Kristen Johnson

  • This class has been the most challenging class that I have taken in my education career, and I was a math minor. I think the reason it strikes so far off with me is because it is so far out of my norm of studies. […]

  • Maybe growing up in a digital age has made it more difficult for us to really wrap our heads around the true meaning behind Digital Humanities. Thinking about how different education has become because of technology is remarkable. Books, sources, citation, just the accessibility of information has completely changed the way students learn. With…[Read more]

  • Your response was very helpful and thoughtful. After all of this reading, we are finally beginning to get an understanding of what DH really is and how powerful it can be. When it comes to education, so many discoveries have been made, but Digital Humanities is the first new subject to be added to education in my knowledge. The application of…[Read more]

  • I enjoyed this weeks readings. I found them easier to focus on and I had a better understanding of the benefits of DH. I very much see the value in DH when I think about teaching culture associated with a novel, character, or time period. I think about discussions that can be started all over the world to find how a book is interpreted differently…[Read more]

  • Emily,
    I had a very similar reaction to yours as I read about the canon. It is frustrating to read time after time about the need for growth and change, but never see the switch flip. Canon readings have been criticized frequently, and DH offers a solution. DH opens the field and accepts support from contributors of all different walks of life.…[Read more]

  • Liz,
    I appreciate your question. Taking this course, practicing the activities, and reading the material has given each of us time to reflect on the course and see how it can apply to our regular life, outside of the class. I don’t know that I could clearly define Digital Humanities to anyone that asked me, but I do feel I have a basic…[Read more]

  • Katie, Thank you for your break down. I read the book and like others, I was feeling dazed. Macroanalysis really helps to support the closer analysis with literature when it is utilized.

  • I enjoyed this post and the comments made by Emily and Tonya. When I think about analyzing literature, close reading, and macroanalysis, it all speaks to who we are as students. When I read literature for academic reasons and pleasure, I find that I enjoy looking to others in order to see their understanding and application. I enjoy reading the…[Read more]

  • I too felt very overwhelmed by this project. I didn’t understand how I was going to write about something that I feel I am still trying to pin down my understanding of. Your post was very helpful. Not only did it show me that I am not alone, but you proposed many questions that will help me while writing my 1000-1500 words.
    It really is quite…[Read more]

  • Debates in DH

    Since beginning this course, I have been thinking about digital works (essays, articles, blogs, etc.) and wondering about how one author can be identified as the writer or originator of the idea. […]

    • Kristen,
      I feel the debate will never stop with new technologies and innovations. In the one article it brought up the hushed research of computers and how not everything could be revealed for fear of disturbing the population (my interpretation of course). Ironically I watched two movies this weekend that deal with these topics of acceptance and development. The first one that applies more directly to this readings is “Ex Machina”. It is up for an oscar and is one of those movies that leaves you shocked. I can’t stop thinking about how it ended. I won’t spoil it, but it deals with a lot of historic and contemporary themes related to ethics of creation and existence (again my opinion). I think the premise of this movie allows for us to rethink and maybe empathize with topics that are neglected or under appreciated. Unfortunately we must walk on egg shells if we don’t want to disturb the population.

      The second movie I watched was “Steve Jobs”. Whether completely true or not, it made me think about the humanities portion of technological innovations. Those same themes continue today.

      Another thing that kept popping up as I read all the articles was the struggle between quantitative and qualitative. This has to be the most wore out debate related to academia. The connections between this research and DH opens up a whole new can of worms.

    • Good points, all. One issue that various professional academic organizations have been trying to solve, including the Modern Language Association (MLA) and the American Historical Association (AHA), and individual academic units in colleges and universities have also struggled with, is not necessarily whether DH activities constitute scholarship, but rather how to evaluate that scholarship. For funded DH projects, the grant process provides at least some evaluation (people get credit for winning grants), but that’s at the point of the proposal, rather than necessarily an evaluation of the finished product. There are a number of obstacles here, some of which are detailed in the introduction to our own Evaluating DH assignment. Just as problematic as the lack of criteria are the lack of practitioners with enough expertise to provide an informed evaluation, a lack of standards in terms of how projects are documented, and the difficulty in evaluating the individual contributions of projects that can involve many collaborators. So it’s going to be a challenge for a long time.

      • I feel like, as technology progresses, it’s going to become even more complicated. Do you see any future in any types of standards being created? This reminds me of recent events at our high school: our guidance counselors now have standards. I know this sounds strange, but I see such a parallel between the idea of guidance counselors having standards and DH having standards.

        Our counselors think they are such a joke because it doesn’t even cover the spectrum of what they accomplish on a daily basis, let alone a year. The standards don’t factor emotional support, scheduling, and testing areas, frustrating my colleagues.

        I guess I’m trying to say that if standards were ever created for DH, I think there would be a similar reaction. A lot of anger, frustration and dissatisfaction.

        • You make a good point about standards being met with negative responses. I remember when the Common Core was instituted there was an uproar among many different groups. The good, and the bad, of creating standards is that they become “set in stone.” While they do give groups focus, they also, whether intentional or not, deem other topics not worthy of attention. As a result, people got angry about the Common Core leaving out some basic skills like cursive writing. To a certain extent, standards are a necessary evil for things like public education, but when it comes to fields of study like DH, they may be dangerous. How do you determine standards for a field of study without stifling creativity and scholarship?

    • Kristen:

      Before I read this week’s assignment, I paged through your post. I won’t lie, my first reaction was “Uh, no, writing code is NOT like literary theory!” I mean, how can DOING something – as a skill – be the same as ANALYZING IT – like the result of that skill? But after reading, especially Ramsay’s portion, I have softened on that stance. While I think that performing skills and analyzing results have their separate place in humanities, I do see how DH can be a kind of theoretical practice. I especially liked the comparison of theory to prototypes. He’s totally right: prototypes are, in essence, the physical manifestation of theory. A prototype may be right the first time, but it most likely won’t be, and will require several alterations and new attempts at forward movement – just like a theory under scrutiny of the scientific method.

      Later on in your post, you ask “Is DH like the STEM of literature, comprehension, and theory?” Here I would argue no, it is not, but rather the opposite: DH is to STEM as literature, theory, and comprehension are to the general humanities. Think about it for a moment … when explaining to someone your studies of literary theory and various literatures, is the practical application/benefit of those studies likely to be immediately apparent to the listener when that audience isn’t already familiar with the ins and outs of English study? Might they assume (at first, anyway) that such studies are useless when the arguments and hypotheses (so to speak) of those areas have already been long established? That’s how I feel DH is viewed in the eyes of the STEM community: why see coding, building, or the development of any technical skill as something to be rehashed or theorized – why not just DO it? That’s why I think DH gets a bad rap of sorts – it doesn’t immediately imply any form of value; it is only over time that the benefit of revisiting theory, expanding it, and performing trial and error on those expansions can really come to light.

      In most things in life, “good things come to those who wait” – or, in this case, those who look back and ask “what if?” Problem is, in this day in age, nobody seems to have time for that. And if there’s no time for it, it’s not valuable – forward is the only practical movement.

    • Kristen,

      One of the parts of Gary Hall’s Critical Theory article that interested me was his discussion of critical theory in the context of Scheinfeldt’s claim that theory’s problem is a matter of scale and timing. The argument is that the theory of DH is being compared to humanities scholarship as a whole, which is to expect every scholar to contribute a theoretical advancement to the field. Indeed, it is seen in the historical field, as well. New books, articles, essays, and presentations are all looking to produce a new idea or new way of looking at an old idea. There is, seemingly, little to no benefit for rehashing the ideas that had already been produced, albeit with a slight tweak. However, it seems that DH is new enough that there is still much to learn in terms of theory. In this sense, it seems much more common to see someone produce a work that is built upon rather than having a new work constructed that refutes the original.

    • I guess for me, I need DH to be black and white. Even after a few weeks in the class, I am still very confused as to what DH is, and what falls into the category of DH. The coding activity last week was like asking me to speak a whole different language, that I knew nothing about. It was very confusing, and frustrating. So I am reaching out for help to all of you to help me in better understanding what DH actually is.

      I liked Sara’s post about having standards. As a middle school teacher we not only have state and national standards but we have standards set by the company that owns our charter school. I think if DH had standards and could break it down into categories that people would better understand it would help some, but also confuse some. For me, seeing what I need to teach, and the time frame I need to teach it in is way more helpful than sending me in to teach something with no guidelines or deadlines.

      Right now I feel that DH is a huge category, with all these little sub categories because no one really knows that to include in DH and what not to which is even more confusing for me…
      From the Debates Part II, I basically took away that research is core to understanding what DH really is, and that technology will just continue to improve. Because of that we have to stay up to date on the latest trends.

      • I’m with you, Sarah. I still feel like I don’t have a firm grasp on what DH is, especially since I got a cold this week and I’m not sure how much of the reading I was able to absorb. Having standards would be helpful, but I can also see where it might add to the confusion.

        I thought I understood HTML and CSS since I took a web design course in my undergrad, but I had no idea how nuanced it was. My professor didn’t really teach us much CSS because she thought it made design too complicated. It does seem like a completely different language. I found during some of it I was trying to make a guess about commands, thinking it was following a particular pattern, but like the shortcut commands on a keyboard, it follows a pattern until it doesn’t. Maybe there is a parallel for DH in there somewhere.

      • Sarah,

        I agree with you, but almost in the opposite way. I still have no clear idea what Digital Humanities is, but I also really like that. It seems like a very nebulous concept that allows for fluidity in definition but also in product from the subject. I’m thinking really anything that would have previously be considered to fall into the category of “humanities” that has a digital arena for it would be considered DH. I like this line of thinking because very clear and defined boundaries still create an area of gray for me. However, I’m waiting for someone to pull the rug out from underneath me so to speak in these blogs and tell me I’ve been interpreting it all wrong!

      • Sorry! I hit post too soon without having finished my thought. So let me finish now…

        So, while I might not be able to better help you understand DH, take comfort in knowing your not alone! The HTML/CSS is/em> an entirely different language than what you’re used to, and even though I had done some before, it was frustrating for me, too. I think DH is more about exploring a new/emerging field and establishing those boundaries and the definition than it is about understanding it in black and white terms.

    • Kristen,

      Just getting caught up here. In your first paragraph you say that your question “was simple compared to the questions posed by Stephen Ramsay and Geoffrey Rockwell and the questions being asked to DH scholars.” I taught first-year writing for two years, and I’ve always looked for ways to integrate technology into my students’ practices – not for the sake of doing so, but with an eye toward using the technologies’ affordances to accomplish things that traditional assignments can’t. That said, your statement resonated with me in that before this class began, I felt that I could answer the question, “What is DH?” for the sheer fact that I have been immersed in DH all this time – but the questions raised by the readings have troubled my understanding (in a good way) of what “digital humanities” means. I think, as Dr. Schocket said prior to the beginning of the class, that answering that question will be an ongoing journey versus a final destination.

  • Katie, I have the same exact feelings and frustrations with plagiarism. I find that book you discussed really does pose a unique question. I don’t know if there is a definite line for all situations about plagiarizing. If there is, someone needs to write a book!

  • I was referring to the way explanatory essays are becoming more detailed. I can see how they could also be used to replace information or researched facts. In my classroom, I am seeing that students are pushing themselves with informative essays. It is about stating the facts but also making it creative and entertaining.

  • What is Digital Humanities?

    Being an English teacher today requires an understanding of Digital Humanities. Naturally, the first article I read was, Matthew Kirschenbaum’s, What is Digital Humanities and W […]

    • Kristen, thanks for the thoughtful post. Two particular observations caught my eye here.

      One is how students may now communicate with authors through social media. It’s a wonderful development, and I’m glad you pointed it out. That said, I wonder to what extent we would call that DH. For example, I could tweet a politician asking about a position, or a physicist asking about a particular experiment result. In other words, you’re talking about communication with humanities, but does that make it digital humanities? Or is there something qualitatively different about the interaction that makes this a new animal that’s different from the previously-mentioned ones.

      Also, something to be clarified. The post notes that “I see that the longer I teach, the more the explanatory essay develops into a more descriptive and detailed essay, still giving fact but in an entertaining way.” There’s no question that students have much easier access to information — although, as someone who teaches history, I find that sometimes this also allows students to avoid going to that big building with all the books and old papers in it (in the old days, we used to call it a “library”!). In any case, do you mean that the explanatory essays do the same intellectual work, and in more detailed ways, or that they have exchanged analysis for description?

      • I was referring to the way explanatory essays are becoming more detailed. I can see how they could also be used to replace information or researched facts. In my classroom, I am seeing that students are pushing themselves with informative essays. It is about stating the facts but also making it creative and entertaining.

    • Kristen,

      It’s interesting that you mention plagiarism in your post. As a high school English teacher myself, plagiarism has always been kind of the elephant in the room. I haven’t been able to get my students to fully understand it, much less avoid it. I hadn’t really considered how DH would affect that idea. Would the lines start to get blurry?

      I’ve also been considering this plagiarism idea in light of something I have started with my students. I took a teaching grammar and writing class last semester and started using some of the ideas from one of the books, Image Grammar, Second Edition: Teaching Grammar as Part of the Writing Process by Harry Noden. Part of the book, and actually most of the books used in the course, began with imitating the work of other writers. For example, take a passage you like from a writer and change the topic and the words, but follow the sentence structure. I was under the impression that plagiarism was copying anything, including sentence structure, but I remember doing similar exercises when I was in school. Would that be considered plagiarism? And furthermore, would it be considered plagiarism if students only used imitation as a kind of warm-up and never intended to publish their results?

      • Katie, I have the same exact feelings and frustrations with plagiarism. I find that book you discussed really does pose a unique question. I don’t know if there is a definite line for all situations about plagiarizing. If there is, someone needs to write a book!

    • Kristen, thank you for your post. I think it echoes some sentiments I’ve had for some time in my master’s studies that the study and teaching of composition needs to have flexibility. Times change, people change, etc. – and we need to adapt ourselves to that fact. Digital humanities are not a replacement for traditional writing practices, but rather a supplement to what we already learn and know. I think embracing DH as a PART of those practices will not only let students have a multidisciplinary view of writing, but will also let them view writing study with an open mind, allowing them to adapt their writing to various situations and necessities. That would be invaluable!

    • Kristen, I too drew a connection to the world of education and DH. Like your thoughts on students interacting with authors and other students who are engaging in texts, I was thinking about how much DH has shaped my classroom from accessing texts online, chatting with authors through Twitter, or blogging with students from neighboring schools. I also had never encountered a book on this particular open format and was very intrigued about how more texts in this fashion would be so beneficial for public schools!

  • I am Kristen Johnson. I swore I had already posted but it is no where to be found, so I obviously need to be here. I am actually pretty tech-savvy, so I thought, and this class is a great opportunity for me to expand on that. I earned a Bachelor’s degree in history and English, and I have only used the English portion of it in my career thus far.…[Read more]

  • Kristen Johnson became a registered member 4 years, 9 months ago