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Digital Humanities [clear filter]
Thursday, May 12


Networking the Canon: The Representation of Canonicity through Amazon and the Heath Anthology
My short presentation explores the reception and re-configuration of the literary canon as it pertains to women and marginalized writers. I explore how online stores, like Amazon, organize literature through market-driven algorithms that partition women and minority writers from canonical works by male writers. Taking the Heath Anthology of American Literature as a point of departure, I will explore how its organizational logic built around selecting well known and lesser-known writers contrasts with Amazon’s market-based recommendation engine. How literary anthologies and online bookstores associate texts with others produces literary value. This presentation contrasts the logic of the link, built on technologies, philosophies, and ideologies of “inclusion” and “association,” with the organizational structure of the Heath. How does the Internet-era practice of linking impact the logic of cultural inclusion and exclusion? I focus on the central question: what is the impact of the differing organizational structures and content of literature in the Heath Anthology and Amazon? How does the logic of the marketplace of goods and values, so central to Amazon’s organization, influence how books are organized? While the importance of reading multicultural literature remains the same today as in the 1970s, when civil rights spurred conversations on the inclusion of writers of color in the canon, the significance of how algorithms impact the visibility and distribution of literature for many cultural consumers to comment on and critique reinvigorates debates on canonicity for the twenty-first century scholar. My research exposes how Amazon’s pernicious, market-based algorithms determine what future users buy, partition women from the literary canon, and establish what counts as humanistic discourse for the broader public.


Thursday May 12, 2016 10:30am - 10:45am
COOR 186 975 S Myrtle Ave Arizona State University Tempe, AZ 85281
  • Session Location COOR 186
Friday, May 13


Connecting with the Past Online: The Medieval Portland Case Study
Medieval Portland has developed over the last decade into a robust site housing a database of objects found in institutions throughout the Portland, Oregon region. The initiative originated in Portland State University’s nationally-recognized community based learning capstone program, and a defining feature is that it presents original research pursued by students as well as advanced scholars. It is precisely in that many of the works documented here are relatively modest that they have a distinct contribution to make—the efforts to digitize and publish online manuscripts have inexorably drifted to more prestigious works, leaving many elements of material culture underrepresented in the digital sphere. The Medieval Portland project brings together understudied materials from Portland-area collections into one website. These resources are there to enhance the study of history and visual culture for both students and teachers of regional educational institutions as well as ultimately the broader public.
The Medieval Portland database contains objects from a group of local institutions that are truly diverse—secular and religious, urban and rural, large and small. However varied, the collections that house these medieval manuscripts, paintings, and sculpture together share a paucity of resources that led to a situation in which the prior work on the objects was typically just limited cataloging notations.
As part of our effort to serve the community through our site, we sought and received a National Digital Humanities Award, which allows our current transition of the database to Artstor’s Shared Shelf. This change from the prior Drupal –based database allows us to embrace a broader audience through utilization of this collaborative scholarship portal. Using the foundation of earlier cataloging, nearly two hundred Medieval Portland capstone students over the last decade have pursued additional research and also created a wealth of other media such as photography, explanatory podcasts, video, and even a walking map to local resources.


Friday May 13, 2016 11:15am - 11:30am
COOR 186 975 S Myrtle Ave Arizona State University Tempe, AZ 85281
  • Session Location COOR 186