Archive for category Research
A few days ago, I stumbled across a Twitter conversation about House of Leaves. That’s generally enough to get my attention. The people involved were an added enticement. But the conversation among Jesse Stommel, Chuck Rybak, Sean Michael Morris, and Paul Benzon took a different direction when Paul asked, if anyone had “theories on what’s up with the MZD numerical tweets?”
This was the first that I had heard anything about this, so I quickly checked out Mark Z. Danielewski’s tweet stream. And it was very quickly apparent what Paul was talking about. MZD’s last 8 tweets have been a string of numbers. When I looked at them, my immediate thought was that they had to be linked to The Familiar, his 27-volume serial novel that should start being published in 2014. My second thought was that these numbers looked suspiciously like latitude and longitude.
I had a little bit of time that morning, so I quickly ducked into Google Maps to see what I could find out. The first of his numerical tweets appeared on 17 January 2013: 48-371204-9-7265. I decided to replace the dashes with commas and periods, and entered these coordinates: 48.371204,9.7265. A spot in the forest southwest of Schelklingen, Germany was the result. Easy enough. The second site was in Alles-sur-Dordogne, France.
The fourth tweet was a little more complicated, as it presented an em-dash instead of a dash in the middle of the tweet: 63-84823—20-8712. I decided that the em-dash was most likely a way of signaling a negative value for the longitude, and tried 63.84823,-20.8712. That seemed to work, placing me in Iceland; but to be sure, I removed the negative value, and found the spot in the ocean off Sweden. The sixth tweet contained a similar em-dash, and similarly dropped me in the ocean when I removed the negative. The same thing happened with the most recent tweet, which featured a negative sign at the front of the longitude.
So here are all eight locations:
View MZD Tweets mapped in a larger map
The locations are rather diverse, although only on three out of seven continents thus far. I suspect that we’ll see more places mapped soon. MZD has been tweeting once every two weeks, so I think in another 10 days or so I’ll be adding another location to this map.
It’s certainly possible that I’m completely wrong about these numbers being spatial coordinates. And they don’t begin to explain why he is tweeting a blank, black image along with every set of numbers. But if I’m wrong, I’ll be in good company. Someone blogging at schinjislist.blogspot.com had noticed the tweets before I did and had come to the same conclusion about them being best understood in relation to a map. There is, naturally, a post on the MZD forums, on the subject as well. Update: And, it turns out, some steganographic analysis that has been done on Reddit. 10 points to Paul for finding that as well.
It’s worth looking around the locations. Zach Whalen noticed, for example, that there seem to be several loops or circles near each point. That would work well with some of MZD’s thematics. But again, allways, and allready one must be wary of apophenia.
By way of addressing what we see as a gap in the edited collection that Rachel Bowser and I announced last year, we are soliciting abstracts for essays that consider in one way or another representations of the city in steampunk. The term “city” should be understood widely to signify large and small urban spaces and need not be limited to a particular geography or time period. As texts, essays could consider one or more of the following: literature (including YA lit), film, graphic novels, anime, as well as fandom and performance.
The essay will be part of an edited collection exploring steampunk in its literary, filmic, material and fan culture instantiations. The editors have met with multiple university presses who have expressed enthusiastic interest. Completed essays will be expected in early summer 2013.
Possible subjects could include the following:
- The role of crowds in steampunk
- Urban geographies in steampunk
- Steampunk and technologies of the city
- The dirty spaces of steampunk
- City as mechanization
- Steampunk and bureaucracy
- The difference between the cities and the countryside in steampunk
A few years ago, my colleague Rachel Bowser and I co-edited a special issue of Neo-Victorian Studies on the subject of steampunk. As I’m guessing you already know, steampunk is a movement fascinated by the vagaries of time as well as technology. So perhaps that’s why we find ourselves–two years later–going back to this particular imagined future.
We are seeking abstracts for inclusion in a proposal for an edited volume on steampunk. The anthology will present a varied look at steampunk culture and criticism, presenting a comprehensive look at the genre’s impact and development in the fields of art and material cultural. Accordingly, we seek proposals that explore any of a range of iterations of the genre. These may include, for example, analysis of:
- Steampunk fiction
- Steampunk film
- Steampunk visual art
- Steampunk fashion
- Steampunk performance
- Steampunk fan culture
- Steampunk in relationship to preceding science fiction and -punk genres
- Steampunk and feminism
- Steampunk and postcolonial paradigms
- Steampunk and Victorian studies
- Steampunk and technology studies
We hope to present this collection as of interest to both steampunk enthusiasts and non-specialists in the genre, as well as both academic and generalist readers. With this in mind, please submit proposals that are steeped in steampunk culture and criticism, that could be of interest to a generalist audience and that have a strong sense of the stakes of steampunk analysis for broader cultural studies.
I’m quite happy to be presenting a poster at the 2012 Digital Humanities conference on a research project I tackled with my undergraduates last year in Intro to Digital Humanities. We tested two volumes of Carol Ann Duffy’s poetry for the differences that she herself felt existed in the work. First we read the two volumes and discussed them over two weeks, using traditional close reading approaches. The students explored the related poetry notebooks in our Special Collections to see how her drafting of the poems may or may not have differed. And then we started text analysis to test what we intuited from our “traditional” approach.
What I think is most important in this project is that it gave the undergraduates a chance to do something new. They weren’t asked to write me a paper about an Emily Dickinson poem that five years of previous students had already analyzed. We were doing something that had never been done before, that no one could have known to test before. And that’s exciting. (If it works on grad students, why wouldn’t it work for undergrads?) Finally, I got to tell them up front that we might not even learn anything worthwhile from the process, but that we would spend 5 weeks doing it–just because.
Future classes of mine will build corpora of other of Duffy’s volume, and the project will continue to grow. Who knows what we’ll know in the end…and that’s the whole point.
The poster is below. Click on it for full-sized PDF. Everything is CC-BY licensed; let me know if you want original files.
As someone who went to grad school in large part due to a fascination with Derrida, I perhaps shouldn’t be surprised that so much of academia seems to be about deferral. Nevertheless I’m always surprised to see something that I wrote months or years ago show up, out of the blue, in its finished form. That happened last week, when I got the print version of an essay I was invited to write for The Academic Exchange, “A Forum for Emory Faculty, Work, Life, and Thought.” My piece, “An Experiment in Progress” (PDF) looks at the relationship between libraries, digital scholarship, teaching, and undergraduate research. Along the way, I talk about the final project for my course “Introduction to Digital Humanities” and several of the projects that we’ve been working on in DiSC this year. If you can’t wait to see the launch of the projects and don’t mind spoilers, you’ll want to take a look!
I was also recently notified that the Twitter assignment that I designed in 2008 for a class at Emory and revised for inclusion in a Spring 2010 course at Clemson has been cited in a white paper (PDF) from OnlineCollege.org. (Talk about zombies/deferral…) True to the white paper’s title–”Implementing Live Twitter Chat Discussion Sessions”–it gives an introduction to Twitter and how it might be used in the classroom or for conducting larger events, like #FYCchat. If you’ve never used Twitter, I’d perhaps recommend starting with a ProfHacker post or two, but this white paper might give you some different strategies aimed particularly at structuring asynchronous chats. What I find most interesting about this whole thing is how my assignment has become a resource–and a citation!–for others, simply by the fact that I’ve shared it online. As Melissa Terras has recently shown, what’s not to gain from making our work public?