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T.S. Eliot prose volume receives Modernist Studies Association prize

After decades of building relationships and literary sleuthing, English professor emeritus Ron Schuchard is bringing the complete prose of acclaimed modernist T.S. Eliot to the world.  Emory Photo/Video.

The second volume of a monumental digital work, "The Complete Prose of T.S. Eliot: The Critical Edition," co-edited by English professor emeritus Ron Schuchard and involving the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship (ECDS), has won the Modernist Studies Association’s inaugural prize for a distinguished edition.

The prize is awarded to an edition, anthology, or essay collection, published in the previous year, which made the most significant contribution to modernist studies.

"I’m honored to receive and share this prize with my co-editor, professor Anthony Cuda (Emory Ph.D. 2004) at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, the Emory digital team, and the staff members of the Johns Hopkins University Press and Project Muse," says Schuchard, Goodrich C. White Professor of English Emeritus.

"The Complete Prose of T.S. Eliot" is an eight-volume digital collection of Eliot’s published and unpublished works. The third volume was published in September, with the fourth slated to be released in December.

When complete, the fully searchable, integrative edition will include all of Eliot’s collected essays, reviews, lectures, commentaries, and letters to editors, including more than 700 uncollected and 150 unpublished pieces from 1905 to 1965, according to the publisher, Johns Hopkins University Press. The editions are available on Project Muse.

"While the entire edition, projected to eight volumes, constitutes a major achievement and an indispensable archive," the judges wrote, "Volume II is certain to be the one most used by scholars, most central to ongoing studies and re-evaluations of Eliot and the history of modernist criticism. Clear and easily grasped editorial principles and superb content notes speak to the dedication, diligence, and sound sense of the editorial team."

Emory University became involved in the project in 2006, when the Lewis H. Beck Center for Electronic Collections, which was incorporated into ECDS in 2013, began digitizing more than 1,500 documents to create a database that contains all of Eliot’s extant prose. The scanned texts were processed with OCR (optical character recognition) and their critically edited versions continue to be encoded with TEI (text encoding initiative) markup to make the collection fully indexed and searchable.

The online volumes, accessible via the Emory Libraries’ discoverE search engine, will be followed by a print edition and by a digital platform that will be one of the largest single-author archives of 20th-century literature.

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