Monthly Archives: November 2018

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Converging Modalities of Sexuality, Sexual Conflict and Race: Judith Butler on Nella Larsen’s Passing

Years ago, when as an undergraduate I read Critical Theory with Professor Carla Cappetti at City College, we students complained that the readings were too difficult and why did critical theorists have to use so much jargon. I think we had read Saussure, Bakhtin, Lukacs, Benjamin and Barthes and were moving on to Derrida. Professor Cappetti agreed that unnecessary jargon could be vexing but said that at times, difficult thoughts call for difficult language. So I focused on the ideas the theorists sought to express, and concluded that the critical theorists we were reading with Cappetti were worth reading, and the difficulty of having to get my head around unfamiliar terms was consequently justified. I find that Judith Butler’s chapter on Nella Larsen’s Passing falls in this category of necessary complication; the difficulty of her language is justified by the complexity and importance of her thought.

But for me, it’s slow going! After reading the first two paragraphs of “Passing, Queering: Nella Larsen’s Psychoanalytic Challenge” twice and failing to retain more than a fuzzy notion of what Butler is saying, I read it a third time very closely and tried to explain what she’s saying in my own words.

Butler describes a sort of diagram. I picture it as a kernel. On the inside we have a normative heterosexuality, and on the outside the convergence of homosexuality and miscegenation. It makes sense that these converge on the outside because they share the distinctive feature of being different from normative heterosexuality. Inside the kernel normative heterosexuality seeks to reproduce itself. Reproduction of the species, which I assume Butler considers our Darwinian evolutionary goal [1], is “the cathected [to cathect is to invest with mental or emotional energy] site of a racialized [to racialize is to reify boundaries and borders along racial lines] version of the species in pursuit of hegemony through perpetuity, that requires and produces a normative heterosexuality in its service.”

The kernel, or, in Butler’s words, the site, is the locus where humans aim to reproduce themselves through their relations with other humans within and without the sites they inhabit. These relations are invested with mental or emotional energy and seek to reify boundaries and borders along racial lines through normative heterosexuality. The goal of these human relations is to keep everything the same.

Heterosexuality is reproduced in different ways, depending on how race and its reproduction are understood. Butler says that while there are good historical reasons to keep “race,” “sexuality” and “sexual difference” in separate spheres, there are also good reasons to converge them, and that there are good historical reasons why at certain sites one can only be constituted through the other. This is not to juxtapose spheres of power or consider differences as separate attributes but rather to converge them, and Butler asks if we can read Nella Larsen’s Passing “to articulate the convergent modalities of power by which sexual difference is articulated and assumed” [123].

In Butler’s reading John Bellew is at the center of the kernel, for he represents normative white heterosexuality. He says he would not associate with blacks but “paradoxically, his own racist passion requires that association” [126]. Bellew needs Irene, Clare and Brian, and he needs them outside of the kernel, but really the kernel is more like a fluid membrane, through with Irene and Clare pass through as they choose. They pass until they are identified as black, at which moment their bodies are marked and those invisible markings set them outside the racial boundaries of normative heterosexuality. But really in Passing these boundaries are blurred. Bellew needs blacks as a foil on which to reproduce his racial purity and he also eroticizes blackness by calling Clare Nig and fetishizing her blackness which he at the same time denies. Race is inextricably linked to sexual desire. Clare is ambiguous both sexually and racially, playing with whiteness and blackness to seduce and lure. Passing, writes Butler, is not “about” race or sexuality but converges these and thus “offers a way to read the racialization of sexual conflict” [128].

Black is not normative. Nor are the women normative, as is made very clear in Irene’s desire for Clare, noted by Butler, and, I also think, apparent in Clare’s pursuit of Irene. Irene is tortured by her desire for Clare because Clare betrays not only the idea of race that Irene seeks to uphold but also the idea of family as a means to uplift the black race [131]. This idea of the normative heterosexual family is at the center of the notion of uplifting race through social mobility, but by ascribing to the normative heterosexual social order it follows a politics of sexual oppression in which the homoerotic relationship between Irene and Clare makes the two women a threat not only to a heterosexual norm but also to the norm of racial purity, because as black women’s bodies, writes Butler, “continued to be sites of conquest within white racism, then the psychic resistance to homosexuality and to a sexual life outside the parameters of the family must be read in part as a resistance to an endangering public exposure” [132]. Butler contests the claim that sexual difference is more primary or fundamental than racial difference, pointing out that

If, as Norma Alarcón has insisted, women of color are “multiply interpellated,” called by many names, constituted in and by that multiple calling, then this implies that the symbolic domain, the domain of socially instituted norms, is composed of racializing norms, and that they exist not merely alongside gender norms, but are articulated through one another. Hence, it is no longer possible to make sexual difference prior to racial difference or, for that matter, to make them into fully separable axes of social regulation and power [135].

By converging the problematization of sexuality and race we start to see the positioning of spheres of power in a wider, more nuanced and more interconnected way. Imagining this convergence feels strange to me, like reaching for networked relationships I don’t fully see, but the impulse to separate concepts into independent categories only obscures what I’m attempting to grasp. I look forward to discussing Butler’s chapter on Larsen in class.

A reflection on the complexity of life by Karina Ter

[1] On second thoughts I wonder if by reproduction Butler doesn’t mean propagation of offspring but instead reproduction or representation of ideated self.

Link

The history behind Markov models and poetry that this week’s piece slightly mentions is actually a really cool little facet of mathematics, technology, and literature.  If any of y’all are interested, here’s a link to a rather fun background piece.

[Overdue] “Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover”

I really enjoyed “Devotion and Defacement: Reading Children’s Marginalia,” Seth Lerer’s article on children’s relationships to books, and I think it intersected with Ann Blair’s “Note Taking as an Art of Transmission” in some interesting ways.

Children mark their books up for all kinds of reasons and have done so ever since books began to circulate. (One thing his study doesn’t address is children’s access to and treatment of books in non-western antiquity, which—if possible to do—would be an interesting comparative study.) Blair’s treatment of marginalia as a form of note taking touches on the significance of marking a text by hand, but really focuses on the way content is recorded and transmitted— “storing, sorting, summarizing, selecting”—and the conditions that influence a reader’s choices in the annotation process (Blair, 85).

There are some major differences between note taking /annotation in books and what children write or draw in their books. The most obvious, of course, is that annotation serves a practical purpose, whether done for future reference and recall (storing and selecting) and/or as a means of recording one’s thoughts and responses at the time in order to explore them further, like talking to ones’ self, but on paper, and sometimes a margin is the only paper that is handy.

My father’s annotations in a cheap “Craft Classics” college-era copy of Shakespeare’s sonnets (Hyder H. Rollins, Ed., 1951).

Children’s “annotation” varies so much, from scribbled lines in crayon to words and doodles. Looking at them, it’s hard to know whether these are direct responses to a book’s content— words and images on a page—or the result of having some paper and a crayon within reach.  (I’m referring primarily to children’s marking in the modern age of plentiful printed books on paper, not hand-inscribed manuscripts on vellum). Once I saw a listing for a collectible children’s book from an online book seller:   It included the typical descriptive language for used books like “covers faded, edgeworn,” and then: “some pages marked by previous owner in crayon.” Although these may not have been an aid to memory, they were just as much a record, an interior response exteriorized, and demonstrate the owner’s thought and intention. As Lerer writes, “It brings the inside outside” (130).

My “annotated” copy of “Rich Cat, Poor Cat” (Bernard Waber, 1963).

I think annotations are most always a mark of ownership and a certain kind of identification with books. The annotations we might find in a second-hand book are not usually made to be passed on.  Making Melville’s marginalia publicly accessible was a welcome development for Melville scholars and literary historians, but he wrote in the books he owned; even writing in books he borrowed from others indicates a feeling of ownership at the moment he made a mark on the page. Usually, we find young children’s annotations in the books read to them, given to them, or found in their homes. Unless these are made intentionally to spite an adult, they indicate a similar and probably unconscious declaration of “this is mine / this is my mark.”  I think this is true even of shared books or those “signed over” to new owners, as in  Lerer’s account of  young Robert Doe who, having previously recorded his ownership of Dicts and Sayinges of the Philosophers, later inscribed on several pages “Robert Doe was the right houner to this Booke but how I give it to my well be loued brother Antony Doe 1614” (135).

Back cover annotations, by me, of my mother’s childhood copy of “The Wonderful Story of How You Were Born” (Sidonie Matsner Gruenberg, 1952). (The back cover image is reversed on the book.)

Writing in a second-hand library book, “On a Summer Day” (Lois Lenski, 1953).

The process of creation and the structure of codex-style books mirror this interior/exterior dynamic.  Physically, the book is such a powerful example of inside/outside that it becomes a metaphor: “don’t judge a book by its cover.” And it is the record of an author’s interior thought and intention and private activity—a record of time in an author’s life—made public, readable, and subject to analysis of all kinds long after the author is gone. The same goes for children’s annotations and those of adults.”Such acts enable us to see not just the public text but the author’s response” (Lerer, 130). When I find marking or notes in second-hand books, I can’t help but wonder about the previous owner—whether a child or adult— and their experience of reading the same words on the page.

Genius Annotation Project Proposal

As we discussed, I’m going to focus my final paper on researching social annotation through the Genius platform, and potential implication of the platform on reading and writing. I want to do this through the Barthsian lens of “Text” and reading through writing, which is expressed in the annotation platform.

As I’ve researched over the past few days, and as we’ve read through works in class, I’ve been interested in seeing how hierarchies of authorship shape the possibilities of annotation. Genius plays with this a lot, as have prior (more primitive) annotation platforms like this one developed for the web browser Mosaic (this website introducing the tool is almost 22 years old, according to a domain dating tool I used)—the inventor of Mosaic invested 15 million into the development of Rap Genius, since he had originally hoped to officially incorporate a group annotation tool into the Mosaic browser. On the entry way for the annotation tool, developed by the university of Utah, it lists two caveats as a result of completely free annotation: 1. Be nice, don’t mess with other’s annotations; and 2. don’t trust all the annotations you read. Using this website as a primary source of early group annotation and looking as those tenants as a sort of rhetorical guide for how annotation has developed, and now exists on Genius, will be a useful tool in my research.

I also hope to think about the implication of the authorship and development of the website itself, by a small team of white, male, Yale-graduate “brogrammers,” has on senses of annotation stemming out of an inherently black genre and how that translates to other genres on the site. It may be worthwhile in this vein to research and compare to how as a platform which has been rebranded to annotate *everything* the volume and quality of annotation differ from text to text (i.e. Rap from today to Harlem Renaissance Fiction, to Victorian Poetry), and think about what it suggests for audience and writers on the platform.

There are plenty of news articles about Genius as it has rose in prominence on the web, but there are not many scholarly articles that I can find (I have only found one so far)—I’m not sure if this is because searching “genius” is not at all specific enough to use in search engines, or because there really isn’t anything on the website. This poses a challenge but also an opportunity: I don’t have much to contribute to in terms of established discourse, but I do have a lot of freedom with where to go with my project.

I’m planning on turning my final essay into a project on Manifold, through which—in the spirit of my questions about annotation—I would be able to annotate my own work, open it up to the annotation of others. Using it for the “Benito” project was a fun introduction, but I am curious to see what else is possible on such a flexible (and beautiful!) platform. I am also excited to play with incorporating visuals (maybe interactive?) from Genius as I work on/with that platform in my research, into my completed project.

And finally, sorry for the delay in posting! There is more research to be done on this, and my direction may change course slightly, but this is where it seems to be going at the moment.

Play and pedagogy

Our class discussion of play and pedagogy, and forms of play, made me think of this film, which despite the lackluster title, is quite fascinating. The history of the school and its relationship to the community is also really interesting.  This cartoon essay that appeared in the 2010 NYT provides some helpful context from a former student.

School: A Film About Progressive Education : Dick (Lee) Inc. : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

Film about Hessian Hills School at Croton-on-Hudson New York.

 

Lost and Found New York | James Stevenson – Hessian Hills – Op-Art – NYTimes.com

This would be the time of year for a school reunion up at Hessian Hills, if the old school had been that kind of place.

 

Final Project Proposal: Story Map The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner

I want to create a story map of a chapter from Rachel Kushner’s The Mars Room (2018) as a proof of concept (to map the whole novel would take too long). I don’t know which chapter I want to story map because I haven’t read the book yet. I’m interested in story mapping this novel because its theme – prison – ties in with my final project for DHUM 7000, which aims to develop a DH course to be taught in prison. One of the audiences I have in mind for my story map is incarcerated people.

I want to create the story map with ArcGIS because I was very impressed with the story maps some of my peers created with this platform this semester. This may be challenging because I’ve never used ArcGIS or any other story mapping platform (I’ve never story mapped at all) but I’m confident that I’ll figure it out. A story map that particularly impressed me was The Motorcycle Diaries by Rob Garfield for DHUM 7000. I’d like my story map of The Mars Room to look a lot like that.

I think I need to have a specific critical purpose in story mapping The Mars Room, but don’t have one yet. If anyone has any thoughts about how I may approach this novel please share.

Rachel Kushner interests me a lot because she was born the same year I was born, and her parents were bohemian scientists (mine were bohemian artists with scientific bents), and the New York Times says she and her brother were “dirty ragamuffin children [and that she] spent a huge amount of time by [herself so she] daydreamed and learned how to be alone and not be lonely” (Maria Russo, “Knowingly Navigating the Unknown,” The New York Times May 2013). Kushner intrigues me because my childhood was a lot like that.

While my proposal is still too vague, I think that the combination of personal and academic interests that prompt me to write about The Mars Room will lead to potentially compelling work.

 

Digital Mapping of Oral Histories

My final project will be a digital mapping project based on the oral history archive of the Leo Baeck Institute’s (LBI) Austrian Heritage Collection (AHC). The collection contains more than 600 oral history Interviews with Jewish émigrés who fled from Austria to the United States shortly before or during World War II. The interviews, most of which were conducted in English, are publicly available online via DigiBaeck, the LBI’s online archive. Most of them are between one and four hours long. The interviewees tell their “life-stories”, starting from their childhood in Austria, reporting about how they escaped the country after the Nazis got to power and how they finally arrived in the United States as well as about the course of their life in the US.

While I listened to some of the interviews, it was striking to me that a lot of the narrators mention street addresses in Vienna, for example the address of the house they lived in, or of their schools, their family businesses etc. It was this insight that gave me the idea to locate the voices of the interviewees within a map of Vienna. In doing so, I hope to encourage a broader (and also a non-academic) audience to listen to these interviews or at least parts of them in order to engage with the experiences of the narrators and with questions and reflections deriving from an encounter with their life stories today, and second, I hope to create more awareness for this still underrepresented part of Vienna’s/Austria’s past.

Over the past decades various but still relatively few memorials for the victims of the Shoa have been established in Vienna. Some of them are referring to personal accounts of those who were killed or managed to escape (e.g. Catrin Bolt’s “Alltagsskultpuren Mahnmahl / Every-day-life-sculptures Memorial” in which the artist installed letterings of individual accounts of the violence that happened in the streets in the sidewalks), and some of them are directly referring to the houses those who were killed used to live in (e.g. the so-called “Stolpersteine / Stumbling Stones”).

The mapping project I will conduct will combine the approaches of these memorials by linking the personal accounts of those who managed to escape and are therefore able to testify about what happened to actual places in the city. The Documentation Center of Austrian Resistance is currently working on a project that looks similar to what I have in mind, called Memento Vienna. It consists of an online map of Vienna that shows “the last-known addresses of those murdered as well as archival documents and photographs of people and buildings in the city.”

My research will first of all consist of establishing an overview of the oral history collection and identifying interviews in which addresses are mentioned. In a second step, I will chose five to fifteen interviews which shall be located in the frame of the project. (I can definitely imagine to continue to work on this project after this semester, but as the time is limited now, I decided to focus on very few stories in order to have more time to figure out the technical and conceptional aspects of the platform I want to create.) As the project is centered around the wish to make people listen to the presented life-stories (rather than “merely” reading (about) them), the audio quality of the interviews will be a central criteria within the decision making process about which interviews will be presented within the map for now.

In a next step, I will create four to six minute long “excerpts” of the interviews using the audio editing software Hindenburg. Depending on the individual interviews, these excerpts may include testimonies about the experiences the narrators made connected to the address the audio-clip will be related to on the map, but also about their lives after they escaped Vienna and emigrated to the United States. Additionally, a link to the complete interview as well as a short, written biography of each represented interviewee will be added to the audio file and located within the map.

The project will be informed by literature from different disciplines and about different topics such as the historical events that have affected the lives of the narrators, the use of digital public history projects in order to engage a broad audience with historical research, oral history as a method, modes and politics of memory and digital storytelling.

I have not yet decided which digital platform I will use in order to create the map. So far I have looked into Google Maps, Neatline and Storymaps/esri.

Gaming Collaborative Proposal (Anthony & Raven)

For the proposal assignment, Raven and I have decided to collaborate utilizing prompts 8 & 9 to envision a gaming based project partly inspired by our upcoming Ivanhoe project. It will attempt to address the intersections of online spaces, education, representation, and equity/accessibility through digital tools in learning spaces. Raven and I divided the proposal between our two posts in order to explain our different angles on the same goal.

Our overall goal of this project is to find a way to increase the parameters of equity in a standard classroom. We want to use interactive technology as a method to give voice to those often misinterpreted or silenced within the traditional western literary canon. Often in English classes, we see that students are forced to read stories such as Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn with the intense focus on our perceived protagonist, Huck Finn. This is fine, but there should also be a way to teach students how to view the story from the perspective of Jim, an escaped slave, and Huck Finn’s “moral guide.” In education, we need to utilize multicultural texts as a means to provide diverse student-bodies with the ability to align themselves with the literature at hand. However, there is the battle of always having a group of students who will not align with what the class is studying. So, we believe that by utilizing gaming in the classroom you can expose students to different walks of life such as diversity in race, disability, gender, and sexuality.

In constructing this game from a digital pedagogical perspective, I want to draw information from scholar surrounding these topics, specifically in terms of educational facilities. Right now, I am planning on using information from Tools of Exclusion: Race, Disability, and (Re)segregated Education by Beth A. Ferri of Syracuse University and David J. Connor of Columbia’s Teachers College, as well as Structuring Equality: A Handbook for Student-Centered Learning and Teaching Practices, a collection by many authors including Cathy Davidson of The Graduate Center. The first piece addresses the complicated issues around the interconnectedness of segregation, special education, and race. The second piece, specifically in chapter six, dives into how we can restructure English courses (and the classroom in general) to create a more equitable space in terms of helping students foster their identities. Helping students develop a deeper understanding of not only their own identity experience but as well as their peers’ difference identities, helps to foster a safer and more productive classroom space.

Another piece I want to draw upon to support these notions in a more direct way is No Fun: The Queer Potential of Video Games that Annoy, Anger, Disappoint, Sadden, and Hurt by Bonnie “Bo” Ruberg. Ruberg shines a light on the aspect of “Play” in a similar way to the Ivanhoe readings, except takes it in a direction of how the idea of “having fun” is so closely related to gaming. We buy and play games because we enjoy them and have fun, but not everyone has the same type of fun with certain things. She continues to talk about how “no-fun” can be a tool for addressing uncomfortable topics that need to be talked about. We are hoping to develop a game based around this notion because topics of prejudice are uncomfortable topics in whichever form they take. So we are using a game as a platform to widen the perspective of students using emotional experiences linked to the said game.

These experiences are obviously not meant to severely shake anybody, it will not cross that line, but more so has the goal of encouraging students to tap into their empathetic sides in order to place themselves in the shoes of others. Having a more open perspective fosters the ability to engage with multiple aspects of literature on a new level previously unattainable in many classrooms.

“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”

I am very excited to work on this final project. I have just finished re-reading Hamlet for the first time in a few years, and it was a wonderful experience reacquainting myself with the characters, themes and events that occur at Elsinore. For my final project, I would like to take a deep-dive reading into the critical analysis that will further my expertise on my favorite Shakespeare work. I will then annotate the text in Manifold, as I really enjoyed this process for the Group 2 project.

I will be looking for many things within the critical works I read. There are many themes within Hamlet that are crucial to the text. Ultimately understanding these is my main research question; madness, sanity, doubt, guilt, betrayal and redemption being of the most discussed. When reading the critical analysis, I want to get a better idea of the melancholy Danish prince’s state of mind as he is guided throughout the play by the ghost of his father. How mad is he really? Or is he perfectly sane? I suppose there must be a great deal of speculation in that topic throughout the critical literature. Other questions I already have include why Hamlet denies his love to Ophelia, but then confesses it after her death? Why does Hamlet have the theater players perform such a realist reperformance of his father’s death in order to prove King Claudius did indeed murder his father? Or in other words, wouldn’t it have been more strategic to be more subtle and how does the King free himself of suspicion? Is it because he is so blind with guilt? This realist performance was a true risk on Hamlet’s part. Did Queen Gertrude deserve to die due to her own behavior? Is it foreshadowing that the ghost tells Hamlet not to harm his mother, but she dies anyway? Why does the ghost not steer Hamlet to safety, since he is redeeming him? And in that same vein of death, was Polonius’ execution inevitable, as he was quite the meddler? And of course, there is Ophelia’s drowning/suicide… that is surely something to explore in terms of what it does to Hamlet’s sanity.

Annotating the text will help me answer these fascinating questions. I found that I felt as though I got deep within the mindset of Delano and Cereno through the last project, and I hope to have a similar acquaintance with this Shakespeare work as well. By reading many critical works, I hope to develop a deeper knowledge of greater embedded themes as well. Intensely delving into these types of works will help me further cultivate more and better questions to ask and answer through annotation.

Is there a role misogyny plays within Hamlet, and what does this do for Hamlet’s well-being? What does it say of the Queen, who married her husband’s brother (and killer) so quickly after his death? How could feminism have changed the course of action at Elsinore Castle? Another topic that I find intriguing is Scandinavian warfare during the period Hamlet takes place. Warfare is a looming threat throughout the text and is referred to when discussing Hamlet’s father’s life. I wish to know more about Fortinbras’ role within the murdered king’s story, as well as the importance of his reappearance at the end of the play. Ultimately, I just wish to understand the characters in a much deeper way and analyze them accordingly.

I have found annotation to be a very useful tool in being able to fully appreciate a work. Since Hamlet is of my favorite, this is the perfect opportunity to better understand this tragedy. What’s more is I can begin my digital Shakespeare anthology project I’ve already blogged about. There is a great deal of artwork I hope to find that illustrates the events of the story. If I can find open-source performance art clips that would be a really cool thing to include. I also love the musical Hair, and how it adapts the soliloquy in which Hamlet states “What a piece of work is man!” It is a beautiful soliloquy amongst many that I intend to analyze. The OED will be useful in this project in terms of better understanding the linguistics of the text, that will better inform the narrative. I’ll be sure to include any interesting findings from this source as well.

Some sources I have already found are the books Twentieth century interpretations of Hamlet; a collection of critical essays available in the GC library, and Critical responses to Hamlet, 1600-1900. Articles like “The question of original sin in ‘Hamlet,’” “Passion turned to prettiness: Rhyme or reason in Hamlet,” ““Hamlet” without us,” “Wonder and nostalgia in Hamlet,” “Finding freedom in ‘Hamlet,’” “Moral agency in Hamlet” …and many more. The list goes and on. Shakespeare Quarterly, Shakespeare Studies, Modern Language Quarterly… these are all journals that have a plethora of useful articles. The digital Shakespeare editions Jeff responded to my other Shakespeare blog will be very helpful too in inciting inspiration.

“Eternal Villageance is the price of liberty!”

Geospatial visualization (fancy term for mapping) is an ideal format for exploring this history of place, because (borrowing terms from linguistics) it allows for both a diachronic view of how a place changes over time, and a synchronic view – an interpretation of how it was at any given time. Both approaches to place can be depicted through mapping, and interactive maps extend the possibilities for how the stories of a time and place/place in time are created.

I will be creating an interactive geospatial visualization project that addresses the following questions: How does tracing the social and geographical connections of a single person, who was part of a rich and vibrant world of artists, writers, and activists in a New York City neighborhood in the early 20th century, enhance our understanding of that time and place?  Or, more specifically, what kinds of socio-cultural narratives does mapping create, revise, elide, and/or reproduce?  Is there anything new we can learn when doing literary history in this way?

The cultural and political history of Greenwich Village from the founding of New Amsterdam through the end of the 20th century is fascinating, but is also a well-documented subject, most recently in John Strausbaugh’s fabulous The Village: 400 Years of Beats and Bohemians (2013).  Using this text as an initial source and my friend Doug Skinner’s extended blog-based mini-biography of Edwards as both inspiration and starting point, I will sketch out the contours of a time and place from the perspective of a once-ubiquitous but now largely forgotten literary figure, Robert “Bobby” Edwards. Edwards was editor of The Quill literary magazine, and a well-known character throughout Greenwich Village and beyond, mainly in the ‘teens through the 1920s. (He also built ukuleles, wrote songs, and painted).  As Doug wrote, Edwards was also  “a somewhat controversial figure: many entrenched Villagers were serious artists, and bridled at his frivolity, and at his promotion of the Village as a Boho playground.”

As a “scene” in all senses of the word,  the Village has always been a source of excitement and a an object of derision, a generator of cultural myths and stereotypes, a home for artists and exiles, and a center of economic and cultural change. With ESRI Story Maps or Neatline (an open-source plugin for the Omeka platform), and possibly with an additional network visualization tool like Gephi or RAW, I plan to map what I can discover about Edwards’s activity –including his social and literary relationships–as it has been documented in primary and secondary sources. The goals are to make more visible the social, cultural, and political mechanisms at the heart of a quintessential New York City neighborhood, and to present opportunities for considering the differences between narratives created through mapping, visualization, and text-based histories.