Blog Post

Broken Books and Teaching with Technology



Hi all,


It’s been a pleasure reading about everyone’s diverse projects. I look forward to all the conversations and collaborative work we’ll generate over the coming year.


I am a first year doctoral student in English at the University of Victoria, where I work as a Research Assistant in the Maker Lab in the Humanities and the Electronic and Textual Cultures Lab. I work mainly on projects in the MVP (Modernist Versions Project) and INKE (Implementing New Knowledge Environments). I recently completed my MA from Loyola University of Chicago and earned my BA at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.


I work mainly in modernist studies, textual studies, and projects in the digital humanities. I am also particularly interested in forms of digital pedagogy (a topic I look forward to discussing with other HASTAC scholars). Part of my pedagogical approach uses an exposure to the material contingencies of texts (usually facilitated by digital methodologies) to make students question the influences on their own writing. I’m always enthusiastic to hear about how others are using technology in the classroom, not just as a tool but as part of a deeper teaching strategy.


My ongoing research project seeks to use electronic frameworks to track and evaluate places of aesthetic rupture in modernist texts, which I see occurring as their textual and bibliographic properties multiply in complex and sometimes contradictory ways. I intend to read these fractures in bibliographic and literary structures as instances where modernist texts begin revealing the influence of their historical contexts. I believe that using electronic editions to reveal the bibliographic complexity of these texts will challenge the assumption that books are stable, complete, and unified. I expect challenging that long-held assumption to open up some exciting new spaces for thinking about how books work and what we can do with them.


Part of my own work over the coming year will include data mining, data visualization, and textual markup. I’m looking forward to working with you all and seeing what we build together!







Hi Alex,

I'm also looking at data visualization and aesthetics in both very similar and very different ways.  Hopefully we'll be able to get some conversation going!  Reading your post made me think of a beautifully ironic  "digital rupture" I ran into a view months ago.  

This is a screenshot of one of the first pages from the preview of Chaomei Chen's Information Visualization: Beyond the Horizon (2006) on Google Books.



Google has since fixed the scan.  Even though this is not the type of rupture or use of digital media technologies you are talking about in your intro,  I thought that you (and others) might enjoy.





This is fascinating. Thanks for sharing.


I hadn't thought about ruptures at the level of the digital, but this image shows that it's an essential consideration. It's often not until the interface breaks down that we are forced to examine the text at the level of digitization. Otherwise, the assumption that the screen is a transparent window into the text can remain unchallenged, blinding us to the fact that there are actually various levels of materiality that mediate our interaction with the text.


This certainly opens up the types of aesthetic rupture I can think about for my project. Part of my future research will also include building versioned electronic editions of modernist texts; I'm curious now about how fractures at the level of the material book and the electronic edition can interact with each other (for better or for worse).


In the effort to use digital tools to examine the materiality of printed material, do we inadvertently dematerialize the tool(s) we're working with? I'm curious to hear your thoughts, as well as more about your work with data.