Tag Archives: Hussah Almalik

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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Final Paper Outline

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


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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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 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.



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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Fictional Worlds in the Digital Age

  1. Fictional Worlds in the Digital Age

essay by Marie-Lauren Ryan, Digital Humanities.ORG


What did you pick, and why?

  1. During my undergraduate studies, I was taught that reading served as an escape into a new world, and for my senior seminar class, one of the students wrote her final essay on the creation of fictional worlds and it interested me, so I wanted to look further into the topic.

What is the author’s key or central topic/issue?

  1. Her key and central issue was about the pleasures of literature and how the mind reaches the most fulfillment when immersing in a fictional world.
  2. She states that some works prohibit this pleasure, which are highbrow works, and her argument is that “it is pointless to demystify textual worlds as constructed by language or other types of signs if the imagination were not spontaneously inclined to pretend that these worlds are real”.
  3. She wants to ask in her essay what effect digital media has on the experience of fictional worlds and the practice of fiction.

What is the author arguing or explaining?

  1. In order for there to be a fictional world, the text has to be a fiction since “it invites its users to imagine a world”.
  2. Fiction is like performing the act of “make-believe”. It’s like role-playing in a virtual reality which helps with following the pleasures of literature. To immerse the mind in the fictional world.
  3. She writes her essay mostly on the different ways in which fictional worlds are using digital media to create their world and grow.
    1. The pleasures of world building: she talks about how the internet has allowed for people and fans to create these world with their imagination, thus making it a creative activity. She explains the history of world building and its evolution of time and with new updates occurring within the digital media.
    2. Worlds as playgrounds: She explains how digital media like video games allow the player to impersonate a character and being a part of this evolving fictional world. She explains the French sociologist’s two types of gaming: the paidia and the ludus.
    3. Expandable worlds and worlds out of worlds: she explains how through time, these fictional words have evolved and started to spontaneously network with companies thus connecting the fictional world with the real world but still maintaining its own community in the fictional world. This connection is only a way for the world to expand and make money but still be its own fictional virtual reality.
    4. Living worlds: In this section, she explains the laws of the fictional worlds and how it all depends on the player and their persistence. They all start at the bottom and make their way up through quests or by perhaps buying props that will help them move faster within this virtual world.
    5. She ends her essay by explaining online worlds and how fiction and reality affect them. Reality affects online worlds when networks and shopping for props are involved, but it is still fiction because if a player decides to call it a real world, they are valuing this virtual reality over their own reality.   

What are the “stakes” or importance of this topic/issue?

The importance of this issue is when this world expands, what is it affecting. SO with money and selling stuff, the product only has value if others see it with the same value, but there’s an issue with proving to many that this is not area world since it lacks material existence. (580)

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What I Have Learned From My Writing

As I was reading the articles on the history of word processing, I could not help but notice the keyword “preservation”. In the articles, it was mentioned that throughout the history of word processing, the issue for authors between using type writers or using a computerized machine to write their works, was the issue of reliability. Most early authors only cared for writing on typewriters because they only wanted to type out their work. It was only later on when admirers of these authors were seeking if there was any data left from these authors that was preserved, in order to discover more pieces of work from these authors. So, if these early authors had worked on computerized machines and saved their data, then perhaps we would have discovered more of their works, if we had not already discovered them.

Now we are only aware of what was made available to us, however if a computer was used, we can search the data of it, and even if we do not find complete pieces of works, we will find portions. For instance, with one of Ernest Hemmingway’s final works, it was a collaborative piece and was never completed, the other collaborators had to complete the piece of work after his death, through the texts he left. If he had been working on a computerized system, the data saved would have shown us perhaps the order of how he wished these sections were divided and laid out in his last book. Also through this data, we can learn more about the time of when he started writing his pieces and how long it took for him to finish them. Computerized writing does not only help preserve pieces of texts, but it helps us learn more about the writing process that comes with the texts.

When I write, I used to always write by hand, so whenever I go back over my writings, I never see exactly how my revisions were made, however, when I stated writing on a computer, because how Google Docs allows you to follow up your revisions, it actually helps me discover previous ideas I wanted to mention but because of a certain revision, i forgot about that idea, therefor, I can find a way to include it. Also, I can see the progress of my work, how each revision session changed and what exactly is being changed, in order for me to understand what I should focus on with my writing. Do I focus on more description, more imagery, adding more emotion, fixing sentence structures, etc. By reviewing each revision session, I will realize with each piece of work that I did, what was weak about it and what was strong about it and what needed work. Also I really like the idea about the dates and the times being available on computers since it shows how long each writing or revision session was and shows me a timeline of the progress of my work, which is not available when you write by hand.

Furthermore, usually when I write by hand, I do not like mistakes being made on the paper and I like the notebook to be organized, so on the days where I am suffering from writer’s block for a certain piece, because I do not want to disorganize the pages of the notebook and open a next page and start a new piece until i know what to do with the previous one, on a computer, I can just open up a new document, and not worry about creating a mess or ruining a specific organization, therefor on computers, I am more motivated to write even if the work is not complete. At least I am writing about all my ideas and am going back to them. (633).

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Mapping Gatsby

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, The Great Gatsby, is one of the popular texts taught from middle school, up until higher education. I myself have encountered the novel twice during my education. My first time reading it was as a junior in Highschool and the second time I read it was during my undergraduate career when I took an American Dream course. The Great Gatsby is a novel about Dreams, but what makes it distinct is that dreams are based on locations. Before I go into the plot of the novel, I would like to paraphrase Franco Moretti in stating that maps help explain the centric composition of a piece of work by presenting it artistically in order for people to understand this composition (39).

When I first read The Great Gatsby in high school, our biggest struggle was differentiating where each location of the novel was, and what each location signifies. The story is told in Nick Carraway’s perspective after everything had occurred, he was reminiscing about it, so that is the first layer of the story. There are many other layers in the story, and each layer explains the relationship of each character with the other, and it holds a specific location. This is why mapping the novel is best when wanting the students to understand the composition of the text.

By mapping the novel, the students will be able to understand how the story starts and where the location is and who starts the story. Nick Carraway starts it. The students will also understand the layer where Nick learns about Daisy and Toms relationship problems at their house, which is another location. This leads to Nick later learning about the third layer which is Toms adultery with Myrtle in the lower east side. Then Nick discovers the layer of the lower east side and the symbols that are there as well as the relationships of the characters amongst one another. There is also the layer of the relationship between Daisy and Jay Gatsby, however their layer for their relationship holds a history of different locations and years, so by mapping it, the students will understand this composition better.

This novel holds many different symbols and fortunately, these symbols are based on the setting of where scenes take place, so by mapping the novel out and perhaps also creating a brief timeline or perhaps a timeline stating the main scenes especially the rising action, the climax, and the conclusion, this will make it easier for students to comprehend. When I first read Gatsby, what made me not appreciate it was that I was confused with the locations and the symbols, however during my undergraduate career I understood it better, but by creating the map that I have created, it helped me remember the key events and the storyline better, so this activity actually helped me appreciate the novel more. (479)


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Graphing Frankenstein

Due to Mary Shelly’s novel, Frankenstein, being the most prominently taught piece of text in classrooms, wouldn’t it be nice to know what made it popular throughout the years, and made it stay as an important text to teach? Frankenstein is a text that is mostly taught to high schoolers and university students, both undergraduate and undergraduate students. Of course, those students that are younger, will not be taught about Frankenstein in the way that a graduate student would look at the text. Frankenstein is a text that holds many themes within it. A college student could study all focus on some of the themes present in the text, by looking closely at them, while a high school student can just learn the broad theme of the text.

By reading what Franco Moretti has to say about making Graphs to perform quantitive research about any text, a graph is meant to provide data, and how this data is interpreted will be different from whoever studies or examines this data (Moretti, 9). I would personally like to create a graph to compare how Frankenstein was taught in high schools and in universities, throughout the years of which it became an important text. In this graph, I will list out the years where the text became popular, see the percentage of the schools that are teaching that text during that year, then compare it with whether it was more popular in high school or university that year.

I would also make another graph to get data on why that text was taught, what was the most common theme educators were talking about. I would use this data to compare it with important events that had occurred during that year. It would just be really interesting to discover what made Frankenstein an important text to teach throughout the years because I am pretty sure that every year, educators were focusing on a different aspect of the text. For instance, if I were to teach this text this year, I would mostly focus on the theme of female inferiority and how it is present in this text. I would focus on this theme because of late last year, the MeToo and the TimesUp movement was established. These movements came to provide a voice for those women that had to keep quiet and sacrifice so much of themselves. This theme is very relatable in the book because this story is being told to Margaret, who is only a listener, and many other instances throughout the book where the women are either quiet or making sacrifices, which is why I would focus on teaching this theme and would tell my students to relate this to current events. (450)

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How to Engage With a Text

It is simple for one to turn over a page of any text and start reading, however, how do we know that despite turning over the pages, are we actually engaging with the text within these pages? There are many different ways for readers to read a piece of text closely.

Some of my close reading techniques involve:

  • Highlighting passages
  • Looking up terms
  • asking questions within certain scenes
  • looking through the imagery within the text in order to understand the tone, theme, and setting of the text

Close reading and properly engaging with the text does not only mean that we should just be able to identify the tone, theme, plot, and setting of the text. There are many ways to properly engage with a text without just considering these basic literary factors and aspects.

As noted in the text Using Digital Humanities In The Classroom by the authors Claire Battershill and Shawna Ross, in chapter five of the text “Designing Classroom Activities”, they provide several ways to engage with a text and give it purpose. Some of the suggested activities are as short as ten minutes, some are half-hour exercises, some are whole class exercises and some are weeklong exercise.  I would just like to point out the exercises that I would use in a classroom if I had wanted my students to engage with Mary Shelly’s prominent fictional piece Frankenstein.

To get my students engaged with the Frankenstein text, I would actually use the suggested ten minute and half hour exercises.  The ones that I saw would benefit the class more are the Word Cloud ten minute exercise since looking for important keywords in the text and finding different words used in the text to explain that keyword, actually helps the student understand the plot, theme, and setting of the text. It also gets them thinking about finding other themes that may not have been discussed before. By using this wordplay, it engages a larger discussion and has the students going back within the text to search for passages to help relate them to the word they are currently looking at and defining, based on how the text defines this keyword. For instance, ‘justice’ has a broad definition, yet the students through this word cloud will understand how Frankenstein defines the word ‘justice’.

Another activity I would use is from the half-hour exercises which is the “In-depth most frequent word analysis” on page 85. This is a more in-depth version of the word cloud but instead of just focusing on words, they will be looking for passages and similarities along passages and giving them more analysis. For instance when we did this in our class discussion to understand frameworks within the Frankenstein text. This analysis helped us understand the different frames in the text and when they start within the text and who is speaking in each frame. This does not only apply to frames. One of the themes of the Frankenstein text was the difference between male and females in the text and how females sacrifice more and are just listeners to the males in the text, so just by this theme alone, the students can look at sections of the Turkish female, Safie, and what voice she has to her life, We can compare that with how this entire story is told to R.W’s sister who has no voice in the text, she is just a listener. So this engages the students with looking for passages related to these themes and analyzing them.

One final exercise I absolutely enjoyed and believe would engage the student with any text, not just Frankenstein, was the whole class activity of “Character Role Playing”. I did something similar to this for one of my undergraduate courses as a final project. We were divided into groups and had to choose from one of the texts we read and play out one of the scenes, but the twist was to change the scene and explain how the story would change by the twist that we had created. My group chose the American play “The Children’s Hour” by Lillian Hellman, and the activity itself helped my group actually better understand the text, since we had to go back and read over the play, choose the scene we thought that if we change it up, it would cause the most significant change to the conclusion of the play. This whole process made us very engaged with the text because even though we acted out one part, we were aware of the previous scenes and had knowledge of how the rest of the scenes would change after the scene that we had chosen. (779)

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Digital Editions: Reliability VS. Efficiency

How one reads any piece of work is based on their own personal preference. From my own experience, I prefer reading from a physical book more than reading from the digital edition of the book, due to many reasons. For starters, I do not prefer reading from digital editions due to my lack of knowledge and trust in technology. What I mean by my lack of trust in technology is for instance, if I read a book online, anything can occur to disrupt my access to the book whether it is from the internet is not connecting, or perhaps there’s a glitch in the system or perhaps how I am accessing this book, usually through a kindle, laptop, or a phone, any of those machines can have a system failure at any given time, so they are not as reliable as reading from the physical text itself.

An example I can give about digital editions of books not being reliable is that one semester I saw that digital books are efficient for class use, so that entire semester, I had access to my books online. Everything was fine towards the beginning, but then I started facing issues prohibiting me from accessing these books when I needed them. I faced issues with network connection or just a general system failure from my laptop which was not expected since my laptop was only recently purchased, but that just goes to show that even though digital editions are efficient in terms of making it easy for you not to carry books around or if you want to find the section the professor is pointing at just by writing keywords, this efficiency is not as important as needing reliable access to the book.

Personally, my relationship with books is that I prefer to have my main access to the book through owning a physical copy of the book. By owning a physical copy of the book, I can read the book without being as distracted since by looking through a digital edition, I will find myself not having my sole focus on the book, I would be distracted easily. I also personally enjoy the experience of reading a piece of work from the actual physical copy, sometimes with digital editions, it is difficult to navigate through the pages or even be sure that your bookmark was saved; since I mentioned earlier technical malfunctions can occur so digital editions are not reliable. Moreover, I only look at digital editions if I want to use it in class to help me follow along with the lecture smoothly, to me that is the only way that digital editions of books are efficient and convenient, since keywords make it easy to follow along with the lecture and even find certain parts or paragraphs that you would like to share with the class discussion, so its only convenient in that case. But technical issues do occur which is why it is better to keep the physical copy handy with you. since on a physical copy, it is easy to bookmark, highlight and navigate through it, the only issue is that it takes longer time than navigating through a digital copy and again that all depends on your relationship and comfort with technology. Another point is digital copies are better if one were to require an audio version of the book due to issues with eyesight or perhaps has a language barrier and wants to learn more about how words are pronounced. (582)

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