Initial Introduction - Toby Decker

 My name is Toby Decker, and I am a transfer student from Tulsa Community College.  I came to become an English student at the University of Tulsa because at TCC I decided to pursue an interest I enjoy most--writing.  I particularly enjoy researching contemporary cultural topics and doing literary research; I do experiment with fiction and poetry, but I feel like I might need to live another 400 years before I have anything very relavent to say.

I enjoy reading a little bit of anything I can get my hands on.  I do read very slowly, so oftentimes I will read to a certain point in a book, then move to a different author.  I hate having this habit, but it keeps me from reading nothing, or focusing too long on a work simply because I feel the need to prove myself through accomplishing it. Nevertheless, some of my favorite writers are Jonathan Franzen, Michael Cunningham, Walt Whitman, etc.  Only recently have I really started to read short stories; the last collection I read was called "Smut."  My favorite line from the collection concerned self-love/hate and went something like, "Gary could have found the strength to do almost anything, so long as he could watch himself do it."

When I read books, poems, articles, etc, I often do so with a pen or pencil.  I hope to find forms and words in what I read which will (hopefully) help me develop my own literary voice.

I'll post more soon!  Thanks.

First Blog

As far as intellectual interests go, I'm pretty certain anime and videogames might not count. I also blog on the side and am going to actually create two new ones. As fa as reading goes I love to read poetry. W.B. Yeats is probably my favorte next to John Donne and Dylan Thomas. I also enjoy reading Agatha Christie's works and am a major Hercule Poirot fan. I'm slowly trying to collect all the Poirot works. Aside from that I also enjoy Sci-Fi, Fantasy and mangas. I became an English major because I love to read. I am also going to my masters in the library field under the archieves. So I find English might be helpful toward my goal, might not it all depends. I also mentioned I love to read and I figured English is the best major to go to with my love of reading.


Technology I've messed with would probably be things like computers, ereaders, video games, film in general and I am hoping this class will help me to become better acquainted with the world of technology. I suppose I am hoping also to learn what exactly digital humanities is. I've heard of it, I've heard people talk ofit but no one has ever really explained to me what it really was. So I am hoping by the end of this course I can know what digitial humanities is all about. It also seems like we're going to learn about different digital technologies so I'm excited about that. It will be interesting to interact with some things I haven't before and also to better improve on things I have. 


Edit: Apprently I can't type today so forgive me for all the mistakes in my post!

Welcome to ENGL 3713: Digital Humanities and Literary Studies

Welcome to ENGL 3713: Digital Humanities and Literary Studies. This course will introduce you to some basic technologies and methods for thinking about literature. Take a look around and familiarize yourself with the site.

Here are a few sample digital humanities projects to help you gain a sense of what the field is about.

Project & TEI

The research report and images for my project presentation are located at the following address:

Also, I have run the TEI work from the first half of lab through Juxta. It was mostly correct, but I did manage to miss about 3 or 4 genres. I suppose that shows how easy it is to miss information when you're faced with all of those words and symbols. It certainly reminds me of how much more comfortable I am with a GUI.

"You, then, who ask the question..."

Woolf (or actually "we") opens her first letter drawing "a sketch of the person to whom the letter is addressed," because "Without someone warm and breathing on the other side of the page, letters are worthless" (3).  She then continues to say that I'm "a little grey on the temples," my "hair is no longer thick on the top," and I've "reached the middle years of life not without effort."  I'm assuming her "letters" are not intended for anyone specifically, or non-fiction, because there's no reason to describe the intended reader's appearance back to "him."  This opening caught me off guard and I wasn't sure what to make off it.  As Emma and Kent discuss, this text seems to be related to the archive.  My question is why does this archive both create an (inaccurate) image of (me) the reader and why does the narrator use 3rd person personal pronouns throughout? 

This weird distinction came up again later.  Woolf explains to her reader the "Outsider's Society" (106).  The Outsider's Society is "anonymous and elastic," and will support the pascifist cause but not join the addressee's organization.  Each individual of this secret group must "analyse the meaning of patriotism in her own case" (107).  The question, I suppose, I'm struggling with is whether or not I'm an outsider of this textual archive.  I'm not really sure the exact connection between this feeling or the way Woolf opens letter 1, but I am interested in the function of the opening drawing of the reader and what that says about archives and historians/readers.


I managed to forget my copy of Moretti's book today, so unfortunately this is going to be from memory. The thing that primarily struck me about the maps section of the book was the troublesome idea that fictional spaces could be interpreted through factual maps. Though the maps and the texts are doing a similar kind of interpretation of space (just with one through diagrams and one through language), they're not necessarily doing so for the same ends. Take, for instance, the distance impressed upon the reader in Jude the Obscure between Jude's village and the university at Christminster. If we were to see both of these on a map, that distance would probably seem paltry, but for the young Jude it is an significant and importance distance. Or, for instance, the distance travelled by Pip to be in London in Great Expectations, and how much of a world away that feels for him. With our more modern reading of maps, being frequent travellers (and particularly, I'd imagine, for those used to travelling in America), the distance, again, would probably seem insignificant. A line from Swann's Way also made me think of this problem over interpreted and actual spaces: "nothing could have differed more utterly, either, from the real Balbec than that other Balbec of which I had often dreamed, on stormy days, when the wind was so strong that Fracoise, as she took me to the Champs-Eylsees, would advise me not to walk too close to the walls or I might have my head knocked off by a falling slate" (545-6). Again, what is crucial is the perception of space for the characters, rather than any fixed, proven record of the makeup of that space. Still, I'm not saying that because of this we shouldn't map fictional space, and quite on the contrary as literary students we definitely should, so that we can see where a writer develops this subjective reading of space by the character where in fact the actual space may have differed.

Bill's Project

  With my project, I plan to map out the imagery of The Waste Land and compare this to its many allusions.  I'm specifically interested in highlighting the motifs of water and dust, which type of allusions are connected to these images and ultimately how they function in the poem.  The conceptual aim of my project is to evaluate any thematic conflict between the allusions in the text, which have been read as the voices of the dead (and thus waste), and the visual aspects, and then understand the potential meaning of this conflict.  Water, for instance, is the most frequently used word in The Waste Land.  This seems counter-intuitive, though, because my general impression from reading the poem suggests dryness, sterility, and death.  Why, then, is the most commonly used word, and specifically its represented meaning (fertility), opposite to the general tone of the poem? 

This project, however, might go in a different direction.  If the imagery of The Waste Land operates as a modified allusion, I am curious to know the subtle differences between quoting another author's work and suggesting a collectively understood idea through an image.  Can imagery allude to something?  Would this depend on a cultural understanding of an image or does each reader have to interact with the image to create meaning?  Whichever direction my project goes, I intend to make a map of the word associations of images and allusions.

My archive will include a list of textual allusions in The Waste Land.  I will use criticisms about these allusions for an interpretative framework.  Most of these, I expect, will agree that the voices are from the past and therefore dead.  Hopefully, I'll find a few that disagree, though.  This part should not be too different from the bibliography of a book or codex.  Next, I'll start "mapping" the imagery in the poem.  This will require tagging.  Since tagging is interpretive, I will use more criticism and also do some of my own close-reading.  My archive will also be effected as I break and separate images into concrete units, which is different than treating imagery as a continuous landscape.  

I expect the biggest problem will be archiving critics that disagree.  If I tag an image as two contradictory things, how will my map look?    

Archive of ruined cities in fiction

I am intending for this project to be a way of digitally archiving my research to date on the theme of the imagined destruction of cities in literature and visual culture from around the 1850s to the present. The archive is currently a spreadsheet list of the source materials I'm using, which include prose, poetry, film, video games, and paintings, but will come to also include essays and critical works on the source materials. The spreadsheet also has a list of tags for each entry that I hope to develop as the project goes on. I also hope to add in quotes and descriptions so that it goes beyond being just a list of works, and so that it will become possible to look for buzz words in the actual texts themselves as well as my interpretations of them.

At the moment the archive is quite sparsely populated as I still have a lot more research to do, but I hope that this digital version will become something that can evolve as the research continues.

What I hope to do with the spreadsheet is to input this data in certain programs to establish connections between primary materials, and between secondary and primary materials. At the moment I am not sure what types of software will be useful for doing this.

Here's one of the paintings:

José Clemente Orozco - Los Muertos (1931)

Karen Project

My plan for this project is to track associations of parts of nameless novel. First, I will run part of a nameless novel through Wordle (PS the parts being used appear in a magazine). Then, I will take the most popular words from this part of the work. Then, I will find a passage in that part of the work (or maybe another part, we shall see) that does not have those most popular words. I will then take that part that does not have those words, tag them with my associations in an Excel file. Then, I want to poll a group of graduate students and undergraduate students with the selection who have not read the selection before and see what their associations are. Then, I will see if those who have not read the entire passage pick up on the words that are most frequent in the overall passage but not there in the passage they read. Then, I will map my associations, their associations, and the content of the magazines onto a Gephi graph. I will then discuss what kind of things may shape those associations for those reading the magazine and those in the modern group. 

The archival nature of this project lies in the maintenance of people's associations or the way that they categorize this reading in their mind. I will also kind of be tracking any changes that happened in the work (if they do at all) through Juxta. It could also be interesting to see if people make associations with words that are associated with words that appear in the text, like honest instead of true or something. 

No pics or whatever yet. 

Memory of the Present

 Proust seems to be very aware of the reader's role in "Swann's Way."  As the narrator describes the way his mother read books, he says, "she breathed into this very common prose a sort of continuous emotional life" (43).  Then a little later, the narrator explains idiosyncratic experience of someone watching a play.  The "spectator" of the theater "looked as though into a stereoscope at a scene that was for him alone, though similar to the thousand others being looked at, each one for himself, by the rest of the audience" (75).  The reader/spectator in both scenes has a unique interaction with the text/play that is intended for a multiple readings and viewings.  I think this individuality is somehow connected to the themes of memory, imagination, and habit, which are all more or less the same it seems.  The Combray section emphasizes the loss and "retrieval" of memory.  The narrator admits that "the past preserves nothing of the past itself" (44).  The collection or archive of the past is only a gesture to something lost.  The archive itself is always present; it is always now.  If this statement suggests Proust's work functions as an archive, then what do the statements regarding reader/viewer participation mean?  

After stating that the past is left in the past, the narrator considers the "Celtic belief very reasonable" (44).  Specifically, he agrees with the notion that "the souls of those we have lost are held captive in some inferior creature, in an animal, in a plant, in some inaninamte object [like a book perhaps]."  And, these souls are "effectively lost" until we "come into possession of the object that is their prison."  Here too, the "soul" of the past requires reader/viewer/user participation.  Without this interaction, the past is always lost.  The interaction itself, though, is like the "very common prose" or the theater.  The interaction of the user makes it meaningful, but always detaches it from the past.  I think Proust has compiled an archive in _The Search for Lost Time_ that intentionally foregrounds the present.  The length of the "story" alone prevents any reader from remembering all of the "plot."  Computers, however, can remember everything about the story.  I'm interested in how digitizing Proust's work might possibly change or support the text.  Even though a computer can store all the words, the user would still have to manipulate the text while searching or organizing, which, I think, Proust had in mind anyway.