Department of English


Day One - Digital Pedagogies

David Gruber/Jeffrey Shaw/Rodney Jones

Texts, Pretexts and Contexts: Teaching Digital Literacies in the Age of Surveillance
Rodney Jones

This paper considers the challenges confronting teachers of digital literacies in an era where nearly every aspect of our internet use is, in one way or another, subject to surveillance by corporations, governments and our 'friends' and 'followers'. It argues that understanding digital literacies in surveillance societies must go beyond conventional notions of 'privacy' and 'security' and engage students in critical discussions around three fundamental realms of literate practice: 'texts' (and their function as as devices for both information delivery and information collection), 'pretexts' (the strategies of 'framing' and 'positioning' communicators use to get people to voluntarily submit to surveillance), and 'contexts' (the broader communication 'eco-system' in which transactions of information are negotiated and relationships of power are reproduced or contested). Each of these aspects of literate practice is explored using tools from interactional sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology, and possible strategies for approaching these issues with students are suggested.

Learning by Doing: Digital Scholarly Editing as Practice-Based Learning
Susan Schreibman

Digital Humanities offers superb opportunities for practice-based learning. This paper will describe a successful example of this in the area of digital scholarly editing in which students, working in teams, develop a digital edition from primary analogue materials. Interestingly, the technologies involved, while challenging, do not pose the most difficulties. Rather, they tend to centre around issues of project management and team-work. In this model, the role of the instructor is more of a mentor and facilitator in which co-learning is paramount.

Several examples of these project will be discussed, including 'The Diary of Mary Martin: A Family at War', the 'Sterling Family Papers', and 'The Baroness Elsa von Freytag Digital Library'. I will also discuss my most recent project, 'Letters of 1916', a crowd-sourced digital edition in which students have taken on numerous additional roles including outreach in terms of promotion of the project as well as sourcing new letters.

Wikipedia Writing Project
Brian King

In this project students publish their English writing in Wikipedia, a highly visible forum in which they must respond to critiques by other Wikipedians, prompting creative and innovative solutions. Student feedback on the assignment has consistently emphasized that the experience of publishing to a potentially global audience changed their approach to writing in subtle but important ways, helping them to realize what it means to "really write", and hopefully creating insights that they can carry with them into future writing assignments.

What is Art History Made of and Why Does It Matter?
Charlotte Frost

In 2013 I developed a project to investigate some of the forms art history takes. The '#arthistory' component is a collaborative and participatory art project created with digital artist Rob Myers. It comprises of both the ability to render this piece of digital text in 3D form and the object's ownership or use by anyone anywhere as a playful way to define objects of art historical value. While 'Is Art History Too Bookish?' is an online, open-access and open peer-reviewed 5000 word article that asks after the extent to which art historical media shapes our ideas about art. The project was included in the exhibition 'Dirty New Media' at Barber Institute of Fine Art, UK, in March 2013 and the blog post explaining the project, 'What Is Art History Made Of?', was selected as Digital Humanities Now's 'Editor's Choice' in July 2013 (DHNow is a journal providing post-publication validation to experimental work in the digital humanities). In this presentation I will discuss how the project came about, the themes it touches upon and some of the practical issues I faced in producing this kind of experimental scholarship.

Mobilities of a linguistic landscape at Los Angeles City Hall Park
Christian Chun

My talk addresses the protest signs from the Occupy Movement in Los Angeles drawing on data from the photographs I took of these signs, a YouTube video of a protest sign, a blog commenting on this sign, and a political cartoon using the same image featured on two other signs. I explore how social actors drew upon and mediated specific discourses in their protest signs that became transportable across time and space, the role of these signs in transforming public space, and this linguistic landscape's ensuing mobilities in its mediated relocations to online social media sites and blogs.

Authenticity and Engagement in Blended Learning: 'Authentic' Learning Management Systems
Allan Johnson

This paper will outline the rationale for moving to an 'Authentic Learning Management System' (ALMS), a digital learning environment that can be found naturally, or 'authentically', in the integrative use of consumer software including Dropbox, WordPress, Evernote, and Twitter. Drawing upon a recent pilot project at City University of Hong Kong, this paper will argue that the use of digital media in the classroom can create a positive sense of 'realness' for students, but only when it is embedded systematically in curriculum design. Because proprietary LMS such as Blackboard are used only in educational contexts, students leave them behind following graduation having had minimal exposure to the tools that will be most relevant in their lives after university. The findings from this project suggest that the ALMS model moves blended learning into a context that is more authentic to students while seamlessly integrating digital literacy education into traditional subject areas.

Writing and the Humanities: Literacy, Creativity, and Culture in a Digital Era
Martha C. Pennington

Writing in digital environments will be reviewed focusing on and problematizing notions of literacy, creativity, and culture that have been foundational to the humanities. As compared to writing before the computer age, composing in digital environments has promoted new writing processes as enabled by specific technologies in addition to a more social construction of the activity and interactivity of writing, and a more media-saturated construction of text as existing within a rich nexus of other creative and communicative resources. Changing constructions of literacy in online contexts are situating writing within everyday and popular culture activities while also facilitating highly specialized literate and creative activity. The extent to which electronic technologies, including the computer and its evolution into online contexts and the many and varied new kinds of software and hardware, are affecting the processes and products of literacy, creativity, and culture has yet to be fully appreciated. These include the ease of producing multiple copies or different versions of a work, the ready access to other works in all forms of media, the text-production and storage resources for creating documents of virtually any size or complexity, the availability of software for creating and altering digital works, and the value of working in an online context of other creators and resources spanning different media and cultures. The existence of highly creative works, important new ideas, and other culturally significant products being generated collaboratively in connected electronic environments rather than by individual artists or geniuses working alone and in isolation from others, as well as the creation of a range of intertextual and mixed media products, requires a rethinking of traditional views of culture and creativity to bring them up-to-date in the digital era. Indeed, given the expansion of literacy over the last two centuries beyond an elite few and the increasing importance of technology in the modern era, such a reconsideration is long overdue. Such a rethinking of notions of culture and creativity can enrich the current discussions of literacy within electronic contexts.


Day Two - Digital Literatures

David Jhave Johnston

Nation and Narration? Or, A View from Afar: The Making of the Brazilian Electronic Literature Collection in the ELMCIP (Electronic Literature as a Model of Creativity and Innovation in Practice) Knowledge Base.
Luciana Gattass

It would be plausible to argue that ELMCIP Knowledge Base embodies medium-specific hybridity as advocated by Digital Humanities 2.0 enthusiasts who claim that digital technologies have permanently altered the paradigm in which the humanities operate: the full absorption and digitization of printed records constituting the basic step towards a significant change in hermeneutic practices. As a guest researcher at the University of Bergen in 2012, I have aggregated a Brazilian electronic literature research collection to the ELMCIP knowledge base. While the primary purpose of a national collection would be to generate elements for a comparative analysis of Brazilian electronic literature - identifying dominant genres of creative and critical practice and exploring the possible correlation of geographical proximity and commonalities of practice - I have opted instead to recast the Brazilian Collection as a micro experiment in what Moretti has famously termed "distant reading." By addressing the particularities of a "geo-tagged" collection, the paper will seek to discuss and problematize quantifying trends in humanistic scholarship 2.0 so as to examine the present as well as speculate on the possible futures of computational interpretation and literary historiography.

Lucianna Gattass

(Title and abstract will be announced later.)

Abracadata: Artists' Books in the Digital Age
Amaranth Borsuk

Many contemporary book artists and writers rely on the availability of textual "data." Whether plucking eerily distorted images from Google Street View, generating alphabetized indices to Shakespeare's sonnets, or redacting the 9/11 Commission Report to generate a book-length poem, these creators are mining data for aesthetic ends. Given that artists' books have historically relied on the words and images of others, what makes this situation novel? My current project Abra takes part in this conversation by exploring and celebrating the potentials of the book in the 21st century. A collaboration with Kate Durbin, Ian Hatcher, and a potentially infinite number of readers, the project merges physical and digital media, integrating a hand-made artist's book with an interactive iPad app to play with the notion of the "illuminated" manuscript. Funded by an Expanded Artists' Books Grant from the Center for Book and Paper Arts at Columbia College Chicago, the project will launch in late spring.

Digital Resources at City University of Hong Kong
David Gruber

I will show several digital resources currently in progress at City University of Hong Kong. The first involves a series of audio interviews with neuroscientists about the meaning and the work of the neuro-humanities; the second involves aggregating people's first-hand experiences of the linguistic landscapes of Hong Kong; the third involves linking together novels addressing the Cambodian Diaspora.

Making Open Data in Hong Kong
Darcy W. Christ

Improving access to information is a slow process in a city without an archives law and a freedom of information act. The Journalism and Media Studies Centre (JMSC) at The University of Hong Kong, in connection with civic groups like Open Data Hong Kong and the emerging data journalism community, is using their experience as investigative reporters, media law experts and educators to encourage new ways to look at public sector information. As part of the OpenGov project and the Data Journalism Lab, they're exploring new ways to get information and better ways to tell stories. Darcy Christ, a digital specialist at the JMSC, will present a few case studies from these projects.

Toys, Tricks and Temporary Solutions
David Jhave Johnston

I will give a demo of a couple small web-based pedagogical software-tools that I initiated and/or developed, including a reading engine and an in-class collaborative app; I will also discuss a tentative (potentially dsytopian) framework for future pedagogy: Apisteme.

Daniel Howe

(Title and abstract will be announced later.)

The Post-Hermeneutic in Digital Language Art
Rita Raley

The arrangement of objects or parts into an integral whole, however unstable and internally fractured, is the work of collage, which as we recall for Fredric Jameson was a "feeble name" for the work of cognitively integrating the multiple video displays of Nam June Paik. Contrast the closed circuits of a Paik exhibit, which we have arguably conditioned ourselves to see, with the multi-screen display of algorithmically generated texts, the apparent randomness and durational structures of which remove semiotic certainty-texts that may momentarily coalescence but are not practically or theoretically available for meaningful integration. What might we learn from this scene of (failed) apprehension about language, digital poetics, and reading practices in our contemporary socio-technological milieu? Works discussed will likely include Ben Rubin and Mark Hansen, Shakespeare Machine; Sarah Waterson, Cristyn Davies, and Elena Cox, Trope; John Cayley and Daniel Howe, The Readers Project; and others.


Day Three - Visualization

Sarah Kenderdine

Space Into Game, Time Into Book: What Comics and Interactive Media Do Together
Erik Loyer

The visual language of comics is often invoked as a cheap, stylish alternative to mainstream interactive production: cel shading as an alternative to photorealism, word bubbles as an alternative to voice acting, panels as an alternative to video. But comics aren't just the "economy seating" of digital media-they've been part of the lexicon of the graphical user interface for decades, and are now more than ever poised to act as a lingua franca between games, narrative, and gesture. Through extensive illustrations and demonstrations, Loyer will explore how, on our contemporary digital screens, comics are increasingly turning space into a game, time into a book, and changing both what and how we read.

Promise and Peril of Digital Humanities: On the inalienability of the humanities in the age of their digital reorganization
Roberto Simanowski

Against the default position that the humanities are in 'crisis' and the concern about the computational turn in humanities as shifting from interpretation and theory to algorithmic analysis and correlations, it has been argued that Digital Humanities expands the values, representational and interpretative practices, meaning-making strategies of the humanities into every realm of experience and knowledge of the world. This signifies two opposite conjectures about the role the humanities and their specific concept of knowledge will play in the digital age. The paper explores the promise and peril of Digital Humanities with a special regard to digital media as a tool and/or subject of research, which is understood as Digital Media Studies. Starting with the assumption that the use of digital media must not preclude the discussion of their message, the paper will discuss the message of the humanities itself as a medium to understand reality and (in)form society. The goal is to illustrate a meaningful application of algorithmic analysis in social networks.

Cities in fusion. Screen and large scale urban art installations.
Maurice Benayoun

During the past 10 years, I developed a critical practice based on cities and national monuments. From War to Peace through Mechanics of Emotions, the public space is more than ever the best place for social, political, ethic and aesthetic debate.

Plants Living in Shanghai
Bo Zheng

After a cement factory was moved out of central Shanghai, wild plants came in and occupied the land. As an art project, I set up a "wild botanical garden" for visitors to learn about over 20 species of "weed" in this area. Furthermore, an eight-week online course was developed with a group of young scholars in Shanghai to discuss plants and the city from the perspectives of ecology, literature, history, cultural studies, and urban planning. Each Monday, a lecture went online; then on Sunday, people gathered offline for a more in-depth discussion.

Visualizing Interactive Narratives
Jeremy Douglass

(Abstract will be announced later.)

Graphical Approaches to the Humanities
Johanna Drucker

Graphical displays and formats mediate our relation to knowledge and experience through screens on networked devices to an unprecedented degree. The organization of access to online materials, the structure of argument created through navigation, menus, and links, and a host visualizations adopted from disciplines outside the humanities-as well as other features of screens in daily use--have infiltrated the digital environment. Have we paused to consider the ways these graphical approaches to the digital humanities are part of basic knowledge design? This essay sketches the fundamentals of interface and visualization within a larger context of knowledge design to suggest what the pedagogical, research, and critical issues are for digital humanities. Certain principles of legibility, transparency, ease of use, efficiency, and consumer-oriented design have dominated the engineering and business side of development. But are these the same principles that are integral to the critical concerns of humanists? If not, at least in all cases, then what alternative paths to development make sense and what are the guiding principles on which they can be designed either as research or as part of larger research questions with a humanistic orientation?

Cultural Data Sculpting: Visualization, Embodiment and Big Data
Sarah Kenderdine

This presentation examines new paradigms for developing cultural heritage archives as embodied experiences. The research described integrates groundbreaking work in virtual environment design, interactivity, information visualization, museology, visual analytics and computational linguistics initiated at the Applied Laboratory for Interactive Visualization and Embodiment (ALiVE), City University of Hong Kong, iCinema Research Centre, UNSW, Sydney and Museum Victoria, Melbourne Australia. Using heterogeneous datasets representing intangible and tangible heritage ALiVE and its international collaborators create interactive applications inside a series of large-scale visualization systems. Recent examples will be highlighted including:

  • Pure Land: Inside the Mogao Grottoes at Dunhuang and Pure Land Augmented Reality Edition in collaboration with the Dunhaung Academy, China;
  • ECloud WW1 (for Europeana);
  • Kaladham | PLACE-Hampi the award winning museum located at Vijayanagar, Karnataka, inaugurated in November 2012 and;
  • Pacifying of the South China Sea Pirates' installations that premiered at Hong Kong Maritime Museum in January 2013.