Where to go next?

I’ve completed my inventory of works in my dissertation bibliography now available in a digital form and am now wondering: where next?  My grand goal is to remix my dissertation as a work of digital scholarship, but I’m not sure how to break that up into “actionable items,” in the parlance of productivity gurus.  Should I follow the advice of my dissertation committee and make the work more theoretically sophisticated (particularly in engaging with queer theory) and expansive in its scope (going beyond the Civil War to the end of the 19th C)?  This approach would allow me to fix problems in my dissertation that have been bugging me, but isn’t necessarily related to my larger goal of exploring digital scholarship.  Should I take on what intimidates me and rework my bulky chapter 1, a survey of themes and problems in antebellum bachelor literature?  I would use analytical tools on key works to discover key words and phrases that typify bachelor lit, then search databases for examples, then use analytical tools to distill characteristics of the genre and build a database of bachelor literature, with information about authors, publication history, themes, tone, key words,  rhetorical structures, illustrations, etc.  Or should I focus on Reveries of a Bachelor, re-use my prior work on it (including an online critical edition of the book’s first section, an article on reader responses, and an article on publication history), and build a multimedia essay or essay series around it: its publication history, textual history, history of reader responses, influence on sentimental culture, etc.  I would search databases for references to Reveries and perhaps play with mashing ’em up.  I would also make digital stories based on my articles on Reveries’ publication history and reader response and weave everything together using a multimedia authoring tool such as Sophie.  I find the second option appealing because I could confront the problem of abundance and develop strategies for searching databases intelligently, making explicit how the queries were structured, and creating a coherent argument based on hundreds of sources.  I also could come up with a model for creating literary databases that could then feed mashups such as a maps of where authors lived, word clouds and visualizations of collocated terms, and animations created from illustrations in bachelor texts.  But the third option is even more appealing, since it is more focused, allows me to re-use a lot of work that I’ve already done (I’ll need to be explicit about that, so I don’t plagiarize myself), and seems more fun, since I would get to experiment with creative ways of presenting ideas.   I think I’m going dive into option 3 and start working on a short video on how Scribner’s tried to keep selling Reveries throughout the 19th C, even in the face of the expiration of its copyright, by producing editions aimed at different market segments.   I just got permission from UVA’s Special Collections (yay UVA) to use images of different editions of Reveries that they digitized for me in a short video, so one potential roadblock has been cleared.  Even though I want to be productive (which requires focus), I also want to go where my curiosity takes me, so if a question tantalizes me, I’m gonna start chewing on it.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Ten ways of looking at Reveries (and digital scholarship?) « Lisa Spiro’s Research Notes: Bachelor 2.0 Project

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