I regularly teach a research methods course for first-semester college students. In the first unit, we work to shift our idea of research from proving a hypothesis that deduces solutions from a fixed set of facts to crafting a research question that moves inductively from what can be known to what emerges, and does not emerge, from the process of research, often by chance or accident. Heidi Kaufman’s timely, painstaking, and brilliantly conceived project aims to do something similar with how Victorianists approach literary texts. Kaufman shows what can emerge to a researcher open not only to the built environment, the paratextual, and the ephemeral, but also to listening closely to what the data and its voices tell us and what they withhold from us, rather than “mining for treasures” (as Ann Laura Stoler puts it) that simply confirm our “aspirational narrative[s]” (Stoler qtd. p. 13, p. 125). What I...

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