So, today I come to the research and Digital Humanities communities looking for help/direction with my thesis work. As you can learn from my first post, I have an idea of what I would like to do with my thesis. To recap:
I still consider myself very much a newcomer to this field, however I believe that this status puts me in the unique position to be a newcomer speaking to other newcomers-- that is, teachers who have not yet fully incorporated digital methodologies into their classrooms. I'd like my thesis to be an introductory walk-through of 3 (or so) Digital Humanities methodologies that a high school English teachers might utilize in their classrooms, in order to introduce their students to the field, alongside the traditional lessons in close reading and text analysis. I believe that the modern student's work can be enhanced by the DH. To narrow down the scope of potential tools, I am most interested in visualizations and text analysis.
I plan on choosing a handful of books to accompany my walk-through of DH methodologies and to serve as examples throughout the thesis. DH methodologies could be applied to unpack any genre of literature, I could use Shakespeare or Dickens or Austen, however, this is where I would like to tie in another subject I am passionate about: dystopian literature. In addition to my love of 1984 and Brave New World, and my personal interest in unpacking such texts, I think that dystopian novels introduce an interesting lens to my project. Considering how dystopias are often crafted on advanced technology, fear, and control, this might suggest something about how us traditionalist "liberal arts-types" feel about bringing the digital into our text based work.The first important tenant of my idea is that the methodologies that I work with need to be easily accessible and understandable to anyone who is new to the field. My talents, unfortunately, do not extent to Python and other such programming languages, but I still believe that I, and others like me, can use pre-built programs to lead our students into the 21st century of text analysis.
Next in importance is my reason for being interested. When I was in school, we had a computer lab filled with clunky PCs on which made Power Point presentations with word art, and learned to type using Mavis Beacon (and somehow I still don't type correctly). Now, kids have ChromeBooks in every classroom, and type more than they write. Even so, DH is a relatively unknown field to the younger generation
The first I heard of the DH was in my Masters program, and I believe strongly that kids should learn about such possibilities sooner. Just like schools are developing and pushing STEM programs, I believe we need to be introducing the DH in our English classrooms but, to successfully do this, we need to train teachers who might not be steeped in knowledge of computer programming-- and that's okay! High school is the time to whet kids' appetites for future work. I believe that they deserve to know that there is merit in the Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out that they do online. Close reading is not the only way to mine a book for ideas and, additionally, I believe that such work could also lead to cross-curricular interests, and a kid who excels in computer science might find parallel interests in literature.
That being said, can anyone help me? I'm looking for programs like Voyant that aren't terribly difficult to learn or teach, but provide a solid jumping-off point for the DH. Digital Humanities community, are you out there?