For Tuesday (9/26)

For Tuesday, make sure you do the following:

In old business:


For Tuesday (9/19)

For Tuesday, you’ll want to do several things:

For Thursday (9/14)

On Thursday, we’ll meet in the computer lab in HUM 401.  A couple of things you’ll want to do before our meeting:

  1. Choose a text you want to annotation super-richly.  The text can be a poem or a story.  It probably shouldn’t be too long.  Best option: choose a text that you’re currently reading (or will be reading) for a class you’re enrolled in.  It will make things easier if your text is already online.  (Not sure?  Check out or  If the text is not too long, you can always enter it manually.  If you can’t decide, bring a couple of candidates to class.  Create a blog post where you name your text (or texts) and briefly explain why this text/these texts is/are a good choice.
  2. Click here to enroll in our Wikipedia project site.  Once you’ve enrolled, complete the two “training” sessions – – “Wikipedia Essentials” and “Editing Basics.”  (These are available on our course Wikipedia dashboard and can be accessed once you’ve registered and enrolled via the link above.)  As you work through the training sessions, think about particular Wikipedia page(s) you’d be interested in editing or creating.  These candidate pages should be literature or humanities-related, so think about writers, books, stories, poems, art works, films, musical works, etc. that interest you.  Then check to see: does a Wikipedia article already exist for this topic? if a page does exist, does it need more work?  (Also worth checking out: this list of requested articles by Wikipedia users related to literature.)
  3. And, finally, make sure you’ve sent me the link to your blog!  (Do me a favor and check out blogroll – – to the left – – to make sure I’ve included your blog, your name is correct, and that your blog link works.)

For Tuesday (9/12)

For Tuesday, be sure you’ve installed and customized your WordPress site.  Send me the url to your blog.

Our goal this week should be to finish the richly annotated versions of our two poems.  So, keep working on your annotations.  Second, read this plain text version of Melville’s short story, “Bartleby, the Scrivener.”  After you’ve read the story, check out these two annotated versions of the story (on Slate and on Genius).  Our interest here isn’t so much in what the story means, but in what role the digital annotations play in our reading of the story.

This will be the topic of your first blog post, e.g. in a blog post, reflect on how each annotated version shaped your experience of the story.  In what ways were the annotations helpful? not helpful? In what ways did the annotations make the reading experience richer? Did the annotations distract you – – in enjoyable or not-so-enjoyable – – ways?  What kind of guidance, inspiration, etc. might these annotations give you as you revise your annotations?  Post to your blog by midnight on Monday, September 11.


For Thursday (9/7)

For Thursday, we’ll want to do two things when we meet in HUM 401:

First, keep working on your poem annotations.  The next step in building super-rich multimedia texts from your poem is to return to the V. 2.0 pages – – Levine or Diaz.

  1. Reply to each of your original annotations by describing the purpose of the annotation – – to encourage readers to think about connections between industrial life and the landscape of “They Feed They Lion” or to spark readers’ questions about the relation between Aztec rituals and the actions of the characters in Diaz’s “When My Brother Was an Aztec” or etc.  Your description of your purpose shouldn’t be more than a sentence of two.  Remember, what you’re trying to think about is what you want your annotation to do to or for a reader and their experience of the poem.
  2. In a second reply, rewrite your first annotation.  Again, the idea here is to find the sweet spot between telling a reader the meaning of the poem’s language, image, etc. and guiding the reader to think about the poem in new or deeper ways.  Your second, revised annotation should invite the reader to engage with the poem in new contexts.

Second, you’ll start setting up a domain of your own.  These domains will be hosted at Reclaim Hosting.  You’ll need to bring a credit card (or PayPal account info) to class to pay for your new domain ($30/year).  To get ready to rock n’ roll with your domain, you might want to do a couple of things before class:

  • think about your preferred domain name, e.g. “” or “” or etc.  Think about a domain name that: you can carry forward out of our class; and, a domain name that might signify something about your domain.  (Which suffix to use – – .net, .com., .org?)
  • surf over to Reclaim Hosting and look at their hosting plans.  Generally, we’ll be using their “shared hosting” plan.  You can even buy your domain before class, if you wish.
  • once you’ve secured your domain, you’ll want to install WordPress, the open source blog platform/engine.  Reclaim has a pretty good tutorial about how to install WordPress into your domain.  (We’ll actually install WordPress into a subdomain – – so hold off on installing WordPress until you get to class.) Once you’ve gotten your domain up and running and installed WordPress,  you’ll want to cherry out your new blog.  Here’s a short but good intro to using WordPress.


For Tuesday (9/5)

We’ve been thinking and talking about reading paper texts versus digital texts and about the various experiences and affordances of each.  Rather than just thinking about texts as objects for readers to consume, let’s start thinking about digital texts as media for readers to use or re-make.  We’ll use the hypothesis tool to explore these possibilities. (Here’s a quick how-to on adding links, images, and videos to your annotations.)

I’ve created two new instances of the Diaz and Levine poems.  For Tuesday, I want you to create 4 new inter-textual annotations and 3 new visual annotations on these new 2.0 versions of the poem pages.

  1. Your 4 inter-textual annotations should connect highlighted words or phrases in the poem to texts/pages outside of the poem page.  Before you start linking via hypothesis – – think about the purpose of your linking.  What kind of context are you trying to create for the reader?  How will your link make the poem more interesting for the reader?  How will it help the reader to understand the poem more fully?  Will your inter-text annotation help the reader to ask new questions or see new things in the poem?  (For instance, knowing what words mean is important.  But, linking to dictionary definitions of words doesn’t seem like a particularly creative or inspiring addition to the poem.)
  2. Your 3 visual annotations can include images or video.  Again, think about what these visual annotations will do for the reader.  (Linking a picture of a hummingbird to the word “hummingbird” probably won’t help readers a whole lot.)  What kind of relation do you have in mind for the visual/textual connection?  How will your visual annotation pose new questions about the poem to readers?  How will your visual annotation encourage readers to see new dimensions to the poem?

Perhaps the best way to think about this kind of annotating is thusly: you are creating a palimpsest to accompany the poem, an addition that builds from the original text but that carries readers along new paths.  Perhaps there are other, better ways to think about deforming the poems . . .

Digital annotating: Part 1


The first page of David Foster Wallace’s copy of Deon DeLillo’s novel, Players.

Annotate your poem (Levine or Diaz) using hypothesis.  Not sure how to use hypothesis?  Check out this easy, brief guide.

Make at least four annotations – – two original comments and two responses/replies to another reader’s comments.

For this first round of digital annotations, use only text.  And, use the annotations to simply record what you’re thinking as you read the poem.  (As a general, introductory guide,  I kind of like Mr. Varnell’s tips over on – – for now, you can ignore his comments on images and links.)

This first annotating assignment may engage you in two new things: getting started on online annotation and the work of annotating itself.  Don’t worry at all about what the poem “means” in some global sense, just focus on responding/reacting to particular points of confusion, interesting particular words, images, etc.  For now, use the annotations to capture the questions or reflections that occur as you read the words on the “page.”


For Tuesday (8/29)


Read and re-read your assigned poem – – either Natalie Diaz’s “When My Brother Was an Aztec” or Phil Levine’s “They Feed They Lion.”   Don’t worry about what your poem means.  We’re just interested in how you read a poem.

As you read/re-read, think about the questions I posed in class:

  • what particular thing (word, image, phrase, line) do you like about the poem? why?
  • what (word, image, phrase, line) in the poem confuses you ? why or how?
  • what is the key word in the poem? why?

Write a one-page piece about your reaction to the poem.  (You can type this or write it in legible longhand.)



Greetings.  This is the motherblog for English 495, Intro to Digital Humanities.  Here, you’ll find all kinds of information about the class – – announcements, updates, links, reflections, and reminders.  For instance, you can find our live, hot-linked syllabus by clicking on the link to the left.  If you have any questions or concerns, let me know!