Wednesday, September 13, 2017

NetSmart and the start of a new semester

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I can't believe the summer flew by so quickly, but I'm glad to be entering the start of my thesis work, and the beginning of my last year in my Masters degree journey! Hello all, you know me but, if you're reading this and you don't know me, my name is Marissa Candiloro. This blog is going to be dedicated to my first semester of thesis work, which we are calling #ResNetSem, and will be filled with my thesis research progress, along with responses to readings and the events of the semester.

I'll start by talking about my interests and goals in regard to my thesis. First of all, my intention post-graduation is to find a teaching job in a private, classical, Catholic, or Christian high school. I am passionate about teaching English (literature and writing) as well as the atmosphere and mission of such schools. My goal in writing my thesis is to tie my interests into a marketable project that I can show to future employers.

As for my interests, in my time at Kean I have been introduced to a group of fairly new methodologies that are aggregated under the title of "Digital Humanities" or "DH." The DH field includes many different methodologies such as mapping, text mining, and visualizations, to name a few. These methodologies serve as vehicles with which you can examine data in ways that go beyond human capabilities. My favorite example of anything done using DH methodologies is the following chart:

Read about it here
Last semester, I did an independent study that I called Intro to the Digital Humanities, wherein I read,

blogged, and learned about the field and it's methodologies. I even got to attend THATcampDC 2017, which was a great experience. You can read about my independent study here.

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. I need to work through my ideas, but I'm excited to see where this idea takes me.

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Regarding this week's reading, I am so excited to see Howard Rhinegold's work pop up again! I have read some of Net Smart, and I have an immense amount of respect for his work. I think it's fascinating that Rhinegold dove, head first, into the digital world when it was in its infancy, and it's amazing to read his thoughts on how far it has taken us into the future.

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