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. 


On the Run, and Running to Return: Patri-archon, Parricide, and Mneme

In Archive Fever, Jacques Derrida moves readers through an impressive lexicon to deconstruct the trouble with and attraction of archiving. The image which seems to best capture, or at least repeats in my mind as I struggle through the Freudian Impression, is that of the prodigal son. The intimacy afforded by the psychoanalytic interpretation of the impulse to archive seems to lend itself to this interpretation.
For a well-regarded visual version of the essential biblical allegory, consider Rembrandt’s:
The muse of memory seems, as Derrida explains, to impel one toward an inescapable nostalgia for what came “before, before,” a returning to origins and a paternal guidance and covering, in spite of an intervening impulse to live father-free in the compartmentalization of archive categorization, an act which results in a severing of fruit from its tree (that destructive force referred to in Fever’s first pages), a child from his or her parent. Perhaps this is the “mal d’archive” (Derrida 91) to which Derrida refers, with its requisite driven passion and direction. Its phenomenal qualities, however, resist easy definition as to what makes “outside,” suspending disbelief to a rigorous level.  Nevertheless, Derrida’s conclusion to the book offers a somewhat recuperated reverence in careful consideration of what we might continue to preserve as “secret,” in spite of the captured history, chronicled history of deaths, lives.
While strict limits are resisted, they do seem to aid a this-side-of-chaos reading of a body of works. For example, to use the prodigal son as an example, how many “versions” of that story exist? Why is it so popular to return to, even by now established masters of painting? Moving beyond the Freudian principles at work, the archivist can study the yearning of the son to be taken in by the father in myriad ways, in spite of the youth’s desire to deny paternity, responsibility, etc. One might say that muse has its own Harpie-like qualities, but also ones of re-genesis.

Digitization of archives

I was looking this week at UCL's George Orwell archive (the link button isn't working on this computer, so here is the URL in full:, and thought it posed some interesting problems in terms of digitizing print archives. As Derrida says in relation to digital archivization,

Was it not at this very instant that ... I pushed a certain key to "save" a text undamaged, in a hard and lasting way, to protect marks from being erased, so as to ensure in this way salvation and indemnity, to stock, to accumulate, and, in what is at once the same thing and something else, to make the sentence available in this way for printing and reprinting, for reproduction? Does it change anything that Freud did not know about the computer? And where should the moment of suppression or of repression be situated in these new models of recording and impression, or printing? (25-6)

What I'm curious about here is a few things. First, does it change anything that Orwell did not know about the computer? What I mean is, particularly with the early manuscripts and his assorted notebooks, Orwell presumably had established an archive of his own by storing these documents. For presenting them online in this form, UCL has had to arrange the archive under headings easily accessible to the viewer, such as "political diaries," "personal diaries," "literary notebooks," etc. Furthermore, the texts seem to have gone under further arrangement by an archon in the interim, as this page shows: The previous archon here has scrawled "From the Notebooks of George Orwell," as well as scribbled out Orwell's dates in pencil and added their own. In the digital archivization, as with Derrida's sentence, the "save" button has been hit now, and the work remains as it is. So, not only has Orwell's archive been re-archived at least twice, but it has now been preserved in electronic form as a sort of definitive version.

The shift in form from a print archive to a digital archive, I feel, raises these questions: what does this appropriation of the archive do to the works it presents (as in, are we having new meanings established by the arrangements of these works in a new archive)? And, what sense of authenticity does the digitized archive hold, bearing in mind that these items have been removed from their context and subsequently had notes scrawled on them by others?

Internal Wastage in The Waste Land

  I'm interested in what Voss and Werner meant by "internal forces of wastage" in the archive and how these relates to an article I read a few years ago about The Waste Land.  Voss and Werner argue that the archive is "comprised of material 'citations'" that establish the archive's "proximity to a loss– of other citations, of citations of otherness" (ii).  The Waste Land is similarly comrpised of mostly allusions and citations as well.  Eliot, however, often changes the allusions in a slight unexpected way.  For example, "April is the cruellest month" alludes to and adapts Chaucer's original line.  I think there's a interesting dynamic between the use of an altered allusion.  Maud Ellman argues in "A Sphinx without a Secret" that the allusions in the poem function as the voice of dead poets and authors who dominate the text and replace the speaker/author's voice.  She, with this argument, reads the poem as the Fisher-King's failure to regenerate and end the cycle of waste.  From what I remember, she doesn't spend much time discussing the altered states of most of the allusions (I could be completely wrong on this).  To me, these changes represent "the breakdown of the archive's integrity that is most visible during moments of great documentary shifts" (Voss iii).  I think this technique also points towards Eliot's essay on the Individual talent that Kent's already mentioned.  Do the changed allusions still represent wastage, or does Eliot make them something new, something fertile? 

Trees and Tarr

 I really liked Moretti's "Trees" chapter and the way it illustrated the shift from dialogical narrative of Dostoevsky to the stream of consciousness of Joyce and other modernists.  Moretti argues that Figure 33 (p84), "his tree of free indirect style in modern narrative," foregrounds the transition from the "doxa of public opinion" to "the secret, unconscious layers of psychic life" (88).  Although there are a few problems with this approach, I'm pretty much on-board with this idea and I think it matches some of the discussions from Modernism and New Media.  In short, the development of photographs and film perfected the "objective" visual portrayal of objects, which allowed (or forced) literature to seek new areas that cameras could not reach, the psyche.

Lewis's Tarr (the Klein version) suspiciously resists the interior monologues and streams of consciousness that the other modernists were using.  His plot depends on dialogues, and there are only a few instances of brief, interior thoughts in the novel.  Following Moretti's argument, the conversational form of the book reveals that Frederick Tarr, despite his best efforts to be an artist, is actually a "well-socialized individual" like "Austen's heroines" (82).  Lewis, in this way, further satirizes Tarr's "bourgeois–bohemian" lifestyle.  I haven't read anything by Flaubert, but Moretti's description of his character-type whose "inner space is unknowingly colonized by the common places of public opinion" matches my understanding of Tarr's inner space (82).  For me, this clarifies the opening scenes of Tarr.  We follow Frederick as he seeks others' opinions.  His confrontations with Bertha also seem like negotiations (he says battles), which are social exchanges instead of interior subjectivity.  The absence of interiority in Frederick Tarr exposes his inabilities to be an artist.

Versioning and Bibliographic Code

 According to the project's website, the Modernist Versions Project will allow students and scholars to "digitize modernist texts" and, if I understood it correctly, help "build an integrated environment for digitial ingestion" through this collaboration.  I'm interested to know more specifically how this project will allow others to add to the project.  Will the coordinators accept certain versions of a text and not others, or will they be as inclusive as possible?  What will be the guidelines for removing an upload from the project?

On her versioning page of X-Ray, Clement looks at the extant versions of the poem with "the published text."  Her versioning highlights the changes the poem (linguistic code) went through before it was published.  By ending with the published text, she understandably suggests that this text is somehow finalized and definitive.  I might be missing the point of versioning, but will the MVP allow versioning/juxtapositioning of multiple published texts?  This would emphasize the changes that the bibliographic code goes through when it's published.  

I went to a talk this weekend, where the speaker argued that a poem's original publication (a Frances E. Watkins Harper poem in a pamphlet) revealed its original purpose: contributing to an existing dialogue about abolition and slavery.  Dr. McGill, the speaker, argued that later publications obscured the poem's commentary on slavery by isolating it in a book.  Her argument seemed to juxtapose the two texts the same way versioning does.  For this reason, I'm curious to know if the MVP will allow multiple published versions of a text or follow Clement's model.