Posts Tagged carol ann duffy

The Red Herring of Big Data

At the end of August 2013, I was honored to be invited to speak at Fresno State‘s Center for Creativity and the Arts as the first visiting intellectual of the academic year. I helped the Center inaugurate its 2013-2014 theme: “Data and Technology” (PDF). I had the chance to lead a workshop on Voyant, meet many colleagues from English and other departments, and eat some amazing almonds and olive oil grown on campus. I was graciously hosted by the Center’s Director Shane Moreman and a good friend and fellow music lover from when I used to grade AP exams, John Beynon. I appreciated this invitation as it spurred me to organize thoughts that I’d been working on for the last several years.

What follows is the talk that I gave, as well as my slides. TL;DR:

A red, metal fish on a brick wall

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Original Digital Humanities Research with Undergraduates: A Poster at Digital Humanities 2012

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.

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