Blog Post

Introduction from a Nineteenth-Century Americanist


I only recently learned of HASTAC and the Scholars program, but I’m thrilled to be here with all of you.  As a Ph.D. student in English at Louisiana State University, I focus primarily on nineteenth-century American literature.  For my M.A. at the University of Kansas, I studied gendered and queer narrators in novels by Kate Chopin and Willa Cather.  My master’s work sparked an interest in narrative theory and feminist narratology, while my later courses fostered an interest in the nineteenth-century American city novels.  In a class on the Chicago novel, we generated site inventories for every street, hotel, and park name mentioned in a given novel; later I realized the potential of these site inventories as data for “mapping” late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century Chicago novels (a project I have not yet begun to tackle).  In 2011, I began work as a research assistant on a digital humanities project at LSU on Edgar Allan Poe and antebellum print culture.  This project marked my first real engagement with the “digital humanities” field.

While the Poe digital project continues to be a wonderful opportunity for interdisciplinary research and collaboration at the university level, I’m really excited to be part of a larger digital community of scholars working on a wide variety of projects and exploring the digital humanities in relation to pedagogy.  As a research assistant, I’ve acquired basic skills in XML, and I’m currently enrolled in a GIS course in the Geography department, but I’m still an amateur when it comes to a lot of digital work and data tools.  I look forward to expanding my knowledge/understanding of the field over the next months through the HASTAC blogs, forums, wikis, and groups.

As a HASTAC Scholar, I want to develop my own digital project mapping Catharine Maria Sedgwick’s trip abroad from 1839-1840 recounted in her work Letters from Abroad to Kindred at Home (1841).  I plan to investigate two central research questions through this digital project: Within those “Old World” cities what spaces does she spend time writing about (for example, in London, Sedgwick draws a lengthy comparison between London’s parks and New York’s boulevards)? And, how would mapping Sedgwick’s travels reveal the way she (and to a greater extent antebellum America) imagined Europe?

I’m really excited to see how my work fits in with the plethora of ongoing digital projects out there, and I’m thrilled to join in on the ongoing discussions on this site!


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