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Teaching and Learning Multimodal Communications

Alyssa Arbuckle, Alison Hedley, Shaun Macpherson, Alyssa McLeod, Jana Millar Usiskin, Daniel Powell, Jentery Sayers, Emily Smith, Michael Stevens, Authors

This comment was written by Daniel Powell on 22 Aug 2012.

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Reflection on Proposal Exercise

My proposed final project for the course brought together several strands of research I had become interested in over the semester: data visualization in the humanities, early modern drama, and the need for playful "critical deformances" to invigorate humanities research methodologies. By deforming the text (a task digital tools make easier and more responsive) we can begin to undermine the assumed stability of early modern texts. In restructuring these texts, especially with radically defamiliarizing tools like the network visualization platform Gephi, researchers can provoke new research questions and imagine new conclusions.

In a way, this proposal represents a substantial leap of faith on my part. At the time of its writing, I was unsure whether or not the various components of the final project would come together in the way I hoped. I had just begun experimenting with Gephi, and was still in the process of experimenting with the most effective way to move dialogue in Nicholas Udall's play into spreadsheets and then into a visualized format. In the end, this required a great deal of time and, more interestingly, a substantial amount of non-computational effort on my part. In other words, my workflow eventually necessitated the manual, by hand translation of dialogue patterns in the play into numerical information ready to import into Google Drive and Gephi.

More unusual than this leap of faith, though, was the way in which each course member pitched our proposal to the class as a whole. Rather than a written proposal, each of us presented a Pecha Kucha style (20 automated slides / 20 seconds per slide) version of the proposal. I chose to use Prezi rather than a more established slide presentation platform, as I enjoy its aesthetic a great deal more than most presentation packages. Nevertheless, the presentation required a great deal of presentation beforehand. Since the visual displays were automated during our presentation, a great deal of synchronization between our talking points and what was on screen behind us was absolutely vital. Successfully completing the presentation was a great confidence boost, and reassured me that I could handle whatever future presentations came my way!
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