Taking My Shot

On Tuesday, I will be presenting the fruits of my digital labors this semester to colleagues in our graduate seminar on “Digital Materialities”, led by Professor Fiona Somerset. While I would love to share my Powerpoint presentation (beyond the thumbnails of an unfinished version!) and the materials from the John Temple Papers more widely, copyright restrictions mean that I can only share those digitized materials under the fair use provision i.e. for educational purposes. If any colleagues beyond the seminar would like to look through these, please get in touch.

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For my colleagues in the seminar, you will be dazzled by my presentation in person (hopefully!) and, in advance of Tuesday, I would really appreciate it if you could take the time to browse the images and transcriptions I’ve uploaded to our shared Dropbox folder. Enjoy some new poetry in different forms this weekend! The blurb offered on the back cover of Temple’s Collected Poems claims that the “collection envisages poem, sequence, book as (each and together) ‘a form cut into time'”. While I could wax rhapsodic about the dating and occasions of many of Temple’s poems, the materials you will be looking at are from one collection, The Ridgewhich is shaped by other factors apart from time. I’d like you to keep in mind what it might mean to encounter “poem, sequence, book… (each and together)” in different ways than the traditional codex as you browse the digitized archive I’ve provided.

It is impossible to ignore the digital materialities of my own “output” from this seminar. I have spent time today, for example, reading through my blog as well as documents (such as annotated PDFs of articles) on my laptop and the book bound in a gorgeous Liberty fabric in which I handwrite notes during seminar meetings. In particular, as I have been working on my presentation over the past few days, I have plowed through a large number of screenshots I’ve taken over the past few months. I’ve found the handy Command + Shift + 4 shortcut absolutely crucial for capturing specific images of the tools and projects I’m investigating and designing in order to draw attention to specific aspects of those without endless navigation back and forth. Last week, Ruth, Sarah and Katie all shared screencasts with us and we discussed various software options such as Camtasia. The humble screenshot should never be overlooked however! It has become a crucial way of tracking my research as it takes place online. 

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Integrating Digital and Material Approaches in My Research

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I intend to continue this blog after the end of the semester as I have found it very productive to reflect upon and share my work in progress. The frequency will no doubt go down to monthly rather than weekly but I hope y’all check it out occasionally! In this spirit and to move beyond the silos of being in coursework, I thought this week that I’d tell you all a little bit about how digital materialities are significant in another project I am working on at the moment.

After our class every week, I have been dashing off to Victoria Ford Smith’s seminar on Children’s Literature in which we are thinking about masculinity in British and American texts from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I am working on a paper that considers how first person narratives of boyhood on both sides of the Atlantic function as elegies for highly fictionalized figures. Tomorrow I will be presenting a conference-length version of this project to my classmates so I’ve been preparing a Prezi. I wanted to have more fun with visually depicting the transatlantic circulation of people and texts but that proved too complicated and time consuming, although I do plan to work on a template I can use for my many transatlantic print culture projects as I move forward. My primary objective, however, was to display particular images of the texts under discussion in order to demonstrate how the figures of the narrator, protagonist and reader were textual constructions that only had their material existence through the book. I used editions provided by the Google Books digitization initiative and the Mark Twain Project, which offers a fantastic example of the possibilities of a digital edition (although it is reluctant to provide the information I would like about transatlantic, rather than just American, publication histories). I also scanned an actual physical book! You can check my Prezi out here. I’d love to hear from those of you working on mapping for any suggestions.

My Day of DH

DH_posterToday, as many colleagues will be aware, was the Day of Digital Humanities across the globe. Here at UConn, the Scholars’ Collaborative organized a day of workshops, discussions and hacking, which I was luckily able to attend. I was looking forward to having some dedicated time to work on developing my own project in a supportive and energized environment. A colleague of mine has already blogged about his take on our morning of collaboration with one of the library’s web developers, which was a fantastic opportunity to get some really helpful advice about an issue that continues to puzzle me: how best to design a user interface that allows interaction with a digital archive. We focused on different types of menus and layouts, as well as the importance of keeping the data and display layers separate. Perhaps the most exciting aspect of what we came up with was what is designated below (apologies for the blurry photo!) as “breadcrumbs” so that users can track their path through the archive.

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Later on, I also got to pick the brains of other colleagues when it came to different tools for versioning texts and images, such as mkAlign, and a recent article on Rossetti and transatlantic print culture (such riches!) that demonstrated how excellent scholarship can be produced from and presented with digital components. Not only did today give me time to work on, in particular, using image software to try out possible poetic palimpsests but I am now brimming with inspiration from all the projects that serve as my models and the exciting approaches of different people within the academy who share my interest in exploiting the resources of DH.