Blog Post

Hello HASTAC World

Hi, everyone!  I'm Erin Beard, a Ph.D. Candidate in English at Michigan State University.  I specialize in Victorian literature and culture, and I also do work in the Digital Humanities with a focus on pedagogy and topic modeling. 

I'm writing my dissertation, which is about intersections between philanthropic discourse and the novel.  I look at novels that were critical of late-Victorian philanthropy, and what kind of narrative strategies they used to distinguish themselves from narrative strategies of philanthropists, particularly as definitions of ethical philanthropy shifted drastically from the 1860s to the early twentieth century.  I got to spend a while in the London Metropolitan Archives this past summer looking at original case papers, documents, and reports of late-Victorian philanthropic organizations in order to understand the features and functions of philanthropic narrative.  I use close reading and historical methods to do my research now, but in the future I could see myself doing a project that tests my current argument against a digital, distant reading approach.

My teaching experience includes a variety of face-to-face, online, and hybrid courses in English, First-Year Writing, and generalized humanities.  One of my favorite courses to develop and teach was one with a focus on ethics and literature.  I focus on developing strategies and assignments that facilitate collaborative writing and discussion both in and outside of the classroom.  I'd be happy to share them with fellow HASTAC scholars!  Right now, I'm teaching Introduction to Digital Humanities, which poses a lot of intriguing interdisciplinary pedagogical questions.  I'd like to talk with other HASTAC scholars who have taught Digital Humanities courses about their experience developing and teaching an intro course.

Topic modeling is another interest--I'm trying to get a fledgling topic modeling project off the ground.  Basically, I'm modeling how sympathy looks across a 19th-century novel corpus, considering the context and usage of "sympathy" in order to understand if definitions of it depended on genre.  This is an entirely self-taught project, so I'm learning and messing up as I go along.  Hopefully, I'll be able to present some initial results at the HASTAC conference in May.  I'm excited for HASTAC to be a place for me to stay motivated on this project and get great ideas and resources for it!

Plus I'm really into cycling--I could nerd out on bike gear and bike touring stories all day.

I'm excited for the upcoming year and especially the HASTAC conference, where I'm hoping to put some faces to names that I meet on here.  Besides the discussion forums on this site, Twitter is a great way to get in touch with me.


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