English 738T, Spring 2015
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Author Archives: Amanda Visconti

About Amanda Visconti

MITH Webmaster, Literature Ph.D. Student, UMD iSchool ARG Research Team Member, and GEO Technology Chair. Interested in digital humanities, digital editing, complex Modernist novels, games (especially ARGs), and e-lit.

If you want to follow the class en masse, I created a Twitter list of our course members:


Note that it’s currently not possible to add yourself to your own list, so my handle (@Literature_Geek) isn’t included in the list.

I encountered this image in the readings for another seminar; it’s from an 1882 Punch. The caption reads: “The baleful and blood-stained Monster * * * yet was it not my Master to the very extent that it was my Creature? * * * Had I not breathed into it my own spirit?”

#Frankenro frequency cloud

Posted by Amanda Visconti in Spring 2012 | Uncategorized - (1 Comments)

Created with Wordle. Hashtags, handles, “Frankenstein”, and variations of monster/monstrous have been removed.

Here’s the full list of tweets if you’d like to run them through other tools. The UCSB Toy Chest and the DiRT Wiki are good places to find more tools.

More Blake-hacking reading

Posted by Amanda Visconti in Spring 2012 | Uncategorized - (2 Comments)

You might be interested in this essay by Jon Saklofske that evaluates the Blake Archive and imagines new ways of visualizing its content.

Also: how do doppelgangers fit into our definition of the monstrous?

1. Poor Ernest Frankenstein. Type his name into Wikipedia and you’ll receive an amusing but reasonable redirect:

Ernest gets little page time. He isn’t mentioned in a letter to Victor in which Elisabeth does spend time discussing his other brother (William), and he oddly drops out of Victor’s remembrance instead of becoming more dear as his last remaining family member. (Stuart Curran’s Romantic Circles edition of Frankenstein collects the few references to Ernest here) What is Ernest even doing in the novel? I’d love to compare his place in the different versions of the work–I think it was Curran who suggested that Ernest is written slightly differently in the 1831 edition, and the fact that he remains in the book by that point (with Victor’s forgetting uncorrected) suggests Ernest’s vanishing role is worth exploring.

2. What do you make of the strange painting of Victor’s mother posed by her father’s coffin (a particularly creepy subject for Victor’s father to specifically commission)? Does this fit in with Steven Jone’s Freudian reading of Victor’s dream? Or were such subjects par for the course at the time? (Photographs of recently deceased children made to look like they were sleeping weren’t abnormal for the Victorians–though why paint a remembered person as dead/encased in a coffin when you could imagine him as alive within the painting? Did showing his true state conform to some sort of belief about naturalness/reality as reflected by painting?)

I gazed on the picture of my mother, which stood over the mantel-piece.  It was an historical subject, painted at my father’s desire, and represented Caroline Beaufort in an agony of despair, kneeling by the coffin of her dead father.  Her garb was rustic, and her cheek pale; but there was an air of dignity and beauty, that hardly permitted the sentiment of pity. (Shelley, Frankenstein, unknown page located in Project Gutenberg e-text)

3. In Jones’ Against Technology, he refers to “the story of Frankenstein’s creature who turns into a monster” (my emphasis, 1), an assertion that writes the character as first simply a creature, later monstrous. Is the monster’s monstrosity a result of his manner of birth, his grisly components and visage, or his evil actions? Does he become more or less monstrous during the novel as he gains knowledge, civilization, and other attributes of “humanity”–or does he perhaps simultaneously approach and recede from humanity?

Hack Books: Hack What?

Posted by Amanda Visconti in Spring 2012 | Uncategorized - (9 Comments)

I spent my bus ride home thinking about what it might mean to hack a book. I’ve seen beautiful sculptures made out of books (like these: one two three four) as well as more readable, but still fundamentally remixing acts of book hacking in the form of “altered books” like A Humument and Jonathan Safran Foer’s deliberately altered The Tree of Codes. Even more than book art, however, thinking about designing digital editions of paper books has helped me start noticing the individual mechanics of the vehicle, and it feels like outlining just what a book does is a good step toward making it do things it “shouldn’t” (i.e. hacking). Although we’re not talking about digital literature yet, it could be useful to contrast books on-screen and off if we want to start pointing to what makes a book work (or, you can check out this “Medieval Help Desk” video and think about the happy differences between scroll and book!).

Matt Kirschenbaum’s article “Bookscapes: Modeling Books in Electronic Space”* argues that contrasting books with their on-screen counterparts helps us call out the specific features important to the analog form because “books on the screen are not books, they are models of books”–and a model is made to be hacked and analyzed. Matt’s article offers a nice starting point for thinking about the features of books, identifying five affordances specific to the book:

  1. simultaneous random access and sequential ordering,
  2. volumetric (three-dimensional) storage space,
  3. finity/boundedness,
  4. the comparative possibilities offered by two facing pages (think of Folger student Shakespeare editions), and
  5. writeability (who hasn’t wished they could jot down notes on the PDF they’re reading online?).

As we look at how Blake hacks the book, can we add to Matt’s list of book affordances? In addition to broad characteristics, we might list specific elements such as the datedness of page numbering on the Nook or the (un?)necessary pause when “flipping” pages on a Kindle. Why were these technologies useful in books, and awkward (or nostalgic) in e-books?

*Kirschenbaum, Matthew. “Bookscapes: Modeling Books in Electronic Space”. Human-Computer Interaction Lab 25th Annual Symposium. May 29, 2008.