I am excited to be a part of the new Praxis cohort and would like to take a few moments to introduce myself before a flurry of–ideally, great and innovative–thoughts populate the blog. I am a second-year MA student in the English department, specializing in American literature, textual studies, and digital humanities. My academic interests include Colonial and 19th-century American literature and history, as well as American book history. My goal is to graduate this Spring and work in publishing or alternate academia.
Alongside my literary studies, a key component of my career at the University of Virginia has been to learn as much as possible about the digital humanities. I have assisted on Alison Booth’s Collective Biographies of Women, a database of women grouped in communities based on the 19th-century biographies in which they are featured. I continued my DH education with Documents Compass’s People of the Founding Era, an online archive of individuals mentioned in the Papers of the Founding Fathers. Additionally, I took David Seaman’s Rare Book School Course “XML in Action” this past summer. These projects have introduced me to digital editing and archiving, while also getting me thinking about other applications of DH. An area I have yet to break into is crowdsourcing, inviting user participation and contribution, and this is an area which Praxis will plunge me into immediately. Already, I am blogging… reaching out to people… and excited to be doing it.
We discussed in our first Praxis meeting a somewhat conflicted relationship to technology which we all share. For my part, I still have no Smart Phone, forget to check my Facebook, and–lacking a GPS–have been known to use a paper map; notwithstanding all this, a hobbyist dream of mine is to create a digital archive of old family letters and photographs, alongside ancestor profiles. I believe that DH is the key to preserving and disseminating this sort of material throughout the world. At the same time, I will never cease to love the smell of a brand-new paperback book, or the feel of one of the many treasures housed in UVA Special Collections. As a textual-studies and DH scholar, I inhabit both worlds and exist in a constant state of perplexity and wonderment… a state in which I now turn my attention to the work at hand. To the SLab and Praxis cohort, and all our Praxis-blog followers, I am glad to make your acquaintance and thrilled to begin our work this year!