on translation, spatial thinking, data visualization

Recent(ish) Translation Reviews

As part of the first blog for my seminar on translation, I ask students to look at the London Review of Books and The New York Times Book Reviews for reviews of translations.  What kinds of terms are used to review the works, and how much of the review is actually dedicated to evaluating the translation?

Here are my findings:

vol. 22 No. 17 · 7 September 2000 pages 27-28 | 2549 words
Gerald Hammond

  • The David Story: A Translation with Commentary of 1 and 2 Samuel by Robert Alter
    Norton, 410 pp, £19.95, October 1999, ISBN 0 393 04803 9

Robert Alter established a whole school of literary appreciation of the Bible some twenty years ago with a pioneering book on Biblical narrative. Now he gives us his own translation and commentary on the most literary of all the Bible’s narratives, the story of David. The translation is conservative, fully in line with the Authorised Version (and all the better for that). The commentary is up to date, absorbing not only the latest scholarship but concentrating on the extraordinary narrative power of the story of family vendetta and power politics which spans the two books of Samuel. A large part of its first half recounts the battle of wills between Saul and David. Saul is the original charismatic leader whose grip on power weakens as David, the true hero of the Old Testament, its poet and its once and future king, moves to the centre of the story. If Saul is the model for Macbeth, David is the model for Henry V.


What We Know

Peter Green

  • Buy Sappho: A New Translation of the Complete Works by Diane Rayor
    Cambridge, 173 pp, £40.00, July 2014, ISBN 978 1 107 02359 8

How, then, do Diane Rayor, André Lardinois and the editorial staff of Cambridge University Press deal with this daunting situation? Not, at first sight, in the most encouraging manner. The subtitle attached to Rayor’s new translation of Sappho declares it to be ‘of the complete works’. If only! Lardinois’s useful introduction begins by noting that very little survives of Sappho’s poetry, which moreover ‘is often hard to read, because of its fragmentary state, and very difficult to interpret’. A new translation can offer no more than one scholar’s reading (to a great extent arbitrary) of other scholars’ editions. Sappho’s Aeolic Greek is extraordinarily difficult, and establishing the texts of her poems – especially those reconstructed from lacuna-ridden and often near illegible scraps of papyrus – is largely a matter of guesswork and speculative emendation. It’s a case crying out for a double-page presentation of English and Greek, the latter consisting, at the minimum, of the editor’s text from which the translator worked, and, for preference (given the exceptionally high degree of uncertainty), a basic apparatus criticus of variant readings and other suggested supplements. The opportunity was not taken here, perhaps in response to the usual mistaken notions of what the hypothetical general reader will put up with.

In her note on translation, she identifies her double goal as ‘accuracy guided by the best textual editions and recent scholarship, and poetry’. As far as the accuracy goes, ambiguities and all, she has, despite the occasional quibble (tolmaton, for instance, means ‘endurable’ rather than what ‘must be endured’), gone to great lengths to establish throughout the likeliest interpretation of Sappho’s often baffling Aeolic Greek. This is no small achievement. As far as plain meaning goes, hers is probably the most reliable, as it is the most up-to-date and exhaustive translation available. Where there are two possible readings (e.g. is Aphrodite poikilothron’ or poikilophron’, richly enthroned or subtle-minded?) she explains each in a note, so that even if the reader disagrees with her choice (as in this case I do, preferring the second) the alternative is ready to hand. As far as up-to-dateness goes, she’s managed to include, in a last-minute appendix, the so-called ‘Brothers Song’, about Charaxos and Larichos, the larger part of which was only discovered, edited from papyrus and published by Dirk Obbink as recently as 2014.

Heaney translates the Virgilian hexameter into a loose five-beat line. As the Cumaean Sibyl remarks to Aeneas, the problem with the underworld lies not in the outbound journey but in the return:

It is easy to descend into Avernus.
Death’s dark door stands open day and night.
But to retrace your steps and get back to upper air,
That is the task, that is the undertaking.


On the history of translating Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina


Here are also some “Untranslatables” from my reading and experience:  “mantra”; “Weltanschauung”; “orenda”; Waldeinsamkeit; gemütlich; Zeitgeist; dharma; Gemeine;



“Teaching, Learning, Doing DH in a Comparative Context: Promoting Critical Thinking in the Liberal Arts”

Delivered at the 2016 ACLA Harvard University March 18, 2016

What does it mean to do Digital Humanities in an undergraduate context?  How do we promote critical and comparative thinking at the same time as cultivating “digital habits of mind?”

In  Bucknell University’s interdisciplinary Comparative Humanities Program, Digital Humanities has become the fulcrum of a new critical hermeneutic that invites students in Computer Science to think as Humanists and students in the humanities to learn the processive discipline of Computer Science. Starting with seminars on the concept of DH itself, and the challenges that it might pose to critical theory and the canon, this program has developed a set of undergraduate courses that takes students from the discovery and representation of an archival artifact to the creation of sophisticated data visualizations of multi-variant datasets.

Intrinsic to these pedagogical inquiries are the “multiple lenses” of DH, as Tanya Clement has described them. Moving between the positivism of data curation and the critique of interpretation, students learn that representation is also a knowledge generator; that epistemological systems beget representational systems in the digital world as well as the analog (Drucker 2014). As such, student DH-ers become critical learners, questioners and creators.

Within the field of Digital Humanities (and for this paper I am going to posit that there is a field–itself a significant question) there still rages the vibrant debate whether one must code to be a true DH practitioner. Within the undergraduate environment, this is especially complex, as curricula within colleges (such as across Engineering and Arts Sciences) are not normally constructed to allow for coding humanists or humanistic coders.  However, I would argue, following Alan Liu, that a Liberal Arts environment provides exactly the location where we can investigate “The Meaning of DH” (Liu 2014).  In thinking about DH as a hermeneutic act, teachers and students alike become both “builders and interpreters” where the goal of undergraduate DH is guided by a pedagogic hermeneutic of “practice, discovery, community.”  Indeed, within the Liberal Arts context we are encouraged to practice what I and others call “research-based learning” in which we faculty scholars invite student-scholars to collaborate in a classroom setting on our own research.

Founded in 2001, the Comparative Humanities Program at Bucknell seeks to engage the undergraduate student in a sophisticated and complex examination of the breadth of the humanistic disciplines.  Not limiting itself to the study of literature, the program incorporates the study of philosophy, history, religion, political science, echoing Giles Gunn’s 20-year old critique of the limits of comparative literature. As he says,

“Literature and  . . . ” does not capture the emergence of new subjects and topics such as history of the book, materialism of the body, psychoanalysis of the reader, sociology of conventions, ideologies of gender, race, and class as well as intertextuality, power, and the status of “others.” (Gunn 1992, 248-9)

With its own dedicated core courses that follow what might seem to be a “Great Books” trajectory, the program also incorporates theoretical and methodological seminars in concepts of comparativity across media, genres, and national literatures.   It also regularly cross lists courses from departments across the humanities at the 200 and 300-level. Upper level seminars in, for example, The History of Sexuality, are cross listed three or even four ways, causing the Registrar many headaches.

Criteria for cross-listing are based in the adoption of 2 or more of our learning goals that foreground concepts of comparativity, linguistic competency, and written and oral communication.  In order to distinguish ourselves from courses in English literary studies, for example, or Philosophy, comparativity is crucial.  Assessing student outcomes is also key to the evaluation of educational achievement and can prove a difficult task.

In her long engagement with the theory and practice of interdisciplinarity, Julie Thompson Klein has provided the academy with a useful vocabulary with which such assessment can work.  Distinguishing between multidisciplinarity, interdisciplinarity, and transdisciplinarity, in her recent volume Interdisciplining DH: Boundary Work in an Emerging Field (2015) Klein firmly situates DH (and I would argue CH) within what she terms the baseline vocabulary of interdisciplinarity.  Privileging integration over juxtaposition or (a kind of Hegelian) synthesis (although the latter are not excluded) the ground of interdisciplinary comparison becomes for Klein method, data, tools, and concepts.

Within this curricular environment, the Program in Comparative Humanities in collaboration with colleagues in other humanities departments has designed a minor in Digital Humanities that includes the following curricular components:

  • course offerings that explicitly involve Digital Humanities (and/or Digital Media) modes and methods as applied to critical humanistic inquiry
  • interdisciplinary/cross-disciplinary courses that bring the “digital” to and from other disciplines
  • Independent study and/or faculty-student research project electives that involve digital literacies and the development of applicable skill sets
  • a portfolio that demonstrates mastery of digital approaches to humanities subjects through a set of artifacts

This minor is interdisciplinary in nature, spanning humanities departments and programs and including faculty from non-humanities programs and departments and Engineering as appropriate.  As my colleague and co-author Diane Jakacki and I have written elsewhere, one of the distinguishing features of a Digital Humanities course is the foregrounding of critique.  Unlike other more CS-based classes, students in DH classes are required to reflect on the process they have undertaken in developing their projects to be able to place their praxis within the broader scholarly discourse of DH.  Therefore, we argue, carefully selected readings are directly linked to development of each of the student’s competencies and embedded within the class schedule. Teaching students to use these digital platforms requires the conscious placement of the course within a curricular context; in our case, within the context  of the program in Comparative Humanities.

The learning goals of the minor (a requirement to be included in the minor is the adoption of at least two of these) foreground the concepts of interdisciplinarity and critique.  Requiring students to learn, practice and critically evaluate the methodologies, conventions, and social contexts of DH, the minor attracts students from STEM and other humanities fields.  And, in order to integrate and not merely juxtapose, in these courses, DH cannot be viewed as “just a tool, just a repository, just a pedagogy (Klein, 2015).  But rather, as Willard McCarty (2005) has argued in his work, we seek to avoid the relegation of DH and its practitioners (especially colleagues in so-called alt/ac positions) to the rank of “mere assistants or delivery boys to scholarship”.  Rather, as learning goal #3 clearly states, the collaborative nature of work in DH must be understood as a part of the heuristic.  DH is a “habit of mind”, a hermeneutic, in which new knowledge, both instrumental and foundational, is created.

A useful way to think about and do DH with undergraduate students is as a new language.  As Jason Rhody, of the National Endowment for Humanities Office of Digital Humanities, has stated, for him DH is a kind of “Boolean operator,” creating a lexicon and syntax for work in multiple disciplines.

This is a helpful concept in the execution and evaluation of student and faculty work in Comparative and Digital Humanities, not least because we also offer a minor in Translation Studies, that has as its basis a firm grasp of linguistics and also translation theory, history and praxis as well as high competency in a second language.  Dynamic intersectionality between Translation Studies, Digital Humanities and Comparative Humanities produces an innovative and exciting curricular and intellectual environment for faculty and students.

Students in the Translation Studies minor engage in an examination of translation from multiple perspectives that provide them with an educational pathway toward the acquisition of general and specific knowledge about the field of Translation Studies, its history, evolution and theories. Further, they are be trained in the practice of critical thinking about language use and translation; and broaden and deepen their understanding of translation as it relates to power relations, politics, ethics, cultural issues, gender, post-colonialism, etc. Additionally, the minor in Translation Studies provides students with an opportunity to acquire important skills in their respective target language(s); skills such as conducting research in preparation for translation, sound writing skills in one’s source language, learning proper analytical processes and appropriate use of current technological resources in the field. As such, the intellectual glue of Comparative Humanities, DH and Translation Studies could well be understood as Roman Jakobson’s notion of intermedial/intersemiotic translation.

Screenshot 2016-03-19 19.08.11Bringing together DH and Translation Studies has produced some groundbreaking work, such as this on-going project in the history of translation.  Tong Tong ‘17 has created a database of all the translations in the Chinese language journal “World Literature” for the 1980s.  From this meticulously scraped data, Tong is able to pursue her research into the transmission of non-Chinese literature into Chinese in the 1980s.

So, how do these programs provide a curricular environment in which the process of practice and discovery is the norm (to quote Alan Liu)?  How do we produce meaning in DH? As Liu has argued

“In both their promise and their threat, the digital humanities serve as a shadow play for a future form of the humanities that wishes to include what contemporary society values about the digital without losing its soul to other domains of knowledge work that have gone digital to stake their claim to that society.” (Liu 2013)

But how is this possible? How do we get from numbers to meaning? The objects being tracked, the evidence collected, the ways they’re analyzed—all of these are quantitative. And, as Willard McCarty has argued, models give meaning (Willard McCarty and Lima).

In an attempt to answer this question, in my course in Data Visualization, I integrate the principles of design into the practice of data visualization. Using Edward Tufte’s work as a basis, and Manuel Lima’s recent research in the field, students are required to produce visualizations that exemplify the insight that they can be either representations or knowledge generators in which the spatialization or arrangement of elements is meaningful.

In her recent work, Graphesis, Drucker encourages us when reading a visualization to use language carefully, employing terms such as “juxtapose”, “hierarchy”, “proximity”. From their work in the core courses in CH, students can verify Drucker’s claim that visualization exploded onto the intellectual scene at the edge of the late Renaissance and beginning of the early Enlightenment, when engraving technologies were able to produce epistemologically stunning diagrams that both described and also produced knowledge. The advent of digital modes to manipulate and produce data means that we can, for example, all produce timelines without giving a thought to the revolution in the conceptualization of time and history that Joseph Priestley occasioned. So, as students work with Timeline JS, Drucker cautions us to become aware of the visual force of such digital generations. “The challenge is to break the literalism of representational strategies and engage with innovations in interpretive and inferential modes that augment human cognition.” (p. 71)

How do we do this? Drucker argues for us to recognize three basic principles of visualization, both as producers and as interpreters: a) the rationalization of a surface; b) the distinction of figure and ground; c) the delimitation of the domain of visual elements so that they function as a relational system. A graphical scheme through which we relate to the phenomenal world structures our experience of it (p. 74).

Screenshot 2016-03-19 19.06.07

In visualizations of the Bucknell curriculum, Comparative Humanities major, Erin Frey and a Computer Science Engineering major, Nadeem Nasimi take as their starting point a student’s experience of the Bucknell curriculum. The student designers drew data from our Banner system, that connected courses in departments and programs with the General Curriculum requirements.  This database was then visualised as a complex network (on the right using a force directed graph).  In an effort to represent the data on a macro, meso, and micro scale, Erin not satisfied with computer generated GUI’s drew the model on the left inspired by Boris Muller’s visualization “Poetry on the Road.” In so doing Erin followed closely Tufte’s principles of display architecture and describes how this visualization  “(1) documents the sources and characteristics of the data,” through its shape; how it “(2) insistently enforces appropriate comparisons,” made possible through the variable node sizing; “(3) demonstrates mechanisms of cause and effect,” by the simple organization of data into the democratic, circular structure; “(4) expresses those mechanisms quantitatively,”  by sizing and connecting each node based on quantitative data from the course catalog; “(5) recognizes the inherently multivariate nature of analytic problems,” shown through the combination of variables such as node color, size, and location, and different CCC requirements; “and (6) celebrates ambiguity (Tufte 53).” http://datavizfordh.blogs.bucknell.edu/author/emf012/

While the Bucknell Registrar might not make the resulting interactive visualization part of his website, for Erin and Nadeem it created a complex and accurate representation of paths taken and not taken through the Bucknell curriculum.

Meredyk Paxton Map
Steffany Meredyk ’14, Bethany Dunn ’14/Prof. Katherine Faull

Drucker argues that the shape of temporality is a reflection of beliefs and not standard metrics, and asks how we find a graphical means to inscribe the subjective experience of temporality or the spatial.

The mapping of the earth, sky, sea or the measurement of time, that are in themselves complex reifications of schematic knowledge, actually become the way in which we experience that thing. The week is seven days long and the month is 28-31 days long (because of lunar cycles) and thus astronomical tables become the way we structure time. But time isn’t like that; it isn’t linear, especially in the humanities! It contains flashbacks, memories, foreshadowings, relativities (it speeds up when we are nervous, and slows down when we are scared). We impose structures from social and natural sciences onto human experience.

This summer research project by, Steffany Meredyk (History and Geography) and Bethany Dunn intentionally draws on the critical cartography of Margaret Pearce (and Ann Knowles) Steffany and Bethany produced a series of museum quality interpretative panels on the history of the Susquehanna River in the mid-18th century.  Drawing primary evidence from historical accounts, some in archives, some published, the two students wove together a representation of the experience of fear and landscape that invites the viewer in.

Having worked in GIS for almost ten years now, I know that as a software, GIS gives us enormous power to produce knowledge as a generator; through the combinatory power of layers, and base maps, and points, and embedded data tables, GIS is seductive with its “deceptive naturalism of maps and bar charts” generated from spreadsheets that I and my students have spent months creating. It strengthens the fiction of observer-independence; the objectivity of the “bird’s eye view”, and, as Drucker so aptly states, “we rush to suspend critical judgment in visualization.” For me, however, and for the students I have worked with, the question of how to represent ambiguity has consumed us; as has also how to make ambiguity the ground of representation.

Screenshot 2016-03-19 19.12.42
Metadata from “Moravian Women’s Memoirs” Faull 1997

In the extraction of data from humanities sources, we are perhaps seduced into thinking this is a isomorphic representation of experience.  For example, digital mapping may give us the ability to georectify a manuscript map onto a coordinate system, but what does this show us? Maybe how accurate a mapmaker was, or not; it might help us to locate a birthplace with accuracy, but it is ignoring the fact that the manuscript map, drawn perhaps on buckskin, or stone, or vellum is a representation (and a thin one at that) of a traveler’s or observer’s experience that we are translating into a system of coordinates.

Screenshot 2016-03-19 19.16.46

Platforms such as Omeka and Neatline can help to make that quantification more complex, more experiential for the viewer, more of a narrative.  Students learn that way-finding depends upon narratives, travel accounts, diaries; and digital maps produce the illusion of isomorphism, but this illusion is based on an elaborate system of abstract schema and concrete reality.

Screenshot 2016-03-19 19.25.34

This work can take place both inside and outside the classroom.  Principles learned in the classroom can be applied outside.  For example, students are working with me on an international DH project that involves some (pretty) big data and they can contribute to the discussions about data storage, retrieval, and visualization.

Importantly they also understand the necessarily iterative process of the work.  This is the first version of the memoir visualization project with the University of Gothenburg and students  are helping to clean data.

Screenshot 2016-03-19 19.28.40

In conclusion, although students in the humanities and computer science might initially view each other with disciplinary suspicion, through collaborative and integrative work that is modeled through the professor’s research, undergraduates in the liberal arts learn that the subversion of the core logic of digital tools can open up new forms of knowledge.


Genius in Translation


Genius in Translation:

Julia Kristeva’ s Desire in Language and her Love of the Foreign


Katherine Faull

Humanities Institute

Sept. 13 2005


My starting point in this discussion of feminine and genius is one of the most provocative studies on genius and the Western tradition by Christine Battersby, whose diachronic and gendered reading of the notion of genius points, in my opinion, a way forward to the possibility of a feminist aesthetic that is no longer trapped by masculinist linkages of a phallic aesthetics with male virility. In her volume, entitled “Gender and Genius” which indeed adheres to Kristeva’s own notion of the third wave of feminism, Battersby traces the implementation of the notion of the male genius from the Greeks and Romans to the present in an attempt to delineate the contours of an aesthetic of an “écriture feminine.” Genius, I would argue with Battersby, is both etymologically and ideologically rooted in the masculine and not the feminine. So, then, what could Kristeva’s feminine genius be?

The Genius in Stone

Those critics and philosophers who work on genius, for example, Christine Battersby, Jochen Schmidt and Penelope Murray, trace the etymology of the word to two possible roots. One, Latin “genius“ denotes the divine forces associated with and protecting male fertility. genii are thus the spirits that are attached to the land, places, and natural objects that protect and ensure the longevity of the gens, or male clan. The other root is “ingenium,” a term associated with good judgment and knowledge, also talent, dexterity, the skills needed by an artist working in mimetic traditions. Battersby argues that “genius” as the logos spermatikos represents a Greek and Roman Stoic central concept that later enters into the Christian concept of God’s word and is far more influential in the semantic field of the word genius than “ingenium”. That is, the engendering aspect of the virile male is privileged over the idea of talent. If one looks at the usages of the word genius in 17th century, for example in Shakespeare, we find Macbeth complaining that his “genius is rebuk’d” (Macbeth III; 1) because he has been given a barren scepter and others will father a line of kings.
In Romantic and Modernist aesthetics, the notion of genius is central to models of both knowledge and representation. For example, Battersby identifies Kant’s epistemological foundation as built on this aesthetic of genius in which some male (but never female) intellectual beings possess “intellectual intuition” that allows them to bring not only the world as it appears to be into existence but also things in themselves. For Goethe, Fr. Schlegel, Novalis, Fichte, the artistic genius’ imagination is a (sometimes) lesser version of God’s creation of the universe. But for a woman to create artistically, she must, as Anais Nin in the 20th century bemoans, become masculine, that is she must unsex herself as a woman and become a man: to create culturally woman must sever her connections to the womb. (Battersby, p. 45)

The Semiotic

There is much more to be said about this, but at this point I would like to turn to Kristeva and her essay “Desire in Language” (1975) to begin my investigation of her notion of the revolution in poetry and the relevance of this notion of revolution for the potential of a feminine genius. In this essay Kristeva begins to concentrate on the possibility of a psychological liberatory moment through the recognition of primary narcissism’s access to the semiotic and the “choric” (chora) moment in poetic expression. In “Desire in Language” Kristeva sets up her philosophical paradigm against the phenomenology of Edmund Husserl and the necessary positing of a transcendental ego in the thetic consciousness of the subject in process. This “thetic” consciousness is necessary in that “any linguistic act, insofar as it sets up a signified that can be communicated in a sentence (and there is no sign or signified that is not already part of a sentence), is sustained by the transcendental ego.” (DiL p. 99) Kristeva argues that the Husserlian phenomenological argument can be understood (translated) into the processes of the subject “as operating consciousness” by drawing on the insights of generative grammar and linguistic understanding thereby countering her contemporaries’ deconstructive attacks on the possibility of such a transcendental ego and its communicative object. In other words, the Husserlian move for Kristeva (at this point) allows her to posit the “thetic” nature of an utterance and then move to the problem of the remainder of poetic language which would seem to exceed its communicative purpose and the recognition of the constraining forces of socializing elements.
For Kristeva, poetic language differs from “rhetorical” language because it goes beyond the function of meaning and signification. Its thetic function is only part of its constraint: what makes it poetic is its ability to transcend the Husserlian phenomenology and access what Kristeva at this point calls the “heterogeneity” of language, or the “semiotic.”
This signifying disposition is not that of meaning or signification: no sign, no predication, no signified object and therefore no operating consciousness of a transcendental ego. We shall call this disposition semiotic (le sémiotique), meaning according to the etymology of the Greek sémeion a distinctive mark, trace, index, the premonitory sign, the proof, engraved mark, imprint—in short, a distinctiveness admitting of an uncertain and indeterminate articulation because it does not yet refer (for young children) or no longer refers (in psychotic discourse) to a signified object for a thetic conciousness. (DiL, p. 101-2)
The Platonic “chora,” a maternally connoted place of language prior to naming, prior to entry into the symbolic and the Law of the Father, is the place that gives the infant, the madman, and the poet, the rhythms and syntactic elisions, the intonations and the timbre of poetry. “It is poetic language that awakens our attention to this undecideable character of any so-called natural language, a feature that univocal, rational, scientific discourse tends to hide” (p. 103)
This realization is of course nothing new: poetic language is by its very definition a “poesis”–a creation, something new and original (see, for example, the poetic language of Hölderlin, Nietzsche, Karoline von Günderrode) that moves beyond the boundaries of rational discourse. However, what is revolutionary is Kristeva’s link between psychological process of maturation that would see the access to the semiotic in terms of the subject-in-process, the figuring of the feminine maternal chora as at once a privileged motif and as a disruptive and productive force of revolt and resistance. In contrast to the semiotic, rhetorical writing has been seduced away from the maternal. In Desire in Language Kristeva identifies the problem with philosophical discourse today (and one might suspect the trace of Derrida here) in France as being its narcissistic fascination with itself.
The rhetorician does not invent a language; fascinated by the symbolic function of paternal discourse, he seduces it in the Latin sense of the verb—he “leads it astray,” inflicts it with a few anomalies generally taken from writers of the past, thus miming a father who remembers having been a son and even a daughter of his father, but not to the point of leaving cover. This is indeed what is happening to the discourse of contemporary philosophers, in France particularly, when, hemmed in by the breakthroughs in social sciences on the one hand, and social upheavals on the other, the philosopher begins performing literary tricks, thus arrogating to himself a power over imaginations: a power which, though minor in appearance, is more fetching than that of the transcendental consciousness.” (p. 106)
Counter to the seductions of philosophy, the stylist (Kristeva echoes Nietzsche in describing the writer who accesses the semiotic chora) no longer needs to seduce the father, may even take another name than the father’s but assumes the role of the “permanent go-between from one to the other, a pulsation of sign and rhythm, of consciousness and instinctual drive.” (p. 107) The semiotic for Kristeva constitutes the means to override the constraints of a civilization dominated by transcendental rationality. By avoiding the traps of symbolic language, the semiotic emerges as “musicated” language, poetic language that laughs back (echoes of Nietzsche again) at the symbolic’s drive to the mastery of meaning.
According to Kristeva, the problem with interpretations of poetic language, and the realm it accesses, consists in reading it as rhetoric, as rational discourse, or else, failing that, mimicking it in a kind of academic echolalia. Original interpretation, like original thought (and as we have heard all translation is interpretation) must access a non-symbolic realm of signification. How can this be done, Kristeva asks. She answers, “It is probably necessary to be a woman… not to renounce theoretical reason but to compel it to increase its power by giving it an object beyond its limits.” (p. 113) Therefore, being a speaking woman, beyond the law of the language of the father, allows access to “an instinctual body… which ciphers the language with rhythmic, intonational, and other arrangements, nonreducible to the position of the transcendental ego even though always within sight of its thesis.” (p. 113)
Does this then mean that the speaking/writing woman has privileged access this place of originality, this non-echolalic prelinguistic realm of sense and sound? Could we then understand Kristeva as making the move that Nietzsche most definitely does not? Namely, in that she identifies the creative voice of genius with writing “as” a woman and not merely “like” a woman? To return to Battersby’s work on genius, we are shown the difference between Nietzsche the stylist and Kristeva:

“Nietzsche asks us to listen to him with a ‘third ear’: one that is tuned into the pauses between the music of reality. But he does not write as a woman. Nor will he even allow women to write as women. We should ask whether it is at all revolutionary to locate feminine strength (and Otherness) in the (pregnant) pauses between the words and sentences of the logos spermatikos?
(Battersby, Gender and Genius, p. 125)

Genius in Translation

I would now like to move on to the third part of my talk, namely that on translation. If we understand translation as an act that attempts to move meaning either intralingually or interlingually, then how do you move the remainder of poetic language, that which is beyond signification?   In her important work on translating feminist philosophy and ecriture feminine, both styles of writing that intentionally access the semiotics of the “chora”, Luise von Flotow investigates the complexities involved in translating “sense” language, the semeion, as opposed to symbolic or rhetorical language. In her essay “From Sense to Sound” von Flotow describes how following the tradition of translating nonsense nursery rhymes from French into English, translators have been faced with the task of searching for an equivalence if not in the semantic realm then in the semiotic for the “emotives” that signal pre-oedipal communication. Drawing on the techniques of translating children’s nonsense verse, von Flotow analyses the rendering into another tongue of feminist philosophical texts that challenge the symbolic order of the Father. In order to achieve this, she argues, the translator must face the question of “translating the sensory” to use Kristeva’s phrase, by employing mimetic and enunciative translation, sacrificing sense to sound in the attempt to echo the semiotics of the original.
Kristeva also addresses the possible nature of the sensory in her essay, originally published under the title “L’autre langue ou traduire le sensible” in French Studies (1998) and which appeared in English as Chapter 14 in Intimate Revolt under the rubric “The Love of Another Language”. Here Kristeva approaches this question from the perspective of her own autobiographical situation, that of the foreign writer in France. The writer is always a translator of the sensory universe in its singularity, the writer, like the analyst, lays bare the foreignness of her inner life, and, like the analyst, she translates that which is before language into language. At the turn of the 20th century Freud argues that Übertragung (transference /translation) is the mechanism or process by which the analysand translates hysterical symptoms and dreams into ordinary language and transfers desires that were unacceptable onto an object that is acceptable. Freud regards himself and the analysand as the decoders/interpreters of deliberately difficult, preconscious material in to the conscious realm, Indeed, Übertragung is the transference or translation that Freud refers to as the vehicle for the success of psychoanalysis. For Kristeva, echoing Freud, the function of the writer/analyst is also one of translation. In the essay, “Love of another Language” she writes in the section entitled “France my suffering,”
“They teach me that, even when native, the writer does not cease to be a translator of his unveiled passions, that the fundamental language that he takes pleasure in translating is the language of the sensory. And that this unnamable foundation, this rumor of our fibers and our dreams, never allows itself to be absorbed or reduced in the codes of schools, clans, institutions, or media.” (Intimate Revolt, p. 246)[1]  For Kristeva, then, this translation of desire subverts the rhetorical, as she has termed it. It represents a revolt in language, beyond the realm of the institution.
How then, does the translator reach the “text behind the text” in poetic language? As Susan Bassnett asks in her work Translation Studies, how does the translator communicate what Mallarmé was to call “the text of silence and spaces?” (p. 69) How does one translate this remainder, the connotative and denotative function of language? Does the translator merely translate the linguistic signs literally and trust that the connotations in one language somehow are replicated in another, or does the translator maintain the strangeness, the inherent otherness of the source text in the target language through the use of an artificial, or non natural language somewhere in between the source language and target language text, where the special feeling of the original may be conveyed through strangeness. (p. 70)
The first option might be possible if, as according to the sub-field of semiotics in Translation Studies, we consider languages to be systems of signs, of semiotika. In this case a system of relations between signs might be moved as meanings to a target language. But, as Umberto Eco has pointed out, such a system presupposes a perfect language that both source language and target language mysteriously point to. That is, in order to express in language A a concept that appears in language B one has to refer to a language X in which concepts from both A and B can be expressed perfectly. Walter Benjamin was to refer to this language in his essay “The Task of the Translator” as the pure language, “die reine Sprache,” that lies mystically behind every attempt at translation. It is this pure language that semioticians refer to when they speak of the translatability of the semiotic, the possibility of the entrance into the symbolic of that which lies in the chora.
But Benjamin’s pure language lies beyond the temporal. And our access to language does not. It is also possible that meanings within the source language may become translatable into the target language, given certain changing linguistic and historical conditions. We must move beyond the rationalist tradition where meanings are universal and hence generally translatable into their language specific representations; and we must also move beyond the relativist position, where thinking and speaking are so tightly bound together (and the subjective element in the constitution of meaning is much stronger) to arrive at a third way. This position, mediating between thinking and speaking, and for Kristeva between the semiotic and the symbolic, is represented perhaps most famously by German philosopher and theologian, Friedrich Schleiermacher. In arguing that meaning is accessible through a mode of understanding, Schleiermacher terms “sense” or “intuition”, an operation he considers to be a recognition of the incommensurability of languages, as the translator of the sensory (as Kristeva might term it) (See Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies, p. 274)
In her essay “Translating the Sensory” (Intimate Revolt, p. 240 ) Kristeva calls upon this trace of the foreign, the other, the semiotic, to be “jarring to the natives.” Here Kristeva speaks of her relationship to her adopted language, French. It is, she claims, “an act of politeness among people who share the same rhetoric, the same accumulation of images and sentences, the same arrangement of reading and conversations, in a stable society. (p. 243) However, her insertion of the strange, her use of this polished stone of language frustrates native speakers as it reveals the “monster”, it exposes her “who takes pleasure in never being content”. Kristeva regards herself as the metisse, the hybrid monster, the “Blendling” as Schleiermacher termed it in his essay on translation, who straddles two chairs of national reference. And rather than reject this metissage, she embraces it; it signals the death of the maternal tongue, Bulgarian, “this warm and still speaking cadaver” (p. 245), it marks the death of “ the vague plural meanings of the Bulgarian idiom, insufficiently severed from Cartesianism, in resonance with the prayer of the heart and the darkness of the sensory” (p. 246). Kristeva’s relationship to French is a love for the “sensory language, a language not of signs but of marks, quotations, pulsations impressions sorrows, and ecstasies– the marks, as she claims, of true foreignness.
If we are to accept Hjelmslev’s proposition, as set forth in his Prolegomena to a Theory of Language, that ‘a language is a semiotic into which all other semiotics may be translated’ since in a language and only in a language, can we work over the inexpressible until it is expressed” (p. 109), then the question of the translatability of the semiotic, the translation of genius might be best addressed by how the target language, or in Kristeva’s terms, the symbolic will change, how in the future it will be able to express that which is sense. It is in this way that Kristeva offers us a translation of genius, of the particular, the individual in her embrace of her own position of otherness and her act of translation, not of the logos spermatikos, but rather of the chora. The quality of genius then lies not only as Kristeva argues in the transcendence of the sociopolitical context in which the feminine finds itself, but also in the transcendence of the givenness, the thetic quality of the target language and the act of revolt to change, to explore, its linguistic malleability. Such a notion of the futurity of linguistic change might then challenge the walls of ungenius, of the bedint, the quotidian, and as Kristeva urges us, give us the means to express our feminine genius.

[1] Ils m’apprennent que, même autochtone, l’écrivain ne cesse d’être un tradacteur de ses passions dérobées, que la langue fondamentale qu’il se plait à traduire est la langue du sensible. Et que cet innommable fondement, cette rumeur de nos fibres et de nos rêves, ne se laisse jamais entièrement résorber, jamais réduire dans les codes des écoles, des clans, des institutions, des medias…” (Julia Kristeva, French Studies LII October 1998:4, 389).

Tools for DH–Humanities in Action

I am teaching a partial credit course for the Languages and Cultures and Humanities Residential Colleges this year, called Humanities in Action.  This is a project based course that meets once a week over supper to develop ideas for Humanities based projects and develop and design them in a group.

As I have been working with students and faculty on various projects in DH I have wanted to have one page where I put together sites/tools/tutorials that are helpful to us. I am compiling these here and this is still a work in progress, but it might be useful to colleagues out there also.  In DH we tend to learn collaboratively; so many of the tutorials are adapted from colleagues who have pioneered this approach to teaching, such as Miriam Posner at UCLA and Alan Liu at UCSB,

Tools for DH–Humanities in Action

There are some basic tools that can help you with your DH projects, whether you know programming or not.  Here are some of the ones my students and I have found most useful.  Tutorials are also linked.

Text analysis

jiayu's network
Network visualization of terms in Wikipedia’s RPG game descriptions (by Jiayu Huang for HUMN 270 Fall 2015)

Voyant is the best multi-tool text analysis platform for a start.  The version that is online is the earlier release and can be found as part of the suite of tools that can be found here.  There is a new version of Voyant that brings these different platforms into one interface and which doesn’t require switching between tools.  If you want to use that, ask me.  I have a version on my thumb drive.

Voyant is very good as a concordance and frequency analysis visualization tool.  It can work with large amounts of text in multiple files.  You can compare aspects of different texts easily.  For example, which words come up most frequently in which texts; which terms are collocated; what are the vocabulary densities of different texts?

Here is a tutorial for Voyant 2.0

There are also sites/tools for analyzing large amounts of text data from a macro or high level perspective:  for example, Google Ngram viewer which visualizes word frequencies in the corpus of Google digitized books (in multiple languages)  and Bookworm which visualizes trends in repositories of digitized texts.

Topic Modeling

Screenshot 2015-09-27 19.26.38Topic modelling is a method by which your text is chunked into pieces and a computer works out what the most important topics are in the chunks.  The algorithm is not interested in meaning, just in related concepts.  The best tool for this is MALLET; a Java-based package for statistical natural language processing, document classification, clustering, topic modeling, information extraction, and other machine learning applications to text. MALLET includes sophisticated tools for document classification: efficient routines for converting text to “features”, a wide variety of algorithms (including Naïve Bayes, Maximum Entropy, and Decision Trees), and code for evaluating classifier performance using several commonly used metrics.

But if you are not comfortable with command line programming there is also an online version that can work for smaller amounts of text.  That can be found here.

There is also a nice demo tool that can be used to identify topics, themes, sentiment, concepts at AlchemyAPI

Screenshot 2015-09-27 19.29.27Miriam Posner has written a great blog about how to interpret the results from Topic Modelling outputs.


There are lots of online platforms out there for mapping data.  It all depends how fancy you want to get and whether you want to do more than map points.

CartoDB is definitely fast and flexible.  If you have a csv with geo-coordinates you can upload in seconds and have a map.  It also has a geo-coder that can quickly turn your list of places into latlongs.Screenshot 2015-09-27 19.49.35

Another way to go is through Google Fusion tables.  Again this is a super fast and easy way to map data.  You can also produce a nice “card view” of entries that will make your Excel spreadsheets into much more reader friendly format.  There are also other multiple ways to visualize your data in graphs, networks, and pie charts.

ArcMap online is another way to go if you want to produce far more sophisticated mapping visualizations, such as Story Maps and Presentations.  Bucknell has an institutional account.  If you want to use it, let me know.

Palladio is an interesting multi-dimensional tool from Stanford Literary Labs.  It can produce maps, networks, timelines and graphs of your data.  Here is a tutorial for my HUMN 270 class, written by Miriam Posner.

Building 3D Models

This is a part of DH I have not yet ventured into, but others on campus definitely have!  The easiest entry into modelling is SketchUp.  We also have Rhino loaded on the machines in Coleman 220 and it is regularly used in Joe Meiser’s Digital Sculpture class.


Screenshot 2015-09-27 20.30.02There are various platforms out there for constructing digital timelines that also allow for the inclusion of multimedia elements and one, Timemapper, also allows for a mapping window.  Most frequently used are Timeglider and Timeline.js

Creating a Digital Exhibition

If you re interested in curating a digital exhibition of artifacts, the best platform to use is Omeka.net. This is a free online version of the more robust and versatile Omeka.org platform which has to be installed on Bucknell’s servers (which can take a while).  Omeka.net allows you to upload digitized images, documents, maps etc to a “collection” that can then be arranged and curated as an online exhibit.  This is particularly useful if you have found a collection of photographs (maybe your own) that you would like to present in a public facing platform with a narrative logic.

Screenshot 2015-09-29 09.00.21
View of Matthis Hehl’s Itinerant Map of Pennsylvania, annotated using Neatline. http://ssv.omeka.bucknell.edu/omeka/neatline/fullscreen/itinerant-preachers-map-of-pennsylvania

Again, if you want to do this I am happy to show you how.  Here is a link to my own (developing) Omeka site at Bucknell on the Stories of the Susquehanna.  The server-based version has a very nice visualization tool called Neatline, which allows you to link the digital artifacts in your collection to a base image (maybe a map or a painting) and then annotate. This is an example I am developing for the 1750s Itinerant Preachers’ Map of Pennsylvania which I have used a great deal in my research and also in my teaching.  There is also a Timeline widget you can activate.  I have discovered a great tutorial on how to use Omeka and Neatline here, put together from a workshop given at the Michelle Smith Collaboratory at the University of Maryland.


If you want to create a network visualization in more detail and depth, use Gephi. Gephi is an open source, free, interactive visualization and exploration platform for all kinds of networks and complex systems, dynamic and hierarchical graphs.  It runs on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.  One of most important issues to consider before investing a lot of time in learning Gephi is whether or not your research question might be answered through using this visualization platform.  Ask yourself these questions, and then if the answer is yes, prepare your data!  Gephi has an excellent set of tutorials on GitHub.  Data can be prepared directly in Gephi or can be imported in csv format.

Anna Piesch Seidel

Ich bin gebohren anno 1726 den 12ten January in Berthelsdorff
allwo meine lieben Eltern sich <(>interims Weise<)> aufhielten, bis ihr
neu erbautes Haus in Herrnhuth fertig wurde, denn sie waren
den Herbst vorher erst aus Mähren angekommen.
Wie ich 6 Jahr alt war, verlohr ich meine liebe Mutter, die an
einer hitzigen Kranckheit gar sehr selig u. geschwinde heimging.
Ich hatte 2 Brüder die jünger waren als ich, u. wir wurden eben
alle 3 in das damalige Wäysen-Haus in Hhuth gethan. Unser
lieber Vater war selten zu Hause, weil er beständig mit dem
seligen Papa auf Reisen war. Die Behandlung in dem lieben
Wäysen-Hause war dazumal hart u. schwer. <(>Meine armen
kleinen Brüder grämten sich daß sie beyde die auszehrung krieg-
ten, u. ihrer lieben Mutter bald nach folgten. Ich blieb also
allein übrig, u. habe meine Zeit ab u. zu daselbst zugebracht
bis ich 12 Jahr alt war. Der liebe Heiland war mein Einiger
Trost, an Ihn hielt ich mich, u. Er half mir <gnädig.> durch. Wie ich 11
Jahr alt war 1737 kam ich nebst noch mehreren von meinen Gespie-
linnen ins Stunden-Gebeth, u. war in diesem mir aufgetragenen
Geschäffte so threu, daß ich noch iezt mit Vergnügen dran denke.
den 13ten Septr. dieses Jahres wurde ich in die Kinder-Gemeine auf-
genommen. 1738 im Jan: reiste ich nebst noch unterschiedenen Kin-
dern nach Berlin, allwo der sel. Papa mit seinem Hause schon
verschiedene Wochen vorher war. Wir wurden in Seinem Hause
einlogirt, u. wenn Er seine Reden an die Weibs-Leute hielt, saßen
wir um die Bühne herum worauf er stand, u. sangen gemein-
nigl. die Lieder, die er zum Anfang singen lies.
Im Monat May dieses Jahres, reisten wir Kinder mit Geschw.
Leohards nach Marienborn, u. formirten auch da eine Anstalt, zu
welcher immer Kinder herzu kamen, bis wir endl. zieml. starck wurden. ///Da ich noch nicht 14 Jahr alt war, wurde mir eine zieml. große
Stube voll Kinder anvertraut, deren Vorgesezte ich war, welches
eine eigene Schule vor mich war, u. mich gar sehr zum Heiland trieb
in allen Angelegenheiten.
anno 39 im Oct: ging ich zum erstenmal zum heil: Abendmahl,
zum unvergeßl. Eindruck u. Seegen vor mein armes Herz;
(<)14 Tage darauf wurde ich nebst noch unterschiedenen von meinen Ge- spielinen Confirmirt, oder zur Accoluthie angenommen.(>)
anno 40 zogen wir nach Herrnhaag in das vor die Anstalt er-
baute Haus. anno 41 im Jan: wurde ich Kinder Aeltestin u.
mit Aeltestin der grossen Mädgen, <(>welche Aemter ich in wahrer
Armuth des Geistes etl. Jahre bedient habe.<)> den 13ten Nov: da
das erste Aeltesten-fest in Hhaag gefeyert wurde, war ein ganz
extraordinairer Gnaden- u. Seegens tag, den ich so lang ich lebe
nie vergeßen werde, denn der Hld. that auch aparte Gnade u.
Barmherzigkeit an mir Seinem armen Kinde.
(<)anno 42 da Papa in America waren, hatten die Arbeiter alle Monat ein Pilger Abendmahl in Marienborn, wozu ich auch die Gnade hatte zu kommen, welches mir gar erstaunl. wichtig war, u. mir viel Seegen vor mein Herz austrug.(>)
(<)anno 43 im Apr. kamen Papa, meine liebe Tante u. die liebe Benignel von America zurück, da ging wieder eine ganz neue Gnaden Zeit an, die vor iedes Herz in der Gemeine viel ausgetragen hat.(>) im Juny gings zu einem Gen: Synodum
nach Hirschberg, ich reiste auch dahin, u. wurde bey demselben
am 5ten July zu meiner Gen: Mit Aeltestin ernennt.
<(>Diese hohe Würde in der Gemeine zu bekleiden, kostete
mich unzehl. Thränen,(>) und ich ging klein und Sünderhafft dran.(>)
Die Liebe und wirckl. Zuneigung aller meiner Geschwistern zu
mir armen <(>Ding<)>, beschämte u. beugte mich (<)noch mehr(>).///Nach dem der Synodus vorbey war, reisten wir über Ebersdorff
nach Hhuth u. Schlesien, hatten im Herbst desßelben Jahrs ein
Pilger-Haus in Burau. im Winter war ich im Hhuthschen
Schw. Hause. Da Papa von Liefland zurück kamen 1744
waren in Hhuth selige Mensch-Sohns-Tage, doch war der Auffent-
halt kurz. wir reisten von Hhuth wieder nach Mborn, u. blieben
daselbst bis im Febr. 45 da reisten wir nach Holland, u. hatten
in Amsterdam in Schellingers Haus, ein Pilger-Haus von ein
paar Monaten, alsdann reisten wir wieder zurück nach Mborn
u. ich zog bald drauf ganz nach Hhaag das led. Schw.-Pfleger-
amt zu übernehmen, welches ich bis zu ende Sept: dieses
Jahr besorgte, u. alsdann nach England reiste, nebst meinem
lieben Vater und dem Br: Leonhard<(>, letzterer u. ich hatten den
Auftrag das ganze Werk des Heilands dasselbst zu besorgen,
u. die Arbeiter zusammen zu halten.<)> Dabey hatte ich besonders
den Auftrag ein led. Schw. Chor in London zu sammlen u.
deren Specielle Arbeiterin zu seyn, es sah im Anfang schwierig
aus, aber der Hld lies mirs gelingen, daß ich in kurzer Zeit
ein recht schönes led. Schw. Chor kriegte. Die Sprache lernte ich
auch sehr geschwind, u. war in kurzer Zeit ganz zu Hause.
Im July 46 kamen Papa, Mama u. viele Geschw: nach London
u. wir formirten in Red Lions quare ein schönes Pilger-Haus.
Noch vor Ende des Jahrs gingen Papa pp. wieder zurück nach
Teuschland. anno 47. im Apr: reiste ich zurück nach Hhaag,
wurde am 4ten May vom Papa u. Mamagen zur gen: Aeltisten
aller led. Schw. Chöre eingesegnet. dieselben etl. Monate in
Hhaag werde ich meine lebe tage nicht vergeßen, denn es war
eine ganz aparte selige Zeit. Von da reisten wir nach
Hhuth, u. das Jünger-Haus hielt sich im Berthelsdorfer Schloß///auf. im Nov: reiste ich mit Johannes u. Benignel nach Hhaag
im Herbst 48 reiste ich nach Holland, u. nach einem 2 monatlichen
Auffenthalt in Zeyst mit der sel. Mama über Barby nach
Hhaag zurück, allwo ich den ganzen Winter blieb, u. eine
ernstere schwere Zeit in dem Sichtungs Periodo hatte.
Zu Ende May 1749 reiste ich nach England ins Jünger haus, welches
sich dazu mal im Bloomsburry Square befand. Bald nach meiner An-
kunfft reisten Christel und ich mit Papa und Mamagen nach Yorkshire
u. hielten uns bey nah 2 Monat in dem neuen Gemein Ort in Pudsy
auf, welches bey unserem Da seyn den Namen Grace Hall bekam.
(<)wir legten die Grund-Steine zu den led. Brr- u. Schw. Häusern u. hatten sehr selige u. vergnügte Zeit mit der Gemeine daselbst.(>)
im Aug: kamen wir zurück nach Bloomsburrysquare; u. blieben
da bis anno 50, da wir über Zeyst, Neuwied Mborn u. Hhaag reisten
Hhuth reisten. Von Hhaag emigrirten im Herbst dieses Jahres die
Kinder, (neml. die Mäd:anstalt:) Sie wurden im Hennersdorffschen Schloß
einlogirt, ich kriegte meinen mehresten Auffenthalt bei ihnen, weil
mir die Aufsicht über die ganze Anstalt übertragen worden war
u. es war eine selige Zeit die wir mit den Kindern in diesem
lieben Örtgen hatten. im Merz 51. zog ich mit er Anstalt nach
Hhuth. im Aprill besuchte ich in Schlesien, u. kam zum 4ten May
wieder in Hhuth an, allwo ich verblieb bis im Mitte im Juny, dann
machte ich einen Besuch in Ebersdorff, u. ging von da nach Hhaag
u. Mborn, vertheilte meinen lieben ledgen Schwestern vollends
u. fertigte welche nach Ebersdorff, welche nach Neuwied, und
eine zieml. Anzahl nach Zeyst ab, von da reiste ich über Holland
nach England, allwo ich den 23ten Aug: in Bloomsburry eintraff
u. den Tag drauf kamen auch Papa u. übrige Geschwister des
Jünger-Hauses an. (<)Gegen Winter zogen wir nach West Minster
wir hatten zieml. schwere Zeit. Christel wurde kranck, kriegte im
Febr: 52 das Blut-Speyen, u. darauf eine geschwinde Auszehrung ///u. ging am 28ten May zu unser aller großen Schmerz u. Betrübniß
zum Heiland. ich vor meine Person fühlte aufs empfindlichste was
ich an Ihm verlohr, u. wäre der Hld. nicht mein Trost gewesen
so wäre ich untröstl. über den Verlust geblieben.<)>
Zu anfang Oct: dieses Jahr, reiste ich mit einer Collonne ledger
Schw: nach America; wir gingen mit der Irene, u. kamen am
24ten Novr glückl. u. wohl behalten in Bethlehem an, u. wurden
mit vieler Freude aufgenommen, hatten auch die Gnade noch am
selbigen Abend mit der Gemeine das heilige Abendmahl
zu genießen. im Jan: 53 machte ich eine Besuch in den Stadt
u. Land-Gemeinen. die Indianer Gemeine in Gnaden-Hütten
charmirte mich sehr, u. überhaupt gefiel mir alles sehr wohl
in America. in der Mitte des Febr: reiste ich wieder von Bethle-
hem ab, über Philadelphia nach New York, hatte am 25ten
die Freude mit dasiger Gemeine das heil: Abdm. zu genießen.
ging am 26ten an Bord der Irene, u. am 25ten Merz hatte
ich die Gnade u. Freude das heilige Abendmahl im Jünger
Hause in Westminster mit zu genießen. etliche Tage da-
rauf zogen wir in Linseyhouse ein. im herbst deßelben
Jahrs machte ich einen Besuch in Yorkshire meinen lieben
krancken Vater zu besuchen sehen u. zu sprechen, welcher
auch am 3ten Novr. selig zum Heiland ging. Sein Heimgang
kostete mich viele Thränen, doch ich ihm sein Glück beym
Herrn daheime zu seyn nicht misgönnen.
anno 54 im Jan: reiste ich über Holland nach Hhuth u. Schlesien
zur Visitation der led. Schw. Chöre, u. reiste mit der seligen
Mama im August durch die Niederlande nach England zu-
rück, war im Herbst sehr kränckl., so daß ich schon zieml. von
den Doctores aufgegeben war, u. o, wie gern wäre ich damals///
heimgegangen, aber es gefiel dem Heiland mich wieder gesund
werden zu laßen.
im Febr: 55 ging ein Theil des Jünger-Hauses nach Holland, u.
ein Theil blieb noch in Lindseyhouse, ich reiste mit nach Holland
u. wir hatten unsern Auffenthalt in Zeyst. im May reisten
wir über Neuwied, Mborn, Barby, nach Hhuth, u. das Jünger-
Haus war im Berthelsdorffer Schloß.
anno 57. im Septr. reiste ich mit Papa u. Mamagen pp.. über Barby
u. Mborn nach der Schweiz. Wir kamen am 3ten Oct: in Mont-
mirail an. Besuchten im Nov: Geneve u. Lausanna, u. hatten
selige Zeit mit den Geschwistern allenthalben, im Rückwege
besuchten wir Bern, Arom, Basel, Zürch u. Schaffhaußen
u. reiseten durchs Würtembergerland nach Ebersdorff, wo wir
kurz vor Weyhnachten ankamen. Gleich nach den Feyer-Tagen
reiste ich nach Hhuth u. kam am lezten Dec: glückl. daselbst an.
Im Früh-Jahr 58 war ich wieder sehr kränckl. u. verbrachte meine
meiste Zeit in meinem lieben led. Schw. Hause in Hhuth.
Im August reisten wir nach Holland, u. das Jünger-haus zog
nach Herrndyk, allwo wir den ganzen Winter blieben, u. auch
noch im Jahr 59, bis im Monat Aug, doch waren wir auch
viel in Zeyst
Am Ende Mey reiste ich mit Johannes und seiner
lieben Frau nach England zur Visitation der Gemeinen u.
Chöre, u. kam zu Ende des Jahrs mit ihnen zurück nach
Zeyst. Bald nach dem Neuen Jahr 1760 reisten wir über Barby
nach Hhuth. Als ich da ankam, fand ich mein gutes Mamagen
sehr schwächl. ia in völliger Auszehrung, gab mich also gleich
dazu her sie zu pflegen u. zu warten, u. mich um sonst wenig
zu bekümmern, u. das habe auch treul. gethan u. gehalten.
Es war eine drückende schwere Zeit vor mich, aber der Heiland
der bey allem Brast (?) u. Kummer mir innig nahe war, halff mir ///
mir gnädig durch. Am 9ten May ging unser allerliebster Papa
heim, der wol nie vergeßen werden wird, von allen die ihn ge-
kannt u. die gnade gehabt haben um ihn zu seyn. Das war
ein tief schneidenter Schmerz, u. beförderte auch das gute
Mamagen daß sie ihm am 21ten schon nachfolgte. Nun war
ich ganz verwayst, u. die Betrübniß und Kümmerniß meiner
armen Seele war gross, <(>nicht nur allein um ihre 2 lieben
Personen, sondern auch hauptsächl. darum; weil die Gemeinen
u. Chöre nunmehr ihre Leit-Schaafe verlohren, u. wie es künf-
tig gehen würde.<)>

Nach dem Heimgang dieser 2 lieben Leute,
dachte ich mich nunmehro meinen lieben led. Schw. Chören ganz
zu widmen, u. doppelte Treue u. Fleiß anzuwenden <(>, glaubte
auch daß es iezt nöthiger sey als sonst. Allein der Hld. fügte
es ganz anders u. gab mir ein ganz ander Feld zu bearbeiten.
ich kriegte meinen Plan in America, u. dazu den lieben Bruder
Nathanael angetragen, wir solten dahin gehen das dortige
oeconomat u. die Güther der Unitæt zu übernehmen. dieser
Plan war schon bey Papas Leb Zeiten vor uns bestimmt, u.
so gut als resolvirt, u. ich selbst war auch informirt davon.
Nach America ging ich gern, aber in die Ehe zu treten, das
kostete sehr viel, u. es gab manche bittre Schmerzen bis ich
meinen Willen in des Hlds Sinnen geben konnte, Er halff
mir aber auch darinne durch, u. war mir kräfftig zur Seiten.
Wir wurden am 15ten Juny in einer kleinen lieben Gesellschafft
versprochen. Dieser Vorgang wurde aber den led. Chören nicht bekannt ge-///gemacht, bis zu Ende August. <)> Wir waren 5 Monat versprochen.
Nathanael reiste in der zwischen Zeit mit Johannes nach Barby
u. ich mit Geschw. Marschalls nach Ebersdorff zur Visitation des
led. Schw. Chores. den 16ten Oct.r kam ich wieder in Hhuth an,
u. wir wurden am 30ten von unserem lieben Br. Johannes
zur heiligen Ehe verbunden, unter einem ganz aparten Ge-
fühl von der Gnaden Gegenwart unsers besten Freundes. ich
ging wie schon gemeldet sehr schwer in diesen wichtigen Stand
doch da es des Heilands Wille so war, so bat ich mir auch gleich
zum Eintritt in daßelbe von Ihm zur Gnade aus, daß Er
mich Ihm, wie auch meinem lieben Mann zur Freude u. Ehre
gestalten möge, u. mir Gnade geben nunmehro ein treue
unterthänige Frau zu seyn. ich gab mich Ihm dazu hin
wie ich war, u. fühlte Seinen Frieden u. Sein gnädiges Be-
kenntniß zu uns bey allen Umständen die mit uns vorkammen.
Wir besuchten diesen Winter noch Niesky, u. reiseten am 2ten .
Merz 61. von Hhut über Barby nach Holland ab, waren 6 Wochen
in Zeyst, u. unsere ganze Collonne fand sich nach u. nach zusammen
wir nahmen ein gemiethetes Fahr Zeug, u. fuhren mit selbig
nach England, kamen am 12ten May glückl. in Lindseyhouse
an. Zu Ende May gingen unsre lieber Geschw. die nunmehro
50 Personen ausmachte an Bord der Hope, Br. Jacobsen
Capitain, u. segelten nach Portsmouth. Mein lieber Mann
u. ich, nebst Geschw. Marschalls blieben noch ein paar Wochen
in Ldshouse, weil wir mit Br. Johannes noch viel zu conferiren
hatten. im Juny reiseten wir auch ab, u. gingen zu Lande
bis Portsmouth, u. von da gleich auf unser Schiff. Wir lagen
aber als den noch 7 Wochen vor Anker; u. musten auf die Flotte warten./// Wir machten ein Complietes Gemeinlein auf unserm Schiff aus,
hatten täglich unsre Versammlungen, u. das heil. Abendmahl
zur gesezten Zeit, verbrachten unsere Tage u. Wochen selig.
Br. Johannes besuchte uns auch noch einmal, so auch noch unter-
schiedene andre Brüder von London. Am 4ten Aug. segelten
wir endlich ab, 96 Schiffe in der Flotte, hatten eine passable
gute Reise, brauchten aber doch 10 Wochen bis wir am 18ten
Octr. abends in die Hook vor Anker liefen.
Am 23ten Octr. kamen wir nebst unsern lieben Geschw.
Münsters u. Marschalls in unsrem lieben Bethlehem an.
Die andern Geschw. kamen in den folgenden Tagen auch
alle glückl. an. <(>Die ersten Wochen gabs nichts als Freude
u. Niedlichkeiten, hernach aber gings in die Arbeit nein.
Das erste im Jahr 62 war die Umkehr der gemeinschaftlichen
oeconomie, welches ein schweres Stück Arbeit war, das
meinem guten Mann u. mir manche Schlaflose Nächte
verursachte. Der Hld. stand uns aber auch in diesen Um-
ständen gnädig bey.
Mit meinem lieben led. Schw. Chor allhier stand ich in
wahrer Herz Vertraulichkeit die ersten paar Jahre.
Mein Verheiratet Seyn, stöhrte nichts bey ihnen, noch
bey mir, u. ich wäre herzl. gern in dem Gange mit
ihnen geblieben. Aber die Veränderung Ihrer Arbeiter
machte auch hierinne eine Veränderung die mir gar
sehr schmerzl. Wehe gethan hat, doch habe ich mich mit der
Zeit auch dahinein schicken lernen durch des lieben Hlds
Beystand.<)> In den Stadt u. Land-Gemeinen, haben mein ///lieber Mann u. ich fleissig besucht, u. manche Bewahrung bey
dem vielen Reisen vom lieben Hld. erfahren. Anno 64 waren
wir in Newyork, u. hatten ein Boat genommen nach Staaten
Island über zu fahren, wie wir ans Waßer kamen, steigt
mein lieber Mann gleich hinein, ist aber keine Minute drinne
so tritt er in ein anderes, ich ruffte ihm zu, u. sagte ihm,
daß dieses das Boat sey wo wir drinne wären, mit dem
wir gehen wollen, er aber sagte nein, komm du nur in
dieses, ich will mit diesem gehen, ich folgte ihm stillschwei-
gends nach, wir gingen gleich ab, u. kamen glückl. über
es stand ein starkes Gewitter am Himmel, welches ausbrach
da wir noch eine halbe Meile vom Land waren, aber
wir erreichten das Land ohne Schaden, hingegen das andere
Boat wo wir erst drinne waren, kipte um, u. 7 Menschen
ertrancken bey dieser Gelegenheit. Wir sahen also
recht augenscheinl., wie uns der Hld. bewahrt hatte, daß
Er meinem Mann es so ins Herz gab, aus diesem Boat
raus zu gehen. Der gleichen Exempel könnte ich noch viele anführen,
es mag aber nur bey diesem bleiben.
Anno 69. reiste ich mit meinem lieben Mann zum General
Synodum nach Europa. Wir reiseten von unserem lieben
Bethlehem den letzten Merz ab, u. segelten von Philadelphia
den 17ten Aprill, kamen am 29ten May glückl in London
an, u. reiseten nach ein paar Tage Auffenthalt über
Zeyst u. Neuwied nach Mborn, allwo wir am 28ten
Juny glücklich eintrafen. Ich hatte große Freude viele
von meinen lieben, alten Bekandten wieder zu sehen <(>u. zu ///zu umarmen,. u. das wars auch alles, denn im übrigen
hatte ich kein Freude, sondern lauter Betrübniß, u. habe
viel viel Tränlein da geweint.<)> So bald der Synodus
vorbey war eilten wir zurück, u. kamen am 6ten Octr.
glückl. in London an, u. wären gerne noch dieses Jahr
nach America zurück gegangen, kriegten auch ein Schiff
an welches wir am 11ten Octr. wirkl. gingen, ich war etwa
eine Stunde mit meinem guten Mann an Board deßelben
so musten wir wieder mit Lebens-Gefahr davon weg
eilen, weil er ganz auf die Seite fiel u. auf einer Sand
Bank veste lag, wir gingen an Land, u. hielten uns bey
ein paar Geschw. auf, bestellten es aber daß uns ruffen
sollen, wenns Schiff wieder los käme, allein das Schiff
ging ganz zu Grunde in der Themse, u. wir musten nun
resolviren diesen Winter in England zu bleiben. Wir
thaten also eine Reise nach Yorkshire, Ockbrook u. Bedford
u. kamen zu Ende January 1770 wieder in London an.
hatten selige u. vergnügte Zeit mit der Gemeine da-
selbst, u. reisten am 12ten Merz von da nach Gravesend
ab, u. von dort an Bord eines Schiffes das nach Newyork
segelte. Wir hatten eine zieml. gute Reise, nahmen 10
oder 11. led: Brr: mit hieher nach Bethlehem u. Christians-
brunn. Mein guter Mann war kränckl. auf der Reise, u.
kriegte die gout das erstemal zieml. hart, ich aber
war wohl, u. konnte ihn pflegen. Wir kamen am 12ten
May glückl. in Newyork an, hielten uns nur ein paar
Tage da auf u. reisten alsdenn nach Bethlehem, wo ///wir zur wahren Freude aller unsrer lieben Geschwister
glückl. eintraffen. Wir thaten bald darauf eine Reise
in die Stadt u. Land Gemeinen an, nachdem der Verlaß
des Synodi hier u. in Nazareth u. Litiz war publiciret
worden, um ein Gleiches bey ihnen zu thun mit dem was
vor sie gehörte u. wir waren zu Ende Octr erst damit
Anno 71. fing mein guter Mann an sehr zu kränkeln, doch thaten
wir 4 1774 noch einen Besuch in allen Stadt u. Land-ge-
meinen u. bald drauf brach der unglückselige Krieg
aus, der uns gar viel Kummer u. Gram verursachet hat
wegen der damit verknüpften Umstände.
Anno 79 im Merz kamen unsre lieben Geschw. Reichels zu unserem
wahren Trost hieher, u. mein guter Mann schien ganz auf-
zu leben, aber es änderte sich das Jahr darauf da Geschw.
Reichels in der Wachau waren wieder gar sehr, u. er
kriegte gleich nach Weyhnachten 80 solche Zufälle, die mich
in große Noth u. Bekümmerniß brachten, u. was ich ge-
fürchtet ist mir wie zu præcis eingetroffen, denn er
ging am 17ten May 82 zu meinem unbeschreibl. Schmerz
sehr geschwinde heim. O hätte ich gleich mit Ihm gehen kön-
nen, wie wohl wäre mir geschehen! Ich hatte bey andert-
halb Jahren nichts anderes vor mir gesehen, als daß ich Ihn
verliehren würde, u. stellte mirs Centner schwer vor, aber,
aber alle Vorstellungen reichen da nicht hin, was man
erfährt bey der Auflösung dieses Bruders.
Nun hatte ich alles verlohren, was ich in dieser Welt
Liebes gehabt hatte, u. glaubte ofte daß es mir nicht möglich ///seyn würde, es zu überkommen. Allein meines besten
Freundes Nahes zu thun zu mir Seinem armen Kinde
kam mir auch in dieser harten Probe zu Hülffe, u. Er
sagte mir zu in meiner nunmehrigen Einsamkeit mein
Trost u. mein Ein und Alles zu seyn.
Die 21 u. ein halbes Jahr, die ich in der Ehe zu gebracht,
überdachte ich oftermals, fand unzehlige Ursachen Sün-
derin vor dem lieben Heiland zu werden, doch konnte ich
Ihm auch tausend Danck sagen vor Sein mit uns seyn,
vor Sein Bekenntnis zu uns in so mancherley schweren
Dingen, die in unserem Amts-Gange vorgekommen
sind. Bey allen Fehlern u. Mängeln haben es unsre
Herzen doch treu gemeynt. Wir haben nichts zum
Zweck u. Ziel gehabt, als den Heiland u. seine Sache.
Dabey haben wir einander zärtlich lieb gehabt, u. Freud
u. Leid mit einander getheilt, u. weil er bey 10 Jahren
her schwächlich u. kränklich war, so wars mirs eine
wahre Gnade ihm zu dienen bey Tag u. Nacht, u.
ihn so gut zu pflegen als es nur möglich war, hätte
es auch gern noch viele Jahre gethan, wenn mir ihn
der liebe Heiland noch hätte laßen wollen.
Ich gönne meinem guten Mann seine Ruhe von Herzen
ob ihm gleich noch ofte Thränlein von mir nach geweint
werden, denn ich weiß am Besten, wie sehr er sich darnach
gesehnt. Der liebe Heiland wird mir armen Sünderin
auch noch helffen zu Seiner Zeit u. Stunde. Indeßen
bleibt Er meine Zuversicht alleine, sonst weiß ich keine.

A Head Full of Landscapes

View across Lake Clarke on the Lower Susquehanna

Yesterday I fulfilled a desire, harbored for all the years I have been working on the Susquehanna River; and that was to travel as far south as I could to the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. It took a lot of driving and navigating, but I did it.

This desire was not merely a romantic wish to experience the river from source to bay (which now I have done, albeit not always in a kayak). I was stunned at the changes the river goes through, from its modest beginnings up in Cooperstown; its torments at the hands of the post-industrial towns of Binghamton and Wilkes Barre; its majesty on the North Branch as it winds its way through the mountains, steep wooded ridges rising on both sides and monitored by high soaring eagles; the calmer waters as it joins with the West Branch at Sunbury and provides the motorist on route 15 with a most glorious companion with its wide stretches, and myriad wooded, farmed, and rocky islands, that reminded one Moravian missionary of a city with its avenues and cross streets. And then finally, the transformation of a river into a series of lakes, some over 200 feet deep, formed behind the hydro-electric dams of Safe Harbor, Holtwood and Conowingo.

Standing at Fisherman’s Park on the spillway below the Conowingo Dam.

It is late summer and the river is low. From the main branch down to Wrightsville, the bed rock is visible, jutting up over the surface to make riffles that would please any kayaker and exposing the ledges in the river bed. The water is warm, maybe too warm for the fish to enjoy and thus the eagles hunt elsewhere. But below the last dam, at the spillway of the Conowingo, this wide full river is a trickle, meandering like an afterthought through the rocks. Its banks bustling with anglers and birders, this final stage of the river seems on an August afternoon weary of its 444 mile journey to the sea, almost succumbing to defeat at the hands of human industry. As I looked downriver all that was visible were the final metal bridges crisscrossing the viewscape before you get to the Bay. An ignominious end.

I had  a very pragmatic need to make this journey yesterday.  I am in the final stages of compiling a report for the National Park Service on the Indigenous Cultural Landscape of the Lower Susquehanna. As part of the segment planning process, I am heading up a team of scholars and mappers to make an argument to the NPS for certain landscapes of the Susquehanna to be designated as “evocative of the natural and cultural resources supporting American Indian lifeways and settlement patterns in the early 17th century.” (See http://www.nps.gov/chba/learn/news/indigenous-cultural-landscapes.htm) These landscapes are also important to descendant communities today, and are intended to aid conservation strategies in the Chesapeake and its watershed. This has not been an easy process. As this approach to understanding large landscapes is still in the development stage, it has not always been clear how to describe an “Indigenous Cultural Landscape” without succumbing to the romanticization of an indigenous viewpoint, without projecting the settler culture’s desire for a “edenic” past (to quote my colleague and collaborator, Alf Siewers). And indeed, the displacement and genocide of the Native populations of Pennsylvania means that those descendant people are probably radically dislocated from these landscapes. Unlike Virginia or Maryland or New Jersey, Pennsylvania is one of only two states left in the Union that does not recognize the presence of Native nations in its borders. Thus, the very notion of a Native heritage landscape is thoroughly disrupted. And unlike the PI’s in other Indigenous Cultural Landscape studies (as on the Nanticoke river) I can’t go to the recognized American Indian nations and ask, “What does this place mean to you?” because they are elsewhere.

The vast amount of work that has been completed by my colleagues and our students on the history and culture of the Susquehanna River under the umbrella of the “Stories of the Susquehanna” is crucial to the rebuilding of Native American connections to the landscapes that were left behind. Through outreach to the Haudenosaunee, facilitated by Sid Jamieson, and public history events, such as the North Branch Heritage Kayak sojourns, organized by David Buck of Endless Mountains Outfitters, bonds are being rebuilt between the landscapes of the Susquehanna and the descendants of those people who populated them, hundreds of years ago. And there are those, like Onondago Canoe Club owner, Hickory Edwards, whose mission it is to “reindigenize” the river. Paddling the length of the Susquehanna last year, down to Annapolis and then walking on to Washington DC to the opening of “Nation to Nation” exhibition of treaties at the Museum of the American Indian, Hickory might exemplify a Native view of Indigenous Cultural Landscapes. They are being rediscovered, like a newly revitalized part of the body, awakened after centuries of numbness.

The guidelines for creating an IC11884093_10156008710345531_2436891468245013356_oL make it clear that the importance of landscapes to descendant communities today is central. But my question is, who is the audience or viewer of the landscape? Yesterday, as I paused for a meeting at the Zimmerman Heritage Center on Long Level, I was thrilled to see the progress that had been made there in creating interpretive materials for the passing public.  A stylish jetty on the waterfront has been built, shaded by a sloping roof and lined with benches wide enough to provide work space for me and my computer and my collaborators.  In front of us, a full size replica of Benjamin Latrobe’s glorious survey of the Lower Susquehanna, commissioned by the Pennsylvania State legislature for the “improvement” of the river from Columbia down to the head of the Bay, is displayed, revealing a water viewscape radically different from that which confronts today’s visitors who can read, “Latrobe’s Susquehanna survey represents a rare profile of the physical features of a region just beginning to feel the impact of agricultural and commercial development.”  As true as this is, the view across the river, now a lake, also points us in the direction of Washington Boro, the site of dense Native American settlement and horticulture/agriculture during the timeframe delineated by the requirements of the Indigenous Cultural Landscape initiative.  Benjamin Latrobe’s survey certainly gives the viewer an idea of the radical change in the river thanks to the hydroelectric dams of 20th century energy production, but what it does not tell us is that this was a center of trade, exchange, agriculture and human interaction with the environment for hundreds of years prior to his “clearing” or dynamiting of a channel up the river.  This part of the story is told behind the viewer.  Turn around and climb the escarpment and you will find the “Native Lands County Park”, which at my last visit to this place was just an idea. Now the visitor can learn about the last known village of the Susquehannock Indians that stood on top of this hill (1676-1680) (the Byrd Leibhart site) where once 3,000 people lived in a stockaded four acre village in 16 ninety foot longhouses. The view from this hilltop reveals the wide sky, water and rolling hills of the Piedmont, now punctuated with wind turbines and McMansions. But the sense of this landscape is strong enough to blot out those intrusions of 21st century America (for now).11886143_10156008707160531_781607673786200798_o

Even with the deep knowledge I have of this landscape, its history of human settlement and conflict, its soils, its elevation, its climate, its cultivation, I cannot see it through Native eyes. And I should not. If all that this initiative does is to deepen the settler culture’s understanding of the place on which it stands and builds and dynamites and dams, then I think much will have been achieved. However, within the borders of Pennsylvania’s bastion of historical denial, within this state of willed and legislated amnesia, we are a very long way from reindigenizing our landscapes.

Pedagogical Hermeneutics and Teaching DH in a Liberal Arts Context

Diane Jakacki and I gave the following presentation yesterday at DH2015 in Sydney, Australia. We include the slides and the abbreviated form of the talk.  The complete version will be published as an article in the near future.

Thanks to everyone for coming and for your interest!

We take our title from Alan Liu’s challenge to DH educators to develop a distinctive  pedagogical hermeneutic of “practice, discovery, and community” What does this look like?  How do we put this into practice?

This paper focuses on our teaching experience at Bucknell University in the academic year 2014-15 to show how the planning, design, and execution of a new project-based course, Humanities 100, introduced undergraduate students to the world of digital humanities through the use of selected digital tools and methods of analysis. This course, taught within the Comparative Humanities program, was designed specifically for first- and second-year students with no background in digital humanities, in order to encourage the development of digital habits of mind at the earliest phases of their liberal arts curricular experience. Developed to encourage examination and experimentation with a range of digital humanities approaches, the course asks students to work with primary archival materials as core texts to encourage digital modes of inquiry and analysis. The decision to root the course in a multi-faceted analysis of archival materials provided the rare chance for students to also engage in the research process typical for a humanities scholar: namely, the discovery of artifacts, the formulation of research questions, followed by the analysis and synthesis of findings culminating in the publication of initial findings in a digital medium. In the process, we introduced students to the basic structure of how to develop a DH research project.

The Comparative Humanities program is an ideal curricular environment to teach such classes with its explicit learning goals of comparativity (historical period, cultures, genres, modality) to which we added course specific learning goals that pertain to DH. (Slide with goals) The course therefore provided us with the opportunity to not only expose students to methodologies related to distant and close reading, network and spatial visualization, but also requiring that they learn to think critically about what each of these methods, and the tools that they used within the course, reveals in the texts with which they worked.

To date the course has been taught three times: as twin sections in Fall 2014 in which we both used the same scaffolding method with discrete subject matter and core texts. We participated fully in one another’s sections – this gave us the opportunity to teach our specializations within each other’s classes. Katie Faull taught the course again in Spring 2015, and Diane Jakacki participated. Both of us will teach a section next year.

This approach to teaching is important as we consider how to incorporate DH into the classroom. It required significant commitment on both our parts to the actual execution of the course, as well as recognition that we needed to be transparent to ourselves as well as to our students about how this represented a new model for course design at Bucknell. It is important to note that while other DH-inflected courses are being taught, this is the first Digital Humanities course at Bucknell.

At  Bucknell, the focus in digital humanities scholarship and learning to date has been primarily on spatial thinking, until recently rooted in working with ArcMap-type GIS and thinking about humanities in “place”.  It was important to both of us to emphasize and extend that objective in the development of the course and its learning outcomes, and so we focused on finding materials that would be of interest to students so that they could relate to the historical context more directly.

The first time the course was  taught we decided to run it in two sections, anticipating an opportunity to reflect different perspectives of our expertise with DH methods and tools. Diane’s focus has until now been on text encoding and analysis, while Katie’s has been on mapping and data visualization. We also worked with discrete data sets of archival materials. Katie’s course focused on the Colonial mission diaries of the Moravians from Shamokin, Pennsylvania (today Sunbury) and situated 9 miles downstream from the university. Written in English, the diary sections selected dealt with interactions between some of the first Europeans to the area and the Native peoples they met and worked among. Katie has spent the past five years working with this subject matter, and is considered an expert in the field of Moravian studies.

Diane’s course considered a subset of the diaries of James Merrill Linn, one of the first graduates of the university and a soldier in the American Civil War.  The choice of the Linn material had to do solely with its accessibility – Linn’s family left his life papers to the Bucknell Archives. Diane’s research is not in 19th century American history, and so she had to be honest that engaging with Linn’s diaries would be a discovery for her, too. In Katie’s iteration of the course this Spring, she selected materials that took the students slightly further afield, but still kept them within the Susquehanna watershed and the Chesapeake Bay using a different set of Moravian archival materials.  (Slide with archival materials)

Both of our choices reflect and extend Bucknell’s interest in digital/spatial thinking in terms of its place in the larger historical and cultural narrative. In all cases, students responded well to the investigation of places familiar to them, with several students having family connections to specific locales mentioned in the archival materials. The pedagogical hermeneutics of Humanities 100 were intentionally designed to encourage student examination and experimentation  and discovery with a range of digital humanities approaches.  To this end, the sequencing of the modules was carefully designed so that the “product” of each module then became the “data” of the next module.

In addition to praxis-oriented assignments, we wanted students to understand the broader context of their work within a DH framework. To that end we assigned theoretical readings and analysis of a range of major DH projects, which students then wove into their online reflections. Extensive use was made of online platforms that emphasize important forms of digital engagement, including collaborative online writing environments. Each module ended with a short assignment and also a reflective public-facing blog post that became a shared form of intellectual engagement.

In order to begin any kind of DH archival project the students had to produce a digital text.  In the first iteration of the course we did not have a transcription desk available and so students transcribed the assigned pages of the original into a shared Google doc.  This digital text was then color-coded in terms of “proto” tags to ease the way into close reading with TEI tags in Oxygen.  By the time the second semester started we had obtained an institutional subscription to the online platform Juxta Editions which we were then able to use as the transcription platform and also the introduction to thinking about tagging. From the transcription came the lightly marked up digital text that was then imported into Oxygen for more complex tagging.  Students then began tagging in earnest and were introduced to the discoveries of close reading involved in marking up a text.  Names, places, and dates were easy (in Juxta edition they had already been imported).  However the hermeneutical fun started with working out whether a boat was a place or an object, for example.  Or whether God was a person.  And just what is balsam, an object?  an emotion?

During these classes, the historical remoteness of the texts (in Faull’s class from the first half of the 18th century, focusing on Native Americans in the fall and in the Spring on preaching to the enslaved peoples on the Tobacco Coast) was lessened by the act of tagging and the lively discussions that surrounded it. Once a reliable text had been established we then introduced students to the concept of “distant reading” through the Voyant platform.  At the same time as students were encouraged to “play” we also pointed out the circular motion of discovery and confirmation that is inherent in any research experience. The students had just read these archival texts very carefully in order to transcribe them, so we asked them the usual kinds of questions one asks when approaching any kind of new text.  What is it about?  What are the major themes?  Who are the most important characters?  Then, having read Edward Whitley’s text on distant reading we asked the students to think about what reading a text distantly does to that hermeneutic. (Slide of distant reading prompt and visualizations)

This data, the TEI tags, crucial to the success of the students’ mark up assignment and the production of a final digital document, needed some restructuring as we moved onto the next module.  To manage this, we developed a prosopography for each core text – a database of people, places, and connections that grew organically out of the focus of each specific section and provided the data for entry into Gephi and was then built out in adding geospatial data for GIS. So for example, one group of students wanted to use Gephi to interrogate the assumption that relationships between the missionaries and the Native Americans in the area around the mission remained constant.  However, by using the TEI persName tags and exporting them into a Gephi node/edge tables the students were able to show how relations between the Native leaders and the Moravian missionaries changed over a five year period of the mission (Include slide of Jerry and Henna’s work). Students also used the sigma.js plug in so that the network visualizations were interactive.  However successful this team was in their work, it was clear from all iterations of the class that the hermeneutics of social networks was the hardest for the students to analyse and manipulate (which is quite ironic, given how most of them are well plugged in to Twitter, Instagram, etc).

Lastly, students worked in ArcGIS Online to consider the evidence they had discovered within these texts in terms of spatial analysis. The story maps they produced became a new form of critical essay, with thesis, arguments supported by direct evidence, and conclusion all presented within a story map framework. so, for example, one student used Linn’s references to ships running aground during a storm at Hatteras Inlet, found a contemporary document reporting on the damage done to Union ships during this point in the campaign, and overlaid his evidence on a nautical map drawn in 1861 to determine where Linn’s ship had foundered.

Both the composition of the class (in terms of student personalities) and also the nature of the material determined to some extent the kind of final project students chose.  For example, in my section there were some natural groupings of students and there were a variety of final projects (one involving Gephi; two TEI markup; one hybrid ArcMap and TEI; and one story map). In Diane’s class all but two students chose to work independently  In the second iteration of Katie’s course, students decided that they would produce one final group project all together –a  course website that highlighted the best of their DH work. (Slide of Payne Froehlich website)

Assessment slide–self-explanatory

Another challenge to the class design was the high number of L2 students who enrolled in it.  In Katie’s Fall 2014 section there were 2 students of 9 from mainland China; in her spring section that ratio increased to three of five.  In the fall there was one from Australia and one from Vietnam (neither L2s but international students); one student in the spring course was from South Africa – her first language was Afrikaans.  Although the students admitted to being challenged by the readings and also the public facing writing in the blog site, a means for adjusting for student errors and allowing for corrections was developed that would allow the students to post their blog reflections in a way that did not impede their openness to reflection, knowing that they would have an opportunity to correct their English.

However, for all the challenges involved in teaching the class, there were moments of glory. Disengaged students became engaged; solitary learners recognized the essential need to collaborate in order to succeed; participants recognized the transformative nature of the course to their own concepts of the humanities. Students were eager to participate in crowdsourced data collection; they were intrigued to visualize ego-networks as they learned the concepts of network theory; they were excited to see their marked up transcriptions published in an online digital edition. Through these discoveries, they realized that they were creating a community of young DHers and expressed eagerness to take part in more of these learning experiences. Thank you!


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