One of the things that I love about Twitter is the #lazyweb feature: the ability to ask the world to help you find the answer to questions. Unfortunately my query today needs a bit more space to explain. And it’s not that I’m lazy in this case, it’s just that I’m short on time and I know that many of my colleagues will be able to quickly point me in the right direction.
I’m super excited to be teaching again this fall, and even more excited to be teaching an “Introduction to Digital Humanities.” It’s the first time a course like this will be taught at Emory, and it’s going to give me a great chance to dive more deeply into aspects of the field that I’m less familiar with. As I’ve been turning over the course in my mind, I’ve known that I’ve wanted to do one or more projects with the students, probably using our special collections, which tend to be quite strong in particular swaths of literature. This week I sat down with Liz Chase, one of our special collections librarians, and brainstormed. We came up with a great project involving our holdings of Carol Ann Duffy’s notebooks. In short, we want to do some comparisons between how she writes in her 1999 volume, The World’s Wife, and her previous volumes. We’re interested in thematic material, vocabulary she uses, poetic styles, and so forth. But as I’ve been working to design the project, I’ve come to realize that the students’ work (to say nothing of my teaching) will be improved by the inclusion of some readings on textual scholarship along these lines. But I don’t know this field at all.
What’s more, I’ve been trying to think about what sort of software we might most profitably use to help push our analysis after creating a dataset of the texts. I’m guessing we’ll want to represent word counts, word clouds, line structures, and more. My first thought is SEASR, but I’m not familiar with the tool and I’m not sure if it’s overkill or underkill or totally off the mark. I can always use Wordle, but I would like to have more options. And perhaps if I really knew this field of scholarship then it would be easier for me to know which tools I should be using.
What I really need, then, is a suggestion of books or articles that I should read so that our class proceeds thoughtfully on the project with an understanding of what’s been done in the past. Any tool suggestions would be welcome as well.