Category Archives: EN571

Student Research Conference Observations

Last Wednesday we attended the Graduate Student Research Conference at Marymount University. This is actually the first ever research conference that I attended, so it was an entirely new experience for me and I did not know what to expect. Luckily the portion of the conference of which I had attended was related to a topic that has been the theme of our EN 571 course. It was very interesting to see the many different perspectives on Mary Shelley’s Franktenstein. Even though the perspectives presented were different from each other, they were all still similar in a way. They all had a portion discussing the negative nouns associated with the creature in Frankenstein. Each presentation spoke about these negative terms in a different perspective.

What I most enjoyed from those presentations informing the audience about the names in which the creature is referred to, was when my colleague Amy, was presenting her research and created a slide in her powerpoint dedicated entirely to the names associated with the creature. I wished I had taken a picture of that slide. I think that slide is beneficial in serving an introduction to people that are not familiar with Frankenstein since those names in the slide portray the theme and what to expect from the novel. My friend that came with me never encountered this novel before, but from how each presenter spoke about it, I think they each did a great job in introducing what Frankenstein is about. They all touched base on the storyline, the theme, the negativity in it, they were each able to cover the important parts of the novel and made those that are unfamiliar with it, still understand the research, so I applaud all of the presenters.

My favorite presentation by far and the one that I most looked forward to in terms of how it progressed, was Vincent’s creative school assignment on the novel. I think his project progressed positively in a vast way from how it first started, and it is a research project he should be very proud of. It was a presentation that was exciting to hear about, it was not something that you would lose focus in easily because of how engaging his ideas were. The audience was very intrigued to see how these characters would be on social media. I genuinely wish that more high schools would create assignments like this because, in high school, it is difficult to get the students to be engaged or even like a subject that they might be weak in, but when it comes to having them associate this subject with something they use in their daily lives, such as social media, they will have a different outlook on this subject and not dislike it as much. A lot of high school students either have a strong dislike for math or a strong dislike for their English classes. If English classes were to use this interesting spin with one of the assignments, the students will not see English as that bad of a class, since it is no longer boring, they can relate it to their everyday life.

I applaud all my peers that presented at the conference, they all did a great job, especially navigating their ideas to make it fit with the tight time frame. This is an extremely big assignment and they managed to get their ideas out and explain them clearly. All of their projects have transformed into really good outcome and it was fun to just see the final or almost the final outcome of their work. (568)

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The Aftermath of the Conference

I think that these past few weeks show how unanticipated circumstances can arise. I did not anticipate being sick and I realize that research is nearly impossible when you aren’t taking care of yourself.

When I was first putting together my PowerPoint for the Student Research Conference, I was conflicted with how much information my audience really needed (so that I am using an optimal amount of time). My style typically consists of the use of image more than the use of text. I find that the audience can easily get distracted if there are too many words on a screen. I decided that I would attempt to give some foundation to Frankenstein, being the first presenter on that panel so that it would give some leeway to others. Due to our Works in Progress submissions turning into platform presentations, some of the audience members believed that our research was complete. One takeaway is that while I may not be able to control my audience, this is simply something that I will have to get used to, even if members of the audience visibly show a disinterest. By allowing it to affect my presentation, I felt distracted and started to ramble even though I had notes on hand.

As an audience member, I also saw the importance of keeping the presenter on track. It is important to try to ask questions that are relevant to the presenter, and not meant to discourage or deter the student from academic research. I appreciated the guiding questions from my colleagues and professors because it helped me better understand the focus as well as the significance of my research. While I initially did not intend on submitting to the student research conference this semester, I am glad that we were encouraged to feel that our research, particularly in the humanities, is notable. In my past experience with the conference, I always felt as though the sciences were more celebrated by students and professors. However, I felt that the organizers or board members were more thoughtful in putting together a conference of mixed fields and areas of studies.

After presenting, I realized that I didn’t need to include Clerval in my analysis. In fact, it served me no purpose in the direction I am headed in my analysis of Victor Frankenstein and the creature. Discussion of the texts that both characters approach is necessary in my analysis and deserves more attention to fully grasp a post-colonial analysis. I feel more confident in my ability to expand on the development of the creature and how language and culture is tied to his power over Victor (445).

Final Farewell!

The student research conference was a blast and I really thank everyone for listening and engaging with my project! It was very interesting to see what our fellow students have been working on and it makes me even more excited to hear the final presentations! It’s really quite sad to think the semester is coming to a close so soon, but it’s amazing to think about how much we have changed over the semester in our engagement with, and understanding of, the Digital Humanities.

I’ve been struggling with my research. It is a really great visual tool but ultimately I’m consistently finding it difficult to articulate exactly how useful it can be to studying novels. I think at the conference I had a mini breakthrough thanks to Amy’s mirrors and some of the questions posed after my presentation. It seems the program made nominal sense to everyone, so I am glad I was able to somewhat explain the inner workings of Syuzhet. A presentation is very different from a paper though, and my presentation did not delve into the literary aspects I was using the program to bolster—namely, the story vs. plot argument using Russian formalist thought. I am still a bit torn as to how to structure my paper, because as an English scholar my wheelhouse is interpretation which is the bulk of my current draft. Right now it is structured as an:

  1. Introduction
  2. Literary Device Background
  3. Frankenstein Introductions
  4. Frankenstein Interpretation
  5. Program Introduction
  6. Program Results Interpretation
  7. So what?
  8. Conclusion

It still makes sense to me to be set up this way, but after the conference I can see how maybe weaving everything together may also be a good idea. As you all saw my presentation I was hoping for some feedback on ways to make the info more accessible, better organized, more homogenized, etc. I know comments are not due this week, but just a heads up—I’ll be asking for help in class! J

One thing I do like about my paper over my presentation is the way I weave Vonnegut throughout. In the presentation he was my ending, but in the paper I bookend and allude to him throughout. It is sentimental (ha ha) to me because if I hadn’t been googling “Kurt Vonnegut, Digital Humanities” I would not have found out about the Syuzhet program.

I have to say it has been a wonderful experience this semester exploring the digital humanities with you all. Together we have navigated uncharted waters, baptized Vincent as Victor, and become seemingly intimately aware of everything Frankenstein. I hope you all continue to explore this area and incorporate it into your future studies!

HAGS everyone! (445)

Original Post

Frankenstein Outline

Topic: A postcolonial analysis of the 1818 edition of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. I will be using Keywords in Context tools to identify authoritative approaches to language. The comparison will be Victor Frankenstein vs the creature and how language encourages Western power and authority.

Working Thesis: In the 1818 edition of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley’s western influences are prevalent through the acquisition of language; Victor Frankenstein’s interactions with sub-characters are much different than that of how the creature approaches … (PENDING–still honing down on the best way to word it)

I. Introduction of topic (1 Long Paragraph)

a. brief introduction of post colonialism

i. mention tool that is used??

b. application of post colonialism and how it is interpreted through language (refer to relevant research; define theory) (1-2 paragraph(s)

II. previous methodology in this analysis of Frankenstein by other scholarly work (4-7 paragraphs)

a. also why my analysis is relevant apart from what is currently out there (1 paragraph)

III. Detailed introduction of tool in application with text (Voyant)

a. which aspect to use? 1-2 aspects, probably

IV. Open Body — begin to introduce comparison

(Rest of body — Comparison using multiple scenes — where language acquisition is highlighted)

a. Use tool to supplement text

b. use sources to support conclusive evidence for patterns recognized by tools

c. use own analysis

Conclusion

V. Discussion (2-3 paragraphs)

My apologies for the strange format of my outline. I typically have a hard time trying to outline, especially when I am continually adding on to my analysis and research.

Final Paper Outline

Title: Ready to Escape Reality and Enter the Digital World?

Introduction:

The digital world has always been an intriguing idea. There, one finds a whole new world that is limitless. The topic of this paper is the worldwide phenomenon teen book turned into movie, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. This novel was turned into a movie by the prominent director, Steven Spielberg recently this month. For this research paper, I would like to discuss what made this book a breakout new trend in today’s society. Today’s society is considered to be a digital society due to our reliance on our technology and social media use. In fact, how I was introduced to this movie was through an advertisement on SnapChat, which then lead me to discover that it was a novel, just through a basic internet search. This is what is so fascinating about the digital world. Digital Worlds hold limitless information, and this is why many believe that in the real world, they do not necessarily fit in, but with the digital world, they can create themselves to fit into that world that they chose to role play in.

An explanation for the introduction: Discussing the topic of the paper, which is the Steven Spielberg movie depiction of the novel, Ready Player One. I will give a brief introduction of it, explain how the book turned into a phenomenon, and the culture that came behind the book, such as the fanbases. I will also explain here how I was introduced to this phenomenon. My thesis is about the emotional appeal of the digital world more than the idea of marketing. This paper will briefly explain the appeal of social marketing but will focus on the emotional appeal of the digital world by mostly focusing on the movie interpretation of the novel Ready Player One.

First Body Paragraph: Explaining a summary of the novel

Second Body Paragraph: Explaining the movie portrayal of the movie and going in depth with it. I chose to focus more on the movie due to how I felt when I watched it. I felt as though this was the best movie to explain how digital ideas such as other famous classical movies have become iconic and are present and referenced in many ways throughout the movie. For instance, when they enter the digital world in the movie, you see references to the movies The Shining, King Kong, and many others. This will be a good transition to my next few paragraphs about, the effect of the digital world, so how it affects the real world and how the real world affects the digital world.

Third Body Paragraph: Explanation of the digital world

Fourth Body Paragraph: How the digital world affects the real world

Fifth Body Paragraph: How the real world affects the digital world

Sixth Body Paragraph: Social media marketing

Seventh Body Paragraph: The emotional appeal of social media

Eights body paragraph: The emotional appeal of the digital world

Conclusion: The idea of escape and its allure which is meant to explain my title.

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Framing Sentiment

Kurt Vonnegut once said when explaining the structures of narratives, “And if I die — God forbid — I would like to go to heaven to ask somebody in charge up there, ‘Hey, what was the good news and what was the bad news?’” In his blend of witty cynicism and existential crisis, Vonnegut asked a question that is the crux of many literary arguments— does the plot revealed reflect the sentiment of the overall story? Vonnegut’s question and subsequent explanation of graphing narration influenced and inspired Matthew Jockers, a professor of literary studies at the University of Lincoln-Nebraska, who created the Syuzhet Program, an R based code that graphs the sentiment of a text, revealing the plot. He named his program based on the Russian Formalist’s understanding of syuzhet (story) and fabula (plot) and has improved its ability to discern sentiment throughout a text. However, novels are rarely explained in the chronological order of the story, and are often presented out of order or in frames. By visualizing the separate frames of the three implied narrators in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, or; The Modern Prometheus (1818 edition) and comparing those frames to the overall sentiment based plot of the entire narrative, the implied author’s power to change the sentiment of the plot, regardless of the story, will be revealed.

Literary Background (Paragraphs 2+3)

  • Give background on Russian Formalists.
    • Propp
    • Genette

Enter Frankenstein (Paragraphs 4, 5, 6)

  • Discuss framework of Frankenstein in relation to overall story.
  • Analyze from Formalists interpretive tools.
    • Focusing on Genette’s Mood, Voice, and Order

Digital Humanities (Paragraphs 7, 8, 9) 

  • Section to be peer reviewed as I am worried I am either too technical or too general and need confirmation that this makes sense.
  • Explain Syuzhet.
  • General Frankenstein graphs.
  • Sneak peaks:

Screen Shot 2018-04-09 at 9.35.55 PM

FrnkRplot

Frames of Sentiment Analysis (assuming about 4-5 paragraphs)

  • Haven’t finished this section yet.
  • Includes all the framing graphs.
  • Compares graphs to each other and overall story.
  • Sneak peak: (Creature’s narrative in red/Victor Part 1 in blue)

Creature (red) vs. Victor (blue)

What went wrong/what could go wrong/what is wrong? (1 paragraph)

  • This will be a slight reiteration of an earlier paragraph where I describe the issues the program presents but I will further connect it to the text and to literary analysis as a whole.

Why? (1 paragraph)

  • This could get lumped into the above paragraph or the conclusion.
  • Why is using this program helpful or important to the study of Frankenstein.

Conclusion (1 paragraph)

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Where I’ll be by the time we reach my conclusion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My draft is currently at 10 pages, so I am not worried about length at this point, more clarity and purpose. I’m sorry if my outline is less formal than most– unfortunately this is how I outline. Excited to read everyone’s posts!

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Work in progress

In terms of what’s new with my research I decided to change what my initial topic was. I initially started out wanting to do something with the power of the digital world. So I wanted to write about how through the digital world, there is unlimited international access to text interpretations and analysis. I then discovered that I was not that excited about the topic even though I am a person that is very interested in analyzing texts and is always looking for new interpretations on texts.

Up until the day of the conferences, I was seeking for a more interesting topic that still included the power of the digital world. Last Tuesday when I was going through my social media apps, I went on Snapchat and stumbled on a marketing advertisement in the new movie, Ready Player One by Steven Spielberg. What intrigued me to want to the advertisement was that it was using key words which I had already encountered from my last informal presentation on video games and emotional aspects found in the digital world which people have not found in the real world. Once I saw the similar connections I definitely felt interest and excitement towards researching the topic. I generally was going to start with researching about the emotional aspect found in the digital world which will be present in the movie then do a general research on emotions found in the digital world and why the digital world intrigues people. I then noticed this was too broad and I wanted to be more specific. I thought back to how I stumbled across the advertisement and why the advertisement happened and it was purely for marketing and they used social media for it.

This is why the current state of my research project is about how marketing has evolved and for what reasons. I am still looking for more research but the keywords that I am using for my research are: media, mediation, intermedia, immersive, online marketing, relating mattering to the Blair Witch Project, game play, gaming, media ecologies. I am also going to start reading the book Ready player one as well as watch the movie. That is all I currently have for my research. (371)

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The Monstrosity of Reading in Context

When I first proposed my project, I thought that a classroom assignment would be more interesting seeing as I’ve never tried organizing one before (see previous post to understand why my project is changing in direction). The project that I previously proposed had no focus and introduced a variety of themes, one of which was the function of language in conversation. I have decided to stick with the 1818 edition, rather than compare the two texts as it would be too ambitious of a project in this given time frame.

When I first approached Frankenstein in the extra credit assignment, I started to see a trend in Safie, recognized as the Arabian, and her father, the Turk. One of the questions I hope to answer in my final paper is why Mary Shelley chose to interchangeably use different identifiers throughout the text. Why is Henry Clerval not referred to with an identifier?

Furthermore, with Frankenstein, one of the key aspects I noticed was the acquisition of language and the authority envisioned by the characters through their interaction(s) with one another. To approach this project, I am comparing the acquisition of language through the monster’s perspective versus how Victor Frankenstein treats language in interactions with others (e.g. Henry Clerval).  By narrowing it down to a category for comparison, I will be able to take a pedagogical approach on how the name functions, especially through postcolonial criticism. How are the characters exploited through their loss of a name? or through dominant languages? The digital tool I will be using is Keyword in Context and I will use it to assist my analysis rather than as the primary method of research.

When researching, I found a variety of sources referring to Frankenstein as a postcolonial text, I started to stumble on other questions. Why didn’t any characters leave Europe? Why does Safie adopt the cottagers language rather than teach them hers? I will evaluate the postcolonial frame that Shelley introduces even through Victor Frankenstein’s education (Ingolstadt, for one) in contrast to the monster who is educated through observation. What is being exploited and how is this put into context in how the story is set up?

Looking at words and the frequency of them in the characters’ interactions will allow me to create a foundation of evidence for how Victor and the creature treat others. There is a western approach in how they move towards this encapsulation of language. The subplots are the main focus of this research as they are key points where the two encounter sub-characters and attempt to establish power through language. How does this speak to the larger context of European conquest and exploration of other cultures (540)?

 

Some of the sources I am working on:

Christie, William. “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: A Critical and Cultural Heritage.” The Two Romanticisms and Other Essays: Mystery and Interpretation in Romantic Literature, Sydney University Press, AUSTRALIA, 2016, pp. 231–268. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1d10h2h.14.

DIX, HYWEL ROWLAND. “Postcolonial Britain.” After Raymond Williams: Cultural Materialism and the Break-Up of Britain, 2nd ed., University of Wales Press, 2013, pp. 111–142. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9qhdnr.11.

Ransom, Amy J. “Mary Shelley’s ‘Hideous Progeny.’” Science Fiction Studies, vol. 37, no. 2, 2010, pp. 314–316. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/25746415.

SUDAN, RAJANI. “Fair Exotics: Two Case Histories in Frankenstein and Villette.” Fair Exotics: Xenophobic Subjects in English Literature, 1720-1850, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002, pp. 117–147. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt3fj36r.7.

Story Sentiment?

Story and plot are seemingly synonymous ideas often used interchangeably in discussions of literature, however, the two are very different aspects of a narrative. Highly debated since Aristotle first coined plot in his dramatic theory work, Poetics, many authors have since begun identifying differences between story and plot. Within Russian formalism syuzhet (story) and fabula (plot) are used to denote narrative construction. The fabula is the raw material and the story is the order of that material. To expand, a narrative must have a beginning, middle, and end— and the plot encompasses these necessities. However, the order of those parts is what makes up the story. For example, authors may choose to withhold certain information until the end of a story, such as Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap. Her twist ending never changes the plot, but affects the story, reception, understanding, and emotion within the novel itself.

I plan on using the framework structure of Frankenstein and the Syuzhet Program by Matthew Jockers to work on a further understanding of story/syuzhet through sentiment values. To do this I have reached out to Professor Jockers and I am working on creating a new coding string to analyze Frankenstein’s different frames within the narrative. As we have discussed many times in class the story is made up of Walton’s storyline, Frankenstein’s storyline, and the Creature’s storyline. I plan on juxtaposing the three storylines to the overall novel’s and comparing the emotional valences found in each. This comes with its own set of difficulties as I need to decide where one framework ends and another begins, and while these divisions are mostly accepted still give me more power of interpretation on the frames themselves. Within the Syuzhet program I must also ensure each section is measured on a similar scale of length, which will mean I will run multiple graph comparisons, first of the sections themselves and then those comparisons to the overall novel. This is proving difficult as Walton’s frame is comprised of 30 pages total— around 7 letters worth, while Frankenstein’s is most of the novel itself. In order to streamline the findings I need to stretch certain narratives across similar page lengths, which will make the peaks and valleys of the graph less austere. So many comparisons and graphs will need to be made.

Other pitfalls I am grappling with is the fact that while the story is made up of frames, it is also Walton’s rendition of Frankenstein’s story and Frankenstein’s rendition of the Creature’s story. Each frame is not necessarily objective as we are to understand it is Walton’s record of the oral tradition from Frankenstein himself. I enjoy thinking of this point as it makes the project almost unethical, do these characters have agency or a voice? Are the sentiments expressed legitimate?

This project will open up my eyes to the current discourse on plot and story, and I will be able to use many examples within one text to create more evidence and more data to interpret. I am excited to see how the coding will turn out, but Professor Jockers and I are still working on creating the code. If that falls through I can manually create text files for each section, but at this point I have not created any new graphs or I would have shared them today to visualize this exposition. I look forward to furthering my understanding of sentiment analysis in regards to story and plot and potentially better understanding the main characters in Frankenstein. (584)

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The Connection Between Digital Humanities and Close Reading

As a literature major, reading and analyzing texts, has become a routine procedure. Of course, when close reading a literary piece of work, a reader always tries to consider how else and what other ways they can further look into the text, and what other scopes they may use, and this is when digital humanities comes in. Personally what I enjoy most about literature is analyzing a text, so I am always looking into considering how other literary scholars view certain words, lines, passages and chapters. I always analyze a text with a limited scope, which is just understanding the text through my own interpretations. Sometimes if this texts was taught in a lecture course, I benefit from the class discussions and experience other ideas and looks on the text. This is also still limited, and I would like to research how digital humanities expands the scope of close reading. When a reader goes to the internet and other forms of social and digital media, they have full unlimited access to all forms of analysis on any text they want. There are fanbases for certain authors dedicated to comparing the author’s life work. There are blog posts on any topic in literature or even how a certain word has different meanings. Of course, delving into the digital humanities, does not only expand the reader towards more interpretations of a literary text. The benefit of the digital world is that it is a worldwide phenomenon. How people close read a piece of work and interpret it, is based on their own cultures and beliefs. How the environment they were raised in affects how they interpret a text, but imagine going into the digital world and not only being exposed to a vast group of people, but be exposed to ideas and interpretation from all societies and cultures. I grew up my entire life, living from society to society, culture to culture, but not everyone gets to have the chance to travel and be exposed to the different lifestyles present in the world. With the digital world, it makes it simple for readers to travel the world and communicate with others in the world. Readers do not necessarily have to communicate with others about the text, they can get to know each other and learn about a country they discovered in a book. I just feel that digital humanities expands knowledge. In my undergraduate career, I was taught that reading allows one to travel into the world of the book when reading, but with digital humanities being involved, the reader not only travels into the world of the book, they have the ability to enter any search topic they want online and enter a world dedicated to the book as well as the topic, perhaps even learn more about the author and about the environment of the text. The digital world is a vast world, but it allows a stronger sense of intimacy between a reader and a literary text, since it allows them to explore more from the text than what they would have explored if they had not used the digital sources when interpreting texts. This is why I would like to research how digital humanities expands the world of close reading and allows for their to be a deeper relationship between the reader and the text.

 

Bibliography

Ciccoricco , David. “The Materialities of Close Reading: 1942, 1959, 2009.” DHQ: Digital Humanities Quarterly: The Materialities of Close Reading: 1942, 1959, 2009, 2012, www.digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/6/1/000113/000113.html.
Hicks, Troy. “Actually Achieving Close Reading With Digital Tools.” TeachThought, 11 Jan. 2016, www.teachthought.com/literacy/close-reading-digital-tools/.
Jacqui. “3 Digital Tools to Encourage Close Reading.” Ask a Tech Teacher, 14 May 2015, askatechteacher.com/2015/05/14/3-digital-tools-to-encourage-close-reading/.
Schoenbart, Adam. “Improving Literacy with Technology: Close Reading and Argument with Newsela.” Tech Learning, 8 Apr. 2016, www.techlearning.com/tl-advisor-blog/10571.
Zorfass, Judy. “Using Technology to Support Close Reading.” Read Tech Matters Blog | Power Up What Works, 9 Oct. 2014, powerupwhatworks.org/blog/using-technology-support-close-reading.

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