English 508 @UVic

Digital Studies | Prototyping Texts

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Aims and -Isms

Our focus will be texts with charged design elements (experiments with fonts, typefaces, arrangement, simultaneity, synesthesia, space, time, and automation, to name a few) that were published between the 1870s and 1970s. These texts correspond with various “-isms” from the period: Symbolism, Cubism, Nowism, Futurism, Dada, Minimalism, Expressionism, Imagism, Vorticism, Constructivism, Realism, Surrealism, Thingism, Concretism, Verticalism, Plasticism, and more. Early in the seminar, we will survey these -isms, and you will each be asked to research one in particular for a majority of the term. This research will involve bibliography and close reading together with the deliberate alteration of an –ism in order to foreground what made it compelling, or not so compelling, in the first place.

Our aim, then, will not be to "prove" anything about literature and culture. It will not be build tools, reveal networks, learn some code, or share whiz-bang visualizations, either. It will be to design and make texts differently, to better understand their significance by not only refusing to take them at face value (a hermeneutic impulse) but also prototyping what else they could be (a design impulse).

No experience with digital humanities is required for this seminar. Assumed technical competence: you know how to send an email. Please note, too, that this course involves a low-tech approach to digital humanities, with an emphasis on art, design, and aesthetics over computation, networks, distant reading, and big data. You will not be required to do any programming.