The Transatlantic Digital Moonstone

Wilkie Collins’s 1868 bestseller The Moonstone was published simultaneously in the UK in All the Year Round and in the U.S. in Harper’s Magazine. Through this digital class project, we will investigate the question of what difference the original publishing context makes to the meaning of the bestseller. How do advertisements, illustrations, other stories, and even the page layout affect our reading of a novel? Can the U.S. Moonstone and the U.K. Moonstone still be considered the same novel? Each student will be responsible for one serial number of the novel. Students will choose and annotate around half a dozen images from the two serials in order to create an exhibit that makes an argument about the significance of the different publication contexts. Were the two publications aimed at different types of audiences? Do issues such as race, gender, and disability appear differently on the two sides of the Atlantic? This argument should be supported by at least two scholarly sources in addition to the primary sources.

Each student’s exhibit will contain a short introduction (400 to 500 words), and five to seven images with annotations (300 to 500 words each, think of these as supporting paragraphs), as well as the appropriate metadata for each image. Your final word count should be around 2,500 words.

Our final project will be hosted on the University of Calgary’s servers; if you would prefer for your final project not to be public, or to publish under a pseudonym, feel free to talk to me and we can make alternative arrangements.


February 6th by noon.


This project is worth 35% of your final grade.

The final project will be evaluated similarly to a traditional research paper, with the addition of the metadata for the digital component:

  • Is the argument original and cohesive?
  • How well supported is the argument by the images chosen?
  • How well are the images explicated in connection to the argument and a close reading of the text?
  • Is the metadata cohesive and appropriate?
  • How well does the project situate itself and respond to existing criticism in the field?


We’ll be working together in steps to build the skills necessary to create a digital archive. Make sure that you have the contact information of someone in our class in case you miss one of these days.

  1. January 16th or 18th: Meet in Special Collections on the fifth floor of the TDFL. Introduction from Annie Murray on rare books, Victorian periodicals and illustration.
  2. January 11th: Sign up for Moonstone Installment and library time (there’s only one original copy of each Moonstone for all of us to work from!)
  3. January 16th: Sign up for Digitization time
  4. January 21st: Image Selection Due
  5. Week of January 22: Time in the Digitization studio (you must have images selected in advance)
  6. January 30th: In-class introduction to Omeka (bring laptop if you can). Bring your image selections and one to two scholarly articles to class.
  7. February 1: In-class metadata session with Ingrid Reiche
  8. February 6: Final Project Due by noon (provide me with a link in D2L)


  • Allingham, Phillip V. “Wilkie Collins The Moonstone in Serial and Triple-Decker Publication.” The Victorian Web. Accessed 4 September 2015. (Allingham gives a breakdown of where each serial part begins and ends.)
  • Drew, John and Tony Williams. Dickens Journals Online. All the Year Round. University of Buckingham. (Provides a reliable, scholarly digital edition of All the Year Round and Dickens’s other journals.) Accessed 15 September 2015.
  • Lanning, Katie. “Tessellating Texts: Reading The Moonstone in All the Year Round.” Victorian Periodicals Review 45.1 (2012): 1-22.
  • Leighton, Mary Elizabeth and Lisa Surridge. “The Transatlantic Moonstone: A Study of the Illustrated Serial in Harper’s Weekly.” Victorian Periodicals Review 42.3 (2009 Fall): 207-243.