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Making Maps

Posted by Daryl Lucas on


I’m coming down from a little bit of frustration with a couple of the programs designed to build maps. My computer know-how is an asymptote towards “skilled.” I am constantly being met with some technical frustration.

Tonight, around 6pm, I started messing around with Google Earth and Google Maps. It seemed to simple; it looked as if Google had removed some the features I remember. At some point, a user could upload photos to particular spots. This could still be the case, but I also could not envision figuring out post directions.

As I was messing around with Google Maps and Google Earth, I looked at ARCGIS StoryMaps and CartoDB. CartoDB looks like it is for commercial projects for anyone looking to open a store somewhere, which is interesting. However, I could’ve have spent the same amount of time that I just spent figuring out how to use the features of the website that I just spent trying to figure out how to simply add a picture to ARCGIS StoryMaps (ASM). Needless to say, I think I need help with these things. Tonight, I made the wrong choice and went to PhotoBucket since the feature of the ASM that allowed me to upload pictures, add a narrative tag about the books I wanted to map and a location, requested a URL with a file name like .jpg or something at the end of it. I am very unfamiliar with this, so I spent some time in Picasa and Google Photos and eventually PhotoBucket, which kept crashing my browser because of all the advertisements. And it still didn’t work.

So I went back to Google Maps.

<iframe src=”!1m46!1m12!1m3!1d12837168.49895299!2d-103.78499694821309!3d38.23138224975454!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!4m31!3e0!4m5!1s0x80c2a4cec2910019%3A0xb4170ab5ff23f5ab!2sSanta+Monica%2C+CA!3m2!1d34.0194543!2d-118.49119119999999!4m5!1s0x80c2bee85d41e7db%3A0x97a24085324ccbce!2sHillside+Avenue%2C+West+Hollywood%2C+CA!3m2!1d34.1028023!2d-118.3595344!4m5!1s0x80c297b5cb94e64b%3A0xf9e44d6afdc710f7!2sSan+Fernando+Valley%2C+CA!3m2!1d34.1825782!2d-118.4396756!4m5!1s0x89e379f063e53817%3A0x2b346e00e0a3bec8!2sBoston+University%2C+Boston%2C+MA!3m2!1d42.3504997!2d-71.1053991!4m5!1s0x80c2bee85d41e7db%3A0x97a24085324ccbce!2sHillside+Avenue%2C+West+Hollywood%2C+CA!3m2!1d34.1028023!2d-118.3595344!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1523150486347″ width=”600″ height=”450″ frameborder=”0″ style=”border:0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

I wanted to illustrate the movement of Gunner Kaufman, the anatognist of The White Boy Shuffle. Right now, as I am typing this, I see lines of code. Hopefully, this turns into an “embedded map.” If not, I have added an incredibly simple map in the hyperlink.

My experience leads me to wonder a couple of things: Who has time for all of this problem solving when there are books to be read (not to mention homework assignments)? There is a huge gap between understanding the name of something and what it is supposed to do and how to get that thing to do it. A couple of the articles from my bibliography (that I will eventually post to the blog) touch on databases and indigenous knowledge and how compatible such things are. There narrative map as well as the literal spatial can be better adapted to a globe and maybe 10 minutes of storytelling. In the Yolngu Aboriginal people of North East Arnhemland, there traditions and artefacts are closely associated with place. Building maps into a database may assist with making the numerous connections between site and ancestry and the stories of individuals and parental lineages tied to language and dance, but there may be significant information loss and also technically difficult.


Rhetorics of Dis-/Embodiment in Digital Spaces: A Working Bibliography

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

Alexander, Jonathan and Jacqueline Rhodes. On Multimodality: New Media in Composition
Studies. USA: Conference on College Composition and Communication of the National
Council of Teachers of English, 2014. Print.


Situationism is the avant-garde continental movement in the mid 20th century that centered reclamatory aesthetics through a proto-queer reimagining of culture. Rhodes and Alexander want us (researchers, instructors, etc) to détourne by creating our own multimodal texts, which they themselves have done in various “professional” spaces throughout their careers. The authors are adamant that instructors must explore our own spectacular technai, our selves, and digital rhetorics in tandem. Alexander and Rhodes spend time advocating “for the power of images and mashups to create rhetorical possibilities that… question standard narratives” (Rhodes and Alexander 109); in brief, remix is totally queer.


#WeirdTwitter does its own version of détournement: using public digital space for surrealist purposes, undercutting the networking value of social media, of a public digital persona, instead implementing another Situationist technique of dérive, or what Guy Debord described as “a mode of experimental behavior linked to the conditions of urban society: a technique of rapid passage through varied ambiances,” to subvert the intended purpose of Twitter by using its constraints to make something that challenges normativity, that queers dominant narrative.


By problematizing the status quo, #WeirdTwitter has established itself as a markedly queer space in the digital sphere; though many active #WT users are anonymous, many public figures that have been influenced by the rhetoric of #WT are queer, gender non-conforming, trans, or otherwise implementing a queering of dominant discourse by their embodied identities. While Twitter is a disembodied space, the enactment of queer détournement ties these reimaginings to an embodied, and othered, identity; #WeirdTwitter is thereby expansive and autonomous. Opportunities exist on #WT and other digital platforms for re-inscribing embodied identities.


Bawarshi, Anis S. and Mary Jo Reiff. “Chapter 5: Genre in Rhetorical and Sociological
Traditions.” Genre: An Introduction to History,  Theory, Research, and Pedagogy.
USA: Parlor Press and The WAC Clearinghouse, 2010. Web.


—.“Chapter 6: Rhetorical Genre Studies.” Genre: An Introduction to History,  Theory,
Research, and Pedagogy. USA: Parlor Press and The WAC Clearinghouse, 2010. Web.


—. “Chapter 7: Genre Research in Academic Contexts.” Genre: An Introduction to History,
Theory, Research, and Pedagogy. USA: Parlor Press and The WAC Clearinghouse, 2010.


Bazerman, Charles. “Textual Performance: Where the Action at a Distance Is.” Journal of
Rhetoric, Culture, and Politics 23.2 (2003): 379-396. Web.


Bitzer, Lloyd. “The Rhetorical Situation.” Philosophy & Rhetoric 25, Selections from Vol. 1
(1992): 1-14. Web.


The “rhetorical situation as a natural context of persons, events, objects, relations, and an exigence which strongly invites utterance” (4); Bitzer views participation as a crucial form of social engagement, as rhetoric occurs within a cultural moment; genre is inextricably tied to social situation, and, in fact, cannot exist without a generic situation in which to engage (3). “[A] work of rhetoric is pragmatic; it comes into existence for the sake of something beyond itself; it functions ultimately to produce action or a change in the world; it performs some task” (emphasis mine, 3).

  • exigence → “an imperfection marked by urgency” (6)
  • audience → “those persons who are capable of being influenced by discourse” (7)
  • constraints → influences which “have the power to constrain decision and action” (emphases mine, 8)

Applying Bitzer’s theory to #WeirdTwitter, as I have worked towards in the past, presented new and complicated views on digital genre: while the presence of constraint is obvious (140/280 characters), how do we determine audience?  Exigence too is in flux, dependent upon the site of discourse; the imperfection here is perhaps Twitter’s intention: to foment “networking” in a professional/managerial context. #WT’s largely anti-authoritarian ideology presents challenges to digital branding and identity management, and Bitzer’s “urgency” may point us to DIY digital culture or to any unchecked capitalist ideology in digital space. Connecting these to embodiment theory means that I have to define Bitzer’s “constraints” as embodied as well: what kinds of rhetorical agency are available to non-hegemonic/abled bodies? How do these bodies impact the kinds of rhetorics they perform, and where they perform them?


Blackmore, Susan. The Meme Machine. Oxford University Press, 1999.


boyd, danah. It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. USA: Yale University
Press, 2014. Print.


Brim, Matt. “Queer Pedagogical Desire: A Study Guide.” Women’s Studies Quarterly 41.3-4
(2013): 173-189. Web.


Brooke, Collin Gifford. Lingua Fracta: Towards a Rhetoric of New Media. Hampton Press, 2009. Print.


Carr, Diane. “Constructing disability in online worlds: conceptualising disability in online research.” London Review of Education 8.1 March 2010. 51-61.


Davis, Lennard J. Bending Over Backwards: Disability, Dismodernism, and Other Difficult Positions. NYU Press, 2002. Print.


Devitt, Amy. “Generalizing About Genre: New Conceptions of an Old Concept.” College
Composition and Communication 44.4 (1993): 573-586. Web.


Devitt’s “Generalizing About Genre: New Conceptions of an Old Concept” is an influential 1993 article on new approaches within genre studies to respond to contemporary (maybe even digital?) demands. Genre is a “dynamic and… essentially semiotic social construct,” which positions genre as a crucial feature of digital writing, especially online spaces that we can consider public (Devitt 573).


Devitt articulates a shift from form (classification) to context (cultural artifact/subject)  (573); and further, a shift from product to process, alluding to Bakhtin (Devitt 574). Genre when viewed as static codes product as the value; thus, rejection of culturally-coded forms (genres) can be read as “individual genius” instead of incorrect (574). This issue still holds powerful sway over literary studies wherein genius is counter-cultural, anti-authoritarian, but still participating in “generic” spaces. Literary scholars treat authors and texts as objects of study, and the more an author fits into Devitt’s “genius” paradigm, the more provocative attention can be paid to these masculine modes of knowledge as static, intractable, objective. While other disciplines are similarly preoccupied by coding text categorically, Devitt’s example of literature posits that this implicit inscription of texts as stagnated objects (of study), eliminates the notion that texts are instead evolving cultural/communicative artifacts (574).


“Genres develop…because they respond appropriately to situations that writers encounter repeatedly” (Devitt 576); widespread hand-wringing at the dearth of writing and reading in contemporary culture fails to account for widespread technological literacy and communication in digital spaces. (danah boyd’s influential longitudinal study of youth engagement with technology reveals how the locus of writing/rhetoric has shifted to multimodal digital platforms.) According to Devitt, as digital rhetoric has gained influence across culture, genre has accommodated to the constraints of digital spaces in a collaborative “co-construction” of text and context (Bawarshi).


Devitt also articulates how genre is culturally-specific; notions of “appropriateness” in variable communicative contexts differentiate based on cultural codes and mores. In essence, genre is both influential upon and shaped by cultural norms; writers “read” rhetorical situations and manipulate/re-interpolate genres to “respond appropriately” (577). In this sense, genre “not only responds to but also constructs recurring situation” (577). The exigence here is, simply, communication.


Semiotic and social means that identity plays an integral role in Devitt’s—and my—conception of genre. Tracing back to Goffman, we can understand identity as a performance of the self, a series of deliberately-made choices that articulate the “inner” self and translate it to an outward—or social—space. For my purposes, these spaces are digital, or inherently stripped of embodiment in more structuralist, physical terms. Instead, individual rhetors make choices about the texts that they create within these digital spaces: alphabetic, visual, aural, etc. These cues coalesce in an intentional re-embodied collection of semiotic moments, or signs, that offer up information about the user themselves. This actually offers expansions on the forms of embodiment that folks can take in the material world: closeted queer and trans people construct simulacra of themselves as fully out; disabled and chronically ill people can access spaces that institutional inaccessibility excludes them from; academics can attend conferences, listen to lectures, and teach online.


Haraway, Donna. “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century.” Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. Routledge, 1991. 149-181.


—. Modest_Witness@Second_Millennium.FemaleMan_Meets_OncoMouse™: Feminism and
Technoscience. Routledge, 1997. Print.


Hayles, N. Katherine. How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature,
and Informatics. University of Chicago Press, 1999. Print.


Herrman, John and Katie Notopoulos. “Weird Twitter: The Oral History” Buzzfeed. Buzzfeed,
Inc. 5 April 2013. Web.


King, Tiffany Lethabo. “Humans Involved:Lurking in the Lines of Posthumanist Flight.” Critical
Ethnic Studies 3.1 (Spring 2017): 162-185.


King here presents a critique of posthumanism as a facet of existing axes of oppression. Is posthuman really just seeking distance from the othered nonhuman? If posthumanism desires to fragment the liberal subject, what if the marginalized subject, the embodied subject subjected to violence and oppression in the forms of settler colonialism, ghettoization—both geographic and intellectual—and architectures of oppression.


By the term architecture here, I mean the systemic infrastructural conception of the human: the architecture of rhetoric, then, reifies and reinforces these ghettos to which the marginalized subject is confined.


Rhetoric here functions to further strip the work of radical subjectivities by defining them still as in the margins: “minority” language is deployed as code for unlike us, unlike the human.


The further a subject moves from this whole idealized Kantian subject, the closer they move towards the margins, which encircle and ensnare. This marginal architecture includes the ineffectual nonprofit industrial complex, privatized medicine, the university: all well-oiled gatekeepers who welcome assimilated subjects while maintaining a closed-border policy to subjects unwilling—or unable—to pimp their own trauma for access to resources. Thus the snare of neoliberalism appears again: the uncooperative individual is to blame for their own struggle to survive.


DH work often invokes this posthumanist rhetoric, as if technologies’ emergence has somehow dismantled subjectivity, and if these technologies are not imbued with the ideologies of their creators, e.g. Apple’s facial recognition technology unable to recognize Black faces.


Micciche, Laura R. “Feminist Pedagogies.” A Guide to Composition Pedagogies. Eds. Gary Tate,
Amy Rupiper Taggart, Kurt Schick, and H. Brooke Hessler. New York: Oxford University 
Press, 2014. 128-145. Print.


Miller, Carolyn R. “Genre as Social Action.” Genre and the New Rhetoric. Eds Aviva Freedman
and Peter Medway. Bristol, PA: Taylor & Francis Ltd., 1994. Print.


Carolyn Miller’s article “Genre as Social Action” lays the groundwork for the continued emergence of rhetorical genre studies as a scholarly force inside of composition and rhetoric. In it, she positions genres as  “forms of social action… [that] enable their users to carry out situated symbolic actions…[and] to perform social actions and relations, enact social roles, and frame social realities” (58-59). This interplay between rhetor and rhetorical (social) situation is central, Miller argues, to “how genres, through their use, dynamically maintain, reveal tensions within, and help reproduce social practices and realities” (59).


This semiotic relationship between genre and culture has been addressed by Bazerman, Bitzer, Bawarshi, and Devitt, to name a few, but Miller’s firm grasp on genre as ontological and contextual renders this article a classic: context dictates “communicative purpose(s), discourse community membership, genre nomenclature, or even genre chains and occluded genres”(59).


Miller also articulates that communication must be “viewed as an ongoing, intersubjective performance, one that is mediated by genres and other culturally available tools” (59). I have long considered what Miller means by this “intersubjective performance,” and have previously connected this term to my research on Weird Twitter as a rhetorical situation that provides abundant insight into online discourse communities: e.g., How do individuals convey identity and voice through manipulation of genre to address the rhetorical situation of their own construction (considering private/anonymous/dis-identified users) (what about bots?)?


In brief, Miller, and rhetorical genre studies more generally, wants to know more about “the role that genres play in how individuals experience, co-construct, and enact social practices and sites of activity” (59). This “co-construction” is central to my connection between embodied offline subjectivity and dis-/re-embodied online identity: what groupings of cultural signs can/do users enact to convey identity markers that hold value to them online?


—. “Rhetorical Community: The Cultural Focus of Genre.” Genre and the New Rhetoric. Eds
Aviva Freedman and Peter Medway. Bristol, PA: Taylor & Francis Ltd., 1994. Print.


Milner, Ryan M. The World Made Meme: Public Conversations and Participatory Media. The MIT Press, 2016. Print.


McRuer, Robert. “Composing Bodies; or, De-Composition: Queer Theory, Disability Studies,
and Alternative Corporealities.”  Journal of Rhetoric, Culture, and Politics 24.1 (2004):
47-78. Web.


McRuer posits that composing itself (as a practice) is messy and dis-composed; he then advocates for connecting the agitation of the composing, laboring body into composition classrooms (49) and even claims that enforcing “programmatic” and compulsory performance of rote forms and docile bodies (51) in composition classrooms, we are serving capitalist interests. This service strips composition of any radical political possibilities, and composing’s innate connection to embodiment renders this disconnect highly problematic. For McRuer, it is in composition that we have a political obligation to challenge hegemonic identities and narratives; there is an opportunity for embodiment to be taken seriously, and McRuer holds that engaging student writers in moments of otherness, what he terms “queer/disabled moments,” opens possibilities of resistance. He further advocates for queering or “cripping” texts,  challenging essentialist ideologies within cultural artifacts (59), invoking Sedgwick to explicate his use of “queer” as a verb: “‘the open mesh of possibilities, gaps, overlaps, dissonances and resonances… [that] aren’t made (or can’t be made) to signify monolithically’” (57). This anti-capitalist perspective on pedagogy is a valuable method for bridging theories on embodiment and composition, and it’s my intention to connect these to hybrid teaching and digital spaces as well.


Murray, Janet H. Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace, updated
edition. The MIT Press, 2017.


Paperson, La. A Third University is Possible. University of Minnesota Press, 2017.


Pearson, Erika.  “All the World Wide Web’s a stage: The performance of identity in online social networks.” First Monday 14.3 March 2, 2009. Web.


Price, Margaret. Mad at School: Rhetorics of Mental Disability and Academic Life. The University of Michigan Press, 2011.


Scarry, Elaine. The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World. Oxford University Press, 1985.


Schryer, Catherine F. “Genre Time/Space: Chronotopic Strategies in the Experimental Article.”
JAC: A Journal of Rhetoric, Culture, and Politics 19.1 (1999): 81-89. Web.


Selfe, Cynthia L. Technology and Literacy in the Twenty-First Century: The Importance of
Paying Attention. Southern Illinois University Press: Studies in Writing and Rhetoric 
series, 1999. Print.


Tuck, Eve. “Breaking up with Deleuze: desire and valuing the irreconcilable.” International
Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education 23.5, Sept-Oct 2010, 635-650. Web.


Tuck implements the extended metaphor of the dissolution of a romantic relationship to articulate her historical relationship to Gilles Deleuze; while she ultimately embraces several Deleuzian concepts in her own work, she carefully explicates the limitations of his theories, many of which she feels are incomplete/undertheorized. Tuck, a GC graduate from Urban Education and a prominent young scholar in decolonial theory and critical ethnic studies, masterfully organizes this article to critique the one-dimensionality of much of continental philosophy, instead pilfering a few choice theories and essentially tossing the rest. This reverse-colonizing of some central poststructuralist theorists and texts is not incidental: Tuck is committed to liberatory methodologies and makes use of them in this piece. Her methodological centering of desire is central to her approach, and she works to extract this desire from even the messiest of Deleuzian theory. Tuck’s work and ethics are delightful evidence of critical decolonial work happening today, and her consistency in centering radical subjectivities makes her work vital to my work surrounding embodiments online.


Wallace, David L.  and Jonathan Alexander.Queer Rhetorical Agency: Questioning Narratives
of Heteronormativity.” Journal of Rhetoric, Culture, and Politics 29.4 (2009): 793-819.


Wilson, James C. and Cynthia Lewiecki-Wilson, eds. Embodied Rhetorics: Disability in
Language and Culture. Southern Illinois University Press, 2001. Print.


Wolff, William I. “Baby, We Were Born to Tweet: Springsteen Fans, the Writing Practices of In Situ Tweeting, and the Research Possibilities for Twitter.” Kairos 19.3 (2013). Web.


Wood, Caitlin, ed. Criptiques. May Day Publishing, 2014.


Wynter, Sylvia. “‘No Humans Involved:’ An Open Letter to my Colleagues.” Forum N.H.I.
Knowledge for the 21st Century 1.1, Knowledge on Trial, Fall 1994. Print.


The Visualization, Digital Studies, and Literary History

Posted by Param Ajmera on


The Visualization, Digital Studies, and Literary History

What new forms of knowing and expression are made possible by the digitization of culture? What does visualization and design mean in a digital humanities context? These questions open a reflection on the methods and outcomes of DH. I am eager to see how the creation and curation of data has been reconceived by the humanities. I am searching for new forms of interface and experience of cultural objects that are made possible by digital technology. From the sociology to the materiality of texts, and from cultural criticism to modeling data, the collection of texts below show how a heightened sensitivity to the affordances of digital media provide new approaches towards creating and sharing knowledge about culture and society. Despite the wide variety of texts and different disciplines from which this material has been drawn, a few common threads of analysis emerge: firstly, how we think and how we express our thought have become deeply circumscribed within the possibilities of digital media. That being said, the possibilities of digital media seem to change and expand with every passing software update, and so there is much that is yet to be determined in the future of DH. Secondly, how we choose to organize and represent information has a direct bearing on the ways in which it will be read, and so the matter of aesthetics and design becomes central to digital humanist inquiry. Thirdly, the power of the image, graphic, visual, or pictorial representation in suggesting new relations or patterns is very alluring, this is what Drucker calls their “representational force,” which means that visuals and graphics must be made and read with elevated attention to their underlying set of assumptions and rhetoric. Ultimately, the works collected below serve as useful points of departure for thinking about various practices in visualization and design that bridge the subjective, affective, and experiential ways of knowing championed by the humanities with the networked and quantitative practices enabled by digital media.

Vincent Brown. “Mapping a Slave Revolt: Visualizing Spatial History through the Archives of Slavery.” Social Text, vol. 33.4 no. 125, 1 December 2015. pp. 134–141. doi:

Brown’s article discusses his online publication, Slave Revolt in Jamaica, 1760–1761: A Cartographic Narrative (, within the context of the digital turn and the possibilities of using archival collections to study decolonial histories. Brown argues that graphics and visualizations built through digital media provide methods for developing critical representations of evidence that is always “debased.” After all, that which the subaltern historian finds in the archive of colonialism is ultimately whatever the colonizer deemed worthy of preserving. Given this provenance of historical data, new forms of expression must be used to foreground the silenced, partial, and uncertain picture of the past evidenced by the archive. In other words, the interpretive character of archival evidence must be emphasized through the aesthetic choices made in its representation. Brown’s rendition of Tacky’s Revolt uses digitized maps of eighteenth-century Jamaica to show, using moving fading tracer lines, how the rebellion spread across the island and the backlash it precipitated. Brown’s choice to use contemporary maps and the fading, but always moving, tracer lines suggest fundamental uncertainties of the history being told while also showing how the landscape of Jamaica was crucial to the shaping of the rebels’ strategies. For the scholar, Brown’s map highlights how historical data might be curated to make an illuminating argument that is critically sensitive to the nature of the evidence on which it rests, and for any viewer the map provides an account of the organizational tactics adopted by the enslaved. I find Brown’s project to show compelling ways of using digital remediation and interaction to make arguments and present archival contents in novel ways.

Cordell, Ryan. “Reprinting, Circulation, and the Network Author in Antebellum Newspapers.” American Literary History, vol. 27, no. 3, Aug. 2015, pp. 417–45.

Cordell explores how early nineteenth-century U.S. newspapers exchanged information and circulated texts, while also offering an alternative account of communal authorship. Using the Chronicling America digital archive, Cordell derives a corpus of reprinted texts, or articles that were copied and reproduced in multiple newspapers, and uses processes such as data visualization and text mining to analyze and extend notions of reprinting, reauthorship, and the social text in antebellum America. By focusing on the well-known practice of newspapers borrowing and reprinting articles from each other, Cordell shifts attention towards what D. F. McKenzie refers to as the “sociology of texts”: the relations that emerge in culture among writers, editors, publishers, compositors, shippers, and readers within which the material text is created, reproduced, shipped, read, and collected. Through the judicious use of digital methods, such as natural language processing and computational linguistics, which can identify and track repetition, Cordell reveals a veritable cornucopia of alternative genres and popular culture that come to the fore when focusing on reprinted texts. From self-help pieces to squibs, and scientific reports to religious exhortations, the bulk of reprinted articles either take form as understudied genres, or represent the work of anonymous authors. Cordell thus shows how the digital archive can become a space for thinking beyond the hegemonic literary canon. I find Cordell’s approach to “distant reading” in this article to be particularly striking in the ways in which it moves between reading the macro-scale of the entire corpus and the micro-scale of individual articles.

Dillon, Elizabeth Maddock. “By Design Remapping the Colonial Archive.” Social Text, vol. 33, no. 4 125, 2015, pp. 142–147.

Dillon discusses Vincent Brown’s digital archive and mapping of events related to the Tacky’s Revolt in Jamaica. Characterizing Brown’s project as a structural reshaping of the colonial foundations of the archive, Dillon advances this effort as an ongoing contribution to the ways in which archival silences and occlusions can be challenged. Cartography, with its long history in the Western imperial imagination, is inextricably linked to the desire for colonial empire. And so advancing it as a technique for rethinking the colonial ideologies on which the archive is based proves to be a particularly fraught enterprise. Dillon suggests that this fundamental challenge can be addressed when the possibilities of digital mapping are engaged with a heightened sensitivity to the impact of design and aesthetics, positing Brown’s project as an exemplar case. Through the use of a well-theorized visual rhetoric, a conscious attention paid to the arrangement of images and text on the display, and a critically aware curation of textual moments from existing sources, Dillon argues that new forms of knowledge can emerge that run counter to the colonial and white-supremacist episteme of the archive and of cartography. I find this discussion to be generative in its suggestions of the ways in which digital publications can use multilayered strategies of representation to shy away from functioning as transparent representations of the past and underscore the ambiguities that comprise literary-historical studies. Redesigning the archive becomes simultaneously, a way to leverage the digital in ways that enact decolonial possibilities, as well show how design and form can be made central in the work of digital humanities.

Drucker, Johanna. Humanities Approaches to Graphical Display. Vol. 5, no. 1, 2011. Digital Humanities Quarterly,

Drucker outlines a new theory of data, possible strategies for thinking about visualizations within the humanities, and an overview of the fundamental differences between the humanities and sciences. Drucker is critical of those humanities scholars who have borrowed methods and tools for digital / quantitative analysis from the natural sciences, without a sustained attention to the underlying assumptions and frameworks on which those methods and tools are based – assumptions that often run counter to the intellectual ends sought after within the humanities. This difference is captured in Drucker’s concept of “capta” as a kind of observation that is “taken” actively or constructed through hermeneutic practices, which is oppositional to the rational notion of “data” that assumed to be “given.” Whereas capta champions the “situated, partial, and constitutive character of knowledge production,” data refers to that which is already there available for observation and recording. This fundamental difference between data and capta necessitates a new approach to the representation of the knowledge created by these two principles. In other words, the visualizations based on a theory of capta need to be different than those based on data. To assist these ends, Drucker provides humanistic approaches for rethinking visualization design strategies. The models she provides show how to visualize notions such as ambiguity, hybridity, and uncertainty are illuminating examples of how quantitative approaches can be reconceived to be more appropriate within a humanities context.

Hayles, N. Katherine. How We Think: Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis. University of Chicago Press, 2012.

Hayles asks fundamental questions regarding the implications of media upheavals in the humanities. She frames the shift towards the digital as a paradigm shift that cannot be ignored because it affects the work that humanists do at every level: from emails and bureaucracy, to databases, journals, and professional research, and also becoming a core concern in the practices of effective teaching and learning. The movement between print and digital is taken up in detail, and within this context matters such as materiality, embodiment, collaboration, and disciplinarity are given due attention. Hayles is optimistic of the new possibilities in creating knowledge that are opened by the digital, however she is also concerned with preserving the rich resources of print traditions and the centuries of thought, expression, and practice that it has supported. To bridge these two seemingly incommensurable worlds, Hayles proposes an approach that she terms “Comparative Media Studies” that attends to the nuances of differences and relations between various forms of media, while also suggesting new modalities of curricular design that are more appropriate for the post-print world. Fundamentally revolutionary, this book proposes a wholesale rethinking of disciplinary formations within the humanities, the theories and practices through which knowledge is created and shared, as well as the pedagogical imperative of moving from a content-oriented curriculum to a problem-centered course structure. Related to this agenda is the concept of technogenesis – the notion that humanity and technology have co-developed. In a world of instant communication and more information, as well as pervasive/embedded technologies in nearly all facets of life, technogenesis captures the changes in human relations and human understanding that are effected by digital technology. This book is very generative in thinking deeply about the implications of the digital and the ways in which change must be effected, at all levels of academic practice, for the humanities to carve out a compelling role in the digital age.

Klein, Lauren F. “The Image of Absence: Archival Silence, Data Visualization, and James Hemings.” American Literature, vol. 85, no. 4, Jan. 2013, pp. 661–88. CrossRef, doi:10.1215/00029831-2367310.

Klein’s article makes timely interventions in American literary studies, debates on the ways in which we read texts, and the possibilities of digital archival studies. She draws a parallel between network visualization and “surface reading” to center attention on the presence of slavery in the Papers of Thomas Jefferson. Using Protovis, a toolkit developed by the Stanford Visualization Group, Klein finds evidence supporting the central role occupied by a household slave, James Hemings, in the shaping of Jefferson’s daily life. In stark contrast with the fecundity of details about Jefferson’s life and the vast volume of documents that surround him, Hemings’s story has been forever lost to an archive that was unconcerned with preserving the details of his life. Klein’s success at the finding Hemings’s ghostly presence in the Jefferson archive underscores how the kinds of archival deformations enabled by digital tools can be used in American studies. Her ability to produce critique using two widely contentious methods – quantitative analysis and Best and Marcus’s “Surface Reading” – teaches how we can and should blend digital tools and critical conceptual frameworks. I particularly admire her deeply thoughtful approach to using tools borrowed from the sciences and her insistence on the limits of digital tools and infrastructure.

Manovich, Lev. The Language of New Media. MIT Press, 2001.

Published in 2001, Manovich’s book occupies the contradictory space between ringing deeply true, while simultaneously feeling tragically dated. It is particularly useful for its definitions of new media and its comparative overview of two key moments in media history – the advent of cinema and that of the computer. However, because of its gestation in a pre-Facebook, pre-Amazon, and early-Google context, Manovich is unable to consider the structural role occupied powerful monopolistic corporations in determining the shaping and using the internet and digital media today. Criticisms aside, Manovich uses a very interdisciplinary approach, what he calls “digital materialism” in his analysis, which draws on diverse approaches to cultural analysis, such as literary studies, film theory, media studies, and marxism, among others. All things considered, I find this book to be a very good overview of media history with lucid descriptions of key terms – a wonderful theoretical foundation when considering the role of media technology in shaping society and culture.

Rusert, Britt. “New World: The Impact of Digitization on the Study of Slavery.” American Literary History, vol. 29, no. 2, May 2017, pp. 267–86.

Rusert describes the ways in which digital humanities projects centered on the study of slavery in the Americas and the Caribbean have blurred traditional disciplinary boundaries and redefined key terms in the field. Through exploring databases such as DocSouth and Slave Biographies: The Atlantic Database Network, Rusert underscores not only the ease of access to esoteric or unread texts provided by the digitization of texts, but raises the possibility of using quantitative analysis for better understanding the interconnectedness between many texts en masse as well. Rusert notes that scholarship on the archive of slavery has often been marked by a sense of profound loss and erasure, with the archive often theorized as a site of epistemic violence that does not accord the voices of the enslaved as being worthy of preservation. On the other hand, Rusert also underscores that recent scholarship has revealed how documents on colonial governance often reveal the structural instabilities and profound anxieties of managing a colonized population – the potential for rebellion and resistance is always rife. The archive thus emerges in contemporary discourse as a locus of antagonistic meaning making, at once a site of racialized silencing while also a repository highlighting the precariousness of a racialized political economy. Within this contentitous field of inquiry, Rusert argues that digital archives enables modes of insurgent strategy that call into question the power dynamics of the colonial archive. Rusert points towards initiatives like the Early Caribbean Digital Archive and Slave Revolt in Jamaica as being exemplars of the ways in which collections have been remixed to bring alternative histories and accounts to light. Despite the success and critical attention generated by some projects, Rusert notes that too often digital humanities work on the archive of slavery obscures crucial details about the subjective experience of slavery and re-asserts the master’s perspective. Closely reading a popular visualization in Slate magazine called “The African Slave Trade in Two Minutes,” Rusert notes how it obscures the brutal realities of the slave trade in its commodification of people, and how in the reduction of slaves to data points it enacts the epistemic violence of slavery each time a user pauses or refreshes the visualization. Simultaneously critical of its limitations and aware the affordances of the digital, Rusert’s article underscores how digitization has affected the study of slavery and what it might hold in its future.

Tufte, Edward R. Envisioning Information. Graphics Press, 1990.

This is a classic work in design that teaches how to arrange image, word, number, and art in order envision information. It articulates an aesthetics through which complex ideas can be represented through sensible and principled graphic visualization. Tufte begins by observing that even though we navigate with ease through a multidimensional conceptual-symbolic world, when it comes to portraying the world through our information displays, we are structurally caught up in two-dimensional “flatlands of paper and video screen.” The challenge then, is to use the human ability to recognize symbols and understand patterns such that we may capture and communicate the fundamentally multidimensional nature of any idea or observation. To help us chart these difficult waters, Tufte offers a smorgasboard of examples and rich explanations of information visualizations from the past five centuries and beyond. Tufte’s key insight is that humans thrive in information rich worlds because we have a capacity to focus and select on a few elements with surprising efficacy. This makes it possible to create very information rich and densely arranged layouts of images and text which require close reading. The reader must select a few elements from the visualization to focus on and build an interpretation in relation to whatever else is being suggested by the visualization. Tufte shows how complex information and a variety of detail can be communicated in understandable and generative ways through deceptively simple strategies like layering and separation of components, thoughtful deployment of repeating patterns, and attention to color. Tufte’s brilliant work is essential reading when innovating alternative forms of visualizations that champion the subjective and experiential nature of human epistemology.

Wyman, Bruce, et al. “Digital Storytelling in Museums: Observations and Best Practices: Digital Storytelling in Museums.” Curator: The Museum Journal, vol. 54, no. 4, Oct. 2011, pp. 461–68. CrossRef, doi:10.1111/j.2151-6952.2011.00110.x.

This article presents many observations and best practices developed for creating interactive installations, websites, and experiences for museums. As new media and digital technology has made new kinds of engagements and expectations possible, curators and designers find themselves using ever-more-complex approaches to connect with their visitors. Within this context, Wyman et al. argue that great storytelling should drive interactive design and serve as the critical element for presenting collections. The authors turn towards the importance of physical spaces comprising the museum, as well as arranging the museum’s unique collection itself to create narrative environments, where “interactivity” emerges as a multi-sensorial experience. In this regard, the use of digital technology takes a noticeable back seat and the museum collection occupies the main frame of visitor collection. The authors present a series of “strategic thoughts” as well as “tactical thoughts” that contain outlines for designing exhibits appropriate for a more context aware and digital media savvy audience. Some of these are obvious yet vague: “Have a vision,” “create multidisciplinary teams,” “use technology as a design element,” “choose a consistent content approach,” etc. Others are brilliant and actionable with far ranging consequences: “use a little technology well, not a lot of technology poorly,” “take more chances with design and experience,” “good storytelling requires good editing,” “remove barriers to content and experience.” I have included this article to consider the public applications of the all DH theories and academic projects that comprise the bulk of this annotated bibliography. New forms of interface and analysis are changing our relationship to knowledge. The digitization of culture has fundamentally reshaped the modes of expression available to society.  This article reveals how all of this carried out in a museum context.


Drawing Maps

Posted by Natasha Ochshorn on

The readings on modeling this week reminded me of a book I was given a few years ago by Andrew DeGraff called, Plotted: A Literary Atlas. In it, DeGraff maps the journeys of characters from the literary cannon. What interested me, looking at it again after doing these readings, was that he mapped not only more traditional journeys (Huck Finn down the river, Frederick Douglass to freedom), but also the emotional journeys of the characters in Pride and Prejudice, the spacial ones of A Wrinkle In Time, and the temporal ones of A Christmas Carol. This was an artistic project more than an academic one, but it was fun to look at how this author/artist used maps and graphs to enhance his personal relationship with these books.

Also interesting was that even in this obviously subjective/artistic work, DeGraff discusses the limitations of his project.

Much as the skyline of New York creates a rough map of the bedrock that it rests upon, or in the way that a map of the London Tube can tell you where the population centers are, these maps provide a sense of contour – sometimes literal and sometimes metaphorical – for their literary inspirations. 


Bookworm Assignment – New Words in the World

Posted by clararamazzotti on

Hi everyone!

I’ve tried both Bookworm and Voyant just to be sure that I was using properly this kind of tools.

My first idea was to look at several kind of words related to the gender (female/woman/girl/wife) in correlation with sexuality (sex/love/candor/prude/licentious/libertine/womanizer) and deviance (the idea came up thinking to Freud’s works and Bleuler who invented the word “schizophrenia”, for a long time these words and the female gender were related one to each other.) but I was not very sure of how I could do that.

So I chose a topic: I was curious about how much female characters in Literature were linked to words belonged to psychiatric or sexual deviances, and my first thought was to the Gothic productions, on published books between 1890 and 1920. I used Dracula by Bram Stoker, where the main female character has a very strong fascination to a misterious sexuality (in a great struggle because of the pruderie of the time).

I know, it’s not a very happy topic, but I thought it was cool to understand with a computer analysis which kind of words were used most!

I’ve tried with Voyant but I was not so much satisfied. I don’t know if I’ve did wrong, I want the system could let us to choose the words to analyze or to put some words in correlation, but the results were not very interesting (they just confirm to me something that I already know about the book).

The system analyze Dracula and found, of course, al lot of verbs but in particular a great use of “SHALL”. Lucy was nominated 225 times while the name Dracula appeared 188 times (probably because it’s like Voldemort, “you don’t have to say his name, he’s a monster!”). I chose several words for an analysis:

After many experiments I decided to not use my first idea (I have to learn better how to use this tools) and I’ve tried just with Dracula. So, we have eyes + Dracula + face. In this segment you could find Lucy and Mina going up and down, in a sort of dance.

So I thought “ok, and Bookworm?”. I thought this second tool could be more interesting, but maybe the topic was perfectible 🙂 In this case I just put “sex” and “schizophrenia” in a limited time (1890-1910), just to look at the number of books that used this words in the same period in which Stoker wrote his novel.

Guys, they wrote a lot about sex:


Unfortunately I have no idea of which kind of books Bookworm analyze, or with what criteria so it could be everything: medical books (and it’s ok), novels? – and it’s not so common, etc.



Annotated Bibliography – Big Data Impact on Literature

Posted by clararamazzotti on

Clara Ramazzotti

Prof. Matthew K. Gold

Approaching to Digital Humanities, 4 credits

March, 6th 2018

Topic: Big Data. Their first impact on literary studies and how they could be used in Digital Humanities.

Thesis statement: Digital Humanities is a big category that includes several things not yet clearly definied. In this context, doubts and attempts about what Big Data could do in the Humanities seems to be very stimulating, in particular in the period between 2005 (Google Books launch) and 2017. I focused my research on sources from 2015 to the end of 2017. What I understood so far is that the great quantity of informations and digitalized materials seem to be the center of an intellectual struggle where scholars are asking each other whether the great “quantity” of information, interpreted in contrast with their “quality”, was what we need for a better job on literary sources. I found interesting the articles I listed because some of them provide some possible answers or explanation about the Big Data/Literature duo (Mazzola, Lei Zeng) or because some of them tried to understand how to use Data at its best, as business/industry/scientific researchers did.

Annotated Bibliography

Crane, Gregory. What Do You Do with a Million Books? D-Lib Magazine, 2006. Last access: 03/05/2018

The ability to extract from the stored record of humanity useful information in an actionable format for any given human being of any culture at any time and in any place will not emerge quickly, but the fundamental tools on which such a system would be built are moving forward.

Multiple choices for multiple options on the same text: this is what a digital library could do. Crane discussed in 2006 about how a digital library could work with a still valid critique on the way books and sources are reproduced (rooted in tradition of print, as merely recreation of a printed book into a pdf or HTML text online). Traditional researches were obviously much more limited in their ability to meet a particular needs, and of course computers need much less time to do that.

Ganascia, Jean-Gabriel. The Logic of the Big Data Turn in Digital Literary Studies Front. Digit. Humanit., 2015. Last access: 03/05/2018

But, what does “big” mean for the Digital Humanities? A million, a billion, and a trillion bytes are small compared to the Terabytes and Petabytes that are usually considered as the standard for “big data.” In the case of Digital Literary Studies, the total number of texts that can be characterized as literary works, including novels, poetry, and theater, does not exceed a few million books, which has been seen characterized as a delimiting horizon.

Thanks to this article it’s possible to clarify where Digital Humanities started, proposing technologically equipped methodologies in activities where, for centuries, intuition and intelligent handling had played a predominant role. Big Data, in this context, become revealing of how these new approaches can be applied to traditional scholarly disciplines, such as Literature, and what digitization allows; also, they discuss the nature of the Humanities in general. In fact, the main value of the Big is that they can renew, with the use of computers, the Humanities.

Kaplan, Frédérick. A map for big data research in digital humanities Front. Digit. Humanit., 2015. Last access: 03/05/2018

Will we learn more by analyzing 10 millions books that we cannot read individually or by reading five carefully (Moretti 2005)?

The author chose to analyze how humanist processed and interpreted data, explaining the differences between Big Data and Small Data: researches in Big Data usually mean a focus on large or dense cultural datasets, which call for new processing and interpretation methods. On the other hand, Small Data regroup more focused works that do not use massive data processing methods and explore also interdisciplinary dimensions linking computer science and humanities research.

Lei Zeng, Marcia. Smart Data for Digital Humanities Journal of Data and Information Science, Volume 2, Issue 1, Pages 1–12, 2017. Last access: 03/05/2018

“Data is the new oil” (Humby, 2006) has become a defining phrase used by many in recent years as the evidence became more and more convincing. “However, in its raw form, data is just like crude oil; it needs to be refined and processed in order to generate real value. Data has to be cleaned, transformed, and analyzed to unlock its hidden potential” (TiECON East, 2014). […] advanced technologies, under the umbrella of Big Data and Smart Data, allow researchers of the humanities to join the mainstream of the digital age with new abilities as never before.

I chose this article because it clarifies some issues on the usage of Big Data in the Humanities, and it explains in a very simply way the differences between Smart and Big (quality and quantity) and what we are probably missing to achieve a goal (Lei Zeng talks about technological issues, for example).
The author hopes a very positive evolution in DH’s use of “Smart Data”, the ability to achieve big insights from trusted, contextualized, relevant, cognitive, predictive, and consumable data at any scale, as the only kind of data that could gives value in this field. In a few words, the Smart Data approach is useful to transform unstructured data to structured and semi-structured data.

Mazzola, Roberto. Google Books e le scienze (post)umane Laboratorio dell’ISPF, XII, 2015. Last access: 03/05/2018

L’estensione agli studi umanistici di questo nuovo approccio alla realtà e alla conoscenza ha suscitato le resistenze di quanti hanno difficoltà ad accettare l’idea di ridurre un libro, un dipinto, un brano musicale ecc., a mero flusso di informazioni codificate.

This article is an interesting analysis of what kind of work was done in Europe (Italy, France, Germany) when Google Books came out. The essential questions “how we could use Big Data” and “how we could save our heritage” found some clarifications in this article. It’s relevant how the author explains the passage from a scientific method (hyphotesis – verification) to data/algorithms new era, with the possible consequence to see the “traditional humanist” as an old character without purpose.
The example of Google Books and the work made by the company to obtain a free open access to all the knowledge is really fascinanting, but it’s more like a library of snippets, using the words of Nicholas Carr, pieces of knowledge useful as second-hand quotes.

Moretti, Franco. Canon/Archive. n+1 Foundation, 2017, New York City.

On the basis of programming, much more becomes possible: from the refinement of the corpus to the analysis of initial results; from the review of the critical literature to the design of follow-up experiments. This functional division of labor, whose results no individual scholar could ever achieve in isolation, is clearly indispensable to modern research.

This book could demonstrate that everything is measurable and, thanks to technology, studied as in a laboratory. It’s not casual that the first thing very noteworthy in this series of pamphlets are all the ways a book could be investigated. The way a writer uses paragraphs, the number of character’s presences in a story, etc. Literary Laboratory is fundamental to understand how far could go the DH: a series of tests and experiments to obtain a result, not just electronical transfer from paper to usb.
It’s a fascinating source for this topic because a scholar could find a method, an attempt to do something relevant for DH,
but at he same time the honest perception that DH have presented themselves as a radical break with the past, with the paradox that, in a new approach, not everything has to be new.

Ramsay, Stephen. The Hermenutics of Screwing Around; or what you do with a million booksDigital Culture Books, 2010. Last access: 03/05/2018

There was no way to ask, “Which of these books contains the phrase ‘Frank Zappa?’ ” The fact that we can now do that changes everything, but it doesn’t change the nature of the thing. When we ask that question—or any question, for that matter—we are still searching. We are still asking a question and availing ourselves of various technologies.

Are we reading always the same book? Are we too canonical and perhaps Big Data are the way to compare and read more than a percentual? These are the questions that came up with this essay with the perception that more digitalized books (or cultural products) doesn’t mean a change in the critic’s scholar himself (the deeply research on a topic or the comparision between sources), but a significant evolution in the way scholars could do that, using their time and their knowledge in more than one field/topic/location.

Rojas Castro, Antonio. Big Data in the Digital Humanities. New conversations in the global academic context AC/E Digital Culture Annual Report, 2017. Last access: 03/05/2018

We should begin by dismissing certain clichés about the humanities and ask ourselves about their classic objects of study, bearing in mind the methods that are currently available. This requirement is not unrelated to the work of humanists, who have always been in contact with other fringe disciplines such as anthropology, Marxism and gender studies.

Humanists have established a dialogue with computer studies, and humanists are working on several methods: in this article, the author hopes that literary studies and computer analysis can eventually reconcile.
In particular, I found it helpful because, as Rojans Castro explains, the classic definition of Big Data is a formula: Volume (Terabytes, Petabytes, Exabytes), Velocity (data that is constantly generated) and Variety (texts, images, sounds), and if we take the three Vs as a basis, Big Data don’t fit in the humanities. But in the literary academic context, the expression Big Data, as we know, is associated more to “distant reading” (Moretti, 2007) or “macroanalysis” (Jockers, 2013) and we could start from this new way to “read” cultural products.

Schuessler, Jennifer. Reading by the Numbers: When Big Data Meets Literature. The New York Times, 09/30/2017. Last access: 03/05/2018

[…] scholars need to consider the tens of thousands of books that have been forgotten, a task that computer algorithms and enormous digitized databases have now made possible.

In this 2017 interview to Franco Moretti, there is an interesting series of considerations, useful for this study. First of all, the literary criticism tends to emphasize the singularity of exceptional works that have stood the test of time, like the creation of a canon and its use, and also it considers the literature as a drastic evolution from a period (or an author) to another one.
What Data and computer analysis could do is to give us lab’s results that could unsettle established ideas of literary history.

Svensson, Patrick. Big Digital Humanities: Imagining a Meeting Place for the Humanities and the Digital. University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 2016. Last access: 03/05/2018

The bigness of big data in the humanities may refer to the number of perspectives inherent in the material and the richness of critical inflection rather than the sheer quantity of data. In addition, the digital humanities has also come to be seen as a site for challenging and renewing the humanities and academy.

Every definition and example, from Google Books to Stanford Lab, gave the opportunty to think to DH throught different points of view. And this article adds another word to this “DH vocabulary” debates: engagement, something that a professional figure finds on the social media insights and during a strategic work.
So, DHs and Big Data could be seen also as a strategic work where
 the digital humanities engages with the digital as a tool, as an object of inquiry, and as an expressive medium.


Voyant Assignment

Posted by Tristen Goodwin on

Hey everyone,

So my data set to test out Voyant was 215 instruction booklets from a collection of Nintendo 64 games, I thought it would be a fun and interesting exploration to see what would be of importance. I didn’t know what to expect when trying this, but after seeing the results, I gained an understanding that theses instruction booklets held two different “narratives”.

The thought process I had that sparked this idea, was how would video games reflect our society in very practical ways? I looked at instruction booklets as they can be seen as the bridge that connects the player to the game itself(if they decide to read the booklet first, of course). So the words that are frequent within these text all correspond to usage of a controller, which I was prepared for so I wanted to look deeper at words that aren’t as frequent but have some importance. In the visualization above, the words that are closer to the center, are words that matter to the actual game, but as you look farther away, the words that appear are more of  a legalized form of writing. For example, the word player/s and consumer are both showing up the corpus which  would determine the same entity. But player/s are more frequently used than consumers, and this can lead to the question: why?  The usage of language is important in all texts, and voyant gives us the clear understanding that the text surrounding the the center  holds just as much importance as the words in the center. There’s a narrative for the players on how to play a game, but there is also a narrative for the company to handle all legality in dealing with their property(the games themselves).

If I were to proceed with this experiment, I would perhaps take a corpus of instruction booklets from other companies and compare and even expand my view towards the modern day. While this was a simple observation, it does open new discoveries on how text is formed and what that can mean to the readers in question.


Voyant with Werewolves

Posted by Zohra Saed on

Marie de France Lai of the Werewolf

12th C. female poet

Here is how you make medieval texts interesting — select ones about magical monsters (ok maybe all have magical monsters) and then add these fancy things. I tried it with my students and they loved this. This was absolutely the most fun I’ve had with this text. Everything else required downloads or vids that took too long, or were blocked by DOE! (Yes I am guilty of doing classwork at work).



Voyant Trials with Latinx

Posted by Nancy Bocanegra on

This was my first time using Voyant but it felt good to actually use a database especially after reading much about the learning outcomes of using such systems. I’m definitely a more experiential type learner.

In my trial, I used a piece from a Latino Studies class,“Mapping and recontextualizing the evolution of the term Latinx: An environmental scanning in higher education” by Cristobal Salinas Jr. & Adele Lozano. It reflects on the term Latinx and the evolution of it over the years in higher education. I wanted to see what this tool would tell me compared to what I had read.

Cirrus View: The four main words were latinx (236); term (196); gender (97); googe (89); scholar (83), 

It allows us to see main terms of the article which highlights key subjects in the essay. The amount of times these  words are used correspond to the effect they hope to make on the reader. Another interesting aspect was the correlation and wordtree tool which in itself revealed the answers laying in the essay.  The wordtree also serves as a visual to trace the root of the main term. Overall the visuals help with identifying certain trends in the writing and help to analyze key questions one may have.

Chatting with Veliza was also interesting. But i didn’t quite understand how it all worked or the main purpose of this tool. I was just “click happy” and clicked away on things until something happened.


As I clicked around trying the different settings, I realized that if you set up a certain setting a certain way, once you leave that setting it reverts back to the default. Bubblelines for example, I could add on the the syntax keywords and click on the option to “separate lines with terms” and then, when I change the setting it goes back to zero.

Next Steps

For the next tests, I will want to use more content to compare and find possible correlations to see how helpful it will be to dump a lot of data onto a system and be left with more data to analyze and reflect back on.


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