October 26, 2005
Tai On Digital Scholarship - Post Nuptial
The Comic Strip and Harlan County websites have been examined for their contributions to digital scholarship. I began my analysis using the Randall Bass, three-part method of evaluation: “What these projects suggest together, then, is a blueprint for what appear to be three interdependent features of hypermedia writing: (1) a site's multiplicity (what Michael Joyce calls "coextensivity"--the capacity in a hypertext for one text to replace another); (2) a site's argument or story (the dimension of the site that moves toward something, while never entirely reaching it); and (3) a site's reflexivity (the apparatus furnished to the reader in order to comprehend the movement between the text's multiplicity and its story). Ultimately, the usefulness (and power) of hypertext and hypermedia to scholarly discourse in American studies will depend on our ability to make these three dimensions work together for "reading wrong" rightly (American Quarterly, June 1999, p. 282).”
Site’s Multiplicity: coextensivity – being extensive on several levels at the same time
- Provides lengthy prose discussing portions of Westbrook’s three arguments: "The Business of the Strips" discusses the material context of comics production, with the ultimate goal of showing that comic artists transformed their visions of comics creation as they confronted their role in an economy of reproduction. "The Culture of Business in the Strips" discusses the participation of the strips in a broader urban market culture and in, more specifically, the contradictions of marketplace "realism." "Spectatorship in the Comics" addresses one particular formal aspect of the comic strip: the use of the panel to manipulate perspective and the reader's eye
- Within the prose, he has further commentary on linked phrases or words, acting as virtual footnotes to provide reader with more in-depth knowledge, going even further than an average printed footnote would allow
- Same method is continued with the images of the comic strips, which are presented as cited images and with additional insight on Westbrook’s analysis based on particular attributes of the comic strip
Harlan County, KY
- This site is far more extensive than the Comic Strip website. “Essay in Sound” provides chapters of interviews presented as audio essays. These essays are also transcribed on the website, providing multiple source material
- Charles Hardy, one of the authors, also provides a historiography of oral history and documents how the Harlan County audio essay project was created
- Alessandro Portelli also provides a detailed historiography of presentation of materials in sound, as well as background on his research and movement towards his co-authorship of this project
Site’s Argument or Story: moving toward something, while never reaching it?
- Although Westbrook claims to have no thesis, he goes on to say: I argue that early comics drew their approach to perspective, framing, and picture space from notions of theatrical spectatorship associated with class. These classed spectator-constructions were ultimately tran[s]formed but not destroyed as artists gravitated toward sequential panels
- Therefore he has his own goal, story or argument for his scholarship. However, as Susan Smulyan argues, and I am applying to Westbrook: “the discipline of a page limit would help sharpen the argument and save readers time. In these projects, the trade-offs seem to be ones of time versus space and the benefits to the author versus benefits to the reader (American Quarterly, June 1999, p. 264).” Westbrook is definitely moving towards something, but should “never entirely reaching it” be a scholarly goal (Bass, American Quarterly, June 1999, p. 282)? The lack of the thesis does benefit the author rather than the reader
Harlan County, KY
- The authors of this website have a specific goal they are working towards - pioneering a new type of historical study: “this extended and pathbreaking audio work explores place, form, time, and the act of historical interpretation; it is an attempt by two oral historians, one from Pennsylvania, USA, and the other from Rome, Italy to create a new aural history genre that counterpoises the voices of subject and scholar in dialogue—not merely the dialogue that takes place in the real time of an oral interview, but the one that occurs as interpretations are created and scholarship is generated.”
- The Harlan County project does not suffer from the same lack of argument appearing in the Comic Strip article because of the emphasis on primary material presentation and interpretation. This usage of the digital media facilitates the mass audience opportunity to listen to and review of the “new aural history genre.” Certainly this removes some of the emphasis on the author’s own analysis, but a project of this nature is well suited for the digital media, and analysis could be well suited for another print or internet publication.
Site’s Reflexivity: Movement between multiplicity and story
- As Westbrook instructs: If we must write about hypertext let us write about how to use it, not about what it is (American Quarterly, June 1999, p. 257). Yet, the movement of Westbrook’s website scholarship on comics is somewhat difficult to use. Westbrook is relatively clear in his pop-up windows for images, with removable analysis. Nevertheless his internal links based on words and phrases yield confusion. These should also open in secondary windows, to permit the reader to continue reading the main text with or without the further explanatory sections being loaded in the primary window
Harlan County, KY
- Purpose of using the website: “Part ethnography, part oral history, part radio documentary, 'I Can Almost See the Lights of Home' is a hybrid work, an 'essay-in-sound' designed to be heard, not read.” With this intention, the Harlan County project is well-suited for presentation on the Internet, and makes use of technological resources to move between the oral histories and the intended interpretation/ perception of audience members
- In focusing on how to use this website - the website is well-designed, easily navigated and readable. Maintained navigation bar, table of contents and breaking lengthy text into multiple pages facilitates the users movement between the extensive text and the intended use of this website
Harlan County goes further than the Comic Strip website to do something new with new media. Portelli and Hardy are trying to create a new method of approaching and utilizing primary, oral resources while maintaining traditional criteria in scholarship: “solid research, crisp analysis, interdisciplinarity, and clear prose (American Quarterly, June 1999, p. 239).” The Comic Strip website expands on citation and inclusion of source material, which could seemingly be done in a published text without page or length requirements. Both works show the promise of digital media through presenting opportunity for analysis of sources unavailable in print media. The Comic Strip website is a good first step into the possibilities of new media, however Harlan County shows the emergence of new historical methods of analysis and presentation which are possible for digital scholarship.
Posted by tgerhart at October 26, 2005 05:03 PM