The website for my fall course at Georgia Tech, Global Digital Modernisms, is live. Stay tuned for updates.
Suzanne Bellamy Cites "Mapping Jacob's Room" in Presentation About Edith Rickert, "Pioneer Digital Scholar."
In her presentation "The CODEBREAKER: Edith Rickert, Virginia Woolf and Modernist Intrigues," the Australian artist and scholar Suzanne Bellamy argues that Rickert's research at the University of Chicago in the 1930s presents an early version of twenty-first century digital approaches to Woolf's fiction. In the clip below from Bellamy's recorded presentation for the Annual Conference on Virginia Woolf in the beginning of June, Bellamy cites the Mapping Jacob's Room project from my English 1102 "Digital Woolf" course at Georgia Tech. You can learn more about Bellamy's art and work here.
Raghav Kaul, who was a student in my English 1102 "Digital Woolf" course in the fall of 2013 at Georgia Tech, will present his paper, “The Subject-Object Relationship—Using Woolf to Understand Colonial Dichotomies and Postcolonial Critique,” at the Annual Conference on Virginia Woolf held in Chicago this June.
You can read more about it in the TECHStyle posting, "English 1102 Student Raghav Kaul to Present at Virginia Woolf Conference."
My "English 1102: African American Literature from the Harlem Renaissance to the Digital Present" students' final assignment this term was a version of one that Anne Sexton gave in her "Anne on Anne" course at Colgate University in the spring of 1972. Sexton taught a class on her own poetry and her teaching notes for it are in the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin (regarding Sexton's teaching see also Diane Middlebrook's Anne Sexton: A Biography (1992) and Jo Gill's Anne Sexton's Confessional Poetics (2007)). I discuss Sexton's course and assignment in greater detail in Annotating Modernism: Marginalia and Pedagogy from Virginia Woolf to the Confessional Poets (Ashgate, 2015). During her first class meeting, Sexton asked the students to read two interviews she had given and then for their final projects, they were to craft fictional interviews with her that did not repeat what she had already been asked and provided answers she would give. She would be evaluating the answers. If the students did not desire to complete this assignment, they could also write a critical essay on her work. At least one student whom I interviewed chose that option. In the lectures that Sexton prepared, she would walk her students through close readings of her poems and she prepared answers in response to her own questions about aspects of her poems. In many instances, Sexton may have been answering these questions for the first time. She had, however, developed a sense of close reading from workshops and literature courses she attended. While scholars and her own students were skeptical as to whether she was following notes, two of her students sent me copies of the marginalia in their books from the course indicating that Sexton did stay close to her original plan. Following Sexton's example, my students began by viewing and reading interviews with contemporary writers we had read this term. The assignment then asked them to compose a written script that they would then film or record as a podcast.
In preparation for this project, the students completed several short blog assignments that allowed them to research and interpret different aspects of the relationship between the author and the text. In their blog postings analyzing Toni Morrison's Sula (1973), the students investigated the relationship, or lack of one, between the years in the chapters' titles and their content. The novel exists in a world of its own, both in and out of time, rarely referring to the historical events of each year. Drawing on the novel's location, the students searched an Ohio newspaper archive and other online historical resources to research the year in which one chapter is set. Returning to the novel, the students began to ask new questions, such as how Morrison could have ignored the flood in Ohio, how a character's amputated limb recalls the soldiers returning from World War One, and why it matters that a heat wave in the novel really did take place. Investigating the significance of Morrison's chapter titles, the students not only became more conscious of the novel's design, but also asked new questions about the relationship of fiction to the realities it depicts. When we read Pearl Cleage's novel of the Obama campaign set in Atlanta, Till You Hear From Me (2010), I gave students the task of interpreting some of her manuscripts, which I had photographed, in relation to the published novel. Cleage's manuscripts at Emory University are uncatalogued,so my students were among the first to decipher the codes she used in her drafts, which included numerous colors of ink. As they discussed in their postings, the materials that I gave them included a segment that Cleage later abandoned, and this led to innumerable questions about her development of the novel. We were also grateful to have Cornelius Eady, co-founder of the African American poetry foundation, Cave Canem, visit Georgia Tech. The students were not only able to attend his reading, but also had the opportunity to ask him questions. The blog postings then provided a space for the students to examine in greater depth the difference between hearing Eady read a poem and reading it themselves on the page.
In their interviews, the students were encouraged to build from their blog postings to create discussions with Morrison addressing the years in which Sula takes place, Cleage regarding her manuscripts, and Eady involving his readings. The students also investigated the current genre of the online interview and podcast, in which visiting writers answer questions about their work. They watched and read interviews in order to ask new questions and imagine how the writer they had selected might respond. This assignment asked students to consider the differences between the writers' and readers' perspectives. An author is not the only interpreter of her work; she is both the creator and a reader of it. A final component of the project involved the students' discussion of a quotation from the text with its author. This led to fascinating responses in which students discussed such elements as the form of a poem or novel, word choice, and creating characters. Imagining an author's response inspired students to take texts apart in new ways and discuss them from more than one point of view.
After the students finished developing their written scripts, they filmed or recorded their interviews. Because they were dramatizing their conversations, the students often discussed the way a poem or novel works with greater appreciation and enjoyment than they might have communicated in an essay. As you can see in the image above, the students sometimes brought in a friend to read one of the parts. Working on their own, students also recorded themselves in both roles and would "do the police in different voices," to adapt Charles Dickens in Our Mutual Friend (1864-65), which famously inspired T. S. Eliot's initial title of The Waste Land (1922). One student filmed himself as both interviewer and Cleage, stitching both versions together using video editing software. With his permission, I have included a link to his project here. Some students also used voice altering software or software where the computer read out what they had typed (sounding a lot like Siri). The result was nearly seventy-five (in my three sections) engaging, often humorous discussions about literature, language, history, and craft.
Since my Georgia Tech students also created so many fascinating projects in the fall, I have included some of my Digital Woolf assignments below. You can also read more about the course and the Mapping Jacob's Room
Project 1: Place in Howards End
Project 2: Mapping Jacob's Room
Project 3: Mapping Jacob's Room Presentations
Project 4: Woolf Apps
Blog Posting Instructions, Blog Posting 1: Geographical Scavenger Hunt in Howards End, and Blog Posting 2: "Only Connect" Assignments
Blog Posting 3: Mapping Mrs. Dalloway
Blog Posting 4: The Hours
Blog Posting 5: Writing about To the Lighthouse Using Leslie Stephen's Photograph Album
African American Literature: From The Harlem Renaissance to the Digital Present: Multimodal Assignments
Because my students have completed so many different kinds of assignments in my African American Literature: From the Harlem Renaissance to the Digital Present course at Georgia Tech this term, I have included some of the assignments below. The project rubric was developed by Georgia Tech's Writing and Communication Program.
The image to the left was made by one of my students (shared with permission).
Blog Posting Instructions
Blog Posting 1: Langston Hughes
Blog Posting 2: Their Eyes Were Watching God
Blog Posting 3: Their Eyes Were Watching God Film
Blog Posting 4: Investigating the Years of Toni Morrison's Sula
Blog Posting 5: Pearl Cleage's Manuscripts
Blog Posting 6: Cornelius Eady Visits Georgia Tech
Project 1: Harlem Renaissance Digital Resources
Project 2: Harlem Renaissance Digital Resources Presentations
Project 3: Interviews with Contemporary Writers
African American Literature from the Harlem Renaissance to the Digital Present at Georgia Tech, Spring 2014
My spring English 1102 course, “African American Literature from the Harlem Renaissance to the Digital Present,” will address the range and variety of African American literature beginning with the poetry and fiction of the Harlem Renaissance. The writers we will read include Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Claude MacKay, Jean Toomer, Nella Larsen, and Zora Neale Hurston. We will then turn to the poetry of the Black Arts Movement and fiction from the seventies and eighties to the present, including Pearl Cleage’s novel of the Obama Campaign in Atlanta, Till You Hear From Me (2010). The course will conclude with contemporary poetry, including the Atlanta poets Kevin Young, Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey, and Jericho Brown. We will also read the poetry of Cornelius Eady, co-founder of the African American Poetry Foundation Cave Canem, who will be visiting Georgia Tech in the spring. Students in this course will complete writing assignments, contribute to a class blog, give group research presentations, and design digital projects. In their projects, the students will investigate and create digital resources for literary, cultural, and historical research.
Today I started working with Pearl Cleage's unprocessed manuscripts at Emory University. My students next term will analyze images of Cleage's early handwritten drafts of Till You Hear From Me alongside the published novel. Emory acquired Cleage's materials in 2012 and recently received a grant to catalogue them. There is a video from Cleage's 2011 visit to Emory here. As the image above reflects, the materials are now in cardboard boxes. After sifting through the contents of several boxes, with the help of Emory's Finding Aid, I located Cleage's manuscripts for Till You Hear From Me. As I soon learned, Cleage often used several colors of ink while sketching her novel on lined, loose leaf pages. These vibrant pages will invite students to explore the visual and linguistic dimensions of Cleage's composition process.
In my English 1102 “Digital Woolf” class at Georgia Tech this fall, we began with Howards End (1910), by Virginia Woolf’s contemporary, E. M. Forster, which we followed with Woolf’s novels, Jacob’s Room (1922), Mrs. Dalloway(1925), and To the Lighthouse (1927). We will be concluding the course with her essay, A Room of One’s Own(1929). Along the way, the class viewed and blogged about the film of Michael Cunningham’s The Hours (2002), an adaptation of Mrs. Dalloway. Our focus on Woolf presents students with the opportunity to understand her imagination and complexity.
As we began reading Jacob’s Room, the students found it incomprehensible and unlike other novels that they had read. In Jacob’s Room, Woolf displaces the elements that we come to expect in a novel. She subordinates plot in favor of sensory perceptions. When Woolf published Jacob’s Room, she was dissatisfied and felt she “could have screwed Jacob up tighter if I had foreseen; but I had to make my path as I went.”
Read more at TECHStyle: A Forum for Digital Pedagogy and Research by the Brittain Fellows at Georgia Tech.
Modernist Studies Association Conference 2013, "Everyday Technology: Teaching Modernism and Digital Media" Roundtable
For the 2013 Modernist Studies Association Conference, I have organized a roundtable called "Everyday Technology: Teaching Modernism and Digital Media." Grab a coffee and come join us on Friday, August 30, 2013 at 8:30 a.m. The roundtable features teachers of modernism who demonstrate a wide range of pedagogical approaches. Introducing applications, classroom strategies, assignments, and methods, the participants on this roundtable will examine the ways that digital tools have shaped students' engagement with modernist materials. The presenters teach various kinds of courses--including composition courses, surveys, seminars, and digital humanities courses—in different countries and types of institutions. Following the panelists’ brief introductions, we will shift to a question and answer format. We look forward to a lively discussion addressing topics of interest to the audience members.
Sarah Terry is an Assistant Professor of English at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, Georgia, where she teaches nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature, as well as within Oglethorpe’s interdisciplinary Core Curriculum. Her current book project traces the adoption of literary forms of expression and musical techniques by Anglo-American authors, and argues for the significant relationship literary modernism has to music in the twentieth century.
Erin Templeton is Anne Morrison Chapman Distinguished Professor of International Study and an Associate Professor of English at Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. She is working on a book manuscript which explores male-female authorial collaborations in modernist poetry and is the author of articles on William Carlos Williams, T. S. Eliot, and Ezra Pound. She is the President of the William Carlos Williams Society, and she is also a contributing writer for the Chronicle of Higher Education blog, ProfHacker.
Anouk Lang is a Lecturer at the University of Strathclyde where she teaches twentieth and twenty-first century literature and digital humanities. Her edited collection From Codex to Hypertext: Reading at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century was published in 2012 by the University of Massachusetts Press. She is working on a book on the use of geospatial technologies in understanding Anglophone modernist writing, and her essays have appeared in journals including Canadian Literature, Narrative, Language and Literature and Australian Literary Studies.
Emily James is an Assistant Professor of English at University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she teaches courses on modernism and nineteenth- and twentieth-century British literature. She's working on a book project on modernism, composition, and the body. She published "Virginia Woolf and the Child Poet" in Modernist Cultures (2012).
Doris Bremm taught multimodal composition and literature courses as a Marion L. Brittain Postdoctoral Fellow at the Georgia Institute of Technology. In her research, she specializes in contemporary literature, intersections between literature and the visual arts, and literary theory. Her book manuscript Representation Beyond Representation: Reading Paintings in Contemporary Narratives considers contemporary literature about visual art as a new way to historicize postmodernism and the postmodern novel. The essay “London’s Museum Spaces in the Works of A.S. Byatt and Peter Ackroyd” will be included in a collection entitled London in Contemporary British Fiction: Beyond the City forthcoming from Bloomsbury in 2013.
Anita Helle is Professor of English and Director of the School of Writing, Literature, and Film at Oregon State University. She is editor of The Unraveling Archive: Essays on Sylvia Plath (2007) and of a forthcoming special issue of Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature (2013) on post-millennial illness narratives.
Paige Morgan is a Ph.D. candidate in English and Textual Studies at the University of Washington, focusing on 18th and 19th-century English poetry and economics, and the digital humanities. Her work in the digital humanities includes the creation of Visible Prices, an archive of literary and economic information. With Sarah Kremen-Hicks, she recently organized and led Demystifying the Digital Humanities, a year-long workshop series at the University of Washington. Her articles on the digital humanities, William Blake, and textual studies, can be found in Romanticism and in the upcoming Palgrave anthology Sexy Blake.