Holly Garnett (Nipissing University), Jeremy Gallion (Cornell University), Evan Donahue (Brown University), Anna Levine & Richard Li (Swarthmore College), and Michael Suen (Middlebury College) will be presenting for Re:Humanities. Learn details of their various presentations.
Holly Garnett, from Nipissing University, will present a project that explores how free online digital archives open up new resources to undergraduate researchers, greatly expanding the primary source material available to those without travel options or significant funding. She uses the case study of undergraduates at a small Northern Ontario university performing “graduate-level research” on the early history of the Second Amendment to the US Constitution. The presentation will detail how the researchers employed online tools to perform their task, and will demonstrate the need for an increase in primary source archives available online.
Jeremy Gallion, from Cornell University, is researching the emerging body of South Asian-American literature. He will first examine how particular groups of South Asian-Americans, as defined by class, religion, or geographical area of origin, have defined themselves within American ethnic literature, and “how they articulate their unique position to a greater American audience.” Observing what he refers to as a “relative print lacuna outside of upper-caste Hindu authors,” Jeremy will study the use of web-based publishing methods by South Asian-American minority groups. By demonstrating that print media is dominated by the upper-class Hindu elite and exploring the secondary avenues of publication utilized by South Asian-American minority groups online, he aims to challenge both racial and media-focused aspects of canonical literature.
Evan Donahue, from Brown University, will present on the field of computational linguistics. Computers understand language as code, which provides a filter through which to explore the question of “what language is,” and where it falls between mathematics and human expression. Computational work on language is currently limited by the fact that technology alone does not smoothly incorporate the concepts of history, context, and culture. Evan argues for a mutual integration of humanities and computational linguistics. “What has traditionally been a highly mathematical area of research,” he writes, “could be both accessible to and productively approached by someone with a background in the humanities. Bringing the methods of the humanities to the computational study of language could at once further existing work and make computational linguistics into a useful avenue for engaging with the concerns of the humanities.”
Anna Levine and Richard Li, from Swarthmore College, will present their ongoing work with the University of Pennsylvania’s Early Novel Database project. They will give an overview of the END and demonstrate its unique “faceted” search system. They will then discuss their individual roles and interests within the greater project: Anna has been working on representing and tracking modes of narration as a mode of understanding the development of the novel, and Richard is interested in the problem of graphical representation of material in the database.
Michael Suen, from Middlebury College, will present a project that grapples with the question of how storytelling has been transformed by the digital age, and how a quantitative method of measuring the success of journalistic media has helped to form what he calls “our ADD world.” He approaches this discussion through the lens of the acclaimed HBO television drama, The Wire, through which he examines the ways in which culture and narrative mutually constitute one another. Michael argues that a focus on easily-packaged media, and a value system that favors quantitative popularity over quality or originality, have become defining characteristics of our mass-media culture.