In the first blog post of this semester, I began with this diagram mapping research questions and methods:

In some ways, I my ideas have remained the same. I’ve stuck with mapping, although I am looking into options other than networks to represent affect. I’ve also narrowed the scope of my project–I’m focusing on Stratford-upon-Avon rather than England as a whole. However, the level of preparedness I feel now versus in that first week of the semester is nearly indescribable.

In both our first and last classes, we were asked about what anxieties we had going into this course. Mine was that I was unsure if I’d be able to come up with my own idea to plan a detailed enough project to write the NEH Digital Humanities Advancement grant proposal. Even though I had previously worked in a DH center as a project manager–which included being involved with grant writing–I was always just shaping other peoples’ work into a cleaner format. Coming up with my own idea was difficult, but by the end of the course I felt that I was much more clear on the process of formulating a digital project.

For me, the most useful and interesting part of the class was experimenting with the various digital tools during the asynchronous course and reading the case studies of projects that have used them successfully. I had used a few of them before, or experimented without direction. By actually having data to work through, it made my exploration more practical and I gathered a better understanding of what the different software could do. I’m hoping at some point to take a deeper-dive into Python, and I applied to a Python for Humanists summer school that I am still waiting to hear back on. Of all of these lessons, I probably enjoyed the mapping unit. Not only did this help me form the basis of my own project, but I found Pamela Fletcher and Anne Helmreich’s article “Local/Global: Mapping Nineteenth-Century London’s Art Market” describing their own project combining mapping and networking enlightening. It helped me decide that this wasn’t what I wanted to do for my own project, it helped me better clarify my research questions and determine my own methodologies.

In terms of next steps, I found out today I was accepted to the Immersive Visualization Institute (IVI) for this summer. I will being working in the 360 Degree Panoramic Room in the Library’s Digital Scholarship Lab. I’m hoping to use this time to begin thinking through the ways I can represent affect in my visualization, and also due to it’s pedagogy element I can start thinking through what that proposed element of my project might look like. I am also in the process of completing my application for the Cultural Heritage Informatics (CHI) Fellowship. If accepted, I hope I would be able to turn the wireframe I have into a fully-fledged protype of the Stratford-upon-Avon portion of my digital dissertation project. Although I don’t need it for the graduate certificate and I am techincally done with course work, I am hoping to talk to my advisor about possibly taking the Digital Humanities Pedagogy class offered next spring. I’d be interested to see how I can work some of the tools and methods we learned this semester into my own classroom.

One of the things I was most surprised by was how much my grant proposal project changed in the last month of the course. In addition to meeting with both Dr. Leon and Dr. Fitzpatrick to discuss ways to improve the project, the feedback from my classmates after they watched my pitch video was incredibly valuable. Originally, I had proposed a Level I project collecting data to eventually create a multimedia map. By the final draft, I was proposing the creation of a layered deep map that showed the town of Stratford-upon-Avon at significant points in history and included pins at locations that link to archival material related to the performances that occured there. Additionally, I was better able to articulate what I was looking for in representing affect in the visualization (after a quick re-read of Data Feminism). Although I do not have enough data to make a protoype per se, I did determine that I wanted to create the map in Omeka S and include a project blog along with lesson plans.

It seems incredible that at the beginning of the semester I only had a vague idea of how I wanted to incorporate a digital project into my dissertation research, and now I do not only have a fully fleshed-out idea but one with an actionable plan in place. Overall, I really enjoyed the course. I appreciated the nice balance of reading through the theoretical approaches and case studies alongside acutally trying out the tools. I look forward to seeing how I can build on this class during the rest of my time at MSU and beyond.

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