Tag Archives: Digital Humanities

Short Blog Post 2, Group B

Last week, students wrote about Digital Humanities projects. This week, you’ll write about a DH tool.

If you’re able to, install or explore the tool you’ve been assigned to get a sense of what it’s for and how it works. Some tools will be easy/practical to install, while others may simply require research on your part to get a sense of what it does. Once you have a sense, tell the class about the tool, how it works, and whether it is likely to be useful for our digital projects. The questions here are not meant to be a list that you answer systematically, but to spur your thought process as you write about the tool:

  • What is the primary purpose of this tool?
  • How have people used this tool in a digital-humanities context OR how might someone use this tool in a digital-humanities context?
  • What does this tool do that other tools can’t?
  • What is distinctive/notable about this tool’s approach?
  • How would this tool be useful to scholars doing/presenting research?
  • If we wanted to use this tool, how would we get started with it?
  • If this is a tool that many of us are already familiar with, what are some features of the tool we might not know about?
  • Are there any aspects of this tool that might be useful to the project groups in our class as they conceive of, design, and implement their digital projects?

The goal of this report is less to judge or evaluate any given DH tool than to explore how DH scholars are doing and to find aspects of these projects that might inform the approach of groups in our class.

The specific assignments/projects we discussed in class are after the break.

Continue reading Short Blog Post 2, Group B

The Collective Biographies of Women – An Annotated Bibliography

Having been a student of Alison Booth‘s three times during my time at UVa, I thought it would only be fitting to offer a brief analysis of the database/project she has been working on.

  • What is the primary purpose of this project?

Reconstructing a Genre of Publication. Rediscovering Histories of Women. Transforming Digital Studies of Biography.”

  • What does this project hope to do that a print resource (a book/books, a journal articles reference work, etc.) couldn’t?

By digitizing biographical works already in print, this project aims to provide a comprehensive collection of women’s biographies that is well categorized into/under their respective fields (e.g. Joan of Art – Paragon; Florence Nightingale – Nursing Reform; Anne Boleyn – Queens/Rank) and the numbers of biographies published between 20-year intervals between 1850-1930. (See Pop Chart)

  • What is distinctive/notable about this project’s approach to its subject matter?

The website specifically states that it is “not a digital literary project on women writers or on fiction poetry.” In other words, it only focuses on the biographies of real-life women.

  • How would this site/project be useful to scholars doing research?

As the database is an on-going process, a lot more biographies/data will be added in the future thereby continuously improving on the numbers of biographies featured on the website. Nevertheless, it already contains a large number of biographies that would no doubt act as great references to scholars. The set up of the website however, could be more intuitive, thereby making the whole research process a lot easier.

  • ·Are there any aspects of this project’s approach that might be useful to the project groups in our class as they conceive of, design, and implement a significantly smaller-scale digital project?

I think this project does a great job with hyperlinks to existing databases, and this is something that is extremely important when it comes to blogging/making references in digital projects.

 

 

Mapping the Republic of Letters

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The purpose of this website is to foster conversation centered about case studies that vary in geographical range and time period while also considering the depth and opinion of said intellectuals. The Mapping of the Letters primarily focuses on the intersectionality of opinion and conversation. These case studies are categorized into three varying focuses, Correspondence, Publication and Travel respectively.

 

When I first entered the “Mapping the Republic of Letters” site I was overwhelmed by the image on the home page, as it allowed for the visualization of the “Republic of Letters.”  It is furthermore a narrative panorama that emphasizes the years of correspondence and it represents the various intellectuals involved in this particular community.

This particular resource tells us a few things about literature particularly in the context of technology. The site places emphasis on the fact that these individuals shared and received hand-written letters which is mostly due to technological constraints and distance. In order for this “Republic of Letters” to grow it was vital to expand correspondence to ensure that individuals nation-wide were informed of ideology. This site also pinpoints correspondence as the most important avenue to provide literature and information to individuals. To this end, the site indicates that letter writing serves as the basic structure in the development of literature. This allows me to raise two particular questions: What role does the digital era play in interrupting the age of letter writing? What is the advantage of writing a letter as opposed to sending a typed letter or email in this day and age?

It is difficult to determine the answers to the previously stated questions, however it is important to understand the variation in the intellectual community from the late 17 and 18 centuries in Europe and America to its present day representation.  I would definitely argue that a major distinction between the time periods is the emphasis on conversation as opposed to literature when sharing ideology. This resource serves to eradicate the notion that one cannot visualize the “Republic of Letters” while it also highlights the importance of literature in this particular time period as it created an environment of awareness and growth. To this end, I find it rather interesting in approach and I appreciate the knowledge it supplies.

 

 

Blog Post #2: The Stanford Literary Lab

  • What is the primary purpose of this project?

The Stanford Literary Lab aspires to research and perform quantitative, rather than qualitative, analysis of literature. The Lab performs “experiments,” some of which analyze linguistic style, others literary history, among many other comparative studies. They essentially strive to transfer qualitative literary data into quantitative, numerical data that can provide insight into literary history.

  • What does this project hope to do that a print resource (a book/books, a journal article, a reference work, etc.) couldn’t?

This project compiles all of the Lab’s research into one place and provides most, if not all, of their published articles in PDF format, making them more easily accessible to everyone. It also provides a way to contact them directly, providing links to their e-mails. This project also hopes to encourage participation by providing information on their upcoming and current experiments and events. The website is able to expand the audience by consolidating the Lab’s work and making it more widely available.

  • What is distinctive/notable about this project’s approach to its subject matter?

First of all, the subject matter is very diverse. I find it notable that this project gives comprehensive summaries to inform readers of the intent of each experiment.

  • How would this site/project be useful to scholars doing research?

It provides easy access to scholarly literary research, which scholars could reference to support their own academic arguments. They also provide a schedule of presentations that a scholar could attend to learn more about the Lab’s research.

  • Is this project designed such that it might reach a broader audience/readership than scholars doing research?

This project is easy to navigate, limiting the links to a simple navigation bar, and the PDFs are available to everyone; however, it is a project designed by researchers for others interested in literary research. I do not believe that it would appeal to broader audience.

  • Are there any aspects of this project’s approach that might be useful to the project groups in our class as they conceive of, design, and implement a significantly smaller-scale digital project?

I think a simple, professional design is something that we should emulate in our projects. However, because I doubt any of our groups would be performing experiments, I’m not sure if this particular project’s approach would be helpful to us. Nevertheless, I think it would be interesting to do different things with a page like an “events” or “people” page, using the characters and major events of our novel to somehow provide an informative resource. I’m not exactly sure how we might do this, but it’s something to think about.

Blog Post #2: Dickinson Electronic Archives

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The Dickinson Electronic Archives exists to provide a digitization of Emily Dickinson’s original manuscripts of her poems that are found in correspondences from Dickinson herself that they have archived. The aim of the site is to give perspective on how her Dickinson’s life correlated with her poetry. According to the site, because of the limitations of printing, Dickinson’s poems are picked out of her letters by editors and publishers, but the Dickinson Electronic Archives shows the poems within the manuscript that Dickinson had placed them in. Seeing this original context of Dickinson’s letters that surrounds her poems can provide more insight of their purpose and significance.

I think that this site is mainly for scholars doing research on Dickinson’s poem because I do not really see why an average reader would be interested in reading letters by Emily Dickinson or what an average reader would gain from these archived letters; unless they had a particular interest in the life and times of Emily Dickinson. The archiving of Dickinson’s original letters that include her poems is something that only studiers of Dickinson would really find useful because it says a lot about why Dickinson was writing a certain poem, the context that lead to her writing the poems, and who the poems were for; someone who just wants to read her poetry would not find much use in this. However, the site does admit that they exist for “students, teachers, and scholars”. They hope to create dialogue on Dickinson’s poems with these archives among those that study her work.

Something to take away from the Dickinson Electronic Archives is the importance of the original manuscripts of an author. Dickinson’s poems were in letters she had written and that intended form tells a lot about Dickinson’s works. I think original illustrations from the books or the original manuscripts could also possibly be important to include in our projects as they would help with our perception of the works.

Short Blog Post 2 – Modernist Journals Project

 

  • What is the primary purpose of this project?

The primary purpose of this project is to provide a resource for people who are studying modernism in the English-speaking world. The site gives the public easy access to digital editions of magazines that were culturally significant in the early 1900s.

  • What does this project hope to do that a print resource (a book/books, a journal article, a reference work, etc.) couldn’t?

This project is trying to make a set of magazines readily available to the public by putting them all online on one website. It makes the material easier to find and much easier to access. By putting it online, a person can read it on their laptop, smart phone, or iPad in any place that they have Internet connection. This is much more convenient than having to track down these magazines from the early 20th century.

  • What is distinctive/notable about this project’s approach to its subject matter?

The subject matter for this project is really interesting and not something I’ve ever seen before. This project provides access to magazine publications from the early 20th century. When you download the PDF, you are essentially looking at the actual magazine itself in photograph form. It is more interesting to me that way because the site does not just provide a text of articles in the magazine but also a visual of the magazine. That gives you a better feel for what magazines were like.

  • How would this site/project be useful to scholars doing research?

The database for searching their catalogue of magazines was very helpful and made the material easy to navigate. Instead of getting lost in a list of endless publications, you can simply search the key word of what you’re looking for and browse through only the material that is useful to you.

  • Is this project designed such that it might reach a broader audience/readership than scholars doing research?

As mentioned before, the PDF is not unlike a magazine that you can download in iTunes and view on a phone or iPad. If someone is interested in modernism but isn’t necessarily a scholar wanting to read academic papers then I would say they would really enjoy this site. It provides both information and entertainment.

  • Are there any aspects of this projects approach that might be useful to the project groups in our class as they conceive of, design, and implement a significantly smaller-scale digital project?

I think that this format would work particularly well on a project that centers around a book that the author has also drawn pictures that go with the text (such as in The Little Prince) or a poet who has written their poetry by hand (such as Emily Dickenson).

Blog Post #2: The William Blake Archive

I was assigned to explore The William Blake Archive for this blog post.  I was intrigued by this particular site because I remembered reading The Marriage of Heaven and Hell and Songs of Innocence in ENGL 3820, and I wanted to see if this website contained any more information about the works and/or more images.  I was also interested to look at Blake’s other works.  I was pleased to find a wealth of information and resources on this site.  Although the format of the site is a little dated, everything is easily accessible, and I’d recommend it to anyone who is researching William Blake.

  • What is the primary purpose of this project?

The Archive at a Glance” page states:

A free site on the World Wide Web since 1996, the Blake Archive was conceived as an international public resource that would provide unified access to major works of visual and literary art that are highly disparate, widely dispersed, and more and more often severely restricted as a result of their value, rarity, and extreme fragility.

The purpose of this site is simply to provide public access to the works of William Blake.  It contains several editions of all 19 of William Blake’s works along with extensive biographical information. This site would be an excellent resource for anyone wanting a comprehensive look at Blake’s life and masterpieces.

  • What does this project hope to do that a print resource (a book/books, a journal article, a reference work, etc.) couldn’t?

This resource is able to provide a comprehensive collection of Blake’s works and biographical information on one easy-to-use site.  With the click of the mouse or by searching in their search engines, you can have access to nearly every piece of Blake’s work.  The archive also claims to    “supply reproductions that are more accurate in color, detail, and scale than the finest commercially published photomechanical reproductions and texts that are more faithful to Blake’s own than any collected edition has provided.” They claim that their ultimate aim is to “encompass the full range of Blake’s work,” which would allow them to produce “a unique resource unlike any other currently available—a hybrid all-in-one edition, catalogue, database, and set of scholarly tools capable of taking full advantage of the opportunities offered by new information technology.”

  • What is distinctive/notable about this project’s approach to its subject matter?

This site’s dedication to produce a comprehensive, high-quality view of William Blake’s life’s work is quite remarkable.  For example, when I looked up their resources for The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, multiple editions were listed with very high-quality pictures. I was a little unnerved to discover that all of this information was free, having had to purchase a physical copy of the work for ENGL 3820!  I think it’s notable how the authors of this site desire for complete accessibility to Blake’s work. They acknowledge that this art and literature is admired worldwide, and they want to make sure that the world has easy access to this wealth of information.

However, they do have very strict copyright warnings throughout the site.  They ask that nothing be used from the site without the right permissions out of respect for the contributors to the site.  It is very apparent that they value the information stored on the site very highly, and they do not want just anybody ripping off the data.

  • How would this site/project be useful to scholars doing research?

I can see this site being extremely helpful to anyone doing research on William Blake.  The search page could help them find anything they were looking for among the vast wealth of information provided.  The editors and contributors to this site seem extremely credible.

  • Is this project designed such that it might reach a broader audience/readership than scholars doing research?

I would have found this site very interesting and helpful as a student of English, but I’m not sure that this site would reach a broader audience beyond students, teachers, and researchers.

  • Are there any aspects of this projects approach that might be useful to the project groups in our class as they conceive of, design, and implement a significantly smaller-scale digital project?

I’m not sure how many of these projects will resemble an archive, but I think that the layout of this site serves as a good model for the types of pages and categories that we should include on our site.  I think it would be helpful to have an “About” page that outlines the purpose of the site.  I also think that a search engine of some sort would be useful, but I’m pretty sure that WordPress already comes with one of those.  I would recommend looking at the physical layout of the pages as an example of what not to do.  The home page is not very attractive, and the format of multiple links rather than clickable pages is distracting at first.

I’m interested to learn more about copyright laws as we are putting together our websites.  It’s very clear that The William Blake Archive is serious about protecting the rights of their contributors, and I’m wondering what precautions we need to be taking as we are collecting resources for our digital projects.

Blog Post #2: The Walt Whitman Archive

The Walt Witman Archive is a project that aims to collect Whitman’s work in a comprehensive, accessible space for any purpose and all readers. Why go digital? As the creators describe, “his work defies the constraints of the book.”

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I found the home page attractive and clear. In fact, the entire site is easy to maneuver and extremely organized. The organization of the site actually invites the user to explore the site. Without a specific subject in mind to search, I began investigating the contents of the archive and found myself overwhelmed by the amount of information available to the user. The simplicity of the site emphasizes purpose of the project: to collect and make available the works of Walt Whitman.

One page that has unique value is titled “Resources” that lists tools, addition links on Whitman, and even a teaching syllabus. Upon clicking the “Tools” link, I was presented with a text analysis tool called TokenX. The page offers a full description of the tool as well as instructions and suggestions for use. Pages such as this one offer an advantage to a researcher using digital archives over printed ones. The tool is explained and then can be instantly downloaded for use.

I am hesitant to call the site complete, as it is described as a “dynamic site that will grow and change over the years” by the authors, who mention the future addition of Whitman’s poetry to the archive. However, I found every time of source that I could use for my own scholarly papers or projects within the pages of the archive. Scanned photos of Whitman’s notebooks, transcriptions of his works, history of Whitman’s life, full books translated into several languages, published works, a gallery of images… the list continues. Honestly, I wish I had known of this resource in high school. The criticism is somewhat limited, due to copyright permission of the authors.

This project is fully developed, financially supported by several education institutions, including University of Virginia, as well as donations from researchers and other outside institutions. With an entire page dedicated to the creators and contributors of the archive, it is obvious that the site derived from a passion of literature and a great appreciation of Walt Whitman. Overall, the project is extremely successful in fulfilling their purpose, and serves as an excellent model for other digital archives.

 

Blog Post #2: Mapping the Lakes

 

Mapping the Lakes: A literary GIS attempts to further the understanding of Gray’s Journal and Coleridge’s tour by using the Geographic Information System in order to open up the spatial thinking of these geo-specific texts. It hopes to find out more about the writer-specific, the geo-specific, and the conceptual/theoretical. Not only did they post maps of each journey separately, they also offer comparative maps, which deepens one understanding of how the area influenced the account.

Overall, I think that this website is curtailed specifically for scholars and an audience that is very familiar with both Gray’s and Coleridge’s accounts. Unlike some of the other websites that were assigned in class, I do not this that this particular one would grab the attention of unfamiliar browsers. I personally am not familiar at all with both accounts and was very confused with the website. I did not really learn anything, but I did find it interesting what scholars are doing in order to broaden one’s understanding of a literary subject. I think it would be useful if a scholar were trying to do research on that specific subject. It allows one to visualize more deeply, and comparatively, which is sometimes hard to do only through the imagination since they both are talking about very specific locations.

In regards to the literary projects we are going to do in class, I think that this website was very helpful. I think that maps are something that would work well with Alice in Wonderland. It could be used to heighten the experience of Alice’s travels in wonderland. Although it would not be comparing like this website does, I think that it would take use of the most notable aspect of this website, which is the use of maps, no matter how the Alice in Wonderland group decides to use it.

Blog #2 : “The Mind is a Metaphor”

The database has multiple facets that work as an engine for metaphors used as far back as the English language itself. It draws from a broad archive of literature and authorships, while offering the option to filter your search of a particular metaphor by the theme of the particular metaphor you may find interesting to inquire. And as if an army of librarians were shuffling assiduously and speedily through catalogues of the information, the database records for you the rapidness of the search. This is one feature that I found excessive, but became one of the many features that nonetheless impressed me. The database is like a mind. Bolstered by the fact that it is under frequent improvement and development, the database may just be that external mind of metaphors English majors and authors will revel about. After an hour of messing around with “The Mind is a Metaphor”, I began to internalize the metaphor to be true. I childishly fed my curiosity by selecting random categories and discovered fascination. This fascination the many in which the mechanics of the site worked together liked a mini-google search engine (but for metaphors) to produce rapid metaphors under the seekers classifications. An image below explains this, I think.

 

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Another fascinating thing that stood out was the mechanics of the database. The structuring of the search tool makes the site a useful tool for scholars as well as researchers. The database offers multiple filters like: literary period, metaphor category gender of author, genre, and even the nationality and religion of the author.  For example, while I researched the site, I was curious about the metaphoric prevalence of food in the industrial revolution period of history. I realized then that maybe the industrial period, because of its lack social progressivism, prioritized authorship for males over females. On the other hand, it leaves room to argue that: maybe female authors in the industrial period were primarily focused on prohibition and social reformation rather than on food, or that they simply didn’t fancy the usage of metaphors. The image below is a sample search of a food metaphor in the industrial revolution based on a population.

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