Digital Humanities

Today I had the privilege to join a faculty panel and discussion on Digital Humanities.  When my English professor first encouraged my classmates and I to attend, I have to say I was a bit nervous and hesitant.  I’m not one for speaking and discussions, but this was a great environment!  Not only was it welcoming and encouraging, but there was also so much knowledge to be shared among the professors, students, and administrators.

A wordle of my three published poems: Cardinals, Long Distance, and Without You.

A wordle of my three published poems: Cardinals, Long Distance, and Without You.

While the event touched on many ideas, there were a few that stood out to me, the first being the use of Wordle to assist in analyzing pieces of writing.  I found myself very intrigued when a Wordle consisting of every poem written Emily Dickinson.  It made me think about what words she used most, how interesting it was that her most used words are short words, most only four letters long.

As I thought about this idea, the presenter said something I won’t soon forget.  He said that with this one simple visual, a Wordle, we have every word Emily Dickinson used at our grasp, and now that we see them for their individuality, we can better understand them embedded in the poem.

A wordle of all of my blog posts.

A wordle of all of my blog posts.

Just imagine that.  A once daunting textual analysis now becomes visual and more relatable, as we realize the word choice is no longer foreign to us.  There is absolutely something revolutionary in this thinking idea, and I don’t think I stand alone in saying I would love to learn even more on the topic.

Another idea that stood out was the Twitter essay.  The Twitter essay is a tool used in a small number of freshman writing seminar courses.  It is rather self explanatory in the fact that it requires students to compose an essay in 140 characters—and the idea is spreading, even my university’s literary magazine is jumping on the bandwagon with a Twitter-sized creative writing contest.

The idea with these Twitter-sized compositions is to focus on content.  Every single character counts when you want to say something.  Place a comma or a period and you emphasize something in a completely different way than if you hadn’t.  Ultimately, the goal is to write concise and meaningful compositions.

What do you think of these new advances in technology?  What are your perceptions of Digital Humanities?  I would love to know your thoughts and continue on with this exciting discussion on the collaboration of technology and humanities.


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