Course Archive

Posted by Matthew K. Gold (he/him) on

This site contains student blog posts and teaching materials related to ENGL 89500: Approaching the Digital Humanities, which was taught by Prof. Matthew Gold in Spring 2018. We will leave the content of the site available as a record of our class and a resource for others who might be interested in the topics we covered. Please contact us if you have any questions about the material that appears on the site.


Annotated Biblography

Posted by Tristen Goodwin on

Are Video Games redefining what the humanities mean to us? Could every game be considered a digital humanities project, by the stance of how it is produced and how it is received? This is a look at how digital methods that are performed by digital humanists are used for the production of this medium

By looking at the ways video games engage in the digital practices that DH performs, we can see how they are a part but yet not a part of the digital humanities or the humanities for that matter. By looking at the production of games and looking at the different media that exist within it, one can dissect each facet of the game and discover how it relates to DH. But… the impact it is where we see an extension of a game being communicated about in many technological forms from videos to online forums. This is a look on how people engage with games, break down the construction of them, and how it contributes to the society that we are in.

Harig, Dominik “Inside and Outside the Game.” Computer Games and New Media Cultures (2012): 93-106.

This chapter is about the relationship between game and player and the communication that happens between that party. Communication could be the information being transferred through button presses and visual response of those presses, or omitted input. The way that the player communicates with the game, give the game information of what the player is doing and how the player is doing in the game. However this piece also brings up communication in multiplayer games as player identifies with this avatar and can interact with other players via the avatar’s actions or actual messages. This is the side effect of immersion that players as they see themselves as the avatar on the screen.

Steinkuehler, Constance. “Video Games and Digital Literacies.” Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, vol. 54, no. 1, 2010, pp. 61-63. ProQuest, http://ezproxy.gc.cuny.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.gc.cuny.edu/docview/750429343?accountid=7287.

A small paper relating how video games affect young students in their studies, but allow them to delved in digital literacy, a sort of consequence after playing games where it allows discourse between the players and the games. Steinkuehler is asking what the relationship between literacy and video games is, where he goes on to say that video gameplay is a form of digital literacy. I am using this piece to connect the lines of what one of the consequence of video games as a medium of pop culture can have with a pedagogical lens. However he goes on to point out how video games have a strong mutual relationship as many fans or consumers express their reaction to each game on discussion board, fan fictions, and the like.


Feige, Daniel Martin. “Computer Games as Works of Art.” Computer Games and New Media Cultures (2012): 93-106.

This is a discussion of what art means and the aesthetics that we hold for art in general. He believes that finding relational properties instead of intrinsic ones will allow us to regard something as a work of art. He takes a philosophical lens of aesthetics and looks at the ludology as well as the narratology of games to determine their place as artworks. I plan to use this piece to show the thought process of how video games can be seen and how it cannot be categorized simply as an artwork because of the variables that come in producing certain games. Each game has its own genre, world, narrative, limitations and boundaries, and how all those things express themselves in a form of game is what brings my question to surface.


Murray, Sarah C. “Blog: Video Games and Ancient War-Gaming as Pedagogy.” Society for Classical Studies, Society for Classical Studies, 1 May 2017, classicalstudies.org/scs-blog/sarah-murray/blog-video-games-and-ancient-war—gaming-pedagogy.

Dr. Murray uses games for a pedagogical practice, using Rome: Total War for her students to display an understanding of ancient war. The process of doing this allowed a sort of immersion within the idea of ancient war and presented the idea of how to engage with this idea. This is a text of how pedagogical practices become different when implementing video games; a facet that digital humanities mainly implement within the projects that are developed. Murray allowed the students to control their own learning environment by letting them set up customized battles where there are choices such as geographical locations, factions, the amount of troops and their disposition on the battlefield.  This presents a clear understanding of how video games can assist in the classroom and ultimately pedagogical environments.


Jones, Steven E. “The Emergence of the Digital Humanities (as the Network Is Everting).” Debates in the Digital Humanities 2016, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis; London, 2016, p. 3.

The idea of how digital humanities have everted where there is now a connection between the digital world and physical world. Around 2006, there have been prominent technological advances, as well as the sudden acknowledgement of digital humanities. The attention towards new media has been refined towards fully acknowledging video games and video game theories. These practices allowed helped pushed digital humanities towards eversion. This recognize video games as one of the most prominent forms of new media under a digital humanist context, showing the bridge that this medium brings into scholarship.  How they structure relationships between the data and the player, or the data and the actual game to even going through this term “gamification” which is employing gameplay attributes to things that aren’t a game. E.g. A leaderboard in an exercise application.


Patrick Jagoda. “Gaming the Humanities.” Differences, vol. 25, no. 1, 2014, pp. 189–215.

“What does it mean to include new media- let alone digital games- in a discussion about the digital humanities?” Jagoda argues that games require new ways of perceiving and working, as they promote this pro social behavior to where players can perceive problems differently. She goes through the idea of gamification where games become capitalized, even though at its core, games does use modes of intellects that would be found in the humanities. She also break down how games made, and affect the players playing them from the multiple learning styles to the ways that the games engage them.


Heineman, David “Chris Melissinos: ART AND VIDEO GAMES.” Thinking about Video Games: Interviews with the Experts, Indiana University Press, BLOOMINGTON; INDIANAPOLIS, 2015, p. 36.

This piece is an interview with Chris Melissinos about his exhibition The Art of Video Games that was curated for the Smithsonian Art Museum. The exhibition was presenting games as an art form and not just the art that is used to conceptualize the game. The understanding of trying to find an intent or to interpret meaning from video games when Melissinos brings up how people can play games differently. Players can understand the intent of a game from the director, but can always grasp some meaning from their subjective background making a game be placed in between these ideas. Though the perceiving of games as art is taking the entire content including the code and seeing the humanity inside it.


Hergenrader, Trent. “The Place of Videogames in the Digital Humanities.” On the Horizon, vol. 24, no. 1, 2016, pp. 29–33.

This piece speaks on how game culture spans out across different mediums that primarily lie on an online space such as wikis, walkthroughs, hints and so on and the controversies that lives on those spaces. It also touches upon the rhetoric of how games are experienced and how they should be critiqued for the language and representation of people, places, and things. It explores games in different facets that would help create an understanding for digital humanists, by expressing a balance of between technology and humanistic thought. Games are flexible tools that can either be studied separately or integrated in a curriculum.


Sandifer, Philip. “Avatari: Disruption and Imago in Video Games.” DHQ: Digital Humanities Quarterly: Avatari: Disruption and Imago in Video Games, 2009, www.digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/3/3/000066/000066.html.


Sandifer breaks down video games components from the controllers that are used to the actual character on the screen. An avatari is an avatar (or controlled character) that experience something that the player wouldn’t want to happen. Sandifer express the different forms of an avatar and the complexities they have due to the generational expanse of technology such as how a controller currently have more buttons and joysticks compared to Super Nintendo controller that had a directional button pad and four buttons. This paper looks at video games and analyze just the practical forms of how it operates and what the player is experiencing. Sandifer argues that if a game creates a virtual world, then it is not a medium, which I find interesting for my research. If it isn’t a medium, could there be another way to quantify video games within the sphere of digital humanities than just referring it as new media?



Vrabel, Jeff. “Why do my kids waste hours watching millennials play video games on YouTube?” Washington Post, 12 Oct. 2017. Academic OneFile, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A509252023/AONE?u=cuny_gradctr&sid=AONE&xid=1d27b5ff.


This article is a funny critique about how there is an online community of gamers that persist in game culture through video. While I didn’t think I would get anything substantial about it, I found that in a way it’s a type of pedagogy being done in a unique type of way. While this piece is a small comparison between generations and how active they was, it also show the activeness of game culture, which made me consider my claim of games redefining the humanities as we know it. But the humanities interact with people on a social level, as it is always a reflection of on the subjectivity of the creator as they detail the environment that surrounds them. This however shows what happen when people who witness a creator work and their response to it.




Annotated Bibliography

Posted by Pedro Cabello del Moral on


I came to this course with the vague idea of learning more about Digital Humanities and using that knowledge to interpret and problematize the 15M or Indignados movement. I was motivated by the intention to have a digital component in my dissertation in which I could make use of some form of DH to contribute to what I will be researching in parallel to more conventional approaches.

Throughout the different sessions, I have been inspired by the manifold branches of the DH and their possibilities for interpreting and problematizing the cultural, political and social aspects of our societies. In particular, my ideas have been strongly influenced by the insights from scholars who warn about the perils of reproducing the system of inequalities in the digital realm and turn their eyes to a more democratic, more horizontal, and freer use of the DH.

A hypothetic final paper for this class would draw from Social Movements Studies alongside the critiques of DH that are coming from Race, Gender and Class analyses, Critical Theory, and Postcolonial Studies.

When I first started to conceptualize this paper, I tried to find ways in which I could use digital tools to examine the online traces of the Indignados movement: their twitter accounts, their blogs, their websites or the YouTube channels. In doing that I had to conceive the Indignados movement as a digital one.

This task proved unsatisfactory because I was not using the right approach. After reading authors like Safiya Noble, Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Johanna Drucker, and so forth, I have become aware of the necessity of treating 15M’s digital manifestations as different ways of producing knowledge. Rather than seeing them as raw material for scholar interpretation, these digital artifacts are themselves engaged in the work of analysis. This stance would diverge from any false pretention of a scientific unbiased analysis and consequently would entail a move forward in the sheer interpretative use of DH.

Some of the articles that I am including in this bibliography deal directly with the digital production of 15M. Other sources take a more general perspective and would be useful to delineate the theoretical framework in which I will inscribe the analyses of the specific examples of my case study.


Castells, Manuel. Networks of outrage and hope: Social movements in the Internet age. John Wiley & Sons, 2015.

Castells was one of the first scholars who established connections between the 2011 uprisings in different parts of the world through their use of digital media. He provides insightful examples from which to lay out an analysis of the digital production of 15M’s participants in relation to the international context. His use of the rhizome metaphor points to a different conception of these networks, bringing about their alternative and counterhegemonic potential thanks to their ideas of participatory democracy, but above all their use of imaginative and unprecedented practices.

Barreiro, Belén. La sociedad que seremos: digitales, analógicos, acomodados y empobrecidos. Planeta, 2017.

This book proposes a digital division of Spanish society (analogs vs. digitals) in relation to a socioeconomic division created by the crisis (well-off vs. impoverished). Its author, the former director of the Sociologic Research Center, depicts a new distribution of the society affected by the crisis and shaped by the new political subjectivity that stemmed from the 15M.

I would use Barreiro’s ideas to buttress the argument that the 15M was (and continues to be) a digital movement based on the demographic conditions of its participants. In the same way that the author applies her hypothesis to the electoral outputs and the new parties’ supporters, I would look for continuities between what was digitally produced by the movement and the new platforms put in place by the new political actors who define themselves as heir of the Indignados’ spirit.

de Ramón Carrión, Manuel. “Las redes sociales 2.0 como fuentes informativas en las revoluciones y movimientos populares de 2011:(Túnez, Egipto y 15-m). Resultados de la encuesta a periodistas españoles.” TecCom Studies: Estudios de Tecnología y Comunicación 4 (2012): 367-375.

This article gives account of the use of social media in the Occupy movements of Tunisia, Egypt and Spain. His tone is more informative than analytic, but the fact that the author reproduces first hand testimonies from Spanish journalists would provide me with a privileged access to primary sources.

de Soto, Pablo. “Los mapas del #15M: el arte de la cartografía de la multitud conectada.” 15MP2P. Una mirada transdisciplinar del 15M (2014): 363-387.

De Soto compares different maps created by the 15M to contextualize the dimension and outspread of the movement, to locate services, or more importantly, to trace networks of production of knowledge, such as wikis and databases. He interprets the technopolitical dimension of 15M as an open source revolution in which knowledges, techniques, practices, and strategies are collectively learnt, replicated and enhanced by a connected multitude. Cartography is framed by de Soto within the logic of the production of the commons. In his view, maps generate processes of subjetivation through the depiction of alternative worlds.

This “art of cartography by a connected multitude,” as the author names it, would be considered in my paper as one of the main branches of the 15M production of knowledge within the realm of DH.

Fuster Morell, Mayo. “From digital commons to society commons: Influence of the free culture movement in the 15M mobilization.” Crisis and Social Mobilization in Contemporary Spain: The 15M Movement. Routledge (2017): 54-72.

This article suggests a process of continuity between participatory democracy in the squares and participation and deliberation in digital forums and platforms. That is an important gesture toward the consideration of 15M as a digital movement. Unlike many scholars who see digital activism as a precedent of the 2011 protests and mobilizations, Fuster understands it in fruitful dialogue with the non-virtual practices. The text goes beyond the period of 15M to include the subsequent iterations of the Indignados spirit, such as the housing movement, the ties in defense of public health and education, and the coalitions of parties and social movements which won the municipal elections of 2014.

Jenkins, Henry, et al. Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century. Mit Press, 2009.

Jenkins et al. define participatory culture as relationships “with relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement, with strong support for creating and sharing one’s creations with others, with some type of informal mentorship (…), where members believe that their contributions matter, and where members feel some degree of social connection with one another.” This framework is useful to consider the 15M mobilizations, their political impact, and their digital productions as forms of culture that challenge institutions.

Liu, Alan. “Where is cultural criticism in the digital humanities?” Debates in the digital humanities (2012): 490-509.

Liu claims that in order to be a full partner of the mainstream humanities, DH has to engage with cultural criticism. Digital spaces democratize the ideas of expert and scholar being at the vanguard of the production of knowledge. From that position a unique opportunity for leadership in the humanities arises. Digital Humanities has the potential to scale into thinking critically about power relations, finances and other governance protocols.

Liu’s ideas are inspiring in terms of assuring the role of DH in the production of knowledge and in dialogue with contemporary processes of political innovation and social transformation.

Losh, Elizabeth. “Hacktivism and the humanities: Programming protest in the era of the digital university.” Debates in the digital humanities (2012): 161-186.

Losh’s article is a recollection of several practices of hacktivism hosted by or related to university campuses. These practices are rooted in the tradition of university activism, but also part of a “new vanguard of networked digital culture in which protests in the temporary autonomous zones of computational media are rhizomatic, sporadic, and even ironic in the rhetorical stances that they adopt.” The author sees a relationship between “the old guard of political organizers and a new cadre of programmers” in the way they use dissensus.

As Losh says, the use of hacktivism theory offers an alluring critical approach to broaden the understanding of digital tools and to engage with a more critical dimension of Digital Humanities.

Peña-López, Ismael, Mariluz Congosto, and Pablo Aragón. “Spanish Indignados and the evolution of the 15M movement on Twitter: towards networked para-institutions.” Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies 15.1-2 (2014): 189-216.

The authors define the movement in terms of network citizen politics characterized by decentralization, swarm-like actions and intensive used of information and communication technologies. They compare and contrast the use of Twitter by 15M activist and new political actors within formal democratic institutions. According to the authors, both seem to have a similar use of Politics 2.0, but with very different purposes and dissimilar vocabulary. The fact that there is no inter-institutional dialogue points to the fundamental break with the institutions that the 15M entailed; and thereby, to the necessity of considering Indignados’ uses of social media an alternative, counterhegemonic methods of creation of meaning.

Rice, Jeff. “Occupying the digital humanities.” College English 75.4 (2013): 360-378.

The author focuses on a photograph of the Occupy movement to draw attention to the way knowledge is created in the digital humanities. He posits suggestion, what the photograph is doing, as a method of activating a network of forces in digital environments which would generate their own suggestions (memes, video commentaries, blog or Facebook posts, etc.) from the original source. Suggestion, insofar as it re-mythologizes interpretation, offers an alternative digital humanities approach aligned with the counterhegemonic practices of the Occupy movements. Inspired by the possibilities of DH, Rice encourages humanities to move beyond hermeneutics to consider other approaches relevant to the production of meaning.

I would translate Rice analysis to the context of the Spanish uprising and the diverse materials that could fit this transformative notion of suggestion as” a process of re-mythologizing, not a settling on a reading or understanding.”


Annotated Bibliography – Materiality, Mediation, Control

Posted by Taylor Dietrich on

Approaching the Digital Humanities

ENGL 89500: Spring 2018 – CUNY Graduate Center

Professor Matthew gold

Annotated Bibliography: 5/1/18







Media Archaeology

Future of the Book



Project Idea: Tool that helps bolster memory for oral transmission of texts that utilizes deformance methodologies – Enhanced Orality

Human body as infrastructure for information preservation/dissemination


Works Cited

Bennett, Jane. Vibrant Matter a Political Ecology of Things. Duke University Press, 2010. 

Bennett’s argues in her compelling monograph Vibrant Matterthat political and social theory often disregards the nonhuman forces that shape events. She conceptualizes a “vital materiality” that works from within and without, through and across bodies, both human and non-human. Agency emerges, she argues, as a result of the effects of an “ad hoc configuration of human and nonhuman forces”. In political analysis we often favor the impact of the human, disregarding altogether the impact that objects and materials have on the playing out of political events. She constructs theoretical implications of her vital materialism by deftly examining a variety of recognizable, common things (stem cells, fish oils, electricity, metal, and trash). By engaging with historical concepts from a range of philosophers and thinkers (Spinoza, Nietzsche, Darwin, and Adorno to name a few) she discloses the makings of a robust historical framework for thinking about matter vibrantly. Although her book is ultimately a political one, it has a range of applications for the study of materiality within the digital humanities. I intend to examine her theories concerning their implications for media archaeology and the future of the book.

Boissoneault, Lorraine. “A Brief History of Book Burning, From the Printing Press to Internet Archives.” Smithsonian.com, Smithsonian Institution, 31 Aug. 2017, www.smithsonianmag.com/history/brief-history-book-burning-printing-press-internet-archives-180964697/.

In her article “A Brief History of Book Burning, From the Printing Press to the Internet Archives,” Boissoneault quotes John Milton, “’Who kills a man kills a reasonable creature… but he who destroys a good book, kills reason itself—’”. Boissonealt examines the history of book burning and the potential for digital technology to prevent the reoccurrence of similar events. The main thrust of her article compares the contextual circumstances that lead to historically noteworthy instances of mass book burning, and the impact that technology has had and may still have on book burning’s significance. The introduction of the printing press allowed for the mass proliferation of books, thereby mostly preventing full erasure of the book artifact. However, she points out, that even when knowledge itself isn’t prevented from reaching the public, the symbolic weight of book burning is dangerous in its own right (i.e. the famous Nazi book burnings in the late 1930’s). Digital technology and the internet seem to offer books a potential immortality. However, Boissoneault points out that hardware and software obsolescence, along with concerns around server space constraints problematize that potential. The article argues that the core motivations for book burning historically, as well as in our networked digital age remain the same: “prioritizing one type of information over another.” As we theorize the future of the book, we must come to terms with this reality, and anticipate new formal inoculations against the future of book burning.

Frow, J. (2001). A pebble, a camera, a man who turns into a telegraph pole. Critical Inquiry, 28(1), 270-285.

What makes complex objects more than a bag of parts? In “A pebble, a camera, a man who turns into a telegraph pole” John Frow lays out a subtle yet critical meditation on things. I see this piece as a complimentary article to Roland Barthes Camera Lucidawhereby Barthes examines the subject of the photograph, as well as the experience of looking at photos, Frow takes a look at the camera as artifact, and how it relates to the infrastructure that gives it meaning. He doesn’t limit himself to the camera. He turns his gaze to simple natural objects as well, like a pebble, and examines its thingness in an attempt to draw out a potential world where “persons and things are partly strangers and partly kin.” (276) This work, in contrast to Jane Bennett’s “Vibrant Matter” attempts an examination of objects and materials that focuses on an individuation that frees things from “instrumental status.” (277) He examines different models of ontology, actor network theory, Gadamer’s definition of things against use, as well as the status of the work of art. The political economies of Marx and Hurkheimer, as well as the poetry of Rilke and Herbet Zbigniew, lay groundwork for this critical inquiry into the nature of “thingness”.

Gabrys, Jennifer. Digital Rubbish: a Natural History of Electronics. University Of Michigan Press, 2013. 

In Digital Rubbish Jennifer Gabrys examines the material life of information in the electronic age. She studies the infrastructure of information devices, their life and afterlife with a cultural material mapping of the spaces and trajectories of how hardware, and the information within, accumulate, breakdown, are preserved, and pass away. This study largely ignores the popular green conscious focus on “digital” infrastructure’s immateriality. She explores 5 interrelated “spaces” that make up a robust infrastructure of materiality: Silicon Valley, Nasdaq, Containers bound for China, Museums and Archives that preserve obsolete electronics, to the obsolescent repository that is represented by the rubbish landfill. When considering the mechanisms, infrastructures, networks, and power players that control information, it’s necessary to take a deep dive into the ways material impacts the equation. I plan to engage this text from the perspective of “vibrant matter” ala Jane Bennett and consider infrastructure as a key player in the future of scholarly communications.

Gleick, James. The Information: a History, a Theory, a Flood. Fourth Estate, 2012. 

In The Information, James Gleick tackles the subject of information broadly, and how it has transformed the nature of human consciousness. This is a historical journey through the archives of communication and information sharing. Gleick tackles the subject in broad strokes by interrogating a variety of communication mediums, some familiar, others more exotic, including the language of Africa’s talking drums, the invention of alphabets, the electronic transmission of code, and the origins of information theory. He turns his vast learning on the current internet age, with an explication of news feeds, tweets, and blogs. This is a title that is a good jumping off point, where I expect to be able to follow threads into places he may not have had the inclination or space to take them. He profiles key figures in the history information theory, Charles Babbage, Ada Lovelace, and Samuel Morse to name a few. I expect to take up this text with the idea of potentially tracking the allographic journey of a title that has its origins in our western oral tradition (say, the Iliad), through it’s written form, and perhaps posit it’s continued journey into new forms and models.

Ong, Walter J., and John Hartley. Orality and Literacy:the Technologizing of the Word. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2013.

Walter Ong’s “Orality and Literacy” is a classic work of scholarship that interrogates the differences between the oral and written traditions within the western canon. He examines the change in thought and expression brought about by the introduction of physical, symbolic representations preserved by written records. Rhetoric is a primary focus of Ong’s investigation, and he examines the impact of rhetoric on the psychodynamics and consciousness of discourse. This work is organized as an introduction to a deep, complex history and draws on aspects of his other, more situated scholarly works. A fascinating aspect of his argument involves the notion of an “oral residue” that Ong argues exists in written texts. With essays like “Writing Restructures Consciousness,” “Print Space and Closure” and “Some Psychodynamics of Orality” Ong’s collection is a classic on the social effects of oral, written, printed, and electronic technologies and the implications of their use for information gathering and sharing on philosophical, theological, scientific, and literary thought. I intend to examine this work for hints at not just the psychological and social effects, but also the implications for subjective impact on individuals from a formal, material perspective.

Passannante, Gerard Paul. The Lucretian Renaissance: Philology and the Afterlife of Tradition. The University of Chicago Press, 2011. 

With The Lucretian Renaissance, Gerard Passannante provides a radical reinterpretation of the rise of materialism in early modern Europe. By charting the ancient philosophical notion that the world is composed of two fundamental opposites: Epicurean atoms, unchangeable and in motion in the void, as well as the void itself, Passannante points out that this philosophical system survived the Renaissance in transmission by a poem—”a poem insisting that the letters of the alphabet are like the atoms that make up the universe.” This philosophy of atoms and the void reemerged in the Renaissance as a story about reading and letters, materialized within a physical text. Drawing on the works of Virgil, Macrobius, Petrarch, Poliziano, Lambin, Montaigne, Bacon, Spenser, Gassendi, Henry More, and Newton, The Lucretian Renaissance “recovers a forgotten history of materialism in humanist thought and scholarly practice.” It also illustrates a unique scenario around what it means for a text(poem and philosophy) to change forms. This work will be useful for digital humanities scholars concerned with new media, materiality, and book archaeology.

Peters, John Durham. The Marvelous Clouds: Toward a Philosophy of Elemental Media. University of Chicago Press, 2016. 

In The Marvelous Clouds John Durham Peters defines media rather broadly as “elements that compose the human world.” Although media in this way can be thought of as a sort of environment, Peters notes that the reverse can also be true, the environment itself forms a potential media. Drawing from ideas in media philosophy, he argues that media are the “infrastructures combing nature and culture that allow human life to thrive.”(4) Contemplating the many ancient and current, nearly universal means that people employ to sustain and bolster life, coping with the struggle to survive (navigation, farming, meteorology, Google) Peters shows how media lie at center of human interaction with the world.

In the introduction, Peters writes “’Media,’ understood as the means by which meaning is communicated, sit atop layers of even more fundamental media that have meaning but do not speak.” The truth value in this statement ultimately hinges on the meaning of “meaning.” “If we mean mental content intentionally designed to say something to someone, of course clouds or fire don’t communicate [meaning]. But if we mean repositories of readable data and processes that sustain and enable existence, then of course clouds and fire have meaning.” And they are part of an ecosystem of interdependencies for human generated meaning.

Ralph W. Gerard, “Some of the Problems Concerning Digital Notions in the Central Nervous System,” in Cybernetics: The Macy Conferences 1946-1953. The Complete Transactions, ed. Claus Pias (Zürich: Diaphanes, 2016 [1950]), 171–202.

Ralph Gerard, in his lecture at the Cybernetics Macy Conferences, which is a dated but classic transcription says “To take what is learned from working with calculating machines and communication systems, and to explore the use of these insights in interpreting the action of the brain, is admirable; but to say, as the public press says, that therefore these machines are brains, and that our brains are nothing but calculating machines, is presumptuous. One might as well say that the telescope is an eye, or that a bulldozer is a muscle.” Examining this text is useful when considering notions around materiality in human computer interaction, and, specifically, concerns surrounding the form and dissemination of knowledge within scholarly communications. My intention is to interrogate Cybernetic theory from the perspective of book culture, and materiality.

Zielinski, Siegfried. Deep Time of the Media: toward an Archaeology of Hearing and Seeing by Technical Means. MIT, 2005.

Deep Time of the Media examines the hidden historical record of media developed for hearing and seeing. Siegreid Zielinsky makes the argument that technology did not proceed seamlessly from primitive tools to complex machinery, and it’s the same for the evolution of tools created for the human senses. Pulling from an abundance of original sources over 2000 years of the cultural historical record, Zielinski interrogates a variety of technologies in an attempt to illuminate the newness of old technologies. Some examples: a theater of mirrors in sixteenth-century Naples, a 17th-century automaton for musical composition, and the eighteenth-century electrical tele-wiring machine of Joseph Mazzolari. This book’s value is manifold but one of its particularly valuable qualities is its historical reach. Zielinsky unearths a host of unknown philosophers, visionaries, and inventors who are likely precursors to the modern media landscape. This work will be useful in discovering pockets within the media archaeology canon that can be generative for future media studies.




Posted by Natasha Ochshorn on

When I began research for this bibliography, I was hoping to find explicit discussions on users affectual responses to technology, especially new technologies, and how those should or should not be considered when doing digital humanities projects. I was not able to find much in that meta-theoretical area, which could absolutely be due to my research skills, but may be indicative of an under-explored area of the field.

What I was able to find were accounts of specific digital humanities projects or research that either used or discussed affect as part of their work. There was also less in this area than I was hoping for, although I suspect that there may be scholars who are actually looking at affect, but are using different words, or directories that are not always including it in the metadata, which makes it difficult to search for without looking through every single digital humanities project.

I was interested by many of the articles that I found, and genuinely excited about a few, and so I’m choosing to be excited about an area of entanglement that is rife with possibility for the future, instead of being frustrated by the lack or difficulty of what is currently available.


Buiani, Roberta. “Performing the Web: Negotiating Affect and Online Aesthetics.” Journal of Aesthetics & Culture, vol. 6, no. 1, Jan. 2014, p. 23699. Crossref, doi:10.3402/jac.v6.23699.

Buiani examines the work of The Sandbox Project, an art collective which aimed to have an online space that would not only act as a catalogue of the physical work done during “labs” or live interactive performance/art events, but that would function as an extension of that space where the digital projects would compliment and enhance the physical ones. Buiani investigates the difficulties of this project, including the lengthy time commitments required by digital projects, the feeling of “distance” from their audience that some artists felt in an online space, and the difficulty of translating affect from a physical space into a digital one. Buiani looks at affect both as an artistic preoccupation and a community based one, especially since the goals of the project were always intended to be as political as they were artistic.

The website for The Sandbox Project has become a static archive, and while Buiani explores all the reasons, logistical and otherwise, why that came to be she is most curious about whether artists and users pre-existing ideas about internet spaces created too much rigidity to make effective use of their website. “It follows that only a shift of perspective in what “online content” means in relation to the “lived world” might liberate the Sandbox project from it’s own impasse” (13). Although they were not ultimately able to achieve what they wanted to with their digital project, the experiment raises a lot of interesting questions about digital and physical performance spaces.


Cocciolo, Anthony, and Debbie Rabina. “Does Place Affect User Engagement and Understanding?” Journal of Documentation, vol. 69, no. 1, 2013, pp. 98-120. ProQuest, http://ezproxy.gc.cuny.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.gc.cuny.edu/docview/1268758130?accountid=7287, doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.gc.cuny.edu/10.1108/00220411311295342.

A case study of an educational mobile app, GeoStoryteller, which gives interactive educational guided tours of New York City, focusing on a specific historical story (such as German immigrants). The app uses cellphone technology to give the users videos, stories, and historical facts as they become physically present in a space. The idea was to see whether or not being physically present in a space enhanced or aided the learning process for the users. After testing, the researchers (who wrote the article and developed the app) were satisfied that being physically present in a space does enhance historical learning. While the article doesn’t discuss affect directly, the questions the researchers are asking are ones that are concerned with the affectual responses of users of a digital humanities project. The user responses that they were the most pleased with were the ones where the user not only felt like they had come away with some kind of “knowledge,” but with an emotional experience directly connected to the use of the technology.


Deng, Liqiong, and Marshall Scott Poole. “Affect in Web Interfaces: A Study of the Impacts of Web Page Visual Complexity and Order.” MIS Quarterly, vol. 34, no. 4, 2010, pp. 711–730. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/25750702.

I included this article as an example of the type of academic writing concerning web affect that I came across most frequently: authors concerned with web marketing and web design for consumer use. This article is specifically interested in affectual responses to order and complexity on websites. It’s a highly technical analysis measuring users emotional responses (specifically “pleasure” and “arousal”) to different amounts of visual complexity in web design. The study found that users responded positively to a complex visual design, even more than a strictly efficient functional one, and that those feelings would carry on as they went further “in” to their website use. While this has potentially interesting humanities applications, the goal with this study is obviously purely commercial and consumer driven.


Graefer, A. (2016), “Reading” Through the Skin: Lady Gaga’s Online Representation and Affective MeaningMaking. J Pop Cult, 49: 522-540. doi:10.1111/jpcu.12424

Graefer uses this article to do a highly personal affective reading of celebrity gossip blogs; specifically looking at articles about pop singer Lady Gaga. She is particularly interested in the concept of “skin”, taken from various media scholars, the idea that our relationship to any visual media is a tactile one and affective one, and not just a conversation between a recording eye and a processing brain. Graefer believes the concept of skin is especially useful for discussing affect and online media, because it’s a media whose pace and gaze we control through our touch, via a mouse or trackpad. This creates a responsiveness that can create specific affective responses. She is concerned not only how these gossip websites look, but how they make her feel.

I would be interested to see this kind of thought and analysis extended to digital humanities projects; to consider not only how to best represent information digitally, or look for information digitally, but how digital humanities projects can play with or replicate the affectual experience of the text that they’re analyzing.


Gregg, Melissa and Gregory J. Seigworth “An Inventory of Shimmers”. The Affect Theory Reader, edited by Melissa Gregg, and Gregory J. Seigworth, Duke University Press, 2009. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/cunygc/detail.action?docID=1172305.

The beautiful introduction to The Affect Theory Reader, Gregg and Seigworth outline how they understand affect theory as it stood at the time of their writing it, as well as what they believe to be the potentiality of the theory. They do not discuss the digital humanities by name in this introduction, but several of the eight “regions of investigation” that they lay out are areas that intersect if not completely entwined with digital humanities work (7). Most specifically, the sixth region, “that can be seen in various (often humanities-related) attempts to turn away from the much-heralded “linguistic turn” “ which calls up images of Moretti’s distance reading, amongst other foundational digital humanities texts. This is a thorough, and wonderfully written tour around the ideas that affect theory embraces.


Landsberg, Alison. “Theorizing Affective Engagement in the Historical Film.” Engaging the Past: Mass Culture and the Production of Historical Knowledge. Columbia UP, 2015. MLA International Bibliography, https://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/N2812963610/MLA?u=cuny_gradctr&sid=MLA&xid=980396cb. Accessed 29 Apr. 2018.

At the beginning of this chapter, Landsberg lists common critiques of historical films, all of which have also been lobbied against Digital Humanities projects. “That it inevitably “dumbs down” historical events, reduces the complexity of the past, and lacks the rigor of written history” (27). Landsberg uses the concept of affect to combat these claims, expanding on the work of Robert Rosenstone who posited that the formal elements of a move could make up “another kind of data,” that was as valuable as traditional historical research. “Like Rosenstone,” Landsberg writes, “I do not mean to dismiss written history or the purposes it serves but rather to suggest the specific power of a sensuous, experimental medium such as film to disseminate alternative but no less instructive forms of knowledge about the past” (29). Landsberg sees affect as a key tool in understanding the capacity of historical film as “another data”. She views the affective responses viewers have to historical cinema not only as engagement, or identification, but as a mode of knowledge through which they can come to have new understanding about history.


Losh, Elizabeth, et al. “Putting the Human Back into the Digital Humanities: Feminism, Generosity, and Mess.” Debates in the Digital Humanities 2016, edited by Matthew K. Gold and Lauren F. Klein, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis; London, 2016, pp. 92–103. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctt1cn6thb.13.

This article works as a good state of the field report of feminist movements in the digital humanities in 2016. The authors discuss the work of collective FemTechNet, amongst other scholars addressing feminist concerns in the digital humanities. They assert that there needs to be a refocusing on not only overtly gendered modes of discourse, but to also embrace modes such as affect, embodiment, and critical “mess,” which tend to be queer/feminine modalities even when they aren’t specifically gendered.


Nowviski, Bethany. “What Do Girls Dig?” Debates in the Digital Humanities Created April 7th, 2011. Accessed April 29th 2018. http://dhdebates.gc.cuny.edu/debates/text/1

Sparked by a conversation on twitter, (the article is written using Storify, which allows users to archive and order tweets into a narrative), Nowviski dives into the possible reasons why women are a scare presence in textual data mining. One of the reasons she thinks likely, and which she states is true for herself, is the rhetorical language used around data mining, which makes it appear very tech heavy, and not in line with the more “interpretive” forms of digital humanities that interests her. She widens the scope of this question to invite a larger conversation about how the rhetorical language we use may be inadvertently causing gender disparities in certain parts of digital humanities study.


Oppermann, Matthias. “Digital Storytelling and American Studies: Critical Trajectories from the Emotional to the Epistemological.” Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, vol. 7, no. 2, 2008, pp. 171-187. MLA International Bibliography, https://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/N2812682908/MLA?u=cuny_gradctr&sid=MLA&xid=9906690e. Accessed 29 Apr. 2018.

In this article, Oppermann defines an affective dimension of learning as “their own voice and opinion”, them referring to students (177). He believes that digital storytelling, multi-media personal/historical storytelling projects, can be a way to combine affective and cognitive (outside stories and facts) learning in a way where the dimensions enrich one another. By positioning their own personal stories in the same context as the historical or cultural areas that they are studying, Oppermann believes students can see the academic conversation more clearly, and feel more empowered to become a part of it.


Rice, Jeff. “Folksono(Me).” JAC, vol. 28, no. 1/2, 2008, pp. 181–208. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/20866831.

Rice begins this article by introducing Bob Dylan’s famous turn to electric instrumentation at the Newport Folk Festival as a framing device through which to look at the ways in which rhetorical categorization and pedagogy has embraced or rejected digitalization. When Dylan shifted from acoustic to electric instruments and still called it folk, while also widening the lyrical scope of what topics folk music could include, Rice argues that he created an affective experience (one that folds in the enraged audience reaction, and the sheer power of the music he played) which shifted the category of “folk” to include new definitions. The shift in the humanities and pedagogy to digitalization, he argues, is similarly using affective experience to not create new categories, but to enable a widening or shift of categorization.

The fold of affect into taxonomy is a method called Folksonomy. It includes open tagging systems (bookmarks, or hashtags), and lets users categorize things based on their own intuition instead of by a premarkated system. Rice combines this idea with digital technologies that allow for a combination of written/audio/visual mediums to create a new form of rhetorical writing that he calls Folksono(me), where the author is placed centrally within a remixed and highly personally referenced set of categorizations.


Traffic: My Bibliography

Posted by Daryl Lucas on



All in all, I am using these articles to discern how and what can be used within the digital humanities to support some of the work I am doing towards my thesis project on eugenics.

After this week’s class, I wouldn’t mind more in the area of infrastructure studies because I think that has some bearing on my project.

Liu, Alan. “The Meaning of the Digital Humanities.” pmla vol. 128, no. 2, 2013, pp. 409-423.


In general, my interest is in the tools and methods used by digital humanities scholars in the consideration of a small digital project for my thesis. Alan Liu evaluates a particular digital humanities project and attempts to locate it within the humanities overall. It is useful as an example of a clear practice with a specific set of tools and methods used in an attempt to answer a clearly drawn out question. Liu emphasizes the importance of meaning, and this is essential in understanding eugenics. Besides counting and determining a number of texts and associated documents that circulated in the early formation of eugenic ideology, eugenics had a significant meaning that made it accessible. Can digital humanities techniques or methodology help discover correlations of meaning among the large volume of eugenic periodicals, pamphlets, and newspaper articles that circulated? Liu’s review of one particular DH project inspired me and helped see potential in using DH research methods. Of particular interest was what Liu calls Heuser and Le-Khac’ “methodological self-awareness” (411). While they are looking at word use, I am interested in the variety of lexical expressions related to positive and negative eugenics and their persuasive force and longevity. Teleology.


Popper, Karl. The Logic of Scientific Discovery. Routledge, 2002.  


Like Rita Felski, Karl Popper looks at the “logic,” or procedures, and the limits of the methods used to assess experimental results and progressive steps involved in scientific discovery and why they matter in the pursuit of justified true belief. He also examines the limit of scientific examination of new discoveries. Popper has some chapters on the usefulness of simplicity in modeling empirical data, which is relevant in DH. There is also an important chapter on falsification, which seems to integral to improving the certainty and verifiability of observable phenomena. In thinking about the comparisons of “objective” science, I think an overview of the scientific method is pertinent to maintaining a methodological awareness.  Since there are some within the digital humanities who liken the use of computation to objectivity and scientific exploration, I found Popper’s Logic useful in discerning the validity of some of those claims. Tautological and teleological


Hayles, N. Katherine. How we think: Digital media and contemporary technogenesis. University of Chicago Press, 2012.


Hayles’ chapters on “hyper reading” and attention/distraction and by other means and “technogenesis,” the way society and emerging technologies relate to one another are essential to exploring the significance of relying on machines to complete computation that lie outside of our abilities. People think individually and socially. How do technological advancements influence human cognitive? Can this be a good analogy for the advancement of eugenic thought? Teleological


Drucker, Johanna. “Humanities Approaches to Graphical Display.” Digital Humanities Quarterly. Vol 5, 1, 2011, pp. 1-20.


“The map is not the territory.” Yet the critiques that emerge from some DH work believes that the intention and design of models is a direct one-to-one representation. Drucker makes a number of claims I think are based in some misconceptions about the uses of models in science and what humanists borrow from them. She makes some valid points if these claims are indeed true, and it seems like each one must be investigated. In Daniela Bailer-Jones chapter from Scientific Models, as well as in Richard Jean So’s article “All Models are Wrong,” it clear that models are necessary for helping scientists and humanists revise their thinking and re-evaluate their data sets. There are folks who put too much stock in statistical models, but I think these folks are not the designers or users of these models. She makes very good points to adjust models to accommodate dynamic data sets. Tautological


Putnam, Hilary. “The Meaning of “Meaning.” Language, Mind, and Knowledge, edited by Keith Gunderson, University of Minnesota Press, 1975, pp. 131-193.


Wallack, Jessica Seddon, and Ramesh Srinivasan. “Local-global: Reconciling mismatched ontologies in development information systems.” System Sciences, 2009. HICSS’09. 42nd Hawaii International Conference on. IEEE, 2009.


This article focuses on how administrator and local communities describe and report information representing their interests, concerns, and context differ. Wallack and Srinivasan explore the specific incongruities in the information systems designed by a local community in India and the state agency responsible for some of the public works in that area. They claim that there is “information loss” that occurs when the state agency collects information from the local community using its state apparatus and fundamental understanding of what information is relevant. The idea of information loss as a result of the difference between the two information systems seems significant when considering the use of digital archives and databases to preserve indigenous knowledge. It is a useful way to consider how the Eugenics Records Office collected and interpreted the information it received and collected and what information was lost or never considered. The Eugenics Records Office’s information was archived. Is the archive serviceable as instructive of the errors related to its set of premises, or is it keeping it alive?  


Cushman, E. C. (2013). “Wampum, Sequoyan, and Story: Decolonizing the digital Archive.” College English, vol. 76, no. 2, 2013, pp. 115-135.


Cushman explains the use of a digital archive as a pedagogical tool for language learners and/or as a means of mediating new interpretations of knowledge production. The Cherokee Nation commissioned the creation and the hosting of a digital archive of Cherokee stories in the Cherokee language. It is part of an immersion program, and it supports “the curriculum of the K-6 Cherokee immersion school in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, as one facet of larger language perseverance efforts” (115). She addresses the Cherokee stories and songs section of the digital archive as a means of decolonizing literacy practices by centering around the social practices and linguistic structures inherent and specific to Cherokee and Sequoyan, the syllabary of the Cherokee language. The use of the archive here as a means of preservation seems feasible, and it is highlights the importance of the Cherokee language speakers and cultural stakeholders assist in the design of the archive and privileging Cherokee, Sequoyan, and other culturally important works. Again, this work is instructive in reconceptualizing databases and archives as pedagogical tools.


Christie, Michael J. “Computer databases and Aboriginal knowledge.” Learning communities: International journal of learning in social contexts Vol. 1, 2004, pp. 4-12.


This article problematizes the use of databases to preserve indigenous knowledge. Specifically, it comes to the conclusion that the structure and organization of databases are incompatible with what knowledge is and how it is shared. In the introduction, Christie makes it clear that this exploration was inspired by concerns voiced by an older generation concern a younger generation’s attitude towards traditional knowledge, “Many Aboriginal parents and grandparents, concerned that the younger generation are not growing up with a strong indigenous knowledge/identity, endorse the use of computer databases to store texts, photos, videos, maps, lists etc to help with their work of teaching.” As Christie points out strongly and immediately, “Databases do not contain knowledge, they contain information (ie ones and zeros in particular formation).” The purpose the Yolngu Aboriginal people have in mind is education, so Christie examines the potential of databases being a part of the discursive practices of literacy as explained by James Paul Gee. Christie also examines the specific aspects of Yolngu Aboriginal people’s culture that could be potentially compatible with databases and their internal structures. This idea is useful because perhaps the preservation of materials, especially historically and culturally specific ones, needs to be framed in a similar manner so that they are instructive rather than a display.  


Gentner, Dedre and Arthur B. Markman. “Structure Mapping in Analogy and Similarity.” American Psychologist, vol. 52, no. 1, Jan. 1997, pp. 45-56.


The use of analogy is important to knowledge construction. Gentner uses the example of Kepler and his approximations of the influence of gravity through analogy, which are based on his observations of the motion of the planets. Examining the nature of analogy and similarity can provide insight into how to possibly code, TEI, and create semantic text mining programs that can identify analogy and similar, which are often themselves models within scientific controversy. I think this clarification can offer some help in designing tools that search with greater precision. How does a better understanding fundamental structure of language help create more precise tools?


Huijnen, Pim, et. al. “A Digital Humanities Approach to the History of Science: Eugenics revisited in hidden debates by means of semantic text mining.” Workshops at the International Conference on Social Informatics. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, 2013.


This is useful for my specific thesis project. It is an example of what semantic text mining and various graphical representations can yield for the history of science subjects. One of my primary questions has to do with eugenics and US culture, in particular, seemed to be susceptible to eugenic thinking. Certain materials and methods remain the same. It also was very clear about how the methods were used to produce a particular result. “Digital history is a methodological approach framed by the capacities of these digital tools to make, define, query, and annotate associations and analyze long-term patterns of economic, technological and cultural change.” Their techniques seemed pretty comprehensive, and they employed large databases of material and a very dynamic system to get results (2).


Bailer-Jones, Daniela M. “Scientific Models.” Scientific Models in Philosophy of Science. University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009, pp. 1-20.


The discussion of scientific models is useful in discerning the difference in approaches to models in the sciences and those in the digital humanities. There are places where the approaches approach similarity and are compatible; there are other places where there are controversy and contention within the digital humanities.

Mohr, John W., and Petko Bogdanov. “Introduction—Topic models: What they are and why they matter.” Poetics.  vol. 41, 2013, pp. 545-569.


Wong, Shun Ha Sylvia, and Peter Hancox. “An Investigation into the use of Argument Structure and Lexical Mapping Theory for Machine Translation.” Language, Information and Computation, PACLIC 12, 1998, pp. 334-339.


Holyoak, Keith J. and Dušan Stamenković. “Metaphor Comprehension: A Critical Review of Theories and Evidence.” Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 08, 2018.


Catrambone, Richard. “The Effects of Surface and Structural Feature Matches on the Access of Story Analogs.” Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, vol. 28, no. 2, Mar. 2002, pp. 318-334.


Yang, Tze-I., Andrew J. Torget, and Rada Mihalcea. “Topic modeling on historical newspapers.” Proceedings of the 5th ACL-HLT Workshop on Language Technology for Cultural Heritage, Social Sciences, and Humanities. Association for Computational Linguistics, 2011.


Tangherlini, Timothy R., and Peter Leonard. “Trawling in the Sea of the Great Unread: Sub-corpus topic modeling and Humanities research.” Poetics vol. 41, no. 6, 2013, pp. 725-749.



Jamaican Revolution and Mapping Article

Posted by Param Ajmera on

Hello all! Here’s the link to the article in Social Text by Vincent Brown that I had mentioned in class yesterday – Vincent Brown; Mapping a Slave Revolt: Visualizing Spatial History through the Archives of Slavery. Social Text 1 December 2015; 33 (4 (125)): 134–141. doi: https://doi-org.ezproxy.gc.cuny.edu/10.1215/01642472-3315826

An excerpt from his article –

Fortunately, there has lately been a spatial, even a cartographic emphasis in humanistic and social scientific study that encourages scholars to think more explicitly about how we can represent changing spatial linkages without reverting to the traditional geographic divisions. New historical cartographies allow us to visualize the networks and circuits that define spatial history, which the historian Richard White has succinctly characterized as the study of movements (of people, plants, animals, goods, and information) over time. With movement, interaction, and transformation, patterns are made and remade. By tracing these patterns, historical analysts can develop a visual language that may recover and illustrate spatial practices and processes. This is a thematic historical cartography, seen less as a technoscientifc form of observation than as a rhetorical practice that can defne, clarify, and advocate visions of the world that might otherwise go unarticulated. Cartographic visualization can be, says White, a fundamental part of historians’ analytical process: a means of doing research, generating questions, and revealing historical relations. New techniques present novel opportunities, but they also highlight the limitations of the archival material they employ.

His map can be found at revolt.axismaps.com



Praxis – Mapping Geographies of Self

Posted by Jesse Rice-Evans (she/they) on

For this praxis assignment, I chose to work with Google Maps. I am already experienced with the platform, and the other suggested mapping softwares seemed intimidating on top of the abundance of other stuff I had to do over the past two weeks, so Maps was a perfect choice. I’ve actually been working on mapping locations where I work on my new writing project: a collection of autotheoretical short prose essays on chronic pain and embodiment. This project gave me the actual push I’ve needed to digitalization my lo-fi mapping (writing down lists of places I work in my phone).

As I develop notes towards my dissertation, I am embracing the role my own body plays in my writing and reading practices more and more. It seems silly to write about embodiment in any sort of abstracted way since the body is the thing doing the work of writing and theorizing. The weirdness appears in figuring out the relationships between and among the body and disembodied sites of writing and practice, like digital spaces. This mapping gave me a needed opportunity to start tracing a visual-spatial trail of how I move through 3D geographies while contributing to my ongoing move towards digitalizing my notes in readable forms.

Since I was stuck an extra day in Chicago, I decided to add locations where I had been on email, writing, reading, doing homework assignments, or otherwise “laboring” while in town. (This is also maybe revelatory of my reframing of “work” to shake off a long time on shift schedules, and to provide evidence that being an adjunct/“funded” graduate student means *never not working*.) Next, I’m adding layers of commuting and travel maps to make visible my movement around the city by car and train and walking—I haven’t yet figured out how to express that which choice I make depends largely upon my health at that moment, or anticipating my health later in the day.

Maps doesn’t make it easy to input actual circuitous routes, as it automatically adjusts the routes to highlight the fastest way from point to point, which isn’t actually always the way we went. That aside, though, I like this feature, and I know of accessibility scholars who have taken up adding notes of locations of curb cuts and other accessibility markers.

I also tried to implement this mapping strategy across my home state of North Carolina, which I visit about once a year, but the much larger scale made mapping less effective:

I’d like to figure out more intuitive ways to trace movement, but I do appreciate that I could demarcate each location with a customized icon and color. I don’t really understand why my own maps aren’t integrated with my use of the Google Maps app, but I’m also iffy about all my data being used everywhere!


Mapping the route of “A streetcar named Desire”

Posted by clararamazzotti on

For this assignments I looked at the different tools offered to find what could be more “user-friendly”, and unfortunately I have Linux so I had some problem with Google Earth and the Tour Builder tool that I wanted to use. For this reason I chose ArcGIS.

I just spend some days in New Orleans so my idea was to try to understand the real route of a streetcar, and the most famous streetcar ever in that city is the William’s one.

Tennessee Williams lived in New Orleans for several years, and for this reason he decided to write about it, as he recognized in NOLA his “spiritual town”. The William’s house was (or better to say IS, you could visit if you want) in the French Quarter, at 1014 Dumaine Street.

The mapping: first of all, “Desire” is the name of a street where the streetcar did its route, so actually this should enter in the itinerary. The Desire Line ran from 1920 to 1948. It ran down Royal, through the Quarter, to Desire Street in the Bywater district, and back up to Canal.So the characters in the play took a streetcar named Desire, transfer to one called Cemeteries and ride six blocks and get off at Elysian Fields Avenue on its way to Canal Street (I checked with the RTA website: http://www.norta.com/Maps-Schedules/System-Map/Line.aspx?ID=10836).


I put images on the map but PROBLEM: I’m not able to see them (in my mind their visualization was the same as on Google Maps when they pop-up at the mouse’s passage) and I didn’t understand how to use them properly in this map and PROBLEM II: I’d like to create a more complex and detailed map, but at the end I created something too simple. 

Link to the The map

I could do the same with more effort using literary guide books (as I have about my city, Milan, in Italy) but it really needs time and great attention to details, and maybe a real visit on the streets.

During this assignments I was thinking to The Lord of the Rings: we could create an imaginary itinerary about all the books that talks about travels and discovery, also if they are not in a real world? I found this: http://lotrproject.com/map/#zoom=3&lat=-1315.5&lon=1500&layers=BTTTTT.



Praxis Assignment – Mapping the East India Company’s First Voyage

Posted by Param Ajmera on

Using the StoryMapJS tool developed by the Knight Lab at Northwestern University, I created a map [https://uploads.knightlab.com/storymapjs/7ed69da1bf32f9f828bf6a8fc34ddb7e/the-east-india-companys-first-voyage/index.html] charting the East India Company’s (EIC) first trading voyage. The StoryMapsJS interface is very intuitive and can be picked up with ease. The challenge, however, lies in being able to make sense of the EIC’s papers, given the style that it is written in and largely forgotten place names that it uses. For this map, I used a company record titled “A true and large discourse of the voyage of the whole fleete of ships set forth the 20. of Aprill 1601. by the Gouernours and assistants of the East Indian marchants in London, to the East Indies Wherein is set downe the order and manner of their trafficke, the discription of the countries, the nature of the people and their language, with the names of all the men dead in the voyage,” which I sourced from the EEBO database. As is suggested by the title, this record is written in more or less chronological order and details the major locations where the EIC fleet stopped, the names and ways in which various sailors / officers died in the voyage, the nature of storms encountered, descriptions of landscape and communities, as well as other moments of interest in the journey. My method for mapping this journey was to read the primary source, focus in on the place names that it mentions, and then plot them on my StoryMapJS in the order that it appears in the text. With each location that I plotted, I added a little snippet from the record that mentioned the place. In doing so, I hoped to import some of the historical language and context from the primary source into the digital map.

As I reflect on what I learnt through this exercise, I realize that mapping provides a very specific mode of inquiry that relies on a great deal of inference from the primary source. Despite the suggestions invoked by the neat lines drawn on my StoryMapJS, the exact path of the EIC’s voyage will not be revealed by just focusing on the places that they visited because the record is rife with mentions of being tossed and turned in tempestous seas. Moreover, the subjective experience of the journey with its storms, sickness, and failed mutinies is lost when pursuing a purely cartographic approach to this voyage. What is gained through this process, however, is a head-on confrontation with the constitutive imprecisions in historical texts describing journeys and the limits of digital mapping. Whereas the digital map needs a location, an exact point or series of points that can be placed on the map, the historical sources often simply mention vague details, such as being four degrees below the equator or seven leagues from the shore. How do we balance the imprecise information that we have with the clarity required of our digital tools? Does the necessity of digital mapping to require definite coordinates actually come in the way of working with older materials that do not have this data? I dealt with this hurdle by simply skipping all the locations that I couldn’t figure out. Hardly the best approach, but workable given the context of this exercise.

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