The Anti-Canon

I will be honest: at this point, my digital start-up project is rough around the edges. Ideas came to me easily, but deciding how these ideas could be truly innovative, or innovative at all, was a whole different story. Over the past few weeks, this has caused me a great deal of brain-ache. Basically, I have found myself gripping my lunch tray in the academic cafeteria, staring longingly at the DHers table. When it comes to even pretending to be in the Digital Humanities, I don’t fit in. I am still trying, though, and I will share with you what I am working on.

My plan for my project is to create an Anti-Canon. It will be a continually updated database of alternative texts to those that comprise what we traditionally call the literary canon. The goal of this database will be to not only provide alternative texts to students and teachers of literature, but also to question the very idea of a solid, permanent canon. Read more about my plans…

99 Problems, but a Glitch Ain’t One

A couple things stood out to me in this week’s reading, and I have been ruminating on them all week. I will attempt to articulate them here.

What struck me first was that this week’s reading, “Practicing the Digital Humanities,” really seemed like a continuation of the previous Debates reading we did, which was all about problems in the Digital Humanities. For example, Paul Fyfe covers how we handle “electronic errata” in our transition to digital publishing, voicing his concern that “we have not sufficiently considered error correction as a structural feature and theoretical premise within the transition to digital publishing.” Neil Fraistat also voices a concern when he discusses DH centers and their place in the growing field. He attributes a multi-faceted function to DH centers, as local centers, global networks, and nuclei of transformative action, but he also wonders about the futures of such centers. Furthermore, both Matthew Wilkens and Amy Earhart wrinkle their brows over the role of DH in canon formation and diversification. Earhart particularly focuses her attention on what she calls the “narrow digital canon” as providing impetus for further work in the field.

Keep on reading!

A Big Tent Revival: Productive Problems in the Digital Humanities

To the average reader perusing part three of Debates in the Digital Humanities, things look bad. Tara McPherson’s self-proclaimed polemic problematizes the “modularity of the digital era” as it separates issues of ethnicity and gender from legitimate study. Elizabeth Losh explores the ethical, political, and institutional gray areas of hacktivism as it relates (or does not relate) to the Digital Humanities, and Mark Sample reveals through Don DeLillo a major shortcoming of the field. While George Williams uncovers the less-than-inclusive interfaces ill-equipped for universal users, Charlie Edwards tackles still other usability issues. Beyond this, William Pannapacker and Ian Bogost share similar concerns about the members of the humanities: Pannapacker fears that the Digital humanities cool kids alienate others and Bogost calls attention to stubborn humanists in general. Bethany Nowviske, on the other hand, is tired. Tired of participating in the DH “gentleman’s club,” tired of the institutional melee, and tired of being helpful and nice. It seems, in light of all of this, that there is trouble under the big tent. Read more about what these problems mean…