Response to the articles by Patricia Cohen

Response to the articles in The New York Times 2010 Humanities 2.0 series By Patricia Cohen.

All three of these articles speak about interesting and rather Avant Garde ways of connecting literature with modern opportunities in technology. It seems, at first, fascinating to use technology to “see” the world at a certain time and place in history. This new concept of spatial humanities allows historians to delve back into history to revisit their respective research and to ask new questions. Newly envisioned dimensional perspectives can break ground for new inquiries. I can see this being utilized in undergraduate courses at UNE. It’s a shift away from traditional learning, use of imagination to “picture” history. This could have benefits and drawbacks.

Cohen describes, in “For Bentham and Others, Scholars Enlist Public to Transcribe Papers,” use of crowd sourcing to transcribe 50,000 manuscript pages as a great use of collective energy. I think that undergraduates could benefit from working together more closely with each other. Students and faculty tend to be singularly focused on their questions. Faculty could encourage research programs that require others to participate, and mentor students to work together in teams and with public “researchers.” This seems to be a BIG step forward towards collaborative learning.

In her article “Giving Literature Virtual Life,” Patricia Cohen shares the experiences of a few small colleges and their innovative use of technology to bring avatars to Shakespeare classes. I love the idea to an extent, but am troubled by the following statement by Ms. Cook; “Until you get Shakespeare on its feet, you’re doing it an injustice. The plays are in 3-D, not 2-D.” Seems to me a dichotomy, because the method by which Ms. Cook is teaching is not on “its feet. “ In fact students could be learning Shakespeare in their pajamas in the kitchen sitting on hard chair. There are no feet involved. I like the idea of using virtual tools to re-enact plays in cyber theatres, but not at the expense of actually getting on one’s feet and doing the work of speaking the parts, and doing the moves.

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