Imagine a centralized digital repository of full-text editions of all of Norman Mailer's works — accessible on any device. Imagine a fully searchable database of primary works by Mailer and secondary works by scholars, journalists, and historians. Imagine this collection is fully responsive to users' needs: timelines show how Mailer's works fit chronologically into his biography; intertextual references, keywords, and phrases provide visual connections between novels, essays, letters, criticism, film, television, and interviews; pages display scholarly annotations about key characters and themes in Mailer's work, emphasizing the community's ability to add additional multimodal posts, comments, links, and insights about the material. Imagine a digital storehouse containing artifacts of Mailer's life — a freely accessible digital collection curated by the very people Mailer has influenced with his works. Project Mailer could carry the name of Mailer into a new digital space: not necessarily a better space than print, but arguably a necessary move to further Mailer’s legacy.
Project Mailer augments Mailer Studies for the digital age. All of the above is possible with the interest and support of the Mailer community of scholars and aficionados. Having a strong digital presence could mean the difference between obscurity and continued interest in one of the creative geniuses of the twentieth century.
One of the chief characteristics of digital projects is that they are forward-looking. The Digital Humanities aim to maintain the rigors of traditional textual analysis by bringing artifacts into digital environments, thus creating something new, participatory, and multimodal. With Project Mailer, Norman Mailer could be one of the first 20th-century literary figures to have such a presence in digital form. This should keep Mailer and his work relevant as more of us define our lives by digital pursuits. With the support of stakeholders, the legacy of Norman Mailer could achieve a new longevity and relevance in the digital age, building on the renewed interest in Mailer Studies in the wake of the recent publications of Norman Mailer: A Double Life, The Mind of an Outlaw, and The Selected Letters of Norman Mailer. Now is the time to begin Project Mailer to provide a solid foundation for realizing a central, digital repository that would support Mailer Studies into the future.