Thursday, November 19, 2015

Higher Ed Op-Eds

I asked my first year students to find Op-Eds about higher education issues to discuss in "What Am I Doing Here? The Value of a Liberal Arts Education." (I gave them a big link by pointing them to the Opinion & Ideas section of the Chronicle of Higher Ed. They also have the advantage of all living on campus, where there's no paywall to access the Chronicle.)

Here are some of the links they came up with:

Thabiti Lewis (Washington State University). "Enter the Real Power of College Sports."  A look at the recent upheaval at the University of Missouri. What student activists couldn't do with vitriolic protests over the course of two months, the football team was able to do in 48 hours. This is impressive, but also troubling. Why do student-athletes have such power? There is a disturbing nexus of money and influence in the university system that we need to be questioning.

Paul Walker (Murray State University), "Let's Treat the Philosophy Department Like the Football Team." Murray State recently merged its English and Philosophy departments because of a paucity of Philosophy majors and the implication is that the humanities in general are neglected. Meanwhile, the football team is lavished with subsidies despite being a major financial burden.

Molly Worthen (University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill), "Lecture Me. Really." A defense of the old-fashioned lecture. Rather than encouraging passivity, Worthen argues that lectures can stimulate a different kind of sustained engagement: deep listening.

Sol Gittleman (Tufts University), "Higher Education Has Always Been a Mess: That's What Makes it Great." A long-view of American higher education looking at some of the anti-intellectualism that pervaded American college campuses before World War II and the boom in American higher education after it. Generally an upbeat tone about higher education at the present moment.

Karin Fischer, "China Signals a Growing Unease with the Influence of American Universities."  We have several students recently arrived from China in my class, so discussing the intersections between American and Chinese higher education systems is often thought-provoking. Schools like Duke and NYU have recently opened campuses in China, but a new policy being considered by the Chinese government would add a layer of government supervision (and associated paperwork) that might make it much harder for these schools to keep those campuses open.

David Kirp, "A New Way to Improve College Enrollment." In Long Beach, California, there's a really interesting program guaranteeing college admission to local students who meet certain minimal academic cutoffs. They are also taking an integrated approach to the entire educational cycle-- from grade school through college -- rather than allowing high schools and colleges to operate in "silos."

I had also earlier asked them to read and analyze Op-Eds by Ross Douthat in the New York Times, starting with his most recent piece, "A Crisis Our Universities Deserve."  I don't agree with much that Douthat says, and in fact his argument here is a little slippery (we struggled in class to pinpoint his actual thesis). But he's thought-provoking all the same.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Problems with Erika Christakis' Email : A Close Reading

I have been alternately excited and a little troubled about what's been happening this week on college campuses -- especially Yale and Missouri -- this past week.

From where I stand, what happened at the University of Missouri was pretty exhilarating. University presidents who come into the job straight from the corporate world (Tim Wolfe had a background in the software industry) may be good fundraisers, but they typically can't handle crises or criticisms the way long-term academic veterans typically can. Universities cannot be run like corporations; you can't just fire a troublesome department chair or disgruntled student group the way you can if you are the CEO of Novell. I'm pretty sure the students there will be better off in the long term with someone who really knows the university culture and is therefore better positioned to help build a better and more inclusive campus community down the road.

My own university had a crisis following an incident of racial hate speech in recent years (I wrote about it here), and responded carefully by engaging with student demands and making real changes to address ongoing problems of campus climate. Faced with a similar situation, I believe Lehigh did better -- and had a better outcome as a result.

What's been happening at Yale is a little more complex. I read Professor Erika Christakis' email when this story broke last week and immediately found it problematic, with serious issues of tone and rhetorical positioning. It's a hot mess that poses as thoughtful provocation. 

But I also don't quite understand why students can't express their legitimate anger through proportional response. Free speech advocates have been circulating a video of a student engaged in a kind of bullying and one-sided exchange with Nicholas Christakis that made me cringe, and think, "we can do better than this."

So here is my attempt to model what I wish that student would have done: a critique of Erika Christakis' email to students in Silliman college at Yale in her capacity as Associate Master. My source for the email is this website
Erika Christakis: Nicholas and I have heard from a number of students who were frustrated by the mass email sent to the student body about appropriate Halloween-wear. I’ve always found Halloween an interesting embodiment of more general adult worries about young people. As some of you may be aware, I teach a class on “The Concept of the Problem Child,” and I was speaking with some of my students yesterday about the ways in which Halloween – traditionally a day of subversion for children and young people – is also an occasion for adults to exert their control.

When I was young, adults were freaked out by the specter of Halloween candy poisoned by lunatics, or spiked with razor blades (despite the absence of a single recorded case of such an event). Now, we’ve grown to fear the sugary candy itself. And this year, we seem afraid that college students are unable to decide how to dress themselves on Halloween.
Not starting off too promisingly. Professor Christakis wants to bring her own research and teaching interests into the conversation, but there's a disconnect between her example of the "specter of Halloween candy poisoned by lunatics" and the question about what kinds of costumes might be appropriate for college students in a diverse academic community to wear. These are two different things. 

The flawed premise here is going to be the source of much of the more serious trouble to come in later paragraphs.
Erika Christakis: I don’t wish to trivialize genuine concerns about cultural and personal representation, and other challenges to our lived experience in a plural community. I know that many decent people have proposed guidelines on Halloween costumes from a spirit of avoiding hurt and offense. I laud those goals, in theory, as most of us do. But in practice, I wonder if we should reflect more transparently, as a community, on the consequences of an institutional (which is to say: bureaucratic and administrative) exercise of implied control over college students.
What's weird about this is the presumption she makes -- as part of the university administration -- to criticize the "bureaucratic and administrative" exercise of authority over college students. If students she had been speaking with disagreed with the restrictions the upper administration was requesting, why not let them make that critique? Why is she presuming to do it for them?

There is a deep rhetorical awkwardness inherent in telling students that they should want to be more rebellious in the face of these rather sensible restrictions (don't dress in black face! don't wear a mohawk and dress up as a "sexy Pocahontas"!) than they in fact are.
Erika Christakis: It seems to me that we can have this discussion of costumes on many levels: we can talk about complex issues of identify, free speech, cultural appropriation, and virtue “signalling.” But I wanted to share my thoughts with you from a totally different angle, as an educator concerned with the developmental stages of childhood and young adulthood.
As a former preschool teacher, for example, it is hard for me to give credence to a claim that there is something objectionably “appropriative” about a blonde-haired child’s wanting to be Mulan for a day. Pretend play is the foundation of most cognitive tasks, and it seems to me that we want to be in the business of encouraging the exercise of imagination, not constraining it. I suppose we could agree that there is a difference between fantasizing about an individual character vs. appropriating a culture, wholesale, the latter of which could be seen as (tacky)(offensive)(jejeune)(hurtful), take your pick. But, then, I wonder what is the statute of limitations on dreaming of dressing as Tiana the Frog Princess if you aren’t a black girl from New Orleans? Is it okay if you are eight, but not 18? I don’t know the answer to these questions; they seem unanswerable. Or at the least, they put us on slippery terrain that I, for one, prefer not to cross.
"Is it okay if you are eight, but not 18?" This is simple: the answer is, it's not okay if you are eighteen. Why isn't that obvious?  

College students are adults who have to take responsibility for their actions and statements. Yes, there is an old idea of college as a somewhat protected space, where students should be allowed to make mistakes and figure out the best ways to make their points felt. I probably benefited from that when I was in college and made some mistakes of my own. 

But that space doesn't exist any longer in the social media era, and it's high time we recognized that. The prospect of cameras everywhere recording everything does put more pressure on students to learn quickly how to negotiate the line between playful expression and hurtful speech or insulting appropriation. But by the time they reach college, most students have already had some experience dealing with that; people had cellphones in high school too. Growing up along these lines is now a central part of learning how to be a responsible adult in a diverse and complex society.

On with the email: 
Erika Christakis: Which is my point. I don’t, actually, trust myself to foist my Halloweenish standards and motives on others. I can’t defend them anymore than you could defend yours. Why do we dress up on Halloween, anyway? Should we start explaining that too? I’ve always been a good mimic and I enjoy accents. I love to travel, too, and have been to every continent but Antarctica. When I lived in Bangladesh, I bought a sari because it was beautiful, even though I looked stupid in it and never wore it once. Am I fetishizing and appropriating others’ cultural experiences? Probably. But I really, really like them too.
Here I really threw up my hands. "But I really, really like them too." Really? This is just a very embarrassing thing for her to have put in this email. "Is the trade in blood diamonds wrong? Probably. But I really, really like having shiny things." 

Now let's wrap up:
Erika Christakis: Even if we could agree on how to avoid offense – and I’ll note that no one around campus seems overly concerned about the offense taken by religiously conservative folks to skin-revealing costumes – I wonder, and I am not trying to be provocative: Is there no room anymore for a child or young person to be a little bit obnoxious… a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive? American universities were once a safe space not only for maturation but also for a certain regressive, or even transgressive, experience; increasingly, it seems, they have become places of censure and prohibition. And the censure and prohibition come from above, not from yourselves! Are we all okay with this transfer of power? Have we lost faith in young people's capacity – in your capacity - to exercise self-censure, through social norming, and also in your capacity to ignore or reject things that trouble you? We tend to view this shift from individual to institutional agency as a tradeoff between libertarian vs. liberal values (“liberal” in the American, not European sense of the word).
Nicholas says, if you don’t like a costume someone is wearing, look away, or tell them you are offended. Talk to each other. Free speech and the ability to tolerate offence are the hallmarks of a free and open society.
But – again, speaking as a child development specialist – I think there might be something missing in our discourse about the exercise of free speech (including how we dress ourselves) on campus, and it is this: What does this debate about Halloween costumes say about our view of young adults, of their strength and judgment?
In other words: Whose business is it to control the forms of costumes of young people?
It's not mine, I know that.

Amidst the ongoing awkwardness ("guys, why don't you want to be more offensive?") and tone-deafness there are actually a couple of good points here. I do think there is a role for students to engage in self-censure and social norming. If a student wears something that another student finds offensive, the first recourse should probably be person-to-person conversation. People who make mistakes and who attempt to redress complaints about their behavior in good faith ought, in general, to be given a little leeway. But there is also a role that can be played by administrators engaged in student life when that doesn't work the way it should. To me, it just seems really odd for an administrator to say, "why can't you guys just police yourselves?"

That forgiveness we might extend to students who make mistakes might have held true for Professor Erika Christakis, by the way. The best response to this type of awful email under ideal conditions would have been to publish a sharp refutation in the student newspaper. In this case, the letter is such a mess that a witty Yalie could probably generate an on-point parody in her sleep (i.e., "American universities were once a safe space for racist and homophobic secret societies where young men routinely got naked and whipped each other with wooden paddles as initiation rites. Have we lost faith in young people's capacity to decide whether they want to continue those hallowed traditions?").

(Update: A group of students did post a letter responding on the internet here. It makes many of the points I do above, but also has some rhetorical problems of its own.)

But of course the conditions are not ideal and we're now past the point where any of that could happen. Professor Christakis thought she was writing a note to young people to authorize them to resist what the authorities were telling them to do, but what she and her husband (Nicholas Christakis, who appears in the video linked to above) have found is a form of resistance against authority they could never have anticipated. The authority being resisted is their own.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

"Syuzhet for Dummies"

There’s been quite a bit of discussion of Matthew Jockers’ “Syuzhet”package since it was first released in February of this year. The discussion that I have seen has been entirely on scholarly blogs; I haven’t been to any DH conferences where this was discussed so I may have missed some threads. The blog posts I have read about this, however, are remarkably smart, thoughtful, and respectful. When we talked about Syuzhet in class in our DH class this past week, one of my students noted that if this same back-and-forth had taken place in scholarly journals it would have taken years to have the conversation play out. So: score one for scholarly blog conversation.

My goal here is *not* to add anything substantive or new to the discussion (besides a few graphs from six George Eliot novels below), but rather to describe my own learning curve and give others (including students) a few tips as to how to do things in order to play around further. In short, "Syuzhet for Dummies" -- where by "dummies" I mean "smart readers of literature who have simply never had any reason in the past to mess around with code." 

I’ll start with a brief summary of the scholarly debate about Jockers’ work and method as I understand it, and then give readers a step-by-step account of how to emulate the process of using the R programming language in order to apply them to other texts.

* * *

The Debate About Syuzhet

(People who are already familiar with the Syuzhet debate might want to scroll down to "How To Try It Yourself")

Start by reading Jockers’ intitial post on Syuzhet here:

And the follow-up here: 

A basic point or two that it took me at least a little while to comprehend. First, Jockers is not inventing the idea of sentiment analysis out of the blue. He is borrowing the algorithms for analyzing sentences from four separate processes that have been developed to do that (some of them were, in fact, originally intended by the academics who made them to scrape Twitter in order to ascertain consumer responses to commercial products in the marketplace). Algorithms like the Bing algorithm (named after CS professor Bing Liu, not Microsoft's "Bing")  are derived from a dictionary-based method where a lexicon of words has assigned sentiment values (presumably a word like “adore” would have a positive sentiment value, while a word like “detest” would have a negative one).  The “Stanford” natural language processing method is more complex; they have used computational linguistics to diagram whole sentences and plot their sentiment arc. This ought to be a more sophisticated and accurate way of reading the sentiment of individual sentences, but in a subsequent test, Jockers decided that the Stanford method actually corresponds less well than dictionary-based methods like Bing to his own, hand-tagged reading of a large but limited set of trial sentences (the entire text of Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man!). In most of his blog posts on Sentiment Analysis, Jockers bases his examples on the Bing algorithm.  

Next, read Annie Swafford’s first critique here (there are several). There are two prongs of the critique, one mathematical (do these sentiment-processing algorithms read the emotional valence of individual sentences correctly?), and the other oriented to the method by which Jockers creates his rather astonishing visualizations of novels. 

Jockers responds to the mathematical questions Swafford raises by arguing that while dictionary-based algorithms do indeed have the potential to misread individual sentences, most times in traditional literary works ambiguous sentences will be surrounded by contextual sentences that clarify the mood. On average, Jockers suggests, the algorithms do a pretty good job finding the average sentiment of larger chunks of text, while they might indeed be prone to misread very small samples.

On the visualization question, the most damning point Swafford makes is that Jockers’ beautiful, hyper-simplified sentiment graphs are based on a method (Fourier Transformation + a low pass filter)  that is likely to introduce false artifacts upon visualization (she calls them "ringing artifacts"). So the problem isn't that these diagrams are too clean and simplified to be useful, the problem is in fact that they might not be true to the text.

Jockers initially pushed back against Swafford (and other critics who made arguments similar to hers). But in April, in a blog post called “Requiem for a Low Pass Filter,” he changed his mind about the Fourier transformation he had been using and advocating. In effect, he acknowledged that the beautiful “foundation shapes” he had been hoping to use his “Syuzhet” package to create (and allow others to create) gives us images that are actually too distorted to trust. 

I'm not going to take a strong position on the controversy around Syuzhet here. Ted Underwood made what I thought was a useful point about the issue in his blog post shortly after the controversy began:

All we have is an R package, syuzhet, which does something I would call exploratory data analysis. And it’s hard to evaluate exploratory data analysis in the absence of a specific argument.

For instance, does syuzhet smooth plot arcs appropriately? I don’t know. Without a specific thesis we’re trying to test, how would we decide what scale of variation matters? In some novels it might be a scene-to-scene rhythm; in others it might be a long arc. Until I know what scale of variation matters for a particular question, I have no way of knowing what kind of smoothing is “too much” or “too little.”
The key phrase for me is "exploratory." These methods lead to visualizations that might or might not be interesting; they might or might not tell us something new about novels we (presumably) have already read. I personally am not interested in using these techniques to move categorically towards a "distant reading"  paradigm, nor do I think they give us any kind of fundamental truths about literary texts that supersedes understanding derived from actually reading them. At best, these methods piggyback on my existing close reading habits in a kind of hybrid formation. 

I take all of this with a grain of salt; it's still pretty fascinating.

* * *

How To Try It Yourself. For non-coders (really, if I could do it you can do too)

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Links for Class: Deresiewicz and Gender Pay Gap

I asked students in my "Liberal Arts" class to read William Deresiewicz's book "Excellent Sheep," which covered some of the same ground as Fareed Zakaria's "In Defense of a Liberal Education" -- but with a more polemical edge. After reading the book, I asked them to find reviews of the book that challenged their perceptions of the book's ideas and arguments. Here are some of the links they found. 

We were also discussing the recent "College Scorecard" site produced by the White House, which listed the average salaries of college graduates at institutions around the country based on tax returns from 10 years after graduation. Strikingly, elite institutions showed a huge pay gap along gender lines that surprised many of the students. I suggested students follow up on that feeling of surprise with their own research. 

1. A Few of the Deresiewicz Articles Students Were Looking At:

Reviewer, Douglas Greenberg. “White People Problems: A Critical Response to Deresiewicz’s “Excellent Sheep.” Begins as one of the most negative reviews of the book you’ll see anywhere:

Many of these criticisms of elite private higher education have some merit. Yet the tone of the book is so egocentric and intemperate and the framing of the issues is so narrow and sensationalistic that it might not merit a review in the Los Angeles Review of Books if it had not already received so much attention in the national press. 

The strangeness of Deresiewicz following up the publication of his book with a speaking tour of the very same campuses he was deriding in the book:

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Archive Gap: Race, the Canon, and the Digital Humanities

[I am giving a modified -- probably significantly different -- version of this as a talk at the DH Forum at the University of Kansas in a couple of weeks. These notes are oriented to the students in the Digital Humanities seminar that Ed and I are teaching. But any feedback from other readers would be most welcome.]

Pioneering work by digital archivists like Jerome McGann of the University of Virginia helped lay the groundwork for the conceptualization of a set of best practices for online archives that have been widely replicated in subsequent projects. That said, some scholars associated with race studies and gender studies constituencies have raised questions about the ways in which the first wave of major digital archives essentially reinforced the Anglo-American canon. Authors like Walt Whitman, D.G. Rossetti, William Blake, Emily Dickinson, and Henry David Thoreau were, by about 2008, well-represented by thorough, thoughtfully designed, and technically sophisticated web archives. These archives frequently feature page images of manuscript drafts of the complete works of the authors in question, as well as (in the case of Whitman and Blake) exceptionally deep access to different versions and printings of key texts. This same level of attention was, generally, lacking with reference to minority writers. As Stephanie P. Browner puts it, “scholars of race and ethnicity do not yet get online and find themselves in a deep, comprehensive, well-linked and indexed world of materials.” [link]

Here, I will survey what I am calling the "Archive Gap," comparing and contrasting digital archives of canonical figures (especially Rossetti and Whitman) with those of American writers of color, lesser known women writers, and writers from the colonial world. The Archive Gap as I am conceiving of it has several dimensions. For simplicity’s sake, I’ll split my consideration into two parts, one historical and the other contemporary.

The historical dimensions of the Archive Gap are largely outside of our control. To put it quite simply, we’ll never be able to recover what was never preserved. There are, however, strategies we can use to address the pattern of omission of artifacts related to marginalized writers, which I'll discuss briefly at the end of this post.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Links Related to Fareed Zakaria, "In Defense of a Liberal Education"

(In my "What Am I Doing Here? The Value of a Liberal Arts Education" class, we have been reading Fareed Zakaria's new book, In Defense of a Liberal Education. These are some links I shared with my students in office hours meetings yesterday)

1. Some of you picked up on some of the issues in Zakaria's chapter 4 relating to problems with the current system of higher education. While a robust university system is seen as an equalizing force (and as a way of protecting democracy -- Jefferson), at the present moment there are disturbing signs that our college system helps well-off students stay in the upper-income brackets, while only a small slice of students from low-income backgrounds are able to rise up the ladder:

Thomas Edsall, "The Reproduction of Privilege" (New York Times)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Fall Teaching 2: "What Am I Doing Here? The Value of a Liberal Arts Education"

It started happening here and there a few years ago, but recently became a regular phenomenon: I would get new first-year student advisees who, upon first meeting me, said they planned to immediately transfer out of the College of Arts and Sciences and into Lehigh's Business School (thereby rendering any "advising" I could give them immediately pointless). Usually the reasons were pretty straightforward and, unfortunately, overlapping: "I need to make sure I have a job when I graduate" and "My parents want me to." (Sadly, there's no arguing really with "My parents are making me do it"...)

Needless to say, I'm not thrilled when I get this request. Journalists and scholars have written about the changing culture of American higher education in recent years, and made many good points that I think these types of students ought to consider. One crucial point to be aware of is that English majors actually do just fine on the job market (we'll look at some statistics on humanities and social sciences majors on the job market). Secondly, while we have seen a slight decline in the number of majors in recent years, it's not true that humanities departments around the country are necessarily in crisis (though there seem to be a growing number of students who seem not to be able to appreciate it). Finally, I don't think enough students grasp that there's an intrinsic value in liberal arts education -- in the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake. 

So I designed a course to help them grasp it. 

Course Description: "What Am I Doing Here? The Value of a Liberal Arts Education" 

Since World War II, American colleges and universities have been engines of upward mobility for the vast American middle class; and they are widely seen around the world as excellent educational institutions. But in recent years -- with skyrocketing tuition and a growing concern about "return on investment" -- some of that luster seems to have worn off, at least if you read the debates in the media. Some of today's students enter college thinking of it more as a means to obtaining pre-professional credentials than as a site of actual learning and personal growth. So why are we all here? Is the traditional dream of a liberal arts education still alive, or is it a relic of a bygone era? This course aims to examine the fundamental values of the classic liberal arts education, conceived of not as an activity that leads to credentials that help young people find jobs, but rather as a gateway to becoming a fully-developed and multifaceted human being.

Fall Teaching: Digital Humanities

My colleague Ed Whitley and I are co-teaching an Introduction to Digital Humanities course for the first time this fall.

In some ways the course looks a little like other Intro to DH courses taught by colleagues elsewhere (and we consulted syllabi by people like Johanna Drucker and Alan Liu while designing our own). But we're also diverging in some significant ways from traditional Intro to DH courses. For one thing, Ed in particular has a great deal of experience building digital archives, and we'll emphasize digital archives and digital collections a great deal in the first weeks of the course. (I am also working on a digital archive project on "The Kiplings and India," as I mentioned in a previous post). 

Secondly, we have put in a pretty robust social justice emphasis in our approach to DH, not as an afterthought or token presence, but in the front and center. The first major project we'll work on together is a collaborative edition of Claude McKay's 1922 book of poetry, Harlem Shadows. And we'll come back to social justice, #TransformDH, and #DHPoco types of issues regularly in other units. We're especially pleased to integrate our class with a couple of visiting speakers to campus, including Johanna Drucker (September 15), and Vincent Brown (November 12). 

Finally, in lieu of final projects (conventional research papers), we'll ask students to do four smaller projects and then revise and extend those projects at the end of the term in the form of final portfolios. 

All that said, the syllabus below is still pretty experimental -- we're not sure yet which essays will "work" and which might be less effective in connecting with students. If and when we do this again, it might look different. Feedback, suggestions, and criticisms welcome (including the "how can you *not* have X?! variety). 

Preliminary Calendar
Tu August 25
Basic Introduction 
-Matt Gold, “Digital Humanities” (CourseSite)
Th August 27
Defining the Field  


Tu September 1
Debating the Field  
Unit I: Digitally Curated Texts
Th September 3
Textual Scholarship and Editorial Theory 
-G. Thomas Tanselle, “The Varieties of Scholarly Editing” (CourseSite)
-D. F. McKenzie, “Bibliography and the Sociology of Texts” (CourseSite)
-Jerome McGann, from A Critique of Modern Textual Criticism (CourseSite)

Due: DH Stakes paper (3-5 pages)
Tu September 8
Digital Archives: Theory and Practice 

Th September 10
Digital Archives: Case Studies I  
-- Websites --

--Readings --
-Ed Folsom, “Database as Genre: The Epic Transformation of Archives” (see also these responses to Folsom’s article, particularly those by McGann and McGill)
-Ed Folsom and Ken Price, from Re-Scripting Walt Whitman (“Intimate Script and the New American Bible” and “What Whitman Left Us”)
-Roger Whitson and Jason Whitaker, chapter 1 from William Blake and the Digital Humanities (CourseSite)
Tu September 15
Johanna Drucker visit. 1:10-2pm: Regular class. 2-3:30pm: conversation with Johanna Drucker (please review her DH 101 Coursebook). 4pm Drucker lecture in Linderman 200, “Should Humanists Visualize Knowledge?” (required -- she is a major figure in Digital Humanities scholarship!)

Digital Archives: Case Studies II   
-Claude McKay’s “Harlem Shadows” (Digital Edition by Chris Forster & Roopika Risam). We’ll be doing collaborative hands-on work to expand and improve on this archive (contributions due September 29). Visit the site, visit Chris Forster’s Github site containing XML/TEI version of the McKay text, read Deep’s lecture notes on Claude McKay.

Th September 17
Continue discussion of Digital Archives Case Studies II from Tuesday (40 minutes) 

TEI and XML (30 minutes) 


Short Assignment: Analyze small chunks of XML from the Whitman Archive and Harlem Shadows and compare what this reveals about the editorial practice of each site. Assignment due Tuesday 9/22.
Tu September 22
Work on Projects 
We will do a hands-on session focusing on individual student contributions related  to the digital edition of Claude McKay’s “Harlem Shadows” for this session. Depending on what you’re working on, you may need to read critical or biographical materials related to McKay’s life and work and write up short contextual or interpretive essays that will eventually be included in a version of the site that will later go ‘live’ (possibly on Tuesday 9/29). (A large amount of scholarly and biographical material has been scanned and posted on CourseSite.)

The expectation is that students will have read relevant material related to their subtopic vis a vis McKay before this session, and have ideas and questions about how to proceed. (Or a draft) We will talk more about “building” on Thursday 9/24 and on Tuesday 9/29.
Th September 24
Content Management Systems 
Hands-on introduction to WordPress (Annie Johnson)
Before coming to class complete the prework listed here.

-The Vault at Pfaff’s (Drupal + CONTENTdm)
-Freedom’s Ring (Scalar)

--Other Platforms to discuss/explore--
Tu September 29
Contributions to “Harlem Shadows” digital edition due -- in-class presentations.

Student presentation and collaborative / group self-critique of our collaborative version of “Harlem Shadows.” What value have we been able to add to the site? What else could we add / what are we missing? How could we improve architecture / user experience? What do we hope different kinds of visitors  to this site might learn from their experience?

Based on feedback you receive from your peers and from us, plan to revise your contributions for the final portfolios due in December.
Unit II: Digitally Manipulated Texts
Th October 1
Reading, Scale, Text-as-Data  
Tu October 6
Distant Reading and Data Mining 

- Stephen Ramsay, “An Algorithmic Criticism," in Reading Machines (CourseSite)
-Franco Moretti, chapter(s) # from Distant Reading (CourseSite)
-Matthew Jockers, chapter(s) #from Macroanalysis (CourseSite)
Th October 8
Topic Modeling 

Tu October 13
Pacing Break: No class
Th October 15
-Stephen Ramsay, Introduction to Reading Machines (CourseSite)
--Case Study 1: Syuzhet Controversy--
-Matthew Jockers, “Syuzhet” Announcement:
-Annie Swafford,  “Problems with the Syuzhet Package”
--Case Study 2: JK Rowling and “Cuckoo’s Calling” --
Tu October 20


Th October 22
-Digital Yoknapatawpha (watch demonstration videos)

Tu October 27
-The Vault at Pfaff’s network visualization prototype


-Dan Edelstein, “Networks in History: Data-driven tools for analyzing relationships across time” NEH application (CourseSite)
-Franco Moretti, "Network Theory, Plot Analysis" (CourseSite)
-NEH grant (CourseSite)

Th October 29
Hands-on session on text analysis. Collaboration on student work in progress. 
-Lauren F. Klein, “Hacking the Field: Teaching Digital Humanities with Off-the-Shelf Tools” (CourseSite)

Tu November 3
Small scale text analysis project due: in-class presentations. We will ask you to use one of the “off the shelf” text analysis tools we discussed over the preceding three weeks. Create a useable body of text (i.e., a text file) and run either a statistical or visual analysis of that text oriented towards answering a particular question you wish to answer about that text. Give us your results, and a short essay describing your goals and assessment of the results.
Unit III: Born-Digital Texts
Th November 5
Social Media and New Scholarly Forms 
-Explore Twitter hashtags: #DH, #transformDH, #dhpoco

-Kathleen Fitzpatrick, from Planned Obsolescence (CourseSite)
Tu November 10
Electronic Literature I 

--Primary Texts--
-Sasha West, “Zoology
-Christine Wilks, “Underbelly
-J.R. Carpenter, “Entre Ville
-Stephanie Strickland, True North

--Platforms and Tools--
-Storyspace (no longer viable)

--Secondary Readings--
-Margie Luesebrink & Stephanie Strickland, “Seven Types of Interface” (CourseSite)
Th November 12
Vincent Brown visit  (Alison Kanosky’s class will join us)

Carefully read the project description:

Vincent Brown: Lecture at 4:00 pm in Linderman 200. (Required!)
Tu November 17
Electronic Literature II 
--Primary Texts--
-J.R. Carpenter, In Absentia
-Jim Andrews, “Stir Fry Texts
-Possibly other authors:  Michael Joyce, MD Coverley, Stuart Moulthrop, Deena Larsen, Steve Tomasula, Donna Leishman, Stephanie Strickland, John Cayley, Juliet Davis.

--Secondary Readings--
-Eugenio Tisselli, “Why I have stopped creating E-Lit
-Sandy Baldwin, “Ping Poetics
Th November 19
Electronic Literature III 

James McAdams: Guest lecture/ class leader

--Primary Texts--
-Zoe Quinn, “Depression Quest
-Robin Sloan, “Fish: A Tap Essay
-Sharon Daniel, “Public Secrets
Tu November 24
Hands-on collaborative session devoted to student electronic literature projects: interpretive essay (for the I Love E-poetry site) or a work of creative electronic literature using Twine, Stir Fry Poetry code, or other tools.
Th November 26
Thanksgiving: No class
Tu December 1
Presentations of student work on electronic literature.
Th December 3
Hands-on session
Fr December 11
Final portfolios due