As I continue to delve into my project this semester, I see myself becoming immersed in the research process: over the past few weeks, I have spent an increasing amount of time in the Newberry Library’s Special Collections Reading Room looking at materials from the Modern Manuscripts collection (for which I feel I should apologize to the employees there— I’m sure they will be just as excited as I will be when I finish my project) and continuing to gather secondary resources. This has all been in preparation to write the first 20-page section of my paper, which I turned in this past Monday.
Lately, however, I have been trying to look at the broader picture of what my project will look like in its completed form. To effectively establish and examine my topic, I hope to create two components: a more traditional, academic paper, which I will complete this semester, and a critical, digital version of the unpublished manuscript I am analyzing, which will be more long term and extend past the end of the Newberry Seminar. The former component is inherently more straightforward— despite this paper being more rigorous than anything I’ve done before, it is comparable to my previous academic experiences. The latter component— this critical, digital version of the unpublished manuscript Montel— is proving to be more difficult than I initially anticipated.
As an undergraduate student, I have had fairly minimal experience with the digital humanities and, specifically, the technical construction of a digital project. In its final form, I am hoping that my essay can serve as an introduction to the online, published version of Montel and will be accompanied by other supplementary information such as timelines and images from the Newberry’s collections. I plan to construct a website (or something of the like) that will be able to highlight these different elements. Thus, I am currently researching different templates, such as those provided by WordPress and Weebly, to use as the basis for my project. Ultimately, my criteria prioritizes user-friendliness: I intend to select a template/base that will be easy to use both for me during the construction process and for readers after completion. Otherwise, I am also hoping to select a template that is aesthetically pleasing and free/little cost.
Though I’m not certain how my digital project will take shape over the coming weeks, delving into the world of the digital humanities has opened my eyes to the number of mediums through which I can communicate my ideas. Whatever the result is, it will be the product of and educational and rewarding semester in Chicago!