Mapping: Following the Characters of "Eveline"

Mapping: Following the Characters of "Eveline"

My belated mapping lab follows the travels of the characters from James Joyce's "Eveline" after they manage to leave the Dublin. I chose to include the characters whom Joyce explained are dead, and placed them at Dead Armadillo Brewery in Tulsa, Oklahoma for a better visual representation of the characters who were never able to leave Dublin.

Working on this map allowed me to explore different areas of Ireland as I decided how to place Eveline's brother, Harry, who "was nearly always down somewhere in the country" (Joyce) working on churches. To find a representation of where he may be, I explored the most beautiful Cathedrals in Ireland to see if I could find one that was in a more secluded location. Without much luck in the embedded article by Celtic Group Hostels (probably due to their desire to promote themselves as locations to stay when visiting said cathedrals) I explored Google Maps myself to find a worthy cathedral for Harry. I landed on St. Mary's Catholic Church in Killarney. This was a nice escape from the cathedrals in Downtown Tulsa that, while lovely, are a reminder that Covid-19 has greatly limited my ability to travel this year.

Making this map made me reflect upon how difficult travel was before flying became possible, helping put into perspective how final moving a long distance could be for any relationship. It also illustrated the difficulties women like Eveline faced in attempting to travel. Eveline was unable to afford a way out of Dublin on her own due to her father taking her wages. She was likely making less money than a man would make for the same work, therefore it would have been difficult to save enough money to pay for a long trip regardless of her living situation.

Eveline’s feeling of isolation as she is away from her brothers and mother, who all were far away from her either in death or distance, is clearly illustrated in the scattering of lines away from Dublin, where Eveline remains for the duration of the novel. The beginning of the story makes it clear that Eveline desires to “go away like the others” (Joyce), but she was only able to attempt to do so with the alleged help of a man. The Google map draws attention to Eveline, represented as the only red marker on the map, alone not far from where she began in Dublin. The rest of the markers are much farther from the original location, remaining their original blue.

There is a very clear connection between this lab and the reading Moretti’s “Maps” from Graphs, Maps, and Trees, in that creating this map allowed me to give Eveline much more thought than I would have if I were reading Joyce’s Dubliners without slowing down to consider just how stranded Eveline felt in her world, far away from the people she grew up with. This also makes me reconsider the concept of a work’s aura referenced in Bornstein’s “How to Read a Page,” and how “Eveline” would have been received by someone familiar with Joyce’s Dublin.

Bornstein states that ”removing that aura removes the iconicity of the page, and important aspects of a text's meaning” (Bornstein, 7). My first reading of this passage disregarded his sentiment as a conservative longing to return to print over digital media, however his argument is valid. My original reading of the text without considering the importance of location caused me to overlook the significance of the loneliness Eveline felt as she remained in Dublin while her childhood companions were gone. Having gone back to reread the text and consider the distance between Eveline and her loved ones makes the passage much more powerful.

Why Literary Periods Mattered

The selections from Ted Underwood’s book on literary periods were eye-opening. As with much of the material in this course, I found myself initially resistant to his ideas—I will blame my commitment to longstanding methods on being a Taurus. I agree that the emphasis on periodization and the dramatization of historical continuity can be harmful or at least limiting. Prominent periods/movements like romanticism, modernism, etc. do become institutionally entrenched in a sense, with courses on those periods being routinely offered. While I love all the literature classes I’ve taken, I will read an article now and then that will awaken me to (often interdisciplinary) trends that fit my interests but would be difficult to encounter in a standard period survey. At the same time, I’m 1) still coming to terms with distant reading and 2) allegiant to my “teams,” which are often periods or movements, the very taxonomies Underwood finds confining. I always hear music critics say that in the 90s, it was uncommon to publicly like indie rock and pop, grunge and rap, etc. I feel that there is something pure about identifying yourself with a category that—like modernism, postmodernism, etc.—may be complicated and fraught itself but still exists as a recognizable category. Underwood writes that genres like romanticism and realism “were themselves participating in broader discursive trends” which “play out on a scale that literary scholars aren’t accustomed to describing, and it may take decades for us to figure out how to describe them” (169). As someone new to grad school, I have found the potential for period specialization exciting. I am easily most interested in contemporary literature (and, movement-wise, confessional poetry). That said, the vision of literary studies that Underwood offers does seem more progressive, comprehensive, and nuanced.

Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

There's a pretty famous series by feminist photographer Sherrie Levine called "After Walker Evans". In it, Levine takes works by male artists, in this case, Depression-era photographer Walker Evans, and "re-photographs" them. 

As Howard Singerman puts it in his article "Seeing Sherrie Levine", "From the beginning, then, they [Levine's re photographs] have existed not as images on the wall, but as an absence in those images" (p.79). As Benjamin pointed out, the implication of exact reproductions of art is political. By taking an artist like Walker Evans and photographing his work to the point where it's impossible to tell the difference between the two, Levine is working beyond the visual spectrum and into the theoretical. "After Walker Evans" is a visual representation of an experiment in authorship, authenticity, and gender. 

Looking at “After Walker Evans” on a screen, then, is a further degree from the original sharecropper's wife. I’m looking at a replicate on my screen of a photo of a photo. It’s more complicated than Inception

That is to say—as Benjamin points out in "Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" the existence of the ability to rapidly replicate works of art complicates art. It complicates artistic processes, complicates authorship, complicates reality. This is only truer now with the advent of smartphones, etc. 

I guess the thing about this is, it kind of excites me. Quick reproduction and the ability to totally capture the audio and visual qualities of an object, person, or place allows for a total new medium, and different approach to art. We don’t have to be hyper realistic in painting, anymore. Paintings can be whatever they need to be.The advent of photography as a medium means that we were able to re-prioritize was important in other mediums, and thus lead to movements like post-impressionism, surrealism and postmodernism. I wonder what the advent of our current digital age means for art now. Is it changing the game? 

As Singerman point's out about "After Walker Evans", the importance of the piece is rooted in the absence of the real piece, but when standing in the room with "After Walker Evans" there is still piece that holds space in the physical realm. What does it mean when that physicality isn't present in the repclication—when I look at "After Walker Evans" on my phone? When looking at "After Walker Evans" on my phone, not only is the absence of the original felt, but now I feel the absence of the replica, too. 

The Work of Art in the age of Digital Reproduction

Walter Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" struck a chord with me from the time I read the title because, as I type this blog post, I am procrastinating on updating Gilcrease Museum’s Rights and Reproductions policy on our website. Gilcrease Museum, like countless other art and cultural institutions, owns the rights to thousands of pieces of art. There are many people ranging from scholars to art-lovers who desire to own a reproduction of a piece of art, or, more complicatedly, want to use a work of art for in a book or film. I had taken for granted any time I read a nonfiction book about an artist and saw their artwork displayed on the page, and I have learned while working at Gilcrease that the process behind printing that piece is incredibly complicated. Gilcrease Museum does not always own the rights to a piece even if we own the piece itself.

In many cases, Gilcrease does not own the rights to a piece because the artist is still living. In others, it is because another organization secured those rights. For example, Georgia O’Keeffe’s Antelope Head with Pedernal is currently on display in our exhibition Masterworks from the Gilcrease Collection. But, we cannot freely share the image on social media or in print without consulting with the Artists Rights Society, who represents the entity who hold the rights to the majority of O’Keeffe’s works (honestly, I can’t remember the name of the entity). It is a big hassle and a barrier for many institutions who cannot afford to pay licensing fees any time they want to reproduce a piece they own, but I digress.

What makes things even more complicated when it comes to reproducing works is that Gilcrease, like many other institutions, had a system for granting reproduction rights that had not altered much since the museum opened in the 1940s. Any individual who wanted to attain the rights for something would submit a form for a quote on how much it would cost to reproduce a piece for their personal use, or use in a book or video. Then, if the use is deemed appropriate, Gilcrease would let them know the price and that individual can decide to continue if they can afford those rights. This can also be a barrier for use, but it does help protect the image from inappropriate use. The form one would submit to attain rights would take into account the purpose, the medium for reproduction, the amount it will be reproduced, among other things. This system worked for decades, but then came the rise of the internet.

Gilcrease Museum has begun seeing the need to grant rights use in perpetuity to individuals who want to use the piece in perpetuity online, either in video format or static on a website. This begs the question: How does one assign value to the use of a work forever by someone who is not the artist themselves? Benjamin’s essay alludes to issues exactly like this when he states in closing,  “the instant the criterion of authenticity ceases to be applicable to artistic production, the total function of art is reversed. Instead of being based on ritual, it begins to be based on another practice -politics” (Benjamin, 217.) Politics, of course, can be messy.

A few weeks ago, I was in a meeting where we addressed the need to update our system to allow us to grant rights in perpetuity to users. There were some in that meeting who staunchly opposed the idea. Benjamin captures exactly their mentality, as opposers believed allowing perpetual use of these works would be a “tremendous shattering of tradition” (Benjamin, 219.) They shared Benjamin’s sentiment that reproducing these works in perpetuity can damage their aura, which is why we continue to ensure that the uses of these pieces is appropriate when they are reproduced. However, that qualifier is not enough. Although we will do our due diligence in preserving the aura of the work as best we can, there is still the issue of money. If we allow people to use work in perpetuity with a one-time fee, we will not profit as much as we would have if we make the user pay a recurring fee for the duration of that piece’s use.

I felt that was a needless barrier for many of the individuals who seek to use our artwork, as did several of my colleagues. Many of the cases for reproduction are for benevolent purposes that support the study of artwork, which upholds our institutional mission. Not only that, but we would be willingly ignoring the fact that the internet has forever shifted how artwork can be reproduced. Ultimately, I argued that not only can we charge an increased fee to help us cover museum operating costs, but the use of artwork from our collection with our name attached also had value as it strengthens our brand. It was disheartening that our institutions’ defining conversation on how we will allow others to reproduce works from our collection was boiled down to “how can we profit the most?” but it is a fitting example of how, 85 years later, Benjamin was exactly right. We’ve entered an age of digital reproduction, and it is incredibly political. 

The Treasure of Born-Digital Literature, and why Digital Humanities is so vital in studying it

Born-digital literature, media, and storytelling is an inevitable and exciting expansion of storytelling into the digital space. It utilizes as its tools aspects of the digital that contribute to its audiences' experiences in a way that only the Born-digital can. There are communal storytelling hubs, in which various writers and artists gather and share a story world, canon, and characters, and contribute to and build that world both through digital art and digital storytelling contributions. There are "tine games" which are methods of digital story telling in which the reader clicks through various dialogue options or choices, influencing the story or choosing what information they want to read, and how deeply they want to know the backstory of the characters. There are online literary/game/visual experiences such as Homestuck by Andrew Hussie, which was one of the most popular born-digital literary and artistic achievements of its time and continues to be one of the most famous, and first "classic" born-digital media creations to this day. Then there is the epic, slowly unveiled story of Mother9Horse9Eyes, told in a collection of strange, surrealist, yet connected responses across many different reddit threads that were collected, assembled, ordered, and theorized on by an entire base of loyal readers. Then, of course, there are hte video games, some of which are primarily vessels with which to tell stories, such as the "visual novel" games which allow the gamer/reader to embody a character and act out anything from a romantic comedy, to deeply complex stories, as well as combinations of both to horrifying results, such as the horror game masked within a romantic comedy, Doki Doki Literature Club, many of which are bafflingly studied within the humanities despite their literary achievements and affects on culture. 

Each of these types of born-digital stories and literary creations tell stories in a unique way, and utilize the medium of the digital in surprising ways that makes the experience completely different for readers and audience members from piece to piece. Some position their audiences more traditionally, such as with Mother9Horse9Eyes, which encourages reading, interpretation, and analysis, and where the writer themselves sometimes interacted with and responded cryptically to the community, yet the readership were still reading the works of a single writer and analyzing those works for their literary merit and the story that was being told. Other born-digital experiences are even more deeply hinged upon the user's input, not just inviting it, but requiring it, such as in games and in community driven worlds and collaborative worldbuilding games. These kinds of creations make the audience members not just readers, but creators in and of themselves, and readers cannot participate in these works without being active creators of their own right who then build communities of readers around themselves and their own works within the shared world as well.

It is all these aspects, and too many more to name, which make the born-digital such an exciting expanse of the literary. It is a front of creation that illustrates that literature and stories will always be at the forefront of human inventiveness and experimentation, and one day, I firmly believe that some of these early born-digital works will be what are studied, read, and analyzed within dissertations and college classrooms. For writers, expanding into and experimenting with the medium of the digital is about as irresistible as it would be for an artist to experiment with a newly discovered color that no humans had ever seen before previously. Through trial and error, through much experimenting and practice, more and more artworks would be created using this new color, and experimenting with the experience that it gives to its viewers. 

Of all the areas in the humanities, perhaps the Digital Humanities is the best positioned to recognize and begin to analyze these born-digital literary creations. It was the Digital Humanities that first began asking the questions and defining what the digital humanities would be, and why such a field was necessary and should not be confined to the realm of computer science and engineering. Digital Humanities was used to study early video games and the consoles that humans interfaced with in order to play those games. It is therefore the most equipped, and appropriate field, to begin to study the works of art that are sometimes games, but are often things that have not been named yet, have not been categorized, and, though they are beloved and treasured by their wide and diverse communities, have yet to be studied by almost anyone for the unique treasures that they bring to the study of literature. 

Down the Rabbit Hole, or How I Got One Step Closer to Accepting that I Don't Know What I'm Doing

A few weeks ago, I added the post Never Have I Ever where I stress-roasted myself because I felt incontrovertibly stupid trying to figure out what I am doing with my life Gephi. I really cannot emphasize how stressed and discouraged I was when I made that post. I have generally resigned myself to being technologically left behind from this point on, which is grim, but comforting.

 

Trying to read Lauren Klein's "The Image of Abscence" tonight before the kids' bedtime (not my brightest idea today), I made it about 7 pages when I saw her reference 'Protovis,' "a JavaScript-based toolkit for data visualization" and off I went to Google, since I knew it had to be in some way comparable to Gephi. Sure enough, Protovis is a thing and I got excited and ready to download it, till I caught the blurb right in the middle,

Protovis is no longer under active development.

The final release of Protovis was v3.3.1 (4.7 MB). The Protovis team is now developing a new visualization library, D3.js, with improved support for animation and interaction. D3 builds on many of the concepts in Protovis; for more details, please read the introduction and browse the examples.

 

and off I went to search for D3.js, which I easily found and downloaded...and could not open/run/use at all. But rather than the instinctive dispair I'm inclined towards...I kept trying. I cannot emphasize how surprising that is. 

 

The next level of the rabbit hole was googling how to run JavaScript in Google Chome, which led me to the Chrome DevTools' JavaScript page. This page provides detailed instructions, which I began following along and I totally did the thing! I typed in the lines of code and changed the little practice box to read 'Hello, Console!" instead of 'Hello World!' and it worked perfectly. Feeling exuberant, I again tried JavaScript...and nothing happened, so I clearly still don't know what I'm doing, but Dr. Drouin mentioned looking under the hood to see how it works and I feel like I finally grasped at it more than I have all semester. 

 

By this time, the kids were late for bed and everyone was frazzled...another happy night in the Pearce household. After ensuring my little heathens children were asleep, I sat back down and promptly dove into the rabbit hole head first. I went back to the Protovis page, where I did ...something?...and totally copied the code for the block quote announcement and pasted it into the plain text editor just for giggles...and it worked!! I did the thing! I went back and tried the DevTools Hello, Console! exercise again and it took many more attempts before I finally got it right (which is when I took the screenshot that I'm too tired to try working at uploading here). Now, it's 10:33 (yes, it's late—I'm old in my 30s and I don't care), I'm bordering on deriliousness (I legit just spent three solid minutes staring at dictionary.com to make sure I spelled that correctly), and a sense of calm resignation...I really don't know what I'm doing, but for the first time (maybe ever?) I'm not panicking about it.

 

...except for the part where I only read the 7 pages of Klein...

Elizabeth Losh: Bodies of Information

Losh talks about the need for feminism and inclusivity in the digital humanities.She articulates women being marginalized in technical fields even in recent times. I am interested in her take on how different voices being heard. What I do worry about, is the idea of feminist voices becoming a monolith due to technology cramming them all together based on subject manner. Just as there are stereotypes about other groups of people, the need to label others based on racial, gender, or sexual orientation seems to run more rampant than ever.

One of my favorite quotes was by Torchwood, "You people and your quaint little categories." The way technology is used may not allow for subtleties that are part of the human condition. Some women love the idea of feminisim and make it their reason for being. Some women may not just want to be seen just as a feminist, and some women may not even want to be feminists at all or labled that way. There are disagreements between 2nd and 3rd wave feminists on a host of issues. None of them are wrong for wanting to be seen as an individual of beliefs in a wide field of voices. I hope for the future that these issues are taken under consideration when archives are being created, because it is just as important as females being treated equally in the digital humanities.

 

Mapping the Boy's Journey in Araby

I decided to map “Araby” following the boy’s journey down to the Araby bazzar. As I was adding places on the map of Dublin, I realized several things that I hadn’t noticed before. The first thing I learned was that the distance from his home to the bazzar was quite far from each other, and seeing the geographical condition of both places, I could guess that the atmosphere of both places would very different—North Richmond Street, just as Joyce described, being “blind” and “quiet,” whereas the Araby bazzar is across the River, which he described as “twinkling,” and the boy could have a glimpse of the bustling nightlife of the city on his way to bazzar. Another thing I noticed was that the boy moved from North, where his house and school are located, to South, where the bazzar is opening. This physical movement from North to South aligns well with his psychological change because he is emotionally going down from hope and expectation to disappointment, doubt, and hatred. Also, because he had to leave his house after 9 p.m., he is surrounded by the darkness of the night and the silence in a lonely train riding, and with the experience of mapping his journey, I was able to better understand how these outside settings—going South alone at night—amplify as well as reflect the boy’s emotional movement.

I think a mapping of a novel enables the three-dimensional reading of a text. When I was reading “Araby” only from the book, I focused more onto the boy’s emotional journey than his physical movement, which still makes the story great. However, after mapping his journey and seeing with my eyes the geographical difference between North Richmond Street and the bazzar place (+Westland Row Station), I could clearly see how his perception of his love and himself is prompted to go through the gradual degradation by the change of surroundings.

 

Struggling to Archive Lost Game Content using the Wayback Machine

I have always really liked archiving things, either formally or informally, on the web. Whenever there is a wikia in a group that I am interested in, I often contribute content that is missing, or holes in the collective community memory. When The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim was first released, I was one of the people adding to the content on the Wiki page as I was experiencing it, screenshotting things so that pictures could be added. The Wayback Machine has been an excellent resource for me in a lot of my digital archiving endeavors, but in my most recent efforts to preserve history on a community Wiki page, the Wayback Machine struggled with the site it had documented.

The community is 4thewords, a Costa Rican writing role playing game that has been around for quite a while, from 2014 to the present. Its concept is what they call a "gym membership for writers" in which writers defeat monsters, level up, and gather resources by writing words within a time limit (difficulty higher or lower depending on the monster challenged). Though it is a very niche game, it has gathered quite a few loyal members that it serves well, and whom happyily pay the low monthly subscription fee. Those who cannot afford to pay, such as young writers or struggling adults, are often given memberships for free by the developers. 

4thewords has grown and changed drastically, and yet, a good amount of the early days of the site are documented. However there is a large and noticable gap in the documentation that I myself happened to be a part of, and remember quite vividly--National Novel Writing Month, November 2017, the "Uurwall's Haunted Mansion" event. The reason this is so undocumented is not only because the site was a lot smaller then and has only exploded in growth more recently, but also because the site itself was experimenting with a new model that I believe used Adobe Flash. In this experimental period of the game, players could actually scroll around the background like a point-and-click adventure, or classic RPG. The haunted mansion itself was illustrated lovingly, and the monsters either crouched, waiting in the corners to attack, or defended other passages that led deeper into the castle. Players would battle these monsters and try to find keys and create candles from the resources of their fallen bodies in order to explore the creepy recesses of the castle. It was epic--a classic fantasy game feel mixed with the best haunted-house horror tropes, and the only way you could hope to explore it all or have your character survive was by writing your story for National Novel Writing Month every day, passionately and studiously, as you battled the monsters.

I had just joined the site, and I remember crafting my first great weapon in the game in that event; a sword created from the magical Dark Wood I'd collected in a secret forest clearing by making my way through the entire haunted mansion.

Unfortunately, this game design didn't last. Apparently, I was one of the few people in 2017 that had a gaming computer capable of running the new site smoothly. Others had to switch back to "simple mode" where they couldn't explore the mansion, and could only click and battle monsters in a list. There were a lot of complaints, and 4thewords ended up reworking the site and creating a new model that relied and stunning art and written storylines alone, rather than animations and traditional game design exploration.

I wished to catalogue this special event that was unlike anything else I'd seen before on the site or off it. However, though the Wayback Machine indeed took a screenshot of the site during that month of November: https://web.archive.org/web/20171030002920/https://4thewords.com/

though it was able to bring me to what the homepage looked like then, I was unable to see anything further. The links worked, but perhaps it was the site's use of flash and other more complex programming that made it difficult to archive. All that can be seen when it is clicked through are blank pages: https://web.archive.org/web/20181013090955/https://4thewords.com/demo

I'm still trying to figure out ways that I can retrieve and archive this special, brief time in the site's history for those who experienced it, and those who didn't, but would like to learn about it. It is possible that the best that can be created is a written account from those who experienced it, no data and images were archived. This experience really brought home for me in a tangible way how difficult and challenging archiving websites and games can be, because even if the game still exists, many games now are constnatly being edited, changed, and revised, and the older game versions can be so different that they are almost unrecognizable to the newer game versions. Many grow nostalgic for the older versions of the game, which were actually different games altogether than the new game. This is even more dramatic than the textual, visual, and physical differences of reading a text published in different places, at different times--it is closer to reading an entirely new, changed version of a book by the same author, which may be totally different from the original work in significant ways. Yet, in this case, the original work is wiped from existence by the new version, and is often irretrevable to its users even in their efforts to archive it's existence.

My current avatar in 4thewords, with all the weaponry, clothing, and pets I've earned from defeating monsters and completing quests through the years.

Araby

I chose to map the boy's route in "Araby." I was taken with this story and its foregrounding of preteen/teenage letdown. The boy dreams and acts with a kind of tunnelvision that I am also susceptible to, and mapping his route allowed me to even better understand his dedication. The journey to the bazaar seems daunting for a 12(ish)-year-old traveling alone, especially considering how localized the rest of his life is. I also came to see more clearly the prominence of the River Liffey in shaping the boy's route and Dublin in general. This might be a stretch, but I feel like a river running through a metropolis can lend that city some sense of peace, and perhaps it made the boy's route seem even more majestic and grave with purpose. The boy's disillusion struck me as distinctly urban (maybe I have read too many articles about New York bands and "urban ennui"), and the map made clear that he has grown up in the thick of the city. He's also close to Trinity, which I understand from Sally Rooney novels to have a high reputation and whose campus connotes knowledge and sophistication. I wonder if the boy is at once allured by the sights of the city on his journey and disturbed by them, or more accurately, disturbed by the constraints of time and money and familial problems that keep him from venturing out of his neighborhood. Also, to be too literal, the boy's (admittedly kind of maladaptive) dreams dissipate by the end of the story, and the map shows a north-south trajectory. "Araby" reminded me most of "Prufrock" despite the age and class differences between their protagonists because of this commonality of self-soothing through daydreaming. There's that switch in "Prufrock"--"And would it have been worth it, after all"--that signals his walking back from the intention to ask out this girl and cushioning that sense of paralysis with reasons why he's better off on his own. While the boy in "Araby" does make it to his destination, the bazaar is almost completely closed by the time of his arrival, and in the face of his grand ambition to buy his crush a gift being thwarted, he is left embarrassed by his vanity.

https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=1pTROozIdA9Gpvso9pPvKMCY9XqFQsIQo...

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