Tying Up Some Loose Ends

I was glad that we were assigned to read, Stephen Ramsay’s “On Building” because so many of us in class were left to wonder what he meant by “building.”  I was also glad that he mentioned mapping because after reading “Maps” I was still skeptical about the nature of DH.  I thought this article touched on and fused a lot of the elements we are learning about in this class.

Ramsay helped clarify what he meant by building when he elaborated on what constitutes building.  When he writes, “All the technai of Digital Humanities – data mining, XML encoding, text analysis, GIS, Web design, visualization, programming, tool design, database design, etc – involve building; only a few of them require programming, per se,” I can have a more concrete idea of what DH even though I do not have a clue what most of those processes are.  I simply hoped we would eventually learn what some of those are in this course.

When Ramsay explained how mapping is an entirely different process, and a “process of creation yields insights that are difficult to acquire otherwise”, I could see how mapping Mrs. Dalloway would help us to understand DH further.  This is my third time reading Mrs. Dalloway, but this time, I’m already reading it in a completely different way because I’m paying closer attention to the places Clarissa goes to.  I’m still skeptical about how much the mapping will affect our interpretation of the novel in the end.  However, I can already see that having this mapping assignment has changed my reading of it.

Lastly, I couldn’t help but agree in calling this “DH whine” only when I attempted to read the comment thread and failed less than halfway through.  However, I still see the importance of active discussion in order to further theorize this field of Digital Humanities.


6 Comments on “Tying Up Some Loose Ends”

  1. Brian Croxall says:

    You’re right to be skeptical of how the mapping will change our interpretations of the novel. That being said, if your reading has changed, then we have indeed embarked on that new hermeneutic Ramsay discusses.

  2. Jessica Lee says:

    I am also curious as to how mapping Mrs. Dalloway will allow us to view the novel in an entirely different perspective. I have never read the book, but like you, I find myself paying particular attention to the locations each character encounters. So far, it seems like the story is pretty straightforward, and mapping does not seem necessary to fully understand what is occurring. However, I’m sure we would not have the mapping assignment if this were the case.

    • Jessica Coons says:

      I think what we learned during Dr. Croxall’s presentation during class is that mapping is not necessary to understanding the story, but can provide a new perspective to the story. We could easily close read and analyze “Sexy” without any mapping technologies; however, we were able to see that Dev brought Miranda out of comfort zone. We would not have seen this aspect of the story unless we mapped the story.

  3. Zach Sold says:

    I also have read Mrs. Dalloway twice before without ever really giving a lot of thought to the places that the characters visit, despite the frequent mention of specific streets and squares. I think where it has most changed my reading thus far, is in the way I perceive the narrator of the story. As a critical reader, the mention of specific locations typically works to build the author’s credibility in my head. When the narrator includes specific street or park names it forces us as readers to believe the story and gives it a more concrete backing. However with this assignment, I have begun to think less about the credibility of the author and more about the independence of specific characters which is a clear theme in the novel. Thus, digital humanities is playing its part in reshaping my reading to a certain extent.

    • Brian Croxall says:

      Ah, but is that digital humanities? Or is it just the assignment (which you have to do because, after all, this is a class and I’m nominally in charge…)?

  4. Michael Bolleter says:

    Even if mapping proves fruitless, the new focus on character movement and interactions, will slow down our reading, reducing the “buzz whir” effect, wherein our brains go on auto-pilot and we miss details.

    Up until the printing press, scholars were lucky to see a book once, let alone have regular access. TO offset this they developed visual mnemonic techniques to remember vast amounts of information. One of the most common techniques was to create a “mental palace”, wherein you mentally walk through a familiar location, say your house, and place provocative images to remind you of key points. Other people memorized the signs of the zodiac and used each sign as a mental filing cabinet for certain information.

    Maybe it will work maybe it won’t, but focusing on locations and geographic details could imprint a better memory of the books events.