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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

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Hessian Hills

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.

Gaming Collaborative Proposal (Raven & Anthony)

For the proposal assignment, Anthony 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.

This work will attempt to challenge the Digital Humanities to further the importance of expanded representation of perspectives of marginalized voices outside of the traditional westernized cannon of scholarly essay writing. Excluding race and intersections of gender, culture, ableism, disability and sexuality from public discussions through erasure and acceptance of larger discourses of colorblindness contribute to problematic understandings of video games as a cultural medium, and their significance in contemporary social, political, economic and cultural organization.

In reference to the Ivanhoe readings “Play”, and “Ivanhoe:Education in a New Key”| Romantic Circles, I’m interested in drawing from Amanda Phillips’ syllabus and her critical work in finding the connections between written and game based narrative expressions. I’m also intrigued by point 5 of the second text explaining the significance of resisting the traditional assumptions of self-identity of a particular text or cultural work through re-thinking the field of “texuality” and its interdisciplinary possibilities in how we can work with source material. (Ivanhoe, 2) We will also be looking at Kishonna Gray’s “Race, Gender, and Deviance in Xbox Live:Theoretical Perspectives from the Virtual Margins” & “Live in Your World, Play in Ours’: Race, Video Games, and Consuming the Other” by David Leonard as a contextual approach to understanding the cultural approaches to avoid and utilize in our own gaming project.

Specifically, I want to focus on the power of identity and aims to provide a perspective of what is possible in using games to expand the pedagogical scope of interactive mediums as a tool for learning and re-creating the standards of knowledge production in higher education. To do this Anthony and I will be referencing small-scale games made via Twine and Unity which explores various perspectives/themes that can spark inquiry in imagining how games can be a tool for individualized expression. For the purposes of my side of the proposal I will be emphasizing the gaming content, and related source material and Anthony (see his blog proposal) will be referencing DH pedagogical practices that can be theorized into game-building strategies to structure equality and dismantle power-dynamics in traditional classroom settings. Our larger goal being to also create a Twine game reflecting some of our own experiences as Latin(x), students in college settings and how game creation can be a cathartic experience in our own education.

Games: Homebound,  College Admissions Simulator, & Everything’s Fine

College Admissions Simulator

Homebound

Everything’s Fine

I wanted to use these three games as a positive examples of some student projects that  can be easily incorporated into a Cyborgian classroom. These in particular were created by students at an Amherst College course titled “Video Games and the Boundaries of Narrative”with Marisa Parham I took last semester. The first is a group collaboration I was involved in, the College Simulator is intended to allow the player to think critically about the desensitizing process involved in the college admissions process. In thinking of the differences between inclusivity and equity, the categorization of students based on class, race, gender, and economic standing greatly blurs the lines of how colleges interpret and sell the “diverse” college experience. I enjoy sharing this game with students because it allows them to think outside their own experience, and into an aspect of a perspective which has systematically determined and shaped the lives of many students of colors attempting to center an institution which has historically excluded them from being included into higher education. Alternatively, Everything’s Fine explores the usage of “Mechanics as Metaphors” which portrays the immersive experience of a 1st generation college student managing their mental health and cultural expectations of leaving home to pursue a college education.  

Zine Union Catalog: Authors and Catalogers as Collaborators

As Jenna indicated, we will be working in parallel to, and in correspondence with, one another for our final projects and working towards a shared goal of approaching and interpreting our ongoing work with the Zine Union Catalog (ZUC) through our use of annotation, collaborative inquiry, and critical analysis of authorship within the scope of our experience with, and approaches to, digital humanities tools and theories.  We have been fortunate enough to work with each on our DH Praxis project throughout our time at the CUNY GC which allows us to practically implement our theoretical and technical knowledge of the digital humanities into our ZUC.

For the final project in Doing Things with Novels, we have decided to address the role libraries and cultural institutions play in authoring catalog records that aid in the discoverability of resources.  Most specifically, we will focus on the role that the librarians play in aiding with zine discoverability and will look for examples within our union catalog prototype that are shared amongst the current contributing collections (ABC No Rio, Barnard Zine Library, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Denver Zine Library, and the Queer Zine Archive Project).  What kind of authority role do catalogers, and more specifically zine catalogers, play in the discovery and understanding of zines?  What similarities and differences are there within the catalog records and how do these differences contribute to the understanding and interpretations we have of zines?  How are the discrepancies and differences mediated, if at all? How will the Zine Union Catalog grapple with, and harmonize, the metadata?

To do this work, Jenna and I will use a variety of tools to collaborate and create the final project.  To start, we created a doc in our Google Drives to collaborate on the final project proposal and we’ve used marginal annotation to have a conversation as our thoughts and ideas evolve.  Jenna and I have tried a variety of tools (i.e. Google Drive, Slack, Redmine, Open Science Framework, CUNY Academic Commons) for collaborating with various degrees of success and utility and have found that for much of the work we do, Google has been the most useful in the drafting and planning phases.  However, additional tools we will use in our final project include hypothes.is, WordPress, Tableau, and Zotero

I anticipate that we will continue to use our ZineCat Blog to communicate with our classmates, the greater community following the Zine Union Catalog’s development, as well as to annotate each other’s work on this final project.  As part of our collaboration and reflectiveness on skills/theories learned in Doing Things with Novels, Jenna and I will use hypothes.is to annotate our contributions (on the ZineCat Blog) as a part of the final project. I’m interested to see how we annotate other online texts and materials as we move through this project, too (i.e. zinecat.org, the catalog records of ZineCat’s contributors, the scholarship we discover in relation to our project during the literature review component, etc.).  

Zines are a very creative, and sometimes hard to describe, resource.  Also, very different kinds of institutions collect zines and their approaches to description can vary widely.  I plan to do a literature review on current practices, and understanding of, what catalogers do and how they create metadata (both within traditional libraries and non-traditional).  I’d also like to do a lit review on zine description, so I will look to the many subscription databases I have access to first, and then expand my research net to include resources available outside of the privileged licensed content.

My first search included a keyword search for “cataloger AND author” in Ebsco’s Library & Information Science Source provided by NYU Libraries.  There are 265 results and a screenshot of some of the articles I’ve found can be seen below, but for a more comprehensive list see my Zotero library here.  I’ve found these resources, so far, on zine librarianship and zine cataloging. I am excited by the amount of information about there and plan to make the literature review a big part of my work for the final project.  Whether I get to reading everything is another story, but I am also currently enrolled in Independent Study for my ITP certificate completion and should’ve done a literature review on zine librarianship and zine cataloging as a part of the work for that course, so I’m happy to have dual application for the work I’m conducting this semester.  Also, based on the literature review, I’ve identified many other aspects of research interests including how catalogers are active on social media, cataloging as outreach, metadata literacy, and the history of cataloging, to name a few that have arisen from the first foray into the literature.

To wrap up, I was uncertain at first how Jenna and I would incorporate our work on the Zine Union Catalog into a theoretical literature course especially since I’ve been grappling quite a bit with the theoretical underpinnings of the course readings and discussions.  Additionally, the zine medium is very different from the other literary texts we’ve been engaging with this semester, so it was a leap for me to make the immediate connection of how zines can be used within the context of this course, but through discussion and collaboration with Jenna, it’s become much clearer.  Jenna’s experience as a cataloger is more extensive than mine, as is her experience with working, and making, zines, so I know that she will bring an awesome amount of professional and personal knowledge to this project. I hope that my contributions will include a critical analysis of the digital humanities applications and processes of this project, including the use of annotating tools, and thorough research into cataloging as authorship. I am thrilled that she and I have been able to look at the many aspects of the Zine Union Catalog through different course lenses during our degree progress.  

Final Project Concept

For my final project, I want to try playing with the essay form by incorporating a few thoughts I’ve been mulling over during our unit on annotation and note-taking. As I noted in my blog post on Blair, I feel as if our readings really leave open the idea of note-taking being an ultimately expressive activity; it is a means through which a reader may ‘respond to the text’ via the margins of the text itself. Yet, taking a few steps back from our natural delineations of genres, one may note that this definition extends beyond note-taking in general. Consider the traditional literary essay and how it pulls from assorted marginalia and a text in order to elucidate hidden aspects of its subject. Is it not in itself ultimately a ‘response’ to a text, an attempt at lexicographic expression? Indeed, if one incorporate examples such as Benjamin’s Arcades Project, Nabokov’s Pale Fire, and the short, epigraphic nature of Borges’ stories, they could even argue that the division between notes and Literature is a rather ephemeral one as well.

Wanting to explore this ephemeral division, I want to try writing an ‘annotated essay’ through Hypothesis (or any easily accessible annotation platform). Structurally, the idea seems rather simple: I would create a private Hypothesis notation on the text I intend to focus (or start) my analysis on. Once finished with an aspect of my argument, I would hyperlink to another text (or multiple texts) and continue my analysis via the hypothesis overlay for that piece. While a rather simple idea (and gimicky) it seems like a cool opportunity to use form to finally break from concerns of structure and linear argumentation that has plagued my essay writing since primordial elementary school days. Rather than force my reader to engage with my argument through an artificial linearity, I can simply leave the ‘flow’ of argument to her/him. That is, I can actually allow my reader to engage with my argument in the same manner that it truly developed.

Of course, form without content that complements its capabilities is wasted, hence why I wish to address another topic that I’ve been mulling over for a while: consumerism in Barthes’ “From Work to Text.” I still feel unease at the dichotomy Barthes draws between “the work” and “the Text” in regards to consumption (i.e. the former is a product of while the latter resists). The need for one to ‘return’ to the consumable work in the attempt to decipher the unlimited “Text” seems far too problematic for anything beyond a false division. The annotated essay seems a perfect opportunity to investigate these concerns: forcing the reader to engage with individual texts through the hyperlink strategy will allow them to visualize the intertextual web of signs that Barthes addresses in his writings while also forcing them to engage with the economy of digital production (e.g. site-traffic, paywalls, embedded advertisements) that is incurred in a contemporary exploration of “the Text.”

As I’m approaching the topic with a concern for the relationship between consumption, production, and art, my research will likely need to engage with classical critical theorists, most notably Adorno, while the digital nature of the project will benefit from some insights via Liu and some ‘classical’ arguments by way of Bolter and Grusin. As well, since I do not have the resources to consider all possible variations of “the Text” and how they have changed across the decades between now and Barthes, I intend to focus my inquiry on a single example of textual response: the individual essay itself. That is, I wish to simply display a counterpoint through how the annotated essay itself engages with consumption and capital in its own attempts to “play” with Barthes’ “Text.”

Returning to form, I also realize that even an unambitious use of hyperlinking between annotations will likely be an irritant to the reader. As such, there is a distinct possibility that I may need to abandon the use of annotation platforms in general and simply create a series of rudimentary HTML pages that simulate visiting multiple websites. (Which, due to separating the article from the immediate world of the World Wide Web, would significantly alter the argument as it provides a means to return to the text without engaging within the eternal recurrence of consumption.)