Congratulations to RSVP member Dr. Paul Fyfe winner of this year’s Donald Gray Prize for the best essay published in the field of Victorian studies.
The NAVSA judging committee – Deborah Denenholz Morse (Chair), Mary Jean Corbett, Martin Danahay, and Peter Hoffenberg – commented:
Paul Fyfe’s ‘An Archaeology of Victorian Newspapers’ excavates a portion of “the largely hidden history of how Victorian data gets to now” by filling in some of the gaps between then and now. This fascinating essay, which draws on the methods of book history and media archaeology, as well as practicing a form of “investigative scholarly journalism,” explores the occluded material histories of one large-scale digitization project: the British Library’s massive collection of nineteenth-century newspapers. He establishes its complex relations to a range of mid-twentieth-century agents, technologies, and institutions, from the preservation efforts undertaken in the aftermath of the second world war to the emergence of (and continuing role played by) microfilm in the collaboration between libraries, micropublishers, and the forerunners of the CIA. Victorian media became digital, Fyfe argues, both by subordinating the provinces to the metropole and by having the techno-labor of its production outsourced to India and Cambodia. In a timely investigation of what now constitute “the enabling conditions of our scholarship,” the essay charts a path forward for thinking about—and critically reflecting on—the digital tools we all use.