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To view details about a session or workshop, click on the title. Note: Program is subject to change. Updated: 06-01-2017
Wednesday May 31
Track 1
6107 McKeldin Library
Track 2
6101 McKeldin Library
Track 3
0301 Hornbake Library
(MITH Conference Room)
8 AM – 5 PM Registration Outside 6107 and 6101 McKeldin Library
9 AM – 11 AM workshop
The Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) provides a standard for the representation of texts in digital form and has become a fundamental technology for digital scholarly editions. Digital edition projects that create TEI documents typically publish them on the web by transforming TEI into HTML to be displayed by a browser. Learning how to transform TEI is not difficult, but not very straightforward either, and publishing online often requires costly resources. This workshop will introduce its participants to an alternative workflow that does not require writing complex transformation scripts and relies on free platforms such as GitHub Pages for publishing TEI texts on the web. The workshop will teach: 1) how to write simple TEI encoded texts; 2) how to create a code repository on GitHub to publish TEI; 3) how to style these texts using CSS. We encourage participants of all skill levels: beginners will learn a straightforward way of publishing simple TEI texts, and more experienced TEI users will be introduced to a new publishing approach that takes full advantage of the latest HTML developments. We will introduce CETEIcean, a JavaScript tool for displaying TEI directly in the browser.
Raffaele Viglianti, Hugh Cayless
11 AM – 1 PM workshop
In this workshop participants will be introduced to practices of working with the web as material in their research. The web is popularly imagined as a cloud that is ever present and constantly changing–a medium which resists fixity and the archive. And yet the experience of using the web is the result of a discrete configuration of networks, software and hardware. We can interact with the web using tools and techniques to save and organize its content for our research. Social media, blogs and websites have created a vast proliferation of text that blurs the notion of authority while presenting new opportunities for scholarship. In this workshop participants will get hands on experience using web archiving services like the Internet Archive and Web Recorder to use and create Web Archives. We will also look at practices for screen capture and annotation for annotating the web as part of your research using Finally we will examine social media archives as provided by Twitter and Facebook and think about how these can be used in scholarly research.
Ed Summers, Purdom Lindblad
Lunch Break
2 PM – 5 PM workshop
This workshop focuses on “minimal editions,” a computational approach to editing that addresses accessibility both in terms of who gets to make adequately customized digital editions and who can access these editions once they’re created. Participants will learn how to make a digital edition of their selected texts in a few hours using a Jekyll theme designed for textual editors based on minimal computing principles and focused on legibility, durability, ease and flexibility. The tutorial also serves as an introduction to markdown, the terminal, plain-text editors, versioning, and static site generation. These technologies not only work well for editions, but they can also be the foundation for many other types of documentary-based work and are a friendly on-ramp for scholars curious about getting started with coding. No previous technical expertise is required to participate. The workshop will begin with an overview of minimal computing and minimal editions, proceed to a tutorial where participants are walked through creating their own editions, and end with time for Q&A about further customization or advanced needs for these minimal editions.
Amanda Visconti, Alex Gil
This 3-hour workshop will introduce participants to what we might provisionally term “.txtual scholarship.” The goal is to furnish some of the knowledge necessary to bring the personal computer (and its associated storage media) into view as a distinct (and distinctly material) venue for textual scholarship. How should digital files be recovered and evaluated alongside of manuscript witnesses? How are we to establish provenance and authority in such cases? What would be the equivalent of a facsimile for a document written on a computer? What does it even mean to practice “textual” scholarship when text itself has now become a verb? After an initial conversation around such questions (based on readings to be circulated beforehand), we will spend time working with hardware and software from MITH’s extensive collection of vintage computers. Matt Kirschenbaum will also discuss some of the considerations in acquiring, maintaining, and utilizing older computers for textual research. We will then turn to one of the most iconic artifacts of personal computing, the floppy disk. Porter Olsen will demonstrate a complete workflow for recovering data from both 5¼- and 3½-inch diskettes, as well as various tools that can then be used to explore that data, or even bring files back to life in a simulacrum of their original environment using emulation. No special background knowledge is required or assumed, but prospective participants should state a rationale for their interest and indicate whether they are planning or pursuing a related project.
Matthew Kirschenbaum, Porter Olsen
5:30 PM keynote6137 McKeldin Library, Special Events
The problem of describing the place where social media content originates can be productively understood as parallel to complex matters of ownership and participation in African American culture. Riding the instability between “to,” “from,” or “for” is also a way of characterizing the haunted nature of Black life—as a way of articulating what it means to experience other people’s memories with the affective impact of personal, firsthand experience. Much as we often use the word ‘ghost’ as a catchall for that which is generated in the breaks between the evidential and ephemeral, thinking about haunting as a kind of digital experience helps us get at the circulation of memory, pain, and affect on social media platforms. Drawing on the work of W.E.B. DuBois, Achille Mbembe, Claudia Rankine, and Teju Cole, this talk develops “social media embodiment” as a kind of textuality at the intersection between memory, technology, and performance.
Marisa ParhamMarisa Parham is Professor of English at Amherst College, and also directs the Five College Digital Humanities Initiative, which is a Mellon-funded grant initiative serving Amherst, Hampshire, Mt. Holyoke, and Smith Colleges, and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Its purpose is to help artists and scholars to integrate technology into humanities scholarship and creative work, and also to bring those disciplines to learn from and critique technological innovation.Her current teaching and research projects focus on texts and technologies that problematize assumptions about time, space, and bodily materiality. She is particularly interested in how such terms share a history of increasing complexity in texts produced by African Americans, and how they also offer ways of thinking about intersectional approaches to digital humanities and technology studies.

Marisa Parham holds a PhD in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University, and is the author of Haunting and Displacement in African-American Literature and Culture, The African-American Student’s Guide to College, and is co-editor of Theorizing Glissant: Sites and Citations. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, and formerly served on the founding Board of Directors for the Amherst Cinema Arts Center. Parham also serves as Faculty Diversity and Inclusion for Amherst College.

In 2005 she was a fellow at the W.E.B. Du Bois Research Institute at Harvard University, and in 2014 a Huntington Library fellow.

6:30 PM Informal Gathering and Reception at MITH 0301 Hornbake Library, MITH Conference Room
Thursday June 1
Track 1
6137 McKeldin Library, Special Events
Track 2
6107 McKeldin Library
Track 3
6101 McKeldin Library
8 AM – 9 AM Registration and Breakfast 6137 McKeldin Library, Special Events
9 AM – 10:30 AM Textual Bodies
To call the literary scholar’s object of inquiry a “work,” we know, accords too much cultural capital to the text’s author and ignores the reader’s socially-situated perspective. In this view, each individual document is as authoritative as the next; consulting one to emend another renders a Franken-text, a monstrous aberration of conflated and variously-decomposed body parts stitched together and unnaturally re-animated. This both violates the dismantled corpses and isolates the homeless monster. However, this dramatic and compelling analogy inaccurately assumes the parity of textual and personal embodiment. Nobody embodies a body like an embodied text. For speakers of classical Latin “corpus” named an object comprising perceptible materials, either living or dead. Living bodies, though, also comprised a non-perceptible anima, breath or spirit. For this reason, even after St. Ambrose introduced the odd practice of reading silently, a text was a properly enunciated oral presentation, not the dumb material containing letters to be divided and pronounced by a trained reader of Latin. The speaker embodied the text and the material was immaterial. To be sure, we no longer conceive of a text in this fashion, and I’m not drawing upon etymology to debunk social-text theorists by definition. Contrariwise, the definition works to concretize the thesis; no text is independent of its reader. But this means the text is animus not corpus. My presentation highlights how this complicates not only modern social-text criticism but also more traditional bodies of literary criticism distinguishing work from text to “read” the corpuses of our corpses.
April Witt
Digital editions were young in the 1990s, and the expansive possibilities of hypertext in that decade sharply distinguish early digital editions from the productions of our moment. The accessibility and simplicity of early HTML code made for innovative experiments with the size of a “page” and the way one might handle displays of variants, before “diffing” tools like the Versioning Machine and Juxta came to define how we usually imagine the digital comparison of texts. This paper investigates the serious problems and vexing potentialities of “up-conversion” when standards change, concentrating on work underway on a Bicentennial Frankenstein project. Our project is to produce a new, freshly collated digital edition in TEI based on the Frankenstein texts digitized by Romantic Circles, and incorporating a little-known publication of 1823 together with 1818 and 1831 texts currently represented. The three print editions will be compared in parallel, and we will incorporate pointers to the Shelley-Godwin Archive’s edition of the MS Notebook. To prepare the collation we returned to the simplest original form of the current edition, the Pennsylvania Electronic Edition prepared by Stuart Curran and Jack Lynch in the 1990s. Exploring that edition exposes the ambitious intellectual scope of early digital editions and raises important questions about how we built editions then vs. now. We do not build a new edition to replace the earlier work, which yet “lives” and is available on the web. But our work is a fresh start, not a seamless integration. This particular project’s encounter with an impressive early hypertext edition raises more general questions: How do we understand the relationships among generations of digital editions, and what perspective might a thorough review of the first still extant hypertext editions contribute to our scholarly editing practice now?
Elisa Beshero-Bondar
When attempting a textual analysis of the two feature-length narrative films of Shane Carruth, critics and scholars have either skewed toward narrative ‘mapping’ of temporal, narrative and thematic elements (most commonly with his 2004 metaphysical time travel film Primer), or towards an intertextual analysis of its intersections with Henry David Thoreau’s Walden (as with his 2013 film Upstream Color), and how the novel is a sort of ‘key’ to dissecting the film’s narrative. Much like Christopher Nolan’s Memento. the purposeful and complex narrative and thematic structuring of Carruth’s films invite narrative dissection and textual analysis at a level above most other narrative features. This invocation is echoed by the director himself in various interviews about his films, as well as in scholarly and critical reactions to them. The Walden connection to Upstream Color is in particularly evocative because, although Walden‘s themes revolve around the avoidance of technology, the mechanisms by which Upstream Color operates merge ideas of the biological with the technical. In particular, Upstream Color invokes notions of interspecial body horror, biological ‘databases’ of connectivity, and how avoidance of technology doesn’t eliminate the human urge to classify, connect, and control interactions. This paper will explore how Carruth’s films, in particular Upstream Color, function as media objects for textual analysis. I will draw on Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin’s concept of ‘hypermediated phenomena,’—media objects which are fascinated by their own status as media constructs and thus call attention to their strategies of mediation and representation, as well as Geoffrey Bowker and Susan Star’s ideas about the permeating ubiquity of classifying and standardizing.
Stephanie Sapienza
Chair: Jeffrey Moro
Visual Textualities (1)
With reference to appropriate slides, I would like to explore the three primary reasons why Blake’s composite books have defied editing. The first erroneous assumption is that the unit of thought is the speech act. Rather, as is obvious from the physical object, the unit is the composite counterpart, the “image act,” delineated not by the grammatical period, but the engraving plate. As is obvious, Blake crowds extra lines onto plates that are followed by instances with lots of extra space. Clearly, the lines are placed where they are because they relate to the comprehensive image act, as opposed to the grammatical sentence. The second error is to privilege the verbal over the visual. Rather, Blake’s language is bi-modal, a hybrid in which the relationship between verbal and visual is best described by the term “meaning break,” which signifies the choice by a polyglot to use the language best suited to articulate a given thought. Consequently, the visual is neither illustrative nor ornamental; rather, it makes its own dialogical contribution to the articulation of the image act as a whole. Finally, the third error is to treat the verbal narrator as the only consciousness through which the text is mediated. Rather, there is an overarching Visualizer, a consciousness that coordinates the verbal and visual, to articulate a broader message that transcends the more limited verbal narrator. My conclusion is that only by taking these three factors into consideration can one hope to produce a viable edition of Blake’s composite art.
Sheila A. Spector
Emily Dickinson’s manuscripts embody features—variant words, insertion markings, and idiosyncratic punctuation—that, for decades, editors have “corrected” for the sake of legibility. Even variorum editions, while gathering and preserving variants, have displaced the visual and verbal complexities of the manuscripts. This tendency continues to the present day. In the recent Emily Dickinson’s Poems: As She Left Them, editor Cristanne Miller standardizes ambiguous marks and other manuscript features. Feminist textual scholars have long argued that such practices efface possible readings. Miller insists that these critics have misinterpreted accidental manuscript features as meaningful. Another branch of Dickinson scholarship may provide insight into the question. Dickinson played music from a young age. Her large collection of sheet music includes “variations” on established themes. Musical variations comprise melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic adaptations of an agreed upon “text.” These are unstable and equivalent in relation to a given source text, and need not be simplified in order to be commonly understood and broadly appealing. For example, “Yankee Doodle Variations,” in Dickinson’s songbook, includes a theme and four variations. These may be played individually or together, in or out of order, and further varied through performative interpretations, such as improvisation. Conversely, in Dickinson’s’ time, improvised performances were sometimes transcribed and issued as variations. I argue that Dickinson familiarity with such musical practices, as a collector of sheet music and an amateur performer, may have prompted a poetic compositional practice inclusive of manuscript “variations” and “performance marks,” and resistant to a single, fixed embodiment.
Gerard Holmes
CHAIR: Elena Pierazzo
Terminology, Textuality, and Transgender Materiality
This panel considers how texts, and the terminology they contain, come to effect trans bodies’ material realities. In each paper, the presenters examine how digital texts take on material consequences when the terminology or concepts they contain are applied to physical bodies.Dame’s paper analyses the proliferation of the term “cisgender” in the early online communication platform Usenet. Positioned as the binary opposite of “transgender,” “cisgender” centered readers’ attention of differences in gender performance. The easy circulation of texts on Usenet allowed the term to move from online discourse to the offline self-identification by trans allies, such as Jeffrey Tambor’s recent use of the term during his 2016 Emmys speech.
Avery Dame
This panel considers how texts, and the terminology they contain, come to effect trans bodies’ material realities. In each paper, the presenters examine how digital texts take on material consequences when the terminology or concepts they contain are applied to physical bodies.

This paper examines blogs by parents of “gender-dysphoric,” “lesbian,” “trans,” “gender-creative,” and “gender-non-conforming” kids. I compare 4th Wave Now, a parent blog against childhood transition, with Raising My Rainbow and GenderMom, two blogs by parents who support their children’s identities. Ultimately I argue that terminology and narratives shape what is seen as possible in relation to gender and transition for children.

Jessica Vooris
This panel considers how texts, and the terminology they contain, come to effect trans bodies’ material realities. In each paper, the presenters examine how digital texts take on material consequences when the terminology or concepts they contain are applied to physical bodies.

This paper discusses the proliferation of the term “Latinx,” from its online roots to its application on university campuses. I argue the term’s definition shifts from personal identifier to a gender-neutral “catch-all” when university-affiliated organizations adopt “Latinx” as a marker of solidarity with transgender and gender non-conforming individuals of Latin American descent. I suggest majority cisgender and heterosexual organizations’ use divests the term of its utility as a personal identifier of transgender or gender non-conforming experiences and serves the needs of organizations rather than individuals.

E. Cassandra Dame-Griff
Chair: Alan Galey
11 AM – 12:30 PM Analogue and Digital Reading
The Book Traces project aims to gather evidence of readers’ interaction with books, 1800-1923. Thus far, we have made discoveries via hands-on searches in library shelves. Our next phase will be to implement machine vision to discover marginalia, annotations, and the like on scanned pages in the Hathi Trust corpus. I hope to have a preliminary report on this aspect of the project, coupled with our data gathered from the Book Traces @ UVA initiative. In this talk, I make the case for the mutually supportive nature of the archive, where print, manuscript, and digital technologies can illuminate one another.
Andrew Stauffer
There are approximately 235 surviving copies of Shakespeare’s First Folio, held by a wide range of institutions and private owners. There are also, to date, 16 digital facsimiles of F1 presented on 13 different platforms. While those digitized copies have been created as surrogates for the physical books, they are less replacements and more instantiations that present their own affordances. In this talk, I will explore some of the opportunities that digital F1s present and argue for the need to consider their creation and use as objects in their own right, rather than as surrogates for something else.
Sarah Werner
In this talk, I will present the pedagogical value of connecting historical annotation practices to social annotation in online spaces. In my courses, I take a three-pronged approach to teaching close reading: first, exposing students to historical reading practices, then engaging students in social annotation, and finally facilitating the transfer of digital literacy practices from the use of online annotation tools to original multimodal compositions. Students search the digital collection of marks and interventions found in pre-1923 books that the Book Traces project has gathered (see, while also performing their own search of local library collections for historical annotations. Discoveries serve as examples for students when they collaboratively annotate scholarship on digital reading, thereby entering into a long view of readership in a social context. Using the digital annotation tool, students can include links, images, and videos alongside text in their comments on articles about digital reading in a meta-cognitive feedback loop. These activities expose students to diverse perspectives, including the work of published scholars, comments from the public, and opinions of their peers. It aims to prepare them to engage in public humanities by composing multimodal texts on the subject, learning to read and write across contexts.
Amanda Licastro
Chair: Mary Catherine Kinniburgh
Musical Textualities
The Old French song genre of the jeu-parti in which two singers debate a point of love casuistry was extremely popular in the urban centers of thirteenth-century Arras, but it may very well have found its origins in the aristocratic courts of Thibaut de Champagne, king of Navarre (d. 1253). Many participants in these debates are identifiable as historical figures, however, criticism has long abandoned the idea that the positions held in each debate reflect sincerely held beliefs; rather, these are textual games meant to entertain, and sometimes singers would take contrary positions from song to song. Beneath the surface of these songs as they are constituted or embodied in critical editions and individual performances lurk other contrary positions evident in the various scribal versions of the songs among the extant manuscripts. One particular scribe, that of Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, 844, inserted particularly bawdy vocabulary, even as all other scribes tended to shy away from such associations. In this paper, I review those alternate textual embodiments before suggesting they may be related to the historical circumstances of the manuscript’s creation: Paris, BnF, 844 was likely created for a community of crusaders in the Morea. In other words, this scribe’s choices might have been intended as barracks humor.
Dan O’Sullivan
Music is sound: non-material, ephemeral, unique. For music written before the invention of electronic recording, musical texts in prints and manuscripts were as close as music came to materiality, and those texts are historical musicologists’ principal means of access to that music. But Western musical notation is a very imperfect means of recording Western music; the sounds represented by musical symbols have changed over the centuries. It is therefore useful to catalogue some of the ways that musical texts fail to represent music satisfactorily. The sounds represented by notes—the fundamental symbols representing pitch and value–have changed: today, the symbol for Concert A represents 440Hz, but two centuries ago that symbol represented approximately 390Hz; various temperaments effected adjustments in pitches, so that the relationships of pitches relative to a Concert A of specified frequency cannot be accurately indicated. Musical instruments and styles of singing have changed. Flutes are now metal rather than wooden; violins have been “de-Baroqued;” and the fortepiano for which Beethoven composed his sonatas was a much different instrument from the concert grands on which they are mostly played today. Notation itself limits how music is represented and shapes how it is perceived. The earliest forms of staff notation recognized only some of the pitches used in chant, so texts cannot tell us what was actually sung. The modern use of score to represent fifteenth-century polyphony implies a verticality that was altogether alien to music composed and circulated in part-books and choir-book layout.
Ronald Broude
What might premodern song culture have to tell us about where and how textual “embodiment” breaks down? This paper will look at two poems by John Donne: “The Triple Fool,” a poem about the adaptation of verse into music, and “The Expiration,” a poem about death, departure and fleshly loss whose first appearance in print was as a song for voice, lute and viol. Using these poems as touchstones, I wish to argue that textual and media studies need not focus exclusively on recovering, or fetishizing, books, and bodies. Part of our work, too, involves pinpointing the strategies and processes by which bodies are forgotten, ignored, and overwritten in the transmission of texts and sounds. Such sensitivity is necessary for those of us working in performance studies before the advent of audio recording, when musical settings are often not extant, the notation that does survive is frequently difficult to attribute, and many vocalists left little or no trace in the historical record. In turn, some of the habits of close listening to which scholars of premodern sound are attuned are relevant to all of our broader efforts to trace, or at least acknowledge, voices and modalities that have been lost to the bibliographic record.
Scott A. Trudell
Chair: Raffaele Viglianti
Textual Materialities
This paper will explore a different way to present the text of William Faulkner’s The Unvanquished (1938), a volume bringing together six stories previously published in magazines and one new story. Alongside his celebrated novels, The Unvanquished is often regarded as an uneven minor work, the result of Faulkner deliberately writing commercial fiction with the Saturday Evening Post in mind. How might the circumstances surrounding the composition and publication of this fiction, in both magazine and book form, be represented in an edition of The Unvanquished? This approach offers an alternative to the rationale favoring final authorial intention chosen for “The Corrected Texts” series, which used Faulkner’s last continuous typescripts to establish the texts of the Library of America and Vintage paperback editions of his works. Faulkner created a setting copy of The Unvanquished where he pasted in tearsheets of stories as they were laid out in the pages of periodicals, creating a composite document with typescript insertions and autograph corrections. What would it look like for the story typescripts—the versions Faulkner submitted to magazines for consideration—to serve as the copy-text of an edition of The Unvanquished? Faulkner’s composite setting copy embodies his commercial motivations, providing evidence of his success gaining a wide audience and his desire to reclaim and republish the material, while the story typescripts illuminate the revisions Faulkner made to suit the magazines’ editors. Taken together they might reveal how Faulkner met as well as challenged the demands of the mainstream marketplace.
Matthew J. Vechinski
The Polish-Jewish poet Aleksander Wat is one of the most interesting figures of the twentieth-century Eastern European avant-garde movement. Born in 1900, he made his debut under the influence of surrealism and futurism. The last several years of his life were marked by the experience of an extremely painful illness. Among the many testimonies to this final period, we find a poem inscribed on the packaging of an analgesic medicine that Wat used to relieve his pain. From the point of view of genetic criticism, this extraordinary draft can be analyzed as the graphic trace of the creative mind and the suffering body. At the same time, this very special kind of manuscript should be treated as the first and most spectacular “embodiment” or “incarnation” of the text. In the case of Wat’s poem, the original “physical shape” of the document profoundly affects its meaning. In describing and theorizing the importance of “textual embodiment,” I will refer to Walter Benjamin’s concept of the “aura,” Jerome McGann’s idea of the “bibliographic code,” and Christian Bonnet’s idea of the “somma-texte.” When Wat’s poem was later transcribed and edited, it not only changed its “embodiment,” but also lost a certain dimension of its meaning. The presentation will be based on the results of research carried out in the Beinecke Library (Fellowship for Visiting Postdoctoral Scholars, Yale University, 2014).
Mateusz Antoniuk
Chair: Melinda White

Location: 6103 McKeldin Library

12:30 PM – 2:00 PM STS Board Meeting 0301 Hornbake Library, MITH Conference Room
2 PM – 3:30 PM fishbowl
The Folger Shakespeare Library has three large-scale digital text-based projects underway: Folger Digital Texts, Early Modern Manuscripts Online, and the Digital Anthology of Early Modern English Drama. Our developing Digital Asset Platform has brought critical attention to our editorial process and the relationships among these projects. This roundtable will explore questions raised in our editorial practice and our attempts to clearly communicate decision making both among projects here at the Folger and externally to a wide range of stakeholders. How do we communicate the transition between physical object and digital surrogate? How do we develop and consistently apply editorial practice? How do we communicate editorial decisions, their significance and implications, to users who range from the lay enthusiast to the senior scholar? How do such decisions influence the development of platforms and interfaces, and how do the technological possibilities and limitations influence our decisions? How does the digital embodiment of early modern texts shift our understanding of the early modern period?
Heather Wolfe, Mike Poston, Meaghan Brown
Textuality and Race
As Claudia Rankine’s 2014 collection Citizen shifts from racialized microaggression to police and other white violence against African Americans, the text makes artful use of blank space, with a verso page reading simply “November 23, 2012 / In memory of Jordan Russell Davis” and the recto page bearing only the words “February 15, 2014 / The justice system” along the top. (Davis, a teenager, was killed at a Jacksonville gas station; the white shooter was eventually convicted of murder after an initial mistrial.) The second printing added Michael Brown’s murder in Ferguson to the verso page. Subsequent printings have added more names—first Eric Garner and John Crawford, killed by a police officer while carrying a BB gun in an Ohio Walmart—and eventually sixteen more memorials, including Tamir Rice and Freddie Gray, with a fading stream of “In memory” stretched across the remainder of the page, and with the recto reading, “because white men can’t / police their imagination / black men are dying.” This paper traces the post-publication variants in Citizen as an index of the book’s attempts to remake itself in response to new tragedies, and to portray white violence more broadly than in the “justice system” alone. Following Pierre-Marc de Biasi’s sense that post-publication variants yield “equally definitive textual versions of the ‘same’ work,” I explore the multiple iterations of Citizen through Daniel Ferrer’s distinctions between variant and variation, finding Rankine’s work an exemplary case of the ways in which, as Kinohi Nishikawa has recently argued, “race is not an a priori category to be read into literature, but a complex effect of distinct social, cultural, and textual mediations.”
John Young
He was an outcast of the Black Arts movement in the late 1960s. Yet his works from that period are now recognized as touchstones of black experimental literature. How did William Melvin Kelley turn alienation from the Black Aesthetic into the impetus for a new kind of writing? This paper examines the “graphesis” of Kelley’s writing practice—his use of visual, and especially typographic, signs to denaturalize the way readers apprehend speech, subjectivity, and race. In his typographic art, Kelley figures blackness not as something “out there” to be represented faithfully by language but as a constitutive aspect of readers’ perceptual capacities—that is, their ability to read it, or not.
Kinohi Nishikawa
This paper addresses Wright’s ecological vision, placing it in context of the biological and urban ecologists of the Chicago School. It discusses the centrality of ecological terminology and thinking in Native Son and particularly Black Boy, as well as the relevance of affect theory to this ecological mode of thought in Wright’s life and work. To Wright writing came from a visceral need to make life meaningful in order to survive a deadly environment. The paper discusses Wright’s account of his access to authorship, including his negotiations with the Communist community of Chicago that initially nourished him but then attempted to choke off his needs for expression; it then treats his dealings with the Book-of-the-Month Club and Dorothy Canfield Fisher in his efforts at literary sustainability while remaining true to his core convictions about the power and necessity of writing in an environment of “deadlocking tensions.”
George Hutchinson
Chair: Alexander Gil
4 PM – 5:30 PM Liminal Textualities
We are all familiar with one or another aspect of embodiment. George Bornstein has insisted that a lexically stable Yeats poem has a different ontological status, depending on whether we encounter it in its original newspaper setting or as a part of the Yeats canon in later collected poems. Marta Werner has pointed out that Dickinson’s fascination with scraps and fragments (including the backs of envelopes) continually erases a firm distinction between “work in progress” and finished text. As she puts it, “When does a letter become a poem?” And John Ashbery and Kenneth Koch (among other New York poets) played with the (estranging?) role of the “altered” postcard in a meta-medium. There are also some famous examples of texts that seem to be seeking to escape from their originary concrete form: Keats’s letters to Franny Brawne and to his brother, George; or Kafka’s letters to Felice Bauer have successfully effected a transposition from correspondence to “literature.” Embodiment may therefore offer a confirmation of the aesthetic of an ongoing work or may create a challenge, an alternative mode of existence. This paper will take such examples and tentatively offer a template on which they can be mapped.
David Greetham
Within recent years, a profusion of computer-generated verse, automated film reviews, sports reports, and business news; and—perniciously—Russian-backed Twitter bots have ushered in what John Willets once portentously called “Literature’s Machine Age.” Responding to the ubiquity of computer-generated news copy, one AI researcher predicts that by the year 2030, 90 percent of journalism will be authored by a computer. Against this backdrop, I propose to examine a set of found poems dating from the mid-twentieth century mainframe era that purport to be computer-generated, but whose mischievous circumstances of production cast doubt on that assertion. Approaching these poems as a cultural Turing Test, I confront some of the stylometry and authorship attribution problems posed by a future discourse landscape in which human-and machine-generated texts will increasingly—and confoundingly—co-mingle.
Kari Kraus
In early 2015, the African American Policy Forum (AAPF) coined the hashtag, #SayHerName, in an effort to raise awareness for black female victims of police brutality and anti-black violence in the US. Coupled with an official report AAPF sought to outlined the goals of the movement, in addition to relaying accounts of the deaths of several women including Sandra Bland and Rekia Boyd. An important addition to the Movement for Black Lives, #sayhername pushed intersectionality to the forefront of the modern black liberation movement. The groundswell of images and tweets that continue to be circulated on Instagram and Twitter create spaces in which users can interact, produce historicized narratives, and remember. Upon further inspection the hashtag, in over a year of existence, it has not only raised awareness and generated information but it also conjures, memorializes, and embodies those taken through the violence of police brutality. The intimacy of the cellular phone becomes a method of accessing these collective memories. The hashtag and its method of access and dissemination begin to embody, make tangible, those who have passed through collective and concentrated moments of mobile technological interaction. Thus with the conviction that investigations into the realities and workings social media and technological embodiment (this haunting of sorts) can be bolstered by incorporating science fictional narratives that imagine the extent of possible technological worlds, this paper seeks to consider the ways in which black authors represent similar sites of technological embodiment/haunting. To do this, I will read Nnedi Okorafor’s award-winning novella, Binti and its sequel Binti Home. As the titular character, Binti, manipulates various handheld and embodied technologies, the novellas offer a framework for considering the ways technology and technological practices intersect with issues of black survival and survivance, history-making, and memorialization after events of racist and state violence. Okorafor’s work offers a lens through which we might look at the technological affordances of the technological and social media practices of #sayhername and the Black Lives Matter movement. In imagining these particularly black interactions with technology, we might also consider the ways in which black technological practices continue to shape and reshape technological futures.
Alyssa Collins
Chair: Catherine Knight Steele
Archival Bodies
The fundamental organizing principle of the archive—the principle that authorizes the archive as a discrete body of materials—is a distinction between artifact and trash. This apparently precise boundary is, in fact, porous and profoundly uncertain: trash shapes the archive in a variety of ways. Nevertheless, because the values that are activated by archival transactions (such as institutional acquisitions decisions, preservation procedures, paths to access and use) are contingent and local, and because resources are limited, it is difficult to intervene in historical stewardship patterns that have rendered certain kinds of archival bodies “precious” and others as “inconsequential.” The result is a set of ethical dilemmas that the archival community is not equipped to address. I will illustrate this problem through two case-studies. The John Updike counter-archive, assembled by a reader from Updike’s actual curbside garbage, includes photographs, manuscripts, correspondence, and books that Updike discarded. Under other circumstances, these items might have been absorbed into the John Updike Papers at Harvard’s Houghton Library. Instead, they have found their way into the archival marketplace, and have accrued additional symbolic cachet through media attention. The Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum in Culver City, California was founded and operated as an independent library containing rare books, periodicals, manuscripts, films, sheet music, sound recordings, print ephemera, and other cultural artifacts documenting African American history and culture. The collections have suffered from a history of poor environmental conditions, and the situation of the current library as an independent institution is precarious. These case-studies suggest that the trash of some people is transformed into treasure, while the treasure of others is at risk of being trashed. If we want to resist or reroute the historical patterns that generate these kinds of ethical dilemmas, the archival community needs to direct expertise and resources to address them at a holistic scale.
Gabrielle Dean
Library scientists are continually investigating methods for library support of textual scholars in the digital era. The most recent notable research and development work centers on evolving the cataloging of works and their containers under the FRBR conceptual model within a shared cataloging program centered on Resource Description and Access (RDA) rules (Tillett, 2016; Sprochi, 2016). However, some RDA-related research has also questioned whether librarians are prepared to meet the philological needs that are central to the FRBR model underpinning RDA (Wallheim, 2016). This paper presents basic library science research intended to complement FRBR’s bibliographical modeling approach (i.e., cataloging) by proposing the philologiographical modeling of segmented textual states and their transmission histories ingested from scholarly digital editions and digitized scholarly editions. We propose a SOPHIE Data Transformation the result of which is a data model that standardizes access to integrated digital library collections of texts’ linguistic codes contextualized on a framing of their bibliographic codes, specifically, those bibliographic codes that map to navigational paratexts (Birke & Christ, 2013). The data model also facilitates the repurposing of indexes and textual apparatuses as well as the creation of a linking system for pointing back to original Web-published digital editions and for tracking known copies of physical manifestations of textual states (e.g., manuscript copies). The proposed philologiographical modeling method is intended to provide a new basis for the development of library scientific organizing methods that are integrative of the multiple textual materialities of the Age of Online Primacy.
Steven L. MacCall
The aura that surrounds the second World War in American history is constituted in part by technological tension: the period’s rapid technological innovation was constituted by unprecedented advancement and also anxiety in both government and the sciences. The work of poets such as Charles Olson, Diane di Prima, and Jack Spicer writing between 1940 and 1960 is thus not only imbricated in this story of media proliferating–in no small part because these authors took advantage of this to record their poetry, thoughts, and visual work in a greater variety of forms with a greater archival footprint than any era prior—but also in this political, historically-centered story of technology and material culture. Now, we are left with the task of preserving, making sense of, and providing access to this concept of materiality and media that was vital to these New American poets. In addressing the interwoven stories of media and poetic knowledge during an unprecedented political and technological moment in American history, I will take up collage as a primary technique and sketch little histories of the media that New American poets used (tape recorder, mimeograph, Verifax, and beyond) to convey how we might see these multi-constellated histories of the media that preserve New American poetry. Finally, I will gesture towards specific scholarly and archival practices that are best suited preserve this media-rich era of American writing, as well as model a way to approach multimodality in our own era of ever-expanding digital technologies.
Mary Catherine Kinniburgh
Chair: Purdom Lindblad
Multimodal Textuality
Although textual scholars have, almost since the beginning of the field, concerned themselves with the text of play scripts (like the work of Shakespeare), relatively few have studied the many other texts that are composed with each theatrical performance. The scenic design, the sound cues, lighting design and the staging and choreography all also represent important creative work which has been represented in written form for over a century and which is now sometimes licensed as digital data that, like the script, may be published in variant forms. Lighting design in particular, has, since the pioneering work of Tharon Musser in the 1970s, been digitally created, and now represents important digital texts that find ephemeral embodiment in each new performance. This paper will examine the digital texts of lighting design created since 1975 and how economic and technological changes introduce variants into the genealogy of these works. In particular, I will explore Natasha Katz’s recreation of Musser’s digital design for A Chorus Line for the 2008 revival, and examine how the text was modified for two different eras of digital technology.
Douglas Reside
Imagine a world where we can slip into alternate realities as easily as immersing ourselves in a warm bath. Sink down, let the water envelop you, close your eyes, and you’re within a story. Postmodern and electronic literature emphasize interaction, allowing the “(w)reader” to participate in narrative. Installation artists such as Utterback and Cardiff and Miller invite the viewer inside the frame. With virtual reality, we sink into simulated fictional worlds. Storytelling is an attempt to convey the subjective human experience; with emerging media technology and heightened levels of interactivity, authors/artists are finding new ways to more fully immerse the reader into their world. Drawing on theorists such as Nathaniel Stern, Marie-Laure Ryan, and Janet Murray, I plan to examine questions of immersive and embodied narratives through various authors and artists. I will also include my own “experiment” of theory and practice with multimodal remediation of a text, a story called “Between Floors: Love and Other Blood Related Diseases” in print, hypertext, and installation form. I will discuss differing interpretations of immersion and embodiment and how these change (and what that means for reader/author relationships) as electronic texts and installations become more interactive and participatory, bringing the (w)reader/viewer inside the frame.
Melinda White
This paper explores the applicability of methods, principles, and vocabulary from analytical bibliography to the study of video games. In turn, this paper also asks how video games as objects of study can provoke us to see bibliography with new eyes. Scholars in the field ranging from Greg to Tanselle to McKenzie to Greetham have emphasized the extensibility of bibliographical approaches beyond books. In the case of video games, this premise was recently reflected in Nathan Altice’s I Am Error (MIT Press, 2015), a work in the emerging field of platform studies which, in its appendix on how to cite published software and disks, turns to bibliography as the best model for descriptive protocols for complex textual artifacts. While Altice draws primarily upon enumerative and descriptive bibliography, my paper will take the further step into analytical bibliography as a form of historical inquiry concerned with traces of human agency as embodied in textual artifacts of all kinds. My test-case for this exploration will be the popular 2007 game Portal along with its 2011 sequel and related digital paratexts. Both are first-person physics puzzle games set in a nightmarish user-testing facility, and their gameplay and story alike are concerned with the physical embodiment of the player and her unauthorized access to what one might call the backstage areas of the game. Portal thematizes this tension in its own textual embodiments, through various clues hidden in its source code that have prompted some fans to undertake what amounts to born-digital bibliographical analysis to determine their meaning.
Alan Galey
Chair: Avery Dame
7:00 PM Dinner and STS Presidential Address Riggs Alumni Center
​Bohemian Bureaucrat: Making Sense of Walt Whitman’s Scribal Documents
Kenneth M. Price, Hillegass University Professor of American Literature, Co-Director of the Walt Whitman Archive and Co-Director of the Center for Digital Research in Humanities, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Friday, June 2
Track 1
6137 McKeldin Library, Special Events
Track 2
6107 McKeldin Library
Track 3
6101 McKeldin Library
9 AM – 10 AM keynote6137 McKeldin Library, Special Events
This talk will reflect on the embodied texts of digital textuality and their multiple, iterative, and fractured forms. N-grams, as in the Google n-gram viewer or BookWorm, are contiguous sequences of a specified number (“n”) of items from a string of text. Unigrams, bigrams, trigrams, and so on presume a fixed sequence, a fixed textual body, as in print. Yet just as a literary “work” with a complex history can exist in multiple and often very different textual bodies, so too do digital texts take multiple forms that are anything but fixed. A “single” text in a digital context can take on many bodies, many material instantiations, as it is performed on a range of devices within a complex and changing ecology of software and hardware. In addition, the very notion of a unified work is undercut by the dynamic, distributed, and non-linear possibilities of digital textuality, wherein the “body” of a text may be generated, scattered, combined, contributed, and thus composed of many parts that are far from fixed in sequence or restricted to a single text. The n-body problem in astrophysics, which struggles with the complexity of the mutual gravitational forces associated with more than two celestial bodies, incites reflection upon the implications, when we think of embodiment, of a shift to a dynamic, particle-oriented understanding of textuality operating within a constantly changing environment. This opens up possibilities for thinking about texts very granularly as made up of sets of related components that can be analyzed in new ways. Textual embodiment can also be considered the consequence of reciprocal forces involving authors, publishers, readers, platforms, and hardware and other forces we consider “contextual”. Considering digital texts as n-bodied as well as embodied paves the way for thinking about intra-agential models of textual production and reception, as well as new modes of digital scholarship that mobilize the collaborative and analytical potential of n-bodied texts.
Susan BrownSusan Brown is Canada Research Chair in Collaborative Digital Scholarship and Professor of English at the University of Guelph, and Visiting Professor at the University of Alberta. She researches Victorian literature, women’s writing, and digital humanities. All of these interests inform Orlando: Women’s Writing in the British Isles from the Beginnings to the Present, an ongoing experiment in digital literary history published by Cambridge UP since 2006 that she co-directs. She directs the Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory, an online repository and research environment for literary studies in and about. Her current research touches on a range of topics in the digital humanities including interface design and usability, visualization and data mining, semantic technologies, and humanist-centered tool development. She is increasingly engaged with inquiry into how linked open data can serve humanities research. She also works on the impact of new technologies in the literature of the Victorian period. Brown is President of the Canadian Society for Digital Humanities/Société canadienne des humanités numériques.
10:30 AM – 12 PM Editorial Embodiment
In the introduction to The Literary Text in the Digital Age (1996), Richard Finneran notes that the advent of new technologies ‘coincided with a fundamental shift in textual theory, away from the notion of a single-text “definitive edition”’, remarking that while ‘a traditional print edition is able to accommodate this new thinking in textual theory either awkwardly or not at all, digital technology is its necessary and inevitable realization’. In the same way that the invention of print was spearheaded by and nurtured modern philology, it seems that a connection could be made between digital technology and the discovery of the pluralistic nature of text. Furthermore, it might be argued that the digital is a significant driver of a profound change in textual scholarship theory and practice, namely a shift from editions that aim at producing a single and authoritative text toward editions that aim at reconstructing the genesis and/or transmission of texts. However, such a causal relation is far from demonstrated and could instead be simply a coincidence, like those fake statistics connecting the decreasing number of pirates to global warning. The paper will therefore make an excursus on the history of single-text vs. pluralistic-text concepts, drawing on examples from the Italian Renaissance, in order to assess the existence or otherwise of such a connection.
Elena Pierazzo
As the great critic Hugh Kenner pointed out some time ago, Yeats not only wrote poems but he also arranged them into carefully-wrought books. “The place to look for light on any poem is in the adjacent poems,” argued Kenner, “And the unit in which to inspect and discuss his development is not the poem or sequence of poems but the volume.” Yeats’ drafts and notebooks contain numerous alternate arrangements of the poems for each of his individual volumes and for his collected ones as well. A lifelong reviser, he went through draft after draft when working on a poem and continued the process even after first publication. In Yeats’ case, that sense involves not only verbal reproduction, but also layout and design. For the first commercial Macmillan edition of The Wild Swans at Coole, he worked with his friend and favorite designer, T. Sturge Moore. This paper sketches the assembling and design of that crucial 1919 volume as well as the interplay between visual design and verbal content. The Wild Swans at Coole appeared in two different book formats before 1920. The earlier and shorter volume, The Wild Swans at Coole: Other Verses and a Play in Verse (1917), contained seventeen lyrics along with the Noh-like Cuchulain play At the Hawk’s Well. That version was published by Cuala Press, a fine-arts private press operated chiefly by Yeats’s sister Lolly that featured hand-crafting and small print runs (in this case, only 400 copies). Two years later Macmillan published the revised and expanded volume, deleting the play and adding sixteen additional poems to double the size of the collection. That second, longer version of The Wild Swans at Coole begins in ambivalence but ends with the final imaginative success of The Double Vision of Michael Robartes.
George Bornstein
“Is the pen a metaphorical penis?” With this famous question, Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar begin their 1979 classic in feminist criticism, pr. It was the height of second-wave feminism, and while women everywhere were getting back in touch with their anatomies, literary criticism was still close-reading editions in a New Critical vacuum. So not only to name the male member but to locate in its form all the anxieties of women’s authorship constituted a radical shift in the critical discourse. It was McLuhan meets gynocriticism: the anatomy is the authorship. In the decades that followed, feminist criticism turned away from the plain-spoken penis and toward the symbol-steeped phallus. At the same time, the emergent field of book history reinvigorated interest in literary technologies and indeed literal pens, which seemed (upon historical inspection) not so much like penises after all. This co-burgeoning of women’s and book history nudged literary studies further away from Gilbert and Gubar’s provocation, away from questions of sexed embodiment and textual reproduction. What have we lost sight of in this drift? In the light of third- and fourth-wave feminisms, in the light of Black Lives Matter and #transformDH, we must (re)commit to tracing the vectors of power and patriarchy that course through the “tools” of textual studies. In this paper, I draw from feminist technology studies and digital humanities to outline possible steps toward a more vigorously feminist, anti-racist, and critically-engaged editing praxis.
Whitney Trettien
Embodying History
Many authors and artists use constraint to inspire literary and artistic production. Constraints encourage creativity and new works. Archives, museums, libraries, and other cultural heritage institutions also face limitations in collecting, curating, preserving, and providing access to materials. Yet in cultural heritage institutions, constraint is seen as a frustration. This paper will focus on constraint in digitizing archival materials, arguing that digital constraints can be generative for archival practice and for theorizing the archive. The paper will focus on the production of Records Search, a new digital project from the U.S. House of Representatives Office of Art and Archives. Records Search digitizes and contextualizes selected records from the House of Representatives. As the project developed, we encountered a number of technological restrictions. The look, features, and usability of the project had to draw from pre-existing parts of the website. The presentation of scanned documents was constrained by the limitations of our content management system. While these limitations were initially frustrating, they ultimately proved generative for the project and for our understanding of our archival holdings. They drove us to look closely at the text and visual presentation of the records, shifting from the large scale of textual and electronic records to the microscopic scale of the detail. Filters and sorting challenged us to think critically about the organization of the records. The resulting digital project ultimately changed how we think about records, even in textual form. Technological constraints expose the archive as construct, a creative space.
Michelle Strizever
In 1577, Guillaume Rouillé responds to an emerging Renaissance fascination with ancient Roman artifacts (coins and medals in particular) by publishing the Promptuaire des medalles des plus renomées personnes qui on esté depuis le commencement du monde (Repository of Medals of the Most Famous People Who Have Lived since the Beginning of the World). The Promptuaire includes medal illustrations of famous individuals ranging from Adam to Rouillé’s contemporaries, as well as a preface that theorizes the nature of his project. Centered on the metaphor of the mirror (which carries the additional meaning of “glass” or “window”), Rouillé’s preface makes a case for the medal portraits’ ability to embody the ethos of the sitter and then transfer onto the printed text not only this ethos but also a measure of the medals’ material durability. This transfer occurs in such a way that “the tenebrous depths and the new lights” (2) of the famous persons’ lives become transparent to the readers’ discernment. How does Rouillé then negotiate the fact that, by his own admission, many of the medal portraits are fantasies? How does he address questions of literal versus figurative authenticity while presenting the medals as a “portholes” into the past and sites of moral reflection? Drawing from rhetorical approaches to ethos and linguistic approaches to conceptual blends, this presentation explores the visual and verbal mechanisms by which Rouillé extracts credibility from ancient artifacts (whether real or imaginary) and builds a textual construct that advocates for the truth value of intellectual imagination.
Gabriela Vlahovici-Jones
This paper argues the use of a new theoretical frame, black digitality, to think through an amendment of critiques of gentrification that rely on either utopic/dystopic or past/future configurations—all ultimately ending in the reassertion of an overarching narrative of loss. Instead, I suggest that while black people in Washington D.C. are experiencing the violence of loss of place in the District, they are also mediating gentrified places in this present—denying erasure. Referred to as “The Plan” in the 1970’s by a journalist who claimed that the majority black population within the nation’s capital would not last, the now rapid-fire move to completely gentrify Washington D.C., once known as the Chocolate City, is one of the many “plans” in major cities across the country. Developers utilize capital to create a public that continues to exclude lower income bodies of color. That new public requires a reorganization of the landscape, but also a reorganization of memory. New names are attached to places and spaces already named and claimed, and the result one would assume would be complete elimination of people and culture. However, to cite Michael Hanchard, there is a political counter-narrative and that produces a counter-map. The stories shared amongst those who have called Washington, D.C. home over several generations provide a critical commentary on a gentrified reality—reclaiming and revising the landscape to center the history and maintenance of blackness (in all of its complexities and iterations) even in the midst of a systematic attempt at erasure. The refusal of the narrative of the death of black culture specific to the city is replaced by a claim that the history of black people in D.C. continues to write itself. It claims the here and now and in doing so, grounds Brent Edwards’ conceptualization of elsewhere, a reconciled point of entanglement for people of African descent who have experienced cultural uprooting, by negotiating routes and roots in the contested space of the United States’ capital. Although Edwards uses elsewhere to think about transnational relationships across the diaspora through literature, I offer that the collision of the physical change that gentrification has wrought in Washington D.C. and the work of the spatial narratives of black people who live there create this elsewhere, this digitality, in the urban space of Chocolate City.
Leah Barlow
Design and Social Justice
Our roundtable will elaborate on how design affords critical and reflective possibilities for work involving digital texts. Purdom Lindblad outlines Advocacy by Design – a theoretical and practical framework that contextualizes and guides how to apply critical design to digital work, from ideation to creation of metadata to analysis and finally to publication. Alison Booth will discuss ongoing work for Collective Biographies of Women (CBW). In particular, Booth will focus on a biographical cohort of nearly 400 African-American women, in an effort to confirm matches in the SNAC database and to encourage adding individuals not represented in SNAC. CBW employs an approach Booth calls strategic typology—a distant reading of persons using interpretive controlled vocabularies—that has ethical implications, particularly in terms of racial and ethnic identity. Jeremy Boggs will discuss ways to apply critical design approaches to digital texts to the workings of existing projects—particularly CBW—to draw out how specific design choices affect discovery and understanding of text projects, and of the people represented in those projects.
Purdom Lindblad, Alison Booth, Jeremy Boggs

Location: 6103 McKeldin Library

1:30 PM – 3 PM fishbowl
In this hybrid fishbowl participants will address the question “How does a minimal computing approach to editions transform our ideas about the embodiment of text?” We call it a hybrid fishbowl because we will allow our original fish to elaborate clear positions on minimal editions during the first portion of the fishbowl before opening the chair rotations. Amanda Visconti will start us off with the participatory digital edition as a case study of a migration in progress to a minimalist approach; Raffaele Viglianti will respond to Visconti and proceed to elaborate on the finished migration of the Shelley-Godwin archive; Shawna Ross will respond to Viglianti and elaborate on the creation and teaching of minimal computing editions with her students from scratch; Visconti will have a chance to close the loop, before opening up the fishbowl for audience participation around the original question. Towards the end, the original fish will be invited back to the bowl for final comments, and Alex Gil, moderator, will make a courageous attempt at synthesis.
Alex Gil, Shawna Ross, Amanda Visconti, Raffaele Viglianti
Visual Textualities (2)
Latin American magazines and periodicals at the turn of the 20th century often inserted autographs in news stories and cultural features. Autographs signaled a lettered status, a textuality that reaffirmed and embodied authority, a representation that surpassed the quotidian to a higher level of cultural and political ascendancy. Although highly editorialized, the inclusion of autography in print culture shifts the visuals of the text to a presumed authorial autonomy, providing readers with an assurance that the text originated directly from the author’s hand. The reproduction of the signature acts as an insertion of political and cultural power into mass media in an attempt to preserve traditional discursive power that lied outside the realm of the modern printing press while produced in large, continual print runs. Latin American publishers emphasized that the signature was also a collectible artifact, providing content on the printed page to be gathered in personal albums, bringing readers into the private textual world of the famous and powerful. In this presentation I will discuss how autography signaled a preservation of authorial textuality as Latin American mass media blossomed at the turn of the 20th century. Focusing on Cuban, Mexican and Venezuelan publications, autographs and a focus on graphology commodified prestige and attempted to consolidate both cultural importance of signatories in print and a postcolonialsm dominated by a criollo political elite.
Andrew Reynolds
Once we have reliable digital editions, much else becomes possible. One world of possibilities is in visualization. A bubble diagram (see here) can be used to represent multiple structures at once, for example (as in the case of*Frankenstein*) in the structure and internal organization of the literary work, considered both as a narrative (a story comprising series of events related by a storyteller) and as a physical artifact (a sequence of pages arranged in a chapter sequence). The motive for doing this may be experimental: simply to look and see “what jumps out” when we have instrumentation of this sort (a way to draw bubble diagrams). Yet the results can be compelling—for example, in *Frankenstein*, we end up asking what to make of the symmetries and the nesting or “enfolding” of narrative structure, as story is told within story. The encoded text that was used as a basis for this work is not in a standard format. But it is easy to create if one has a stable text to begin with, which can be converted and enhanced. Other examples will be shown, of work in text presentation and visualization that would have been impossible without earlier electronic editions.
Wendell Piez
3:30 PM – 5 PM roundtable
As Benjamin Bratton observes in The Stack (2015), platforms are formalized interoperable systems spread across physical and digital surfaces, which increasingly displace or augment traditional structures of governance and the roles of autonomous individuals therein. The continued rise in platform standardization makes visible the pervasive logic embedded in its layers, informing the behaviors of its actants that are both human and nonhuman. This panel argues that the affordances provided by platforms are increasingly driven by their textuality, where text becomes both the object of a platform’s attention and the medium through which the platform works. Each paper takes up a moment of platform textuality to address how texts increasingly emerge from, operate within, and incarnate themselves through plays of standardization, infrastructural interoperability, and growing attention to material affordances. Yokoyama examines the ethical responsibilities of scholarly editors by examining the interface design of digital archival editions. She argues editors are uniquely situated to facilitate the critical inquiries of inherent power structure between the platform developers and the users. Moro uses a close reading for Paul Ford’s “What is Code?” to examine GitHub as a textual platform, arguing that its embedded implementation of version control within a pseudo-social network collapses the distinction between “text” and “code” through pervasive logic of hypervisibility and auto-surveillance. Bickoff probes the logic encapsulated within “containers” and speaks to their surfaces and embedded layers. He looks at a physical container in the archive, the Hollinger box, and counterpart digital archival container formats in a media archaeology informed reading.
Setsuko Yokoyama, Jeffrey Moro, Kyle Bickoff
Networked Texts
Textual discussions of the virtues and vices of women—from Chaucer’s Legend of Good Women to Christine de Pizan’s Le livre de la cité des dames—often served as metacommentary on literary reputation and discourse, rather than pure protofeminist argumentation. Texts relied on their readers’ knowledge of wider literary discourses in order to further argumentation. With the advent of print, many of these texts were translated into English and printed. However, these discourses were lost to new readers, who did not have access to the literature being cited in these earlier querelles des femmes. In this presentation, I will discuss my project, which records the broken citational networks created by the translation of these works across languages and media. I will focus on Bryan Anslay’s translation of Christine’s Le livre (The boke of the cyte of ladyes) as a starting point for this study. Using the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) guidelines and Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) as my frameworks, I am describing several early modern translations of late medieval querelles des femmes, and the texts that they quote and reference. This information will be used to visualize and analyze the textual networks that may have been accessible to Anslay’s contemporaries and illuminate the types of discourses that were (un)available in print and in English to the early modern reader. In addition to sharing my findings from this specific project, I will share my methodology so that others studying citational networks may apply similar techniques to their studies.
Sarah Stanley
At the center of our collaboration is the joining of two editions of the Mishnah, a legal compendium in Hebrew compiled about 200 AD/CE. Our decisions about editing and edition architecture, have forced us to reconsider both “text” and its interpretive communities. The central text in our model has become an abstraction, a graph or alignment table for which each witness is a concrete instantiation, each with its own use history and context, readership and meaning. (The manuscript thought by many scholars to be the best surviving exemplar shows the intervention of some twelve different hands.) In addition, the Mishnah is embedded in a web of citations and references that link it to a wider literature, earlier, contemporaneous, and later. Markup and linked data, not to mention search and sequence alignment algorithms, represent intertextuality as a graph that presents “the text” as always already part of something else, while RESTful services make every part of the data, down to the individual glyph for text-image alignment, a digital object to be consumed. Our paper uses our edition of the Mishnah to explore some of the epistemological and social implications of this transformation of text into abstract and reader into user (who may, in fact, not be human at all). The transformation certainly exposes a more complex textual history than conventional work. It also further embeds the user in the nexus of human and machine that is emerging as emblematic of our present.
Hayim Lapin
In the Women Writers Online collection, handwritten marginalia are a space of identity. Due to the early modern practices of signing, dedicating, and referencing works in the margins of books, the TEI/XML elements used to represent handwritten text often contain the elements used to encode personal names and clusters of bibliographic information, <persName> and <bibl>. Most frequently, however, they contain the elements used to signal obscured or missing text: <unclear>, <supplied>, and <gap>. Handwritten marginalia in WWO are thus a space not only of identity, but also—and primarily—of indeterminacy. This paper traces the instances of these apparently conflicting qualities in handwritten marginalia found in a copy of the 1689 edition of Aphra Behn’s The History of the Nun and in WWO, to which Behn’s novella was recently published. In asking how and why readers and scholars have, over time and across media, developed, preserved, and used these handwritten marginalia, I argue that far from self-evidently or exclusively pointing to acts of editorial intervention or attention to physical textuality, the indeterminacy of handwritten marginalia in WWO and its close coupling with identity indicates a more radical practice: embodied reading. Offering a model for engaging with texts in the digital humanities that problematizes claims of certainty, embodied reading suggests that the indeterminacy which has come to define the space of handwritten marginalia in this body of women’s writing does not conceal identity, but that these two qualities mutually constitute one another.
Chelsea Clark
Digital Embodiment: Sign Language Publishing and the Deaf Studies Digital Journal
This panel explores the textual embodiment inherent in publishing signed languages. As sign languages have yet to develop a commonly practiced written system, they bear similarities to oral traditions. As such, the history of sign language “texts” is a very recent one, beginning with the advent of film technologies. Despite this relatively recent advancement, digital video and web-based platforms have encouraged a proliferation of sign language publications. One significant advancement is the Deaf Studies Digital Journal, the world’s first peer-reviewed critical and creative arts journal in signed languages, accompanied by written text, launched in 2009.
Dirksen Bauman’s paper addresses the historic and theoretical implications of sign language publishing as a means of creating a body of literature and platform for a deaf public voice.
Dirksen Bauman
This panel explores the textual embodiment inherent in publishing signed languages. As sign languages have yet to develop a commonly practiced written system, they bear similarities to oral traditions. As such, the history of sign language “texts” is a very recent one, beginning with the advent of film technologies. Despite this relatively recent advancement, digital video and web-based platforms have encouraged a proliferation of sign language publications. One significant advancement is the Deaf Studies Digital Journal, the world’s first peer-reviewed critical and creative arts journal in signed languages, accompanied by written text, launched in 2009.
Jessica Murgel’s paper addresses the postcolonial context of deaf communities to reveal the ideological underpinnings of the continuing influence of written texts over the embodied manifestations of sign languages, and points to DSDJ as a potential means for subversive and liberatory practices.
Jessica Murgel
This panel explores the textual embodiment inherent in publishing signed languages. As sign languages have yet to develop a commonly practiced written system, they bear similarities to oral traditions. As such, the history of sign language “texts” is a very recent one, beginning with the advent of film technologies. Despite this relatively recent advancement, digital video and web-based platforms have encouraged a proliferation of sign language publications. One significant advancement is the Deaf Studies Digital Journal, the world’s first peer-reviewed critical and creative arts journal in signed languages, accompanied by written text, launched in 2009.
In this third and final paper, Patrick Boudreault discusses the evolution of DSDJ to address its unique position in academic publishing, the challenges it faces, and the innovative ways to integrate technology and embodied languages to create new possibilities for the next generation of sign language publishing, and accessible publishing, more broadly construed.
Patrick Boudreault