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MLA Digital Challenge—New Variorum Edition of Shakespeare


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0500  Thursday, 6 December 2012


From:        Alexander Huang < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         December 6, 2012 12:24:12 AM EST

Subject:     MLA Digital Challenge—New Variorum Edition of Shakespeare


Earlier this year the MLA Committee on the New Variorum Edition of Shakespeare sponsored a digital challenge seeking the most innovative and compelling uses of the data contained in its recently published volume, The Comedy of Errors. The MLA released the XML files and schema for The Comedy of Errors under a Creative Commons BY-NC 3.0 license. The committee sought entries featuring new means of displaying, representing, and exploring this data in the most exciting API, interface, visualization, data-mining project, or other use of The Comedy of Errors XML.


The committee is pleased to announce that the winner of the challenge is Patrick Murray-John’s Bill-Crit-O-Matic ( The runner-up was Doug Reside and Gregory Lord’s Comedy of Errors (


Bill-Crit-O-Matic complements the print edition of The Comedy of Errors. By inverting the relation between the commentary and the play text, it takes advantage of the richness of the New Variorum Shakespeare’s data and facilitates engagement with the history of Shakespeare criticism. One can begin using the site by searching the commentary, bibliography, or appendix for words, passages, topics, and scholars and continue by following the scholarly and critical conversations that are opened up by the results.


Members remarked that Bill-Crit-O-Matic “recognizes that an NVS edition is a kind of print database, with data structures and relationships that can be rearranged and visualized” and that it sets up “a way of interconnecting the data as conversations between scholars.” The committee found Bill-Crit-O-Matic to be accessible and inviting to students as well as scholars and looks forward to seeing it continue to evolve.


Scholars may still freely download these files from GitHub and use this material in their research.


Staff contact: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Committee Chair: Alexander C. Y. Huang

Committee Members:

Michael R. Best

Heidi Brayman Hackel

Alan Galey

Richard A. J. Knowles (ex officio)

Katherine A. Rowe

Sarah Werner

Paul Werstine (ex officio) 


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