Literary Studies: Mixing Old and New

I’m Jeff Drouin, Assistant Professor of English at the University of Tulsa specializing in literary modernism and digital humanities. Blogging has long been an important aspect of the digital humanities realm in that it allows newcomers to find out about what others have been working on, to network with people in the field, and to experiment with new modes of publication and representation. Literary studies, admittedly more traditional than digital humanities, has been somewhat slow to adopt blogging in a sustained manner. We are now, however, starting to see some fruitful results:

This blog, edited by James Murphy, features a contributorship of about two dozen scholars — faculty members, graduate students, as well as non-faculty members of the academy — all of whom are dedicated to the study of early Twentieth-Century avant-garde periodicals. The blog serves several functions: it announces new books and other publications about modernist magazines, it features posts from scholars about new work or ideas for new directions in the field, and it features an “Essay Club,” which is an occasional set of posts by contributors discussing a new publication or event. Most recently, several contributors volunteered to discuss Franco Moretti’s recent digital pamphlet on the use of social network analysis to read Shakespeare’s Hamlet (http://litlab.stanford.edu/?p=337). Moretti replied to the “Essay Club” as well. So the blog format is very useful for generating immediate discussion and accelerating further development.

This is my own project, a text and image database for exploring thematic multimedia readings of Marcel Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu. I attached a blog to the project as a way not only of communicating my new thoughts and ideas for the project, but as a less formal environment for hashing out my thoughts. In that way, the blog as well as the database itself emphasize the process of making and doing the work, with a view toward what eventually will be a set of finished products (a book? a standalone archive? a video game?).

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