Editing Modernism in Canada


Author Archive

June 6, 2014

Saying Goodbye

Endings are harder than beginnings.  No matter how worn out we feel at the end of a week of DHSI, we have carefully honed a new knowledge set, and in the process have become part of new networks that reinforce and extend our existing networks and the communities that they foster.  The end of DHSI this year is a special ending.  Not only is it the culmination, for me, of six years of apprenticeship in the digital humanities, but it is also a marker of an impressive amount of personal, intellectual and communal growth.  I can’t help but look back and see how far we have come individually and collectively since our first time here.

I am an affective writer, so I am compelled to write this one last post to acknowledge, but not fully express, the conflicting and overwhelming affective experience that has been DEMiC for me for the last six years.  It has been frustrating, exhausting and overwhelming.  It has been exhilarating, reassuring and empowering.  It has encapsulated so much pain, and so much hope.  There really are no words.

The thing that I can most decisively point to and hold onto at this important ending is the community that has grown out of this experience and has taken root.  I have strong faith that I know who ‘my people’ are and where to find them.  The sense of affiliation and devotion I feel to many of you does not have an end date.  It doesn’t have research allocations and it can’t be fully explicated on my CV under the general auspices of professionalization.  It is more clannish and less coherent.  I guess, it is, at the end of this experience, a very clear and concrete understanding that my work does not exist in a vacuum, that my work is part of a larger whole that has an invested audience and means something to someone outside of my institution and outside of my own head.  As a scholar, it also means that I also mean something to someone outside of my institution thanks to this community.  Our ground is fertile and it has produced much fruit.

At the end of this last DHSI, I just wanted to take one last opportunity to celebrate and mourn this wild journey we have undertaken.  Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this project and this community during a formative period in the lives of so many Canadian literary scholars.   Goodbye, DEMiC.  Goodbye, DHSI.

June 3, 2014

The Art of Conversation: Learning the Language of XSLT

Today, both Chris and I are posting on our experience in XSLT: A Collaborative Approach taught by the father-son duo Zailig & Josh Pollock.  Since he will be touching on the structure and style of the class, I thought I’d comment a bit more extensively on one of the core concepts that inform the Pollocks’ approach to XSLT:  collaborative dialogue.  The goal of the class is familiarization, so that we can learn to ask the right questions and participate productively in conversations with programmers and other stakeholders in computing.  Because this class assumes that the DH-er will be working in collaborative settings, it is teaching us how to become stronger collaborative partners.  In order to turn our dream DH projects into reality, we need to be able to express what we need and why using the grammar, vocabulary and structure pertinent to rendering it into our desired form.  And that when I realized, it is really no different than what you learn in a first year writing class.

Last week, I finished teaching a summer class on writing and composition at the first year level for non-English majors.  For many of my students, this would be their one and only English class to check off the writing requirement component of their degree.  Ultimately, the goal of my class was to introduce my students to the academy as a variety of intersecting knowledge communities each of which uses its own genre, convention and style to contribute to the current state of knowledge in any given field.  I wasn’t trying to introduce them to the conventions of my own community (literature), but rather, to give them the tools that they need to identify and understand the conventions of whatever disciplines each student had individually chosen to pursue.   Throughout the last term, I constantly reinforced the idea of decoding:  identifying what elements of the message were structural and vocabulary requirements in order to assert that you belonged and could participate within a particular field of knowledge.  By the end of the term, they could competently produce a variety of writing in genres pertinent to fields that were not their own, even though they were not specialists.  The content wasn’t changing the course of the field, but the apprenticeship was giving them the ability to participate and collaborate in the generation of knowledge inside and outside of their own fields.

In this XSLT class, I am not learning how to be an expert in XSLT.  What I am learning instead is far more valuable:  I am learning the critical vocabulary I need to be able to communicate my needs as a digital humanist in collaboration with a programmer.  During the introductions yesterday, James Neufeld usefully suggested that his goal in the class was to become “conversant” in XSLT;  this was a  statement that was picked up by numerous others as we said our hellos and introduced our projects.  Becoming conversant in a new field of knowledge is about carefully learning genre conventions and appropriate vocabulary.  Like my students, I am learning to decode.  Instead of learning how to identify the structure and style appropriate to a book review or journal article, I am learning how to decode code.  I am engaged in critical acts of reading that are intended to inform critical acts of writing.  In the last two days, I have been learning the conventions and vocabulary of a new knowledge community in order to participate in it.  I am not looking to master this genre, but instead, I am looking to be able to understand and identify the central components that make up the genre.  I am learning the art, style, convention and parameters of communicating in XSLT.

March 21, 2012

EMiC Spring Bulletin 2012

2012 has been a very eventful time for the EMiC community.  To keep everyone informed about some of the exciting advancements and contributions made by our project members this year, we have put together a Spring Bulletin full of updates, upcoming events and recent publications.

We are taking this as an opportunity to introduce some of our new co-applicants and graduate fellows, as well as to highlight on-going research and new publications.  Enjoy!

EMiC Spring 2012 Bulletin