The draft versus the published introduction in “Penelope”

One of the interesting things that I found in MARBL on the poem “Penelope” was an entirely different introductory verse. Although some portions of the draft exist in the published version of the poem I think that examining what the poem would have gained versuses lost will help readers understand more about Duffy’s writing style and the poem. The drafted introductory verse that is written inside of Duffy’s notebook reads as follows:

For twenty years I sewed my tapestry by day

at night unpicked it.

I knew which hour of the dark the moon

Would start to fray,

I stitched it.

Blue threads and green

Followed my needle’s leaping fish to form a river that would never reach the sea.

I tricked it.

I thought that this was an extraordinary introduction and I question why Duffy decided not to use it in her published version. I thought that maybe her editing drafts were thoughts of what came to mind. For instance, if anyone can recall the story of the Odyssey you are aware that it took 20 years for Odysseus to return home. So maybe Duffy began with the basics and then expanded. Furthermore, I begin to examine why she used the draft she did more closely and what better way to start then with the published introduction.

At first, I looked along the road

hoping to see him saunter home

among the olive trees,

a whistle for the dog

who mourned him with his warm head on my knees.

Six months of this

And then I noticed whole days had passed

Without my noticing.

I sorted cloth and scissors, needle, thread,

After examining the two verses I could see some of the strengths in Duffy using the published verse. She already knew she was creating a “different type of volume,” so if she would have kept the original verse it might have been more cliché. However, the published version really allows the reader to understand Penelope’s hope for her husband to return as opposed to making a poem out of the story the readers are familiar with. By doing so Duffy creates a more emotional and personal image of Penelope. Other than this revision there were few revisions in “Penelope.” Once again, I am left with the conclusion that Duffy is a very careful and skilled thinker which reflects in her writings.


The Nooooo in “Havisham”

After completing the necessary paperwork to take pictures In MARBL I was ready to uncover some cool things about Duffy’s poem “Havisham.” One of the things that I noticed was the different formations of the word “no” that appeared throughout the edits. For clarification purposes the word “no” occurs in the following line: “Whole days / in bed cawing Nooooo at the wall” (5-6).

In one of her drafts Duffy wrote the word “no” as no no no. She then transitioned to forming the word as no-no-no. Lastly she scratches out no-no-no and uses the word nooooo, which I think has a valuable impact on her poem.

The word “no” serves in multiple ways. In the previous quote the word nooooo is used to emphasize feelings from both Duffy and Miss Havisham’s perspective. Duffy could have meant for the word to mean simply no in the context of creating the poem—as in, “No, this formatting has to change,” which is why she edits her drafts multiple times. Additionally the word could have been used from Miss Havisham’s perspective of , “No, why is this happening to me I don’t deserve this?”

I also think that the final version’s use of the word “no” is as equally important as the edits. For instance, the word “No” is capitalized and it has an extra o’s really place more emphasis and the word, which adds to the speaker’s feelings of distress, anger, etc.

Overall, I believe that Duffy is purposely crafting her use of the word” no“. It may have started as a word with the original intention of serving as just an ordinary word in the poem, however my discoveries have lead me to believe that the word means so much more. This is important because it shows how skilled of a writer Duffy is and that she plays extremely close attention to what may be viewed as minor details.

Ah, DH isn’t so bad afterall…


Other ways in which the digital humanities work that are different than the usual “building” and “sharing” concepts that we have discussed in class. Not that there is anything wrong with mapping a book or posting on a blog/forum, however, I find it quite refreshing to read about things we have not discussed in class.

One of the first things that caught my attention from reading “Quantitative Analysis of Culture Using Millions of Digitized Books” was the comparison of the frequencies of using “1-gram” and “n-gram” words over time. One of the findings was that the usage of the word slavery peaked during both the civil war and the civil rights movement. This finding was a good example of how cultural change guide the concepts we discuss and overall contribute to culturomic trends. Although this one finding was not surprising I thought there were other moments throughout the text that really demonstrated other things that could be done with digital humanities.

For instance, everything that that was discussed in the article from tracking fame to the evolution of grammar showed the range of DH. I don’t even know where to begin.  The exponential numbers used throughout all sections really showed that the study of culturomics could not be completed without the use of DH.

Overall, DH is good for many things. Not only can you “build”, “share”, and understand concepts in a new way, but you can also complete things that are impossible for humans to do alone: The corpus cannot be read by a human. If you tried to read only the entries from the year 2000 alone, at the reasonable pace of 200 words/minute, without interruptions for food or sleep, it would take eighty years”(1). Now as the semester is coming to a close I realize more of the cool and unique things that can be done with digital humanities.

Birth of the Reader at the Death of the Author

Many may view the death of anything as a negative; however, the death of the author as described in Barthes’ article is very occurring in today’s literary works and can sometimes have a greater impact on the reader than the author’s presence alone.

One of the things that Barthes emphasized was that when “this disconnection occurs, the voices loses its origin, the author enters into his own death, writing begins.” I agree with this stance and I especially believe that it is evident in some of the works that we have read such as Joyce’s Afternoon and Danielewski House of Leaves. In both of these stories the reader is able to take away his or her personal interpretation as oppose to many stories that have a known author throughout making the argument of x, y, or z.

Further, after reading this article I started to wonder, “Does the author even matter even matter if their position in the story is not apparent?”  At first I thought it did not matter. My reasoning was because the readers would be able to formulate their own opinions without any biases on who the author is, what the author does, or the other contributions they made to the literary world. Then I started to think that the author is important and their contributions do matter for a number of reasons. For instance, knowing more about the author can help readers better understand the themes of the story or what the author would convey. And for me when our class found on a little bit more on Johnny I thought that his narration (although unreliable at times) was all the more interesting. Ultimately, I feel that as long as the readers are able to gain something from reader the story, then it does not matter whether or not the author is present.

Barthes stated that, “Once the author is removed, the claim to decipher becomes quite futile.” However, I believe that at this point the claim to decipher a text is at its greatest because there are endless interpretations the readers could create.

“A text lies not in its origin but its destination” therefore I believe the end result should be the reader making their own interpretation and gaining something for the reading. Although I do not believe this to be true in all cases I do think the death of the author may be necessary for the birth of the reader in some cases.

What an Interesting Day

When I first arrived to the Technology Square Research Building at Georgia Tech I did not know what to expect. I thought that much of the conversation would to some extent overlap the things we discussed in class, and to some degree it did. When I walked into the classroom sized auditorium there was about 17 people in the room. The next speaker up at the time of my arrival was Ian Bogost. I was a little disappointed that I missed Michael Joyce’s speech, but Ian’s speech was interesting, nonetheless. 

At first he first posed the question of, “What is electronic literature?” He then mentioned his difficulties of getting a clear answer to the question at a MLA conference.  Ian then started to talk about a Guru Meditation project he had been working on.  As his speech progressed he began to talk more and more about 4 video games he created (summer, spring, autumn, and winter). He went into extensive detail about the types of problems he encountered with the digital games. At exactly the moment that I was thinking, “What does this have to with digital literature?” he answered my question. Ian had turned the idea from the game into a book of haikus entitled A Slow Year. I thought that is was very intriguing how he used the literature to bring out the literary aspects of his game.

Furthermore, even though I missed Michael Joyce’s speech I got to meet him in person. I shook his hand and introduced myself and we had about a four minute conversation. I told him about Dr. Croxall’s class and I asked him how he defines digital humanities. I also asked him what he wanted he readers to gain from reading Afternoon, a story. He said that there are many different ways to define DH. And he thinks that Ian did a great job in showing one aspect. DH is using humanities and digital media to create a larger understanding of something.  He said that Afternoon was a way to show readers how different one person’s life can be from the next, and that we are all different in our own experiences and interpretations.

I also got an interesting handout from Steve Tomasula, and there were refreshments which I did not eat. Overall, my experience was worth-while.

This is for you.

Before I even began to read House of Leaves the directions on the syllabus stated to read from the cover to page 24 (read all materials: prefatory, cover, appendixes, footnotes, exhibits as you come to them), so I did. The first thing I noticed from following these directions were the words, “This is not for you” in the beginning off the book. I automatically thought, “This must be for me because it is assigned therefore if I want a decent grade I have to read it.” However, after I began to read into the introduction and The Navidson Record my initial thought of the phrase began to change. All of a sudden I drifted away from applying the phrase to my own life and I begin to examine how the phrase is exemplified in the character’s lives and throughout the novel.

Furthermore, I noticed a distinct contradiction in the phrase that I saw in specific instances throughout the text. As I mentioned before, I first noticed it with myself, but I soon saw the notion of contradiction in Zampanò’s life. I even saw the contradiction in the house itself. When Johnny Truant is in Zampanò’s apartment he discovers elements of contradiction. For instance, Truant’s quote does a great job in pointing out the contradictions: “Well that, of course, was Zampanò’s greatest ironic gesture; love of love written by the broken hearted; love of life written by the dead: all this language of light, film and photography, and he hadn’t seen a thing since the mid-fifties. He was blind as a bat.”(Truant xxi)

In addition, I saw the contradictions in the house. Readers first become aware of the size of the hallway in comparison to the house in The Navidson Record. The exterior of the house is relatively small compared to the interior of the house. My initial thought was, “How could the hallways fit into the house?”

Overall, I believe that the many contradictions are what keeps readers interested, or at least for me. From the beginning when I read the phrase, “this is not for you,” I wanted to keep reading regardless of if I had a choice or not. Sometimes people like to do things that they are not suppose to do or that isn’t intended for them, which in some cases can be good.

On a side note: when I typed this blog on word I used different fonts and I changed the color of the word house to blue.

Afternoon, a story or not?

Before I even began to read “Afternoon, a story” I already formulated my personal thoughts based off of what Dr. Croxall mentioned in class. I thought that it would be interesting to read a story that could have multiple outcomes depending on the click of a button, but at the same time I thought what’s the point?

So I kept this thought in mind when reading the text and the more times that I had to start over reading the story the more I thought, “Wow, this is not a story at all.” By definition a story is the plot or succession of incidents of a novel, poem, drama, etc. According to this definition I felt that this text was not a story because the interpretation could and did vary. To me, the story did not have a true plot, which was evident in both the language and the hypertext. For example, when I read the text the first time Peter thought that he saw a car crash that involved his ex-wife and son, but the second time I read the story I did not find this to be the case. Also when Peter said, “I want to say I may have seen my son die this morning.” I thought the language showed a lot of ambiguity in Peter’s response which kind of parallels the ambiguity that the reader is faced with.

Furthermore, I thought the title was ironic because it reads “Afternoon, a story.” I have not read a story that has a story in its title because readers are sure that what they’re reading is a story. For instance “Cinderella” is not entitled “Cinderella, a story” because when a person reads it, they know it is.

 This blog is by no means an attempt to diminish the text, nor to discourage readers from engaging in hypertext, however, I just found some aspects of the hypertext to be mildly annoying. Lastly, to elaborate the title and how I felt the text was not a story after all, the entire time I am writing this blog I can’t seem to think of any other word to refer the text to than a story.

The More the Better

Reading plays a big a role in today’s rapidly growing society maybe even more so than in the past. Not to say that reading wasn’t vital in the past, but there presently aren’t as many limitations in regards to access as well as variety. For instance, literacy teachings expand from print to digital and more than likely it will continue to expand.  As a result of this change there also has to be some type of change as to how we read. Whether someone is reading for class, work, leisure etc. there should be many styles included in a person’s literary experience. I don’t necessarily mean that all of the different types of reading styles mentioned in Hayles’ article have to be utilized at once, however, being able to adjust your reading style and choose the one that fits best (even multiple ones at a time) when necessary could definitely benefit a person’s  literary experience.

I especially agree with the way that Professor Alan Liu teaches his students. He allows them to close read and use digital media to analyze text. Overall, he does not limit students to close reading, but he encourages his students to think of close reading as one option among many others. I think that the way he encourages students to read makes a positive impact on their literary experience.

Moreover, as long as reading styles are being used to assist students in gaining the most from their literary experience it should benefit the person and not cause their overall reading skills to decline. In addition being able to adapt and use multiple reading styles should enable people to see things otherwise unrecognized. These things could include patterns as well as different interpretations of the text.

All in all whatever a person is about to read they should be able to gain the most from their reading experience.  Having more options could simply mean the better.

Digital Humanities–the divide within the divide…

At first I was only a little unsure about how wide spread the determinants of digital humanities could be, however, after reading this article I am assured that I may never know what it takes to be a digital humanist.  I hear many different definitions and my previous beliefs were that as long as there is a digital component being applied to the humanities, and vice versa, then it is considered DH.  Once I read that even people who consider themselves digital humanist, who have been studying in the field for quite some time and who have made respectable contributions to the field, are not being admitted into the conferences mentioned in the article, I figured that someone such as myself would have a slim to none chance of being admitted to the conference.

As a student in an introductory to digital humanities course I feel like I’m even further divided within in the divide.  Not only do I sometimes feel ambiguous of the definition of digital humanities, but even if I was considered a DH, by myself as well as my peers, chances are high that I would still be divided.

Furthermore, I would like to shy away from my opinion and belief on being divided within the divide and elaborate more on Reid’s mention that, ““If my work isn’t “digital humanities” what is it?”

To answer this question maybe his work is digital humanities. There are currently so many different definitions of digital humanities as well as there are different ways to define it. Maybe everyone who puts forth some type of effort into the field of DH is indeed producing work that is digital humanities. What if even someone such as me who will take on a group project of mapping Mrs. Dalloway in my DH course is a digital humanist? Maybe the range of being a digital humanist is so wide spread that people sometimes over analyze whether or not their work is digital humanities. Maybe the field of DH isn’t so divided after all.

The Rise of Electronic Technology

In today’s society more people are becoming dependent on technology in order to complete their designated tasks.  Their tasks can include anything from writing papers, to conducting research, networking, and other forms of socializing.  The increase need for technology is becoming especially apparent with younger generation and scholars. Younger generations as well as scholars are using devices such as, “electronic book-readers, hand-held browsing devices, and social software such as Flickr and You Tube” (Flanders, paragraph 2). Technological advances have made things that people want to read or learn more readily accessible; therefore their desire for these devices is increased.

Furthermore, “These products provide extended horizons of usage, and produce a generation of students (and eventually future scholars) for whom computers mean something completely different: for whom they are not a specialized tool but part of the tissue of the world” (Flanders, paragraph 2).  As a result of hand-held browsing devices and other convenient forms of technology becoming even more convenient and available, technology is becoming a more fundamental part of life as opposed to how it has been in past generations. In the past many scholars have researched things by using catalogs and other forms of print culture. However, now that electronic devices are making researching and learning more easy to do, and in some cases even fun, individuals will continue to use and rely upon electronic technology to help them learn, teach, and socialize.

Overall, after reading this article I started to question whether or not relying on electronic technology is a bad thing. In my opinion, the answer is no. As long as a person has a back- up plan then they should be fine.  Having a back-up plan means having an alternative option incase the particular form of technology in use does not work.  Other than that that I think technology is great, and I believe that technology will become an even bigger part of life for generations yet to come.