Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Digital Humanities: Decentered Expression and Hierarchical Collapse

Digital humanities is the relationship between humanities and digitality. Patrik Svensson struggles in "The Landscape of Digital Humanities" to pin down a current definition of the field that does not neglect or belittle one or another “type” of DH. What is clear in his article is a variety of complex movements among students, scholars, techies, archivers, writers, etc. to create something collaborative. Perhaps what is most common among them is not one attitude, technique, or approach, but is instead the quality of movement and negotiation between textual and digital expression. Aside from the obvious tension which gives birth to a meaningful artifact, the intertextual, hypertextual, and multivocal qualities inherent to DH effectively destroy the structuralist center, embodying instead the freeplay of poststructuralism. Ladan Modir, Ling C Guan, and Sohaimi Bin Abdul Aziz comment in “Text, Hypertext, and Hyperfiction” on just one of many manifestations of DH, hypertext: “the characteristic of hypertext is said to manifest this kind of decentering experience in the narrative. Without an organizing structure that guides reading direction, readers move from one text to another with each representing a center and a focus of their investigation. In Landow’s (2006) words, ‘One experiences hypertext as an infinitely decenterable and recenterable system.’”  The “reality” of any DH “text” is not fixed, but takes shape in a variety of forms unique to the subject participating in the “text” This non-linear and multi-dimensional quality resembles the philosophies of Post Colonialism and Cultural Studies, which refuse to understand history and culture as a collection of fixed linear and finite moments.

Considering the poststructuralist nature of digital humanities, it is quite laughable that anyone would attempt to define DH as something which is anything other than moving and centerless. As frustrated scholars continue to fight the freeplay of DH while mourning the death of a centered and consequentially conquerable text, DH will only dance further away from their proposed definitions that seek to bind an artistic movement which is anything but bound. Digital humanities will continue to give birth to a movement of subjective creators and consumers free of outdated ranks of authority (made impossible by a centerless system of creation and analysis), especially those which place stubborn scholars at the top.

Does the Human Disappear from Digital Humanities?

On the concept of the Digital Humanities, I'm torn between loving the progression towards a digitized field and hating it. This is the way I am with most things involving technology. I love things like social media and the internet and my phone, but at the same time, I also hate them. I have the same feelings towards Digital Humanities. I love that the digital world opens up new pathways for creativity to be shared with the world, but I also prefer the comfort of a physical book in my hand over an e-reader.

I also think that Sample makes some interesting points in his article "Deformed Humanities", but I think he takes the idea of the Digital Humanities a little too far. He points out that "computers let us practice deformance quite easily, [by] taking apart a text" and I agree that technology allows us to dig deeper into texts when we use it as a tool. However, when he talks about the beauty in purposely finding/making no meaning within a text, that is when he loses me. I don't think the Digital Humanities shouldn't be about destroying for the sake of destroying meaning completely, but instead destroying in order to better understand texts. Technology can provide new mediums through which text can be made, and that is the most exciting part about it.

Either way, I'm torn. I think that the field will continue to become more and more digitized, and it is unavoidable. We can either hate it and long for simpler times from the past or fully embrace the technological madness. Or we can just stand somewhere in the middle, hating it one day and loving it the next, but there is nothing we can do to prevent Digital Humanities from evolving. Which is kind of scary (exciting)?

And there is my last post. It has been a pleasure blogging with you all. Yay, Crit Theory!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Digital Humanities?

My opinion about digital humanities is torn between excitement and anxiety. I'm excited because it's offering a variety of new and potentially new digital tools that scholars, artists, students, and researchers are using to expand the way knowledge is gathered, organized, and synthesized. Digital humanities is changing the way students and educators approach experimentation and exploration, leading to wider possibilities for discovery. Digital humanities is only at the beginning of a long journey, but we're already noticing the ways in which it is going to change our lives—iPhones, anyone? It will continue opening doors to our pursuit of knowledge, leading to unforeseeable opportunities. We're living on the precipice of a strange new era!

On the other hand, I'm anxious about digital humanities and postmodernism. Reading the article, "Notes Towards a Deformed Humanities", was just another affirmation that postmodern "creativity" is withdrawing from critical thinking. I'm disenchanted by postmodern art because it is centered around reconstruction rather than construction. I don't understand what anyone, including the artist, gains by reducing a preexisting text into nonsensical language. Artists are scattering literary traditions across a virtual limbo, resulting in a dramatically reduced artistic experience, and using poststructuralism as a poor justification for it. In Sample's article, he says "reading backwards revitalizes a text, revealing its constructedness, its seams, edges, and working parts." I think it's interesting to momentarily process a text in reverse, but I don't understand what this enhances or challenges beyond that point. Art is a tool that inspires growth because it's new and, to a certain extent, accessible.

Yesterday, I was listening to NPR and they were discussing the future of emojis—interesting, right? Apparently, some linguists believe that emojis could eventually be understood universally, meaning "emoji" could be a language! Fred Benenson decided to take emojis to the next level by rewriting Moby Dick in emoji. His book is called Emoji Dick. I think Fred Benenson is very cool for deciding to write a story in emojis, but I'm frustrated that he couldn't create his own story. This, combined with Sample's article, demonstrates the obsession our culture has with recreation. Experimentation is important because it challenges perception, encouraging individuals and cultures to expand their horizons, but experimenting with old material baffles me, especially if it's in a way that diminishes its intellectual eminence.

Ending our class with Digital Humanities has been an eye-opening experience for me and I'm thankful for Critical Theory. I don't appreciate postmodern art, but I still think it's serving a useful purpose: to alleviate the transition from the familiar to the unfamiliar. Information technology is a relatively recent phenomenon that has been rapidly gaining momentum for the past few years. It's moving too fast for people to keep up with it, especially older people. It's easier for artists to use technology as a digital tool to reconstruct preexisting texts because it's a way to contextualize technology—as a way to understand it. When I think about the rapid movement of our modern world, I am amazed that we've adapted to technology at all. Technology will eventually become normal and it will be used in all disciplines of knowledge to produce new and revolutionary ideas that challenge the status quo beyond, "oh, nice, that's cool," but we need to adjust first. We need to place technology into its own sphere, separated from "the good old days." Those days are here and now, continuing to evolve and get better by each and every passing moment.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Mark Samples article

Even though it's difficult to vouch for the vices and questionable faults entailed in the deformed humanities, I admire its creative prowess.It prompts readers to distinguish formerly unforeseen content that tends to slip through the cracks of ideas and contemplations acknowledged at face value. While deformed humanities is utilized to disrupt the sanctity of a text only to tie new revelations back to the origin material at hand, Sample disagrees. You take a fable character like humpty dumpty, and scholars like Lisa Samuels and Jerry McGann strive to reconstruct humpty dumpty through a jangled disruption of events. The beauty of Humpty Dumpty's plight as far as deformative humanities goes is the point at which he breaks. New color and meaning can be pulled apart from his cracked egg shell, oozing yolk, and slipshod decrepitude. The aim of the game is not to reinforce prior meaning, but to construct something entirely fresh out of something that wasn't originally present "The deformed work is the end, not the means to an end." Deformative humanities really places emphasis on analyzing systems that antagonize other systems. Deformative humanities, in the performing sense, is influenced by innovation to change how business is conducted. Like how Babe Ruth used the home run as a strategy for success, rather than as a celebratory phenomenon.

One interesting example of using the deformative humanities is how the author of the text I'm reading took something called "hacking the accident", which exploits the flaws in the deformative humanities and threw a wrench in the works.All the original nouns were replaced, and put in place were nouns that were placed seven steps away alphabetically. Consequently, a new perspective and set of ideas are birthed from the rubble of inconsistencies and chaos. A parody is erected to ridicule the flowery language employed by academic mavens. While I can safely question the effective qualities of deformative humanities, I can appreciate the oddities of the theory. How seemingly frivolous factors sprout, yet contain a level of legitimate meaning on its own standing. Personally, I feel the deformative humanities is a double edged sword. Practically ambiguous, and ambiguously practical.           

It is {Not} Finished

I'm rather sentimental as I sit here writing this last blog post, on my last day of classes EVER as an undergrad. I think I usually spend more time thinking of a punny title, than I do writing my actual blog post. Ah. Anyways, if you grew up with a Bible in your hand you will appreciate my title, if not...well, it doesn't appear so clever.

In order to understand the digital humanities, one must know what the humanities are. The humanities are the stories, concepts, artwork, and people that shape the way we make sense of the world around us. As defined by Lyn Maxwell White in  Handbook of the Undergraduate Curriculum: A Comprehensive Guide to Purposes, Structures, Practices, and Change, the humanities are:
Disciplines of the humanities such as philosophy, history, and literary studies offer models and methods for addressing dilemmas and acknowledging ambiguity and paradox. They can help us face the tension between the concerns of individuals and those of groups and promote civil and informed discussion of conflicts, placing current issues in historical perspective. They also give voice to feeling and artistic shape to experience, balancing passion and rationality and exploring issues of morality and value. The study of the humanities provides a venue in which the expression of diddering interpretations and experiences can be recognized and areas of common interest explored. (263)
 Similarly, the digital humanities is about sharing concepts, values, and ideas. It is as simple and complex as it sounds, for now you have a new medium to share all of the information...the digital world. Namely, the internet.

The "Deformed Humanities," as proposed by Mark Sample, is:
A humanities born of broken, twisted things. And what is broken and twisted is also beautiful, and a bearer of knowledge. The Deformed Humanities is an origami crane—a piece of paper contorted into an object of startling insight and beauty (Notes Towards a Deformed Humanities)
Which I find to be just as startling as an analogy.  And, I believe summarizes just what the digital humanities are and how it is related to the post-structural movement. Oragami, like the digital humanities, is the contortion of a piece of paper, it can be folded and unfold, and recreated. The digital humanities are ever shifting, there is no center, it is not fixed.

As I began thinking about where theory was going, particularly in relation to the digital humanities, I reflected on all the theories we have studied. Every theory bore a new theory, one with the opposite message.  New Criticism which focuses on the death of an author, is the catalyst of a response and movement that emphasizes the authors. They say history repeats itself, so I believe, the response to the digital humanities--which emphasizes sharing and open access--will be one that focuses on author ownership. However, I think the digital humanities will triumph, as it continues to challenge the narcissistic world we live in. Though this class comes to an end, theory and the digital humanities are not finished. They will continue to resurrect, transform, and evolve.

The Next Step

I have to be honest, I’m not so sure about this movement into the digital humanities. Sure, I can appreciate the movement forward within the field. But at the same time, I’m nostalgic about it all. I like paper and pen and books with folds in the corners. Although I do think that the digital humanities will allow more people to discover the theory. In his blog, Notes towards a Deformed Humanities, Mark Sample makes interesting points regarding the future of this subject.

For Sample, instead of “deforming” texts in order to better understand them as a whole, he wants to leave them in the pulled apart mess that they are in. He compares it to Humpty Dumpty, and he wants to leave him cracked on the ground. Sample’s idea is that there really isn’t as much of a need to go back to the original works after you've picked it apart and from that, a new text can be formed, “In my vision of the Deformed Humanities, there is little need to go back to the original. We work—in the Stallybrass sense of the word—not to go back to the original text with a revitalized perspective, but to make an entirely new text or artifact.” I think that this is a very interesting idea, further studying what makes up a text. Although, I would rather put it back together to see that larger picture, it is creative in the sense that you’re making something completely new. In a way, Deformed Humanities is a way of evolution.

Digital Humanities is definitely the next step in the theory department, maybe because I’m looking at it in its beginning stages is why I’m not all that used to it. But I can absolutely see the potential and the interesting directions it can go in.

With that, I end my final blog post for Critical Theory. 

In the Beginning There was Only Text...

It starts with some letters. These letters have sounds. When you put these letters together you get words. Words, when stringed together, create sentences, and so on. Thus, language is born. Language, from the very beginning, is bricolage.
The new critics tried to create meaning from chaos by assuming a definite and discoverable meaning behind texts. As the evolution of theory progressed, we became convinced that texts do not have one and only one meaning. Then, with post-structuralism, we lost grasp on any meaning whatsoever.

Post-structuralism asserts that texts – or on a smaller scale, words – do no possess sole meaning. Because of this, they are not metaphoric –meaning that the utterance or writing of a word (signifier) does not refer to the thing (signified). Instead, words simply refer to other words – signifiers to signifiers – in a never-ending ping-pong volley.

With new and advancing technology, comes the birth of the digital humanities. The digital humanities is the personification of post-structuralism. It is a living and breathing example of language’s metonymy. When hypertext is used in a digital document, the reader can literally bounce from one text to a related text. When one keeps bouncing he/she will notice that they have the ability to wind up in a place and exploring a subject that is far from their original source material. The metonymic bounce becomes literal not just theoretical. In this way, the digital humanities creates texts and exposes existing texts as being wholly decentered.

Not only do the digital humanities knock “meaning” off its pedestal with metonymy, it also allows readers to interact with texts so that they might rearrange any text to create something new with a wholly different supposed meaning. Texts are now at the mercy of the public. They might be used or arranged in any manor in order to meet an infinite number of goals.

New critics like Wimsatt and Beardsley would squirm at the idea of an English/humanities field of study that is devoid of stability and meaning. A field of study in which anyone can create and participate.

The trajectory of English/literature studies has been one of evolution and discovery. I think that most non-English majors would suppose that there wouldn’t be much to discover in the way we think about literature and language, but boy, would they be wrong. We based our study on words and what they could mean. Then we got broader when we considered what words could mean to different people. Then we extended the boundaries even further when we thought about what certain words could mean to certain people in certain situations. Then the boundaries got so wide that they couldn’t contain anything in place anymore; all areas of study and life are in conversation and free-play with each other. Now we have technology as a tool to witness this free play. And it is wonderful. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Deformed Definitions

In the “The Landscape of Digital Humanities” article by Patrik Svensson, the digital humanities are described as being the “intersection” of the humanities and the digital world. Digital humanities are comprised of digital technology and the growing amount of angles, disciplines and methods intertwined.

                In Mark Sample’s article, “Notes towards a Deformed Humanities” we are introduced to what are called deformed humanities. To start the article, Sample talks about digital humanities which are thought to build things, but Sample argues they share things rather than build them.  He proposes and opposition to Digital Humanities, coming up with the idea of Deformed Humanities. These deformed humanities are described as being “born of broken, twisted things”. He states that by deforming something, there is an opportunity to reform it like explained in his Humpty Dumpty story or for example by changing a story-taking adjectives in Hamlet and turning them all into the same one, creating essentially a deformed or reformed story.

                I think a main characteristic that post-structuralism and the digital humanities have in common is that there are no fixed or stable meanings. The digital world can be interpreted in a variety of ways, this being a main idea post-structuralism boasts. Sample ends his article with saying that the Deformed Humanities relies on the undoing and the unknowing. The unknowing piece of this sentence makes me think of no fixed or stable meanings as well because you don’t know what the actual meaning is.

Digital Humanities is the New Humanities

The word "Digital" can be scary to anyone who isn't a fan of change or is a stranger to technology. Like the expression "Ya cant teach an old dog new tricks". It makes me think about when DVDs first came out and replaced VHS. They seemed like the most confusing things in the world and seemed so overcomplicated when VCRs were so easy to use. So what about Digital Humanities? What exactly are digital humanities? Well we know about normal humanities, so digital humanities are basically humanities intertwined with technology, hence the term "Digital Humanities". But what about the deformed humanities? According to the text "A humanities born of broken, twisted things." which basically means taking something broken or whatever and recreating it/converting it into something new, something great. YES It actually makes sense that they are related to post structuralism for several reasons. So basically, in 2015, we as humans rely heavily on the internet and that is not going to go away any time soon. So digital humanities is going to be the new humanities. I am so proud of that title haha. Anyway, structuralism is all about structure that everyday humans should follow and post structuralism generally criticizes structuralism and rejects normal standards. They are connected to post structuralism because they are typically not following any sort of standard structure. It doesn't follow the traditional values of humanity. Going off on what I said about humans and the internet, one day, books wont be on paper anymore. If e books and kindles are so popular now, eventually they will take over and be the only source to obtain literature. so it will be POST poststructuralism. There will be new theories and new theorists who will continue to critique and criticize new things such as POST post structuralism, but that is kind of their job. Since the first post structuralism was criticized for being a threat to people's values, there are definitely going to be people who will criticize that. But values keep changing so who knows what will happen. Structure keeps changing over time, and humans evolve and their humanities evolve as well. We will use deformed humanities to create new things which humans will put all their focus on. Some things will die overtime, or lose their mojo, and deformed humanities can take what they want and recreate something totally new and exciting. So the old stuff will still matter, but will be altered in a new time era, with new humanities and new types of literature for people to focus on.

No, Digital Humanities; the Question is, What are We?

When answering the question: What are the digital humanities and what are the deformed humanities, I think the first question we must ask is what are we? And who gave us the authority to determine the answer to either of the first two questions? As you might be able to guess the direction I'm headed in here, I believe that the best part of theory is deconstruction. The digital humanities, as well as deformed humanities deal very much with deconstruction of texts and ideas as a whole. It is a cycle, or a dance and we go round and round; never really finishing, but always starting over where we began. You cannot deconstruct anything without an original copy. The deconstructed version of a text could very well be the original for somebody else. Humanities, especially the digital and deformed fashioned ones deal with this first hand.

Without the concept of deconstruction and poststructuralism, there would be no digital or deformed humanities. Everybody in the whole entire world should understand that we create our own contexts, nothing is ever set in stone for us; whether in terms of text, or the every day circumstances of our lives.

One of the best pieces from the Deformed Humanities reading was that broken pieces are just a beginning. We begin to form the day we realize that we are broken and that is okay. The example in the article was Humpty Dumpty and how he didn't actually HAVE to be put back together except that it made the fairy tale sound good. Any text that is broken down is just a new beginning for something just as, if not moreso, beautiful than the original.

The digital and deformed humanities are a beautiful thing that we can examine in any way we please and that is what makes them unique based on the person who approaches them. I may have a different view on a digital database than the person sitting next to me in the library as I type this, but we both absorb the information given to us by the digital database uniquely and that's the point.

Nobody needed to give us the power to make these judgement calls; we just did that on our own. That's what the digital and deformed humanities are: making comments, understandings, and observations on what we see and how that impacts us overall.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Digital humanities and sexy Harry Potter: The one post to rule them All

The following is a fan-fiction.

It was a warm evening, and I was feeling adventurous. I didn't have a jacket, but for some reason the reassuring thought that I would soon see my lover kept me warm. This whole day felt weird, not like a typical day.

My steps through the woods were hesitant, but eager at the same time. I stepped with determination, but with grace. I wanted to preserve myself for my true love.

It was only a quarter past ten but I felt reassured that the watch would all be asleep by now, and my worries of being caught lazily slipped aside beneath a blanket of excitement. I arrived at the wooden cabin with a smile that ached from my cheeks down through my body. I knocked on the door.

“Hello, Harry!” said the sensual Ron upon answering the door in his bedtime apparel.

“Hello, Ron,” I said with my sustained smile. I stepped inside the cabin, with each creak of the 
wooden floor filling me with Pavlovian satisfaction, I had been here before.

“Harry, I’m eager to begin our evening of adventures,” said Ron.

“Me too!” I said.

“But before we begin, I must tell you something that may disturb you a bit.”

“Oh dear, what would that be?”

“You may want to sit down, it’s going to take a lot out of you.”

I complied, of course. Perhaps this was one of the games he had prepared, I thought.

“You see, you came here this evening believing you had been here before, but actually you haven’t.”

“What are you saying Ron? You’re not making any sense.” I was completely befuddled at this point.

“Just listen,” Ron said. “You felt weird coming here today right? Like it wasn't your usual day.”

I nodded. How did he know?

“You see, you're not Harry Potter, you're only Harry, and feel like Potter. I’m not Ron Weasley, I’m just Ron, and I feel like Weasley. We have their memories, but we’re actually new creations based on their lives. I've been looking into it, and it all makes sense. It’s called Deformed Humanities. We are like broken versions of the original Harry and Ron.”

This made so much sense, it’s why I felt weird coming here in the first place. It wasn't that I had forgotten the feeling, it’s that I lived with a sense of déjà vu that this was supposed to have happened before, but I was a broken yet vibrant product of the ideas behind Harry Potter. I felt constructed by words, formed by imaginations. I lied broken, my yolk spilled out. But I feel that I understand much, I am not Harry, but I am so much more.
At that I touch the tip of my wand to Ron’s and the sparks flew and spewed between us.

This fan fiction shows two things: a forbidden romance between Ron Weasley and Harry Potter, and also not the recreation, but the creation of something out of nothing. Deformed humanities means to see a new work from the ashes (or egg shells) of an old work – it is not to analyze a work and see it the original differently. Fan fiction is a form of deformed humanities because it does not look at the text (i.e. Harry Potter) differently, it recreates something from the essence of the text. I created a new Harry and Ron, who pay no homage to original characters – and to deformed humanities field, that’s good I guess.

Digital humanities complements but also contrasts with this theory. It does not deconstruct Harry Potter, but it might create an accessible field for multiple readers to edit the story of Harry Potter, post hyperlinks to similar stories about Harry Potter within the text, and spread the creativity across the internet/world.

What’s so poststructuralist about the two theories is that is replaces the meaning of authority. Digital humanities are poststructuralist because they not only replace the author with the reader, but actually unify and singularize the author and reader to the point where the two are indistinguishable. This is was Derrida would call a contradictory coherence. How would the author be the reader, and vice versa? Well it’s contradictory, but it makes sense. Deformed humanities are poststructuralist because are built on the idea of bricolage: to construct something out of junk – to let broken Humpty Dumpty be its own thing; to make a rope of bras from one building to the next.  Both of these ideas replace our definitions of authority and material, changing the center of meaning. Here, deformed humanities are no longer the world, but “things that explain how things make their world,” the art is the material itself. Therefore, the meaning of what we mean by the text, the story, or the sign is always changing.
I think this is a revolutionary theory. Saussure would likely love this theory, as it flips the binary of control for theorizing to the reader, which then becomes the author. And what would Butler say? The reader is now the author, or the copy of the author, and there would be no author if there were not reader, and who will be the “original” when the two become one? The future of open source and community exchange will reevaluate literary fields, and it will open up a new field of theory, similar to poststructuralism. As theory evolves to analyze new works, and “becomes aware of its object of study,” it too will begin to “make a contribution to a range of studies that will be of interest to almost anyone.”


Monday, May 4, 2015

Facts and Prisons

The Digital Humanities are a compilation of media sources that, through one way or several, construct new works of art. This is done either through constructing something entirely new and original out of materials that already exist, or by deconstructing, or taking apart, works that already exist and repurposing the pieces to create something different. The main difference between these two forms of Digital Humanities is the concept of repurposing materials versus finding the materials required. This is the difference between someone who has an image of a completed work in their head and searches to realize it; and someone who takes a work and finds a way to mold it into something barely recognizable.

More obvious representations of the Digital Humanities include online databases and social sites as well as the research that involves analyzing what these online mediums do and how they affect society. As the Digital Humanities progress and become more easily recognizable, though not entirely, it becomes clear to the researching theorists that this new field is incredibly expansive. Not only because the quantity of new online and digital technologies becoming available; but because they are able to be recognized as having some footholds in past works.

When compared to postructuralism the Digital Humanities appeal to the idea that a work can flow anywhere between meaning nothing and meaning everything. When the author has an idea for a work but no physical evidence, it doesn’t exist physically and therefore means just less than nothing. Once it has been completed, it doesn’t mean anything but it does have meaning. On the opposite, deformance is when a work had meaning that is taken away, though not completely gone, and recreated into something else with an entirely different meaning. As the two play with the line between nothing and everything new works appear as a result that are certain to influence the future. 

Its been a pleasure working with you all for my lest semester at PSU. I’ve never been out of school before and I know a lot will change but I think one of the strangest things will be to no longer participate in our class debates. Thanks for the wild ride!

I wish I had a cool last title

The digital humanities can be described simply as the collaboration of technology and the humanities. While they go hand in hand, the humanities are greatly benefitted by technology, specifically social media. For me, the digital humanities are crucial towards my success in any future career. It's just not enough to be a "good writer" with an English degree anymore. Students who graduate with a degree in the humanities will need to know about this field because it makes them more marketable in the career world. According to Svensson,  "Humanists are exploring differing modes of engagement, institutional models, technologies and discursive strategies". Digital humanities brings this desire together in perfect harmony with writers. 
Svensson writes again, "The complexity of digital humanities as a "field" comes partly from its disciplinary and institutional diversity, and its multiple modes of engagement with information technology". If we immerse ourselves in digital humanities as writers, we become knowledgable on both spectrums of the brain. Through technology, we can practice the "left-brained" analytical side of us that we often practice in formal essays. With digital humanities we prove that we are more than just people with a degree in English. 
Post-structuralism can be quickly defined by deconstructing its own name. This is a time past structure and the importance of meaning. Technology truly has no borders. Blogs like these can go on and on without any true border or meaning. Technology is where we can truly become involved in post-structuralism. Post-structuralism also argues that there can be no "sole meaning" to any work. Digital humanities follow this theme of ambiguity because there can be many meanings to one online text. An example would be clicking on different hyperlinks in one text that can change your perspective of the text depending on what peaks your interest to click on. 
My theory on theory is that theory started out with an obsession of an answer, and we have realized that there truly is no answer. In this way, I fear for the life of literary theory because without a means to find an answer, there is no incentive to ask a question. < That was way more depressing than I intended, I apologize
Thanks for a rad class.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Future of the Humanities

When I first read this, I thought it was bullshit. I didn't understand how Digital Humanities had anything to do with Deformed Humanities but after going back and reading it, it all makes sense. Why I misunderstood was because when the article says, "This is a portmanteau that combines the words performance and deform into an interpretive concept premised upon deliberately misreading a text, for example, reading a poem backwards line by line." I thought, this has nothing to do with DH! But after, I started to understand that Deformed Humanities isn't just about the digital world, yes it does play a big role, but it's about taking a part something and created something new. You're always looking to create something different than the original piece.

Deformed Humanities is about learning new things in a different way. I thought a great example from the article was "Carpentry aspires to build from scratch, whereas the Deformed Humanities tears apart existing structures and uses the scrap." That's why this is evolving so much in this generation because it's something that people aren't used to doing. We're used to creating works of art instead of taking one and making something new. Poststructuralists can relate to the Deformed Humanities and DH because both the theories and concept have similar characteristics. Poststructuralists believe that there's no one meaning, they believe a text can have multiple meanings. It relates to DH because DH strives to find new things and to create a different meaning or to make it seem that way. In class, when we talked about how after reading a poem online, you can insert a hyperlink and have that link go to something completely different, making the reader find a new meaning to that poem. DH is really going to change the way we analyze texts and other works. I think it will open up more doors instead of strictly create a work, analyze it and letting people read it.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Bhabha: Movement Between Difference (and Dimensions)

This photograph is titled “Reality disfunction : Portal.” Its surrealist and magical qualities are representative of Homi Bhabha’s concept of the “beyondness” as discussed in the introduction of The Location of Culture. He describes the postmodern, postolonial, postfeminist, etc. “present” as a moment which understands itself as being “beyond.” He describes “beyond” as that which is “here and there, on all sides, fort/da, hither and thither, back and forth” (1). Much like Homi Bhabha’s understanding of the present “beyondness,” the box in this photograph is simultaneously present and not, appearing to flux between a definitive and solid space and some ethereal other place which reduces the object to a phantasm.
Jean-. Reality Disfunction : Portal. 2009. Flickr. Web. 25 Apr. 2015. 

Homi Bhabha is ultimately interested in the construction and function of cultural identity, especially as it emerges of “intererstices- the overlap and displacement of domains of difference – that the intersubjective and collective experiences of nationness, community interest, or cultural value are negotiated. How are subjects formed ‘in-between’, or in excess of, the sum of the ‘parts’ of difference?” (2). Again, I look to the box in this photograph. How can I understand the object at hand to be a box when it exists here inbetween two opposing dimensions, each assumedly containing different parts?

Bhabha suggests there to be evidence for “a more transnational and translational sense of the hybridity of imagined communities” (5). In other words, communities are not created necessarily by similarity, but must be mediated and move between difference. It is this movement between opposition that prevents “settling into primordial polarities” and neglects need for hierarchy (4). He writes, “private and public, past and present, the psyche and the social develop an interstitial intimacy. It is an intimacy that questions binary divisions through which such spheres of social experiences are often spatially opposed” (13). It is the movement between two opposed realms that collapses these binary oppositions which claim social difference and hierarchy, thus allowing for the development of community. Returning to the photograph once again, we acknowledge an impression of a trans-dimensional box which has been created by its movement between two opposed spaces, one physical and one ethereal. Its trans-dimensionality is essential to our critical interpretation of it as a meaningful subject of art. To understand this we must understand its movement, thus bringing us back again to Bhabha’s understanding of identity within movement between difference.

Thursday, April 23, 2015


In his article "The Location Of Culture", Bhabha reflects upon the concept of the beyond, and how it is skewed to institute this idea of transcendence from person to person. Contrarily, Bhabha's representation of the beyond is a return to the present where in which we tend to reorganize and re inscribe a set of political and cultural ideas "Being in the beyond, then, is to inhabit an intervening space, as any dictionary will tell you. But to dwell in the beyond is also, as I have shown, to be part of a revisionary time, a return to the present to re institute our cultural contemporaneity, to re inscribe our human historic commonality; to touch the future on its hither side." Despite turmoil in regards to socio economic difference, class position, and sex, Bhabha argues that the discourse, or intersecting calamity between favorable and unfavorable leads to the construction of nationess. From a minority perspective, difference is seen to be "A complex, on going negotiation that seeks to authorize cultural hybridities that emerge in moments of historical transformation." Intriguingly, Bhabha uses a stairwell to embody the binaries between up and down, heaven and hell, etc.

Identifying the chaotic unfolding of history, the stairwell serves as a mediator, or middleman that lies between the extremities of polarities and striking opposites. Otherwise, the stairs are"an interstitial passage between fixed identifications that open up the possibility of cultural hybridity that entertains difference without an assumed or imposed hierarchy".

For my picture describing my take of the reading, I decided to use a simple freight train. Linearly, it runs a singular line within the realm of time, making pit stops to signify a new beginning, or segue into a moment in which each coming stop is underlined by the present when we arrive at our destination. Additionally, the influence of people, where they stand, and at which moment they get on and off constructs a sense of feverish angst. While people move around, come in, and dash out, the coming attractions in life are stiff armed by a hungry present, bound in certainty, but unable to detach from itself the label of a perpetual present grounded in rambling turmoil


Cultural Hybridity

I think the 19 page "Introduction" of deserves a better title; but I digress.

Homi Bhabha articulates in his "Introduction" his ideas on culture and identity. It is not something that is fixed, but rather something that is ever shifting. He writes:
The move away from the singularities of 'class' or 'gender' as primary conceptual and organizational categories, has resulted in an awareness of the subject positions - of race, gender, generation, institutional location, geopolitical locale, sexual orientation - that inhabit any claim to identity in the modern world. What is theoretically innovative, and politically crucial, is the need to think beyond narratives of originary and initial subjectivities and to focus on those moments or processes that are produced in the articulation of cultural differences. These 'in-between' spaces provide the terrain for elaborating strategies of selfhood - singular or communal - that initiate new signs of identity, and innovative sites of collaboration, and contestation, in the act of defining the idea of society itself (Location of Culture, 1). 

I chose this image, for a few reasons. First, it shifts our vision a map. Rather than focusing solely on the map of the United States, you are forced to remember that our identity is not singular. We are not just "American," but we are a gathering, blending, and integration of many cultures from across the world.

Secondly, there is something uniquely temporary about this picture. It is not protected, as it is on a wall. Therefore this painting will be altered--colors will fade, likes will blur. Additionally, it could be painted over at any time. Or perhaps, it is not finished, perhaps the artist will choose to fill in each continent with color. It is not a finished product, but something that will continue to evolve.

Bhabha writes:
"It is in the emergence of the interstices-the overlap and displacement of domains of difference-that the intersubjective and collective experiences of nationness, community interest,or cultural value are negotiated"  
Similarly, the images of this map are overlapped and displaced.  The map demonstrates a collision of culture, which Bhabha argues is cultural hybridity.

Image Source

Living on the Borderlines of the Present

After only reading a few lines of the Introduction to The Location of Culture by Homi K. Bhabha, one particular jumped out at me and resonated with me. In the first paragraph, Bhabha says "Our existence today is marked by a tenebrous sense of survival, living on the borderlines of the 'present'" (Bhabha 1). This quote makes me think of how everyone is just trying to survive in this world. It's like were always on edge in the present waiting for something to happen in the future. This is my interpretation as to what borderlines of the present meant. I am not sure if I am looking at this quote wrong, but this makes sense to me. Bhabha continues his thoughts to talk about the "beyond" which he describes as being "neither a new horizon, nor a leaving behind of the past.....we find ourselves in the moment of transit where space and time cross to produce complex figures of difference-and identity, past and present, inside and outside, inclusion and exclusion" (Bhabha 2).

For my photo, I chose this picture which I found on Flickr. This photo is called Sunset and is owned by Mikael Svensson.  I chose this picture because when reading about the "beyond" all I could think of was a sunset. The lake or water setting reminded me of the present, the current, while the sun and clouds reminded me of the future, was yet to come. The in between, where the sky would meet the water made me think of the "beyond", that in between the now and the coming. This also made me think about the cultural segregation that Bhabha talked a lot about. The division of people, like the middle of the sunset divides the water and the sky.


I guess I am really curious as to what others thought of the beyond and what they chose for pictures to represent such an ideal. I hope that people can understand what I was getting to here with my picture and my explanation. It makes perfect sense to me, but I am wondering if it is easily distinguishable to others. Would Bhabha understand this interpretation?

Who's Story Will Be Told?

This photo represents immigration, a new beginning, and a movement of culture from one place to another. In a way, creating a new culture by contact. I chose to search for “immigrant” when picking a picture for this post because I thought it best represented this quote from the reading: “Where, once, the transmission of national traditions was the major theme of a world literature, perhaps we can now suggest that transnational histories of migrants, the colonized, or political refugees-these border and frontier conditions- may be the terrains of new world literature” (Bhabha 12).

This quote in particular, stuck out to me. The Bhabha reading was centered around the idea of multiculturalism and the representation of culture. Who’s stories are told, how they are represented and who gets to tell them… This also ties in with another important aspect of the Introduction, that there are competing factors within ethnic groups to express their cultures, as well as the overall competitiveness between different groups to represent their culture. Bhabha stresses the importance for cultural differences, however he makes sure that it is understood the difficulties in achieving this. 

Photo Source:

Race and Bhabha

"Social differences are not simply given to experience through an already authenticated cultural tradition; they are the signs of the emergence of community envisaged as a project – at once a vision and a construction – that takes you ‘beyond’ yourself in order to return, in a spirit of revision and reconstruction, to the political conditions of the present”

I chose this quote from Bhabha because I took it as, how you portray yourself in any culture is only based on the social characteristics of one’s culture. Although it does play a part, it isn’t based on just that. Who you are is based on multiple factors and the culture behind race, gender, etc is only one contributing factor.
The picture I used was of two children of different races, whether it's African-American, American, Asian, etc, it doesn't matter because it's how our society constructs them. There culture is changing because of what is around them instead of the history of their culture.

Articulating Culture

Homi Bhabha’s Location of Culture describes the time and place at which the ideas of cultures are created. One culture’s identity and community is formed when it comes in contact with another culture. The definition of each culture is redefined with every cultural/ethnic boundary. Social differences are constructed by the represented members of cultures. These differences are things that are “articulated.” This articulation of difference, as Bhabha says, is “a complex, on-going negotiation.” There is not a single and steadfast definition for each constructed culture. It is constantly changing based on its surroundings and its contact with others. 

I chose this picture of artwork on a chalkboard to represent some of Bhabha’s ideas. I think the chalkboard is important, because Bhabha points to the poststructural nature of cultural articulation and cultural differences. Because it is poststructural, the meaning that each culture or each representer/member of culture holds is defined by the surrounding cultures and the communication between the two. Therefore, it seems that cultures could be like art drawn on a chalkboard: intricate, detailed, and multifaceted, but able to be altered and erased by any hand that wishes to communicate with it. 
Also, the artwork can be seen as depicting the contact between cultures. If each kid in the drawing is a representer of culture, then their dance would be a negotiation that defines each of them. Without the context of their surroundings, they wouldn't have cultural identity.

Image:"Waldorf Chalkboard Drawing" Flickr Image by Xeaza

The Bhabha Must Not Be Hasitly Read

The representation of difference must not be hastily read as the reflection of pre-given ethnic or cultural traits set in the fixed tablet of tradition. The social articulation of difference, from the minority perspective, is a complex, on-going negotiation that seeks to authorize cultural hybridities that emerge in moments of historical transformation.

- The Location of Culture, page 2, Homi K. Bhabha.

I spent too long scouring the depths of Flickr for a Creative Commons/appropriate picture to pertain to this excerpt. Ingenious searches such as "minority identity" and "skin hybrid" bared unfruitful results, but of course a search as obvious as "paint" returned a number of exploitable images.

It took a quick glance strict democratic process, but eventually the committee settled on this one:

This painting represents a lot of different aspects of being within a minimalistic palette (the painting really only uses about five different colors). Below, I've broken down how each line of the excerpt relates to the painting.

The representation of difference must not be hastily read as the reflection of pre-given ethnic or cultural traits set in the fixed tablet of tradition. In other words, different cultures should not be distinguished by the presumptions of society. If we look at each color as single ethnic groups, there is clearly difference and uniqueness within the individual groups. For example, not all "green people" are the same - some are striped, some have cat-like eyes, some have circular eyes, etc. We should not differentiate a culture as singular based on what we assume is an overall understanding of the entire ethnicity. We should not liken the different ethnicities in Africa to each other based on our own understandings of "Africa."

 The social articulation of difference, from the minority perspective, is a complex, on-going negotiation that seeks to authorize cultural hybridities that emerge in moments of historical transformation. The social articulation refers to the "negotiated" singular identity created in order to address the wholeness of "others." What's striking is that the articulation of difference seeks to authorize hybridities, or hybrids. This sounds counterintuitive, as a hybrid would not be individualistically distinguishable, just as the gray soup of rainbow ice cream does not allow for separation of the individual flavors of the unmixed rainbow ice cream. The painting shows a cultural hybrid, what looks like a monster of joined color groups. In moments of historical transformation the social articulation of difference (or S.A.D.) wants to hybridize the separate cultures involved. In other words, history wants to be simplified. This could take away from what might be called micro-identities, such as the homosexual African-American culture, where S.A.D. would want to remember the homosexual struggle and the African-American struggle as one big struggle, but not as joint.

On the other hand, S.A.D. may be trying to allow for the distinguishing remembrance of hyper-minorities, such as the social group of homosexual African-Americans. This idea may concur with the idea of the minority perspective, which observes the emergence of hyper-minorities within the Venn diagram of history. In this way, the painting symbolizes a complex hyper-minority of several different identities. It no longer looks like a monster, but a beautiful piece of united and hybridized struggle, an authorized spotlight on a silent group beyond the larger social struggles of gender, race, economic class, and etc.

I hope I've done Bhabha justice, but if's his fault.

- What is the connection between minority perspective and the "beyond" mentioned elsewhere in Bhabha's writing?

- How does the "borderline of the 'present'" and its constant shifting correlate to Derrida's constantly shifting center, and how do the changes in history shift the borderline?

I would also like to give recognition to the runner-up picture for this post, it was a tough decision:

Works Cited
Bhabha, Homi K. "Locations of Culture." Introduction. The Location of Culture. London: Routledge, 1994. 1-18. Internet Archive. Web. 23 Apr. 2015.
Howard, Gail. Doodle Painting Symbiosis 2 120 X 40 Cm. Digital image. Flickr. N.p., 19 July 2012. Web. 23 Apr. 2015.
Pereira, Michaela. Bon and Painting. Digital image. Flickr. N.p., 4 July 2014. Web. 23 Apr. 2015.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Locations of Culture: Multiculturalism

One of the key themes of this article is culture. The article mentions cultural differences as well as cultural diversity. A key term, which the article examines is Multiculturalism. We know from various English classes, that multiculturalism is all about cultural diversity and that it focuses on how cultural diversity evolves over time.
This image is from which has a lot of interesting information about multiculturalism. In the image, we see what appears to be Earth and it is covered in various flags from various countries all over the world. It does not say which countries are which and it doesn't express anything about race which is essential because it shows that all cultures intertwine with one another, regardless of location, race, etc. Renee Green, an African American artist mentioned in the article, expressed her views on multiculturalism and the importance of understanding it.
She also mentions that there is a struggle for power between various ethnic groups as to who gets to speak and who represents who? Communities are generally and unfortunately divided up by race, such as the latino community and the white community etc. It is things like this that challenge multiculturalism which is what Renee focuses on.
This image represents a multicultural community and is worth viewing. Renee asks "What is a community anyway?" What do people in general think of the term community? Do you necessarily think of multi racial/cultural when you think of community? Or do people naturally divide community with race, economic status and neighborhoods etc.? These questions are up for debate!

To Difference... and 'Beyond'

For this blog, I've chosen a picture of a free spirited woman executing her freedom. In this image, we get a sense of what 'beyond' is. As Bhabha says, "beyond- neither new horizon nor a leaving behind of the past..." is exhibited here. She appears to remain where her feet are planted, but her body language conveys that she wants to take off into flight somehow and go somewhere else. Bhabha also says, "There is a sense of disorientation, a disturbance of direction, in the 'beyond'; an exploratory, restless movement."

I searched 'freedom' on flickr to find this image and I don't think any image could have more perfectly conveyed the biggest takeaway I had from Bhabha's reading. Without the idea of the 'beyond' there can be no multicultural difference. The woman in this image is showing her desire to move beyond. You can see the openness and the freedom of the ocean in the horizon, but the cliffs also serve as a barrier from the total freedom that could be. Bhabha examines this idea in a more broad discussion, citing cultures such as Korea, Mexico, Los Angeles, and others. Difference reaches far beyond the ocean.

Bhabha "Theories on colonialism and post colonialism"

Credit to Garrett Miller for the photo titled, "Segregation". In this article, Bhabha attempts to explain colonialism and post colonialism. Obviously, one of my first thoughts about it was the idea of segregating the "other" from the "norm". Segregation was a great tool for colonialism to make the colonizers feel good about what they were doing. They were not harming the natives, they were helping them. If they weren't helping them, then it didn't matter because the natives were "othered" thus dehumanizing them. The problem of racism traces back all the way to animal instinct. 

The quote above is from Bhabha's article, which asks the question of why this representation of empowerment exists as well as unnecessary conflict and antagonization. This photo helped me explain this on a more natural, genetic level. It is natural for animals to have a "pack mentality". The things that look and act like me are safe and those who don't are not. In this picture, there are two different groups of animals separated from one another. Although they know each other are not inherently predator and prey, they keep their distance. Racism can be traced back to this wariness of what is different from our own personal normal. 

This is a quote that discusses the purpose of "newness" as a way of defining past and present. I am sure there is much more to be gathered from this quotation, so I am hoping we have time to discuss it in class. Otherwise, thanks for reading!

Homi Bhabha-Boundaries

In the introduction to his book The Location of Culture, Homi Bhabha focuses heavily on the boundaries that are created between cultures and how by existing in the "beyond" in between such boundaries, one can gain a better understanding of the present. He argues that although the purpose of these so-called boundaries is to point out differences, there is nothing natural about them. Boundaries are constructed to point out differences because differences must be recognized if any kind of hierarchy is to be established. He says, "social differences are not simply given to experience through an already authenticated cultural tradition; they are signs of the emergence of community envisaged as a project - at once a vision and a construction - that takes you 'beyond' yourself in order to return, in a spirit of revision and construction, to the political conditions of the present" (p. 3). By existing in the "beyond" that is between boundaries, he thinks that one gets a more accurate experience of the present and the way of telling what will be history. He believes that "to dwell 'in the beyond' be part of a revisionary time, a return to the present to redescribe our cultural contemporaneity; to rein scribe our human historic commonality; to touch the future on its hither side" (p. 7). 

The image that I chose is what I believe to represent that mystical area of the "beyond". The photo is called "Newsham Road TMO Level Crossing" by Jonathon Hurley and I found it on Flickr. I chose it because the image depicts a railroad passing between two fences (aka boundaries). I would think that a train passing on the tracks through this area would be existing in a kind of 'beyond' like Bhabha talks about.

While I thought Bhabha was a little hard to follow at times, especially when he referred to so many other literature and artistic works to make his points, I liked his idea of this "beyond". I think there's a lot of truth in the idea of getting a more authentic view of the present by existing a place between boundaries because you never really recognize your own culture until you step outside of it. There is just what you have determined as normal and how other cultures are different from your version of normal. By existing between two cultures, it would force you to look at both at the same time, rather than one based off the other, and I think that is what Bhabha is trying to make clear.

What did other people think about this mysterious "beyond"? Have you ever had an experience where you recognized how strange your own culture is by being in a place with a completely different culture?

Homi Bhabha

I am using an image of Mary Shelley's monster in Frankenstein to describe Bhabha's introduction to The Location of Culture because he represents confusion, dissonance, and interstice. He lives a tormented life, trapped between inclusion and exclusion, lacking any tradition or identity. He is completely isolated and without any past, leading a liminal existence, searching for something to call his own, but coming up with nothing. He eventually adopts a European identity, but he never assimilates into the culture because his appearance prevents him from being accepted as "the same". In similar ways, our postcolonial world still segregates people based on their physical appearances, languages, or dialects (i.e. AAVE).

The African American culture in the United States, for example, has grown from a dark past, flourishing and influencing the United States in fundamental ways, but there's still a divide between white and black America. How do two cultures, occupying the same geographic area, converge?

Homi Bhabha elaborates on this idea when he says, "we find ourselves in the moment of transit where space and time cross to produce complex figures of difference and identity, past and present, inside and outside, inclusion and exclusion. For there is a sense of disorientation, a disturbance of direction, in the 'beyond': an exploratory, restless movement" (1). 

One of the fundamental issues with colonialism was hegemony. Hegemony created the divide between "right" and "wrong" or "self" and "other", influencing colonized countries to lose sight of their own worth and identity. Our postcolonial world is shattered, and I think Bhabha believes we should pick up the pieces together, not as a culturally divided society.

Image Citation:

The Bride of Frankenstein. 31 December 1934. Promotional photo. Owens Archive/RKO Photos, Stamford, Connecticut. Web.