Blog Post

Final Project Reflections

Speech at Dartmouth

Fiona, Abby, Amir, Raul and myself are working on a digital activisim project with an emphasis on social justice this term. We have all decided to collaborate on a project that diesects the content, timing, and addressee of Dartmouth Commencement speakers from the past ten years. The end goal will be to analzye the speeches, relate the themes to each other and see if the themes follow any patterns with respect to each other or the current events from the year it was addressed. A website will elighten viewers with a synthesis of the speeches and and hopefully give an easy or interactive way to compare them to each other. The way I see a commencement speech is a capstone to an experience, like a long post at the end of my yearbook from a good friend or teacher, and when I go back and read it five or so years later, the emotions and experiences from that year instantly fill my heart and my brain again. I feel that a graduation commencement, while not specifiic to me, should be able to bring that same experience with maybe an extra feeling of how that speech made me feel or inspired me. I hope that this project can do that for the nostalgic side of people, and that it can also be a reminder for the matters of that year that were most important. 

We have each picked two commencement speeches which we will run through Voyant and analyze. In addition to analyzing Elie Wiesel and Louise Erdrich's speeches, I have offered to take the responsibility of the Wordpress site since I have made a numerous amounts of sites during my time here. I think this is one of my superpowers, and with the analyzing being done by everyone on the team I think the project will come together very fast the more we talk about the content with each other, peer edit, and make connections. 

The technical aspects of our project include: Voyant corpus analyzation, WordPress.org, and Google Documents. WordPress in a way could be complicit in social injustice because of it's availibilty... Some of the beautiful sites are only available if you buy them and this gives people who are already more wealthy to afford those pages and extra boost up. If two people are running a business and one person is well off and the other is trying to make ends meet, this new business hopefully to change things, but they can't quite afford that beautiful website while the other person can, maybe that could render their business less desirable than the other persons. We will try to use the free version of Wordpress to the best of our ability despite this, because it is still making technology more available to use and we cannot make a website otherwise.  

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3 comments

I think we're definitely on the same page with our view of the goals of the project and our feelings towards commencement speeches in general, which is great! Unfortunately we're still not all in agreement in how exactly we want to display our findings, but I think yesterday many of us expressed interest in displaying our analysis on the timeline tool Abby showed us last week. How do you feel about that tool in comparison to WordPress?
 

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I think you raised an interesting point about the accessibility of certain WordPress templates. The amount required to build a beautiful site certainly exceeds that which is required to build a standard page. Nontheless, it is true that WordPress could be affordable and, in that vain, it could be seen as both perpetuating social inequality and, in a sense, contributing to social justice by making technology more acessible. It seems like you have a lot of experience making websites on the platform, though, so I am sure that you will make good use of the free version!

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The website that your team produces will be very useful. I never really thought about analyzing the rhetoric behind a commencement speech, but thinking about it makes me realize that it could have a lot of significance and meaning. Comparing different speeches with one another would definitely contribute to the digital humanities community and hopefully, this would encourage other humanists to potentially analyze their own speeches for patterns and look for inadvertent messages within their writing. 

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