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PURE Award winners 2015: Kailey Fukushima

English major digitizes 19th century letters, shedding light on publishing practices of era's women writers 

Photo by Kelsey Verboom

Committed to a goal of research excellence with its bold Eyes High strategy, one of the University of Calgary’s most important initiatives is the Program for Undergraduate Research Experience, better known as PURE.

Each year undergraduates can apply for the prestigious PURE Awards, which provide financial research support to some of the university’s most promising students over the Spring and Summer months.

The program is designed to give undergraduate students the opportunity to learn how to develop research projects, undertake independent research and contribute to knowledge in their respective fields.

In this Q&A series we will meet the PURE Award winners from the Faculty of Arts. Good luck to each of them in their research pursuits!

Name: Kailey Fukushima

Degree sought: Entering fourth year of BA program, majoring in English.

Research topic: “I’ll be transcribing and encoding a series of handwritten correspondences between the Victorian writer Dinah Craik and her personal and professional relations. This work will help uncover the networks that helped foster her successful career while also shining light on the publishing practices of women writers in the nineteenth century.”

What attracted you to this particular research project? “It gives me an opportunity to do hands-on work that I have only ever learned about from a theoretical perspective. In my English courses, we often discuss the possibilities and limitations of the digital humanities, but we rarely delve further into the applied technical work that is necessary for building a digital archive.”

Why is this research important? “The letters I am working with are held in archives across North America and the United Kingdom. They have never been published before or even studied together as one set. This project is important because it will help to produce and disseminate new knowledge for scholarly communities while simultaneously broadening the online presence of Victorian writers.”

What do you hope to achieve with this research?  “I am eager to build my own skills in TEI text encoding and learn more about the work that goes into translating material archives into a digital form. On a broader level, I expect that the information gleaned from this project will facilitate the research of future students and scholars in Victorian studies, particularly those interested in non-canonical women writers and intellectual networking. The project blog will also serve as an example for future digital English projects.”

What do you love most about your field of study?  “I love studying English literature. My field of study provides a perfect blend of critical, analytical and creative work and also lends itself well to fascinating interdisciplinary projects.”

> Learn more about other PURE Award winners from the Faculty of Arts