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.

Response to Digital Humanities Manifesto 2.0

January 31, 2016

I am one to follow instructions, mostly, so I thought for this blog response I would do just that. The instructions are straight up so here it goes:

For understanding  and interpreting the Digital Humanities Manifesto 2.0 follow 5 simple rules; 1. don’t whine, 2. comment, engage, retort, spread the word, 3. throw an idea, 4. join in, and 5. move on.

1) don’t whine: Seriously no whining at all? Well how about some concerns then? Evolution, in the broad sense, scares me. A culture that is changing at such a rapid pace without any signs of slowing seems to be heading in the direction of annihilation. Perhaps my fear is that we as a culture are moving farther and farther from the source (ourselves, tradition, simplicity) as technology advances. I fear that we are retreating from what is real. The meaning of what real is shifting as well. Normal changes along with the advancement of technology are each day becoming the new normal and then it is easy to just adapt and go along and not fight the fight. Communication of ideas and how we access and share information is constantly changing and in this new culture of immediacy, I miss (whine) getting a handwritten letter in the mail.

2) comment, engage, retort, spread the word: Yes I want to be involved. I want to reclaim the past but keep up with the present. I want to, as you say, do work that, “promotes collaboration and creation across domains of expertise.” This has become so important to me. I see it as our job to SEE the connection across disciplines and to not sit back and do nothing , but to BE the connection across disciplines. Yes spreading the word about this important concept should be all our goals.

3) throw an idea: I don’t have anything at the moment. Thinking about a new title for Digital Humanities.

4) join up: I really dislike the word “iterative.” I don’t know why, BUT perhaps because academics use it a lot, perhaps because I really do not use that word myself confidently, OR perhaps it is just so repetitive in use, that it seems redundant. Well to join up, I decided to look it up again in, where else, Google, followed by a healthy search in Wikipedia.

A Google search of the word iteration quickly came up with “about 28,700,000 results” in “(0.33 seconds).” Thanks Google your definition was followed by myriads of Merriam Webster Dictionary definitions all that answered my questions. I was very happy with Googles’ definition complete with pronunciation;




noun: iteration

  1. the repetition of a process or utterance.
  • repetition of a mathematical or computational procedure applied to the result of a previous application, typically as a means of obtaining successively closer approximations to the solution of a problem.
  • a new version of a piece of computer hardware or software.

Even so I decided to follow through with time spent at wiki-university to learn more. Here I received several pages of information from “reliable” sources that informed me of iterations in context of its’ relationship with recursion, mathematics, computing, project management, and education. But mainly I found the following definition quite helpful so was doubly pleased:

“Iteration is the act of repeating a process, either to generate a unbounded sequence of outcomes, or with the aim of approaching a desired goal, target or result. Each repetition of the process is also called an ‘iteration,’ and the results of one iteration are used as the starting point for the next iteration.”

Although I have never thought of it this way before investigating this term more fully, my artwork is an iterative process. I repeat common themes, to investigate an idea. I have worked with images of water for the past 25 years. I call this process a ritual liminal expression. The ritual is the act of exploration in order to grow and evolve the work. Threshold artwork lies in-between places, the liminal, and represents how each artwork is a mystery, an uncomfortable middle ground, until it was called “done.” An expression is personal, mine, sensitive, and unique. Although my pursuit is iterative I would think of it not as repetition though, but rather as an explorative journey. Even though I may have repeated some elements of the original search question, using the same medium, each work of art that came from looking at a previous work of art is original. No two paintings ever alike. So the idea of iteration, repetition, seems ridiculous and diminutive.

Regarding the humanities, to say they are iterative seems false, because each new writer, investigating from their single perspective, an idea that is perhaps common, yet the ideas in an individuals head, the conclusions and sentences that were written down, paraphrased and expressed are unique.

5) move on: I have 3 more articles to read so movin’ on. But before I go…my hope is that humanities can take its’ rightful place as a leader, as a forebear, as a historical icon that shaped the world culturally. I never want to see one replace or overpower another, but technology has the potential to usurp. In creating works of art, in creating a handmade book that can only be made by the hands of humans it is my hope that a revolution of creation can remind the populace about the importance of making, of hand building, and that by combining humanities, creation, and digital processes, we can celebrate the importance of both in our existence.

Source List:

Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2016.