the Being Human Festival. She has lived in Kent her whole life.
Dr Dominique Gracia is a Project Manager with the Oxford Faculty of English and UK Administrative Director of the Collaborative Organization for Virtual Education. Her research focuses on Victorian poetry and short fiction, ekphrasis and the relationships between media, and the reuse and recurrence of the Victorian in twenty-first-century television.
Angela Iredia is a 2nd year Digital Media Computing student at Birmingham City University. She has different interests, from history and art to computing and media. She has lived in Italy for many years before moving to the UK.
Logan Miller is 3rd year Computer Science BSc student at the University of Sheffield who has a keen interest in Software Development.
Heather designed a favicon for the site.
For photographs: Amelia Baring, Calum Elliot, Emma Molford, Becca Miller, Charli Salter-Mclean, Chloe Bartolo, Conor Murphy, Conor Treston, Judyta Socha, Megan Yeoman, Michael Stubbs, Ethan Dudley, Nat Lowden, Sara Gelencer, Benjamin Mortley, Martin Crowther.