Digital Humanities: A Definition

Does the world need another working definition of digital humanities? Do you have one? Here’s mine. Digital Humanities is the deliberate, critical application of emerging technology to the study of traditional subjects such as literature, art, philosophy, and language, often (but not always) with a focus on how those traditional fields are now using emerging technology. We are deliberate and critical when we foreground the study of our own digital…

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Why Doesn’t Ancient Fiction Talk About Feelings?

Not a day goes by without The Girl reminding us that everyone else her age has a phone — but she also compares her desire for a phone to Gollum’s desire for The Ring. Many adults have told her she’s lucky not to carry around the burden of social media updates, though part of her is convinced she could resist the temptation, and that she would only use her phone…

Old English Has a Serious Image Problem

This fall I will be teaching Shakespeare again; but thereafter, as part of a curriculum redesign, Shakespeare will be rolled into a “Shakespeare in Context” course that will also need to address Beowulf, medieval drama, Arthurian legend, Chaucer, Marlowe, etc. I intend to do this by teaching five different Shakespeare plays, focusing on one play for a week, then on some other literary work for a week, and then on…

The future is in interactive storytelling

An interesting piece. Easy-to-learn hypertext authoring tools like Twine and TextureWriter have encouraged many of my students to give this kind of storytelling a try. As longtime experimenters and scholars in interactive narrative who are now building a new academic discipline we call “computational media,” we are working to create new forms of interactive storytelling, strongly shaped by the choices of the audience. People want to explore, through play, themes…

There Is A Difference Between Middle Grade and Young Adult Lit, and It Does Matter 

Adolescence took a long time to be invented at all, and it took an even longer time to become a somewhat stable archetype. It’s only in recent human history that people a) live long enough for adolescence to be a different physical experience than adulthood; and b) live in a society that indulges an extended period of fooling around, experimenting, and generally doing nothing to benefit society. And it’s really…

Dissecting a Frog: How to Write a Humor Piece

Analyzing humor, as E.B. White famously said, is like dissecting a frog; few people are interested and the frog dies of it. Nonetheless, writing humor is a highly logical exercise — fit idea X into form Y for humorous result Z — and can therefore be broken down in ways that more slippery kinds of prose tend to resist… While there’s no substitute for a naturally sharp sense of humor,…