MLA Convention 2017 (Philadelphia, PA)
"Digital American Cultural Studies"
Abstract: In my talk, I will argue for a theoretically grounded approach to digital humanities. I teach a graduate (MA) level introduction to digital humanities course through American Studies. The American Studies frame enables us to ask questions about the nation and post-nationality that might otherwise be given short shrift in a digital humanities course. In taking up the question of where is “America” in the digital humanities, my course foregrounds both new and old debates over the selection of objects and methods. From an initial investigation of the field history of American Studies, we move into theoretical issues related to digital culture and reading. These oppositional readings provided the grounding for the remainder of the term, in which each week is organized around a particular topic area (Game Studies, Social Media, Databases, Critical Code Studies) that can be framed according to one of the earlier theoretical approaches. Two short papers compare methodologies and a final paper and project enable students to put the theory into practice and to theorize their own work.
"Machine Learning, Distant Reading, and American Literature"
Abstract:The possibility of using digitized texts has given us an unprecedented opportunity to explore different texts and reading methodologies. More than just electronic editions of existing canonical texts, digital archives featuring large numbers of texts, letters, and images enables us to reconfigure our classrooms around the idea of discovery. I teach both small seminar residential courses as well as a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on the American Renaissance. In these courses we have begun to experiment with tools that enable new ways of reading that could be organized under “distant reading.” Machine learning algorithms, including topic modeling, can now be used by literature students to discover concepts and themes contained within a large corpus. In my contribution to the roundtable, I will present some early experiences, the combinations of close and distant reading, and discuss the limitations of these methodologies. [Slides]
Teaching Literature in Public: Large-Scale Online Teaching and Reading
MLA Special Session: 506
This session examines the prospects and pitfalls of bringing the teaching and reading of literature to the broader public through large-scale Internet-based platforms. Panelists introduce the idea of building learning communities around texts and the various critical reading practices that have been and might be used in these communities.
James E. "Jed" Dobson, Dartmouth C (Presiding)
William Kuskin, Univ. of Colorado, Boulder
Doran Larson, Hamilton Coll.
Caroline Field Levander, Rice Univ.
Elisa New, Harvard Univ.
Adrienne Raphel, Harvard Univ.
Emily Silk, Harvard Univ.
Benjamin Wiggins, Univ. of Pennsylvania