Jan Schroeder and Barbara Leckie, Department of English

Our joint graduate seminar, Producing Literature: A Case Study of Henry Mayhew’s London Labour and the London Poor (1850-­62), engaged in an experiential learning by involving students in primary research for our forthcoming scholarly edition of Mayhew’s text for an academic press.

Students were assigned to select and assess material from London Labour for inclusion in our edition, which will be an abridged version of Mayhew’s four‐volume study. Students also chose material from their selections to annotate, and conducted primary research to produce scholarly annotations using a range of analogue and digital sources. They presented their findings to the class on a weekly basis. Many of these annotations will be incorporated into the scholarly apparatus of our edition, and we will credit students for their contributions.

Mayhew’s subject matter urban poverty, the environment, immigration, employment metrics, racialization of an urban underclass and its proximity to metropolitan policing are all real world issues every bit as familiar to Mayhew as they are to us. Students thus received hands on training in scholarly editing methods, as well as multiple opportunities to make connections between past and present cultural moments. One of the graduate students who took the spring version of the course is now producing a digital scholarly edition of the text for her doctorate, in which she will explore questions of remediation and archive.

At the end of the course, students said they appreciated the opportunity to work as a team on a single project, and found the challenge of assessing and working with a variety of research sources in the discovery and production of new material to be a valuable learning experience.