I'll make this short and sweet. It's yet another Monday and, yes, another blog post in which I will mention that I am, at the moment, very tired and very much fighting the urge to float cartoonlike towards my bed. It is a hard-fought battle, one that I am certain to lose - the question is only when. 

I very much enjoyed the Stephen Ramsay article, specifically when he touches on serendipity (that friend everyone in academia likes to pretend they don't hang out with) and the relationship between the positivism of "real" scientific pursuits and the necessarily interprative quality of literary studies (a relationship that I think is presented rather problematically in the Jockers reading). I feel often that, when prompted or wanting to bolster and defend the sociocultural significance of literature studies, the spectre of STEM lingers in the background and, consequently, any defense of literature is figured necessarily in the comparison between the humanities and the sciences. Thus, Ramsay's ackowledgment of a difference but potential symbiosis between these studies provided a nice moment of optimism. 

I've got some more thoughts but I'll save those for class tomorrow. The battle is over. Therefore, time for sleep. 

Patterns and Evidence

(Full disclosure, the download link for the Ramsay reading was not working, so I went online and found a copy of his article "In Praise of Pattern.")

I read the Ramsay first, and it read as a great example of the type of methodological write-up that I would want to turn into Dr. Drouin for our final semester projects. It was easy to read, he had quite a few lit-nerd jokes in there, and I walked away understanding his central premise. That is, we can use digital humanities to find larger strokes in the source texts (in Ramsay's case, the use of scenes in Shakespeare's plays and how it differed over genres), but those larger strokes don't necessarily scientifically prove anything out of hand. So what if comedies, tragedies, romances, and history plays have a different average of different scene locations? To say that the scene variance means something thematically is not, then, a scientific argument. It is a literary/humanistic interpretation of the fact that comedies, tragedies, etc. have a differing amount of locations. Ramsay is, essentially, making sure that we understand what the tools digital humanities scholars give us. They give us hard, scientific data, yes. But they do not give us the key to some unimpeachable literary position. Our theses, our journal articles, those are still the same interpretative statements that we have been making since the dawn of the academy.

The Jockers seems to easily line up with this. Jockers spends time stating that digital humanities tools are, essentially, strip-mining texts for broad tendencies. Digital humanities is, essentially, best used for gathering evidence on a large scale, and less useful for taking on the intricacies of a single novel. It makes sense on a certain level -- why use text miners on a 50-page short story when you could be using them on an author's (or authors') body of text? Again, what you find doesn't necessarily prove anything out of hand. But you can use them as keystones to search out material in the text, or alongside material in the text, to formulate your opinion and lend it the weight of scientific evaluation.

The biggest thing I take away from these readings is that I want my project for the semester to focus on collating/interpreting a large collection of data. My focus on late Victorian/early Modern texts will make that an easy ask when Project Gutenberg .txt files exist. They are, also, an important reminder that a English scholar in digital humanities cannot forget their roots in literary criticism. Graphs don't mean anything without the interpretation that we do everyday, and the data we uncover does not limit our ideas. As Ramsay says, "We are so careful with our software and with our mathemat-ics—so eager to stay within the tightly circumscribed bounds of what the data “allows”—that we are sometimes afraid (or we forget) that all of this is meant to lead us to that area of inquiry where such caution and such tentativeness has no place."

Discussing Derrida and Decay

Before this week I hadn't read much Derrida, and I surprisingly found our section of Archive Fever this week quite interesting (I also hope this was the correct reading, since I wasn't sure about page numbers!). The aspect of Derrida's that I found most compelling is his discussion of why we archive the way that we do; from whence does this urge to catalog pour fourth?  What drives our seemingly inherent completionism?  In Archive Fever, Derrida asserts that archiving is an attempt to work against the impending and ever-present threat of loss.

Although this thought has permeated much of our discussion this class, I was quite struck by it here.  Of late I've been considering the processes of loss and mourning, and wondering about how these might filter into all of a life that ever in a process of decay.  Fascinatingly, Derrida suggests that one of the ways we might combat this knowledge of decay and impermanence is through the archive, for indeed:

“There would indeed be no archive desire without the radical finitude, without the possibility of a forgetfulness which does not limit itself to repression. Above all, and this is the most serious, beyond or within this simple limit called finiteness or finitude, there is no archive fever without the thread of this death drive, this aggression and destruction drive” (19).

As we have been working through various journals and other archives lately, and further discussung just how fluid, subjective, and difficult the archival process is, I've personally been hit with a few doubts as to the possibility of ever "properly" documenting or archiving anything.  What is the purpose, after all, if one cannot be sure that their attempt at presevration is ever good enough?  But when considering the possibility that we archive to work against the decay of an inherently physical, this process begins to take on new significance for me, and I almost begin to feel a greater respect for the yearning expressed in the attempt than for the result itself.

Two Masses and Voyant tool

I tried to make a comparison between two issues of Mases. One is issue of June, 1914, and the other one is issue of June, 1915. One of the most salient characteristics in frequency of words was the use of the word 'women' and 'men'. The frequent words in Masses of 1914 showed both 'men' and 'women' in a similar ratio, but in case of 1915 issue, I could only find the word men occurred frequently. I want to ask about the reason for this difference of frequency in words of men and women, because this would implicate the relationship between class and women. In addition, in the issue of 1914, I could find some words related to the nationality such as Mexico, and American, but in the issue of 1915, I could not find such words. It seems important theme to me, because this can be an evidence of the fact that the magazine also tries to encompass different social movements in different countries. Both of two issues seem to focus on the word ‘masses’ and ‘new’. From this idea, I could find the fact that the magazines seem to focus on the movement of masses and making a new change in the society and I want to study more about this.

Variety and Similarity

Is one purpose of the archive is simply to preserve the variety of any given age?

This question about variety led me to consider what similarities might exist between journals that would seem to be in opposition to one another, for instance, a self-proclaimed "conservative" journal like The Owl and a undeniably political journal such as The Egoist. Thus, I took three issues from each journal and, after putting them into Voyant Tools, subsequently took a look at the terms they have in common, featured below:


I'm going to come back to this post and add some more. But, for right now, I'm appreciating the movement that Voyant Tools allows for this issue of The Masses. I've been reading some queer theory for Dr. McLaughlin's class, and one thing that has really spoken to me is the idea of stasis as a tool of potential oppression used by political hegemonies. Perhaps, through reanimation (digitization, playing with words, etc.), there is a reimbuing of political potential.

Lab 2/12

I was most curious about the potential political ramifications and biases that an archive may be subject to. So rather than if there are any biases, I decided for this excercise, to just ask where any biases manifest, just due to the nature of modernism.

For this lab, I put the June 1914 issues of Blast, The Crisis, and The Masses into a corpus and pumped the whole thing into Voyant Tools. By doing this, I hoped to examine the points of friction between the issues, and potentially examine potential political biases in modernist journal archival.

For starters, the word "like" appears with a higher frequency in Blast than the other journals, and the word links map has it connected to the term "God," indicating a tendency to compare people to higher beings, which furhter indicates a sense of superiority coming from the Vortecists. Meanwhile, terms such as "negro" and "colored" almost exclusively are relegated to The Crisis, highlighting the Anglo centric perspective of Blast and The Masses.

Trying to Explain Why Archives Make The Choices They Do

With the general question of if an archive must explain themselves and the choices they make, the largest objection I could think of would be time. Digitizing and/or cataloging items already takes quite a bit of time. Add in having to explain why you made the choice you did, and you're now spending even more time. And what explanation is long enough? Or too short?


I think a potential solution to this problem is also a potential side step. By linking together texts/objects with metadata tags, you are showing a general theme through specific items that can span the entire archive (as well as helping with search and user access). Perhaps you do not have to excuse your choice as much as you have to prove that said choice has a place in the archive. Maybe that's enough.

That alone is a big ask, as it can be rather subjective as to what terms to use as a metadata tag for which journal. I have decided to explore using the text itself, and using major terms found in the text itself as potential metadata tags. That can take a bit of time, so you to automate it.

To illustrate this, I have used Voyant Tools to automatically read the PDF copies of Blast issue 1, Camera Work number 5, and The Dome, vol. 1 no. 5. By doing so I was able to gather a word map which I have provided below:

The "TermsBerry" that Voyant provides is also useful in this regard, but Voyant does not like making an image of it that I can link here, apparently.

As you can see, there are plenty of words that we can look at to see about using as metadata tags. However, there are also spelling errors, and some more useless words like "good" or "new." We discussed methods in class that we can use to clean up XML files, and I feel as if that is a good way to avoid the spelling errors. This may work rather well if I were to expand the scope even further, and include say all of the MJP's offerings. Then we can get search tags that appear in (at least) a majority of the magazines, and show a clear link between the offerings. 

3 Journals

So for this post, I went and had a look at some issues of The Crisis and The Masses, as well as the two issues of Blast (which is kind of cheating but they have been on my mind recently). For The Crisis, I looked at the first and last issues, in addition to vol 9 issue 1, to see the amounts of change in policy and stance on issues across the length of the war. I did the same with The Masses, looking at the first and last issues, and then Vol. 6 No. 6.

One of the most essential aspects to each of these periodicals is the political aspects running through them. The Crisis focusing on black civil rights and uplift, both before, during, and after the war, The Masses with its socialist leanings, and Blast's fairly obvious facistic leanings. All of these varying political perspectives coexist within the archive of the Modernist Journals Project, which I find fascinating. The description of The Masses acknowledges it's "radical politics," and does The Crisis, but the description for Blast doen not outright mention the political ideals the journal presents. Do we, as archivists, have a responsibility to contextualize the material we choose to preserve, especially when some of the materials push violent and potentially dangerous ideologies (I am aware that some people would leverage the same political questions towards The Masses that I am at Blast)? Because the discussion of archival and preservations can center around similar discussions of ethical consumption that we were having at the end of last week, with regards to the #MeToo era. Is it even up to the archivists to decide if anything is too "problematic" to preserve?

Three magazines


The magazine Rhythm shows some poems which contain various literary works that shows diverse imageries, sounds and twist of traditional convention. For example, the poem ‘the sea child’ describes sea as a child who goes back toward her mother earth by describing various imageries. She is described as ‘fashioned her body of coral and foam, combed a wave in her hair’s warm smother, and drove her away from home.’’ From this scene, we can find that natural object of sea is described as a woman who has fashioned with her with various objects and this makes us to imagine the movement of sea like a person who actually go between the earth and the sea. This makes us imagine the scenery of sea which ceaselessly move back and forth. A story, ‘the holy man’ disrupts the tradition of convention of religion. The is an old man who knows anything about God, but when Bishop looks him he thinks that he is really like Jesus, because he always tries to help others. Even Bishop sees the old man walks on the water to visit him. From this story, we can find that the story distorts the traditional authority of bible. A poem ‘smiles’ uses imageries, but in this case, it also distorts the tradition of using imagery of white and black. The speaker says that a black girl ‘as black as winter’s night’, but when she smiles, “there came a flood of light; it was the Milky Way”. From this speaker finds bright thing from the black girl. On the other hand, a maiden now fair as a summer’s day is described as black when she smiles by comparing her smile to the milky way of black night. Whether the woman is black or white, the speaker describes them as Milky Way, but in a different way. This seems to contrast traditional convention of division between black and white.  There are also many abstract images and this experimental way of depicting the images seems interesting because this could be only found through Modernist digital archive.


Seven arts

In this journal, we can find various issues in politics around the world and USA, and its relation of literature. ‘The Thimble’ written by D. H. Lawrence shows a story of a couple who have trouble of making their lives. When the woman finds out treasure-trove, a thimble accidentally, she feels terrified, and she even imagines that she was laying under the ground. She says that she feels like helpless baby in her situation, but the man says that there is a hope of becoming growth. This story seems to suggest after war mentality in people, and their possibility of resurrection. This idea can be found in the lines saying. “Are we dead now?”, “Yes we are”, “Then we must be born again” John Dewey’s ‘In a time of national hesitation’ explains the situation of USA confronting world war, and suggests the righteous way for the nation to do their work. He explains that the nation is in a paused in making decision, because they lack national mind. He explains that their nation should fight for defending democracy for other nations. He also says that as their nation is a new body and a new sprit in the world, they should finish their hesitation.


As a socialist journal, this journal seems to focus more on lives of people who are in a trouble, and instead of adopting the aesthetics of modernist, just sticks to the idea of realism. In a journal of June 1915, we can find an image of a man and woman. The man is sitting on the floor, putting one leg made of prosthetic leg and he is begging for something to people. Besides him, we can find a woman who is dressed well, and putting one of her leg with shoes which seems luxurious. Below the picture, there is a line saying ‘putting the best foot forward.’ By contrasting two images of man and woman who have different foot, the image seems to depict the problem of the poor and the rich, and there is no artistic experiment in the painting, so we can find that the image tries to depict the problem of society, instead of just sticking to the artistic experiment. In an article, “knowledge and revolution”, we can also find that the article tries to explain the problem of human value in the prison by depicting how prisoners are not treated well. Such description of the problem of prisoners seem to follow the style of reportage which depicts situation with realistic perspective.