“Annotating Austen” is an ongoing digital humanities project that aims to create multi-media annotated electronic editions of Jane Austen’s six published novels. The project engages undergraduate students in researching and writing scholarly explanatory annotations using the web annotation tool Hypothesis (www.hypothes.is). One advantage of using Hypothesis for this purpose is that discursive annotations can be augmented with digital images of the Regency-era paraphernalia, people, and practices Austen references in her work. Readers can see what a “curricle” actually looked like, and even watch modern-day Janeites perform a “cotillion.”
This project was conceived by San Francisco State University students taking Prof. Christmas’s upper-division Jane Austen course in Spring 2015. After studying the current Austen digital landscape, they discerned a need for accessible electronic editions of Austen’s novels that also provided annotations contextualizing Austen’s language and social world for twenty-first century readers. Subsequent classes have begun the process of making these editions happen. These may be the first Austen texts annotated by undergraduates for undergraduates. Click on any chapter set of any novel available on the site and tucked away in a handy sidebar is a wealth of cultural, historical, and linguistic information that users can choose to access or hide as needed. While the impetus behind this project remains primarily pedagogical, we do hope that our end product might be useful to others.