Carlson Post 10: Wrapping things up

The set of readings for this week were, for me, the perfect way to wrap up the semester, as they seemed to provide some answers to several topics that have been reappearing continuously during our class as well as offer some insight into the process of working on our final projects. For instance, Ratto’s article on critical making summed up the importance of making, which is hugely important in DH, and especially for me as I work on “making” my final project. The notions of making and building, while not always a part of what constitutes DH, are a critical part of creating meaning for Ratto. This is highlighted by Ratto’s emphasis on the process of “messing about,” and his insistence that the final prototype is not the site of analysis or the end goal – it is the making itself. I know that I’m metaphorically nodding in agreement with this as I work on my final project, and I’m probably not the only one doing so.

My main takeaway from the Chapman & Sawchuk article on research creation and “family resemblances” was the focus on issues of peer review when it comes to more creative presentations of research. If DH research is published on an open forum on the internet, does that take away some merit that it could have retained had it been published as a journal article? Not only have we been discussing this throughout the semester, but it’s also something we’re all taking into consideration as we work on our projects. While we don’t have a clear solution to this yet in the larger scheme of things, I think the way we are handling this in our own class, by turning in a rubric or guide for evaluation with our projects, is a good start.

I also thought Sayers’ article, “The MLab: An Infrastructural Disposition” provided the detailed description of a functioning DH lab that we have been searching for throughout the semester. Sayers writes that

“the development and maintenance of humanities labs must be informed by precedent, anchored in relations (e.g., with existing models), and understood as cultural practices (e.g., lab spaces are value-laden, and they persist through habits.”

This statement hearkens back to our previous class discussions on how DH labs are so often based on science labs, which doesn’t always work. Sayers’ decision to share the details of his DH lab on an open forum is, I think, a form of activism, and can help to make DH more accessible.

To include an example of “doing” in DH this week, it only seemed mLabLogoappropriate to take a look at the projects happening at Sayers’ Maker Lab at the University of Victoria. One of the projects that caught my eye is called “The Long Now of Ulysses,” which examines “how interpretations of literature change in the digital age” (Sayers). Divided into 17 panels to mirror the 18 episodes of Ulysses, the exhibit combines physical objects, 3D replications, and digital projects to bring Ulysses into a modern context. This project was really interesting to me because it was intriguing to imagine this project being made in the context of the lab infrastructure that Sayers described. While I’ll admit that I’ve never read Ulysses, I think this project is a model that could be adapted to many different texts.

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