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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

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Reinterpretation: Mapping Victorian Maternal Mobility

The need for visual literacy has come up through much of what we have studied this term. As Claire Warwick points out in the Companion to Digital Humanities, this requires both a return to reading older modes of expression and a new framing of our humanist methods in digital contexts. It means “looking towards the visual as a way of helping us to reinterpret the textual” (from Conclusion). Given the sort of projects that Michael, Daniel and I are working on, I will focus here on the topic of textual reinterpretation as it is informed by DH work on visual literacies.

My final project is an experiment in applying my nascent digital skills to Victorian textual studies. The project enables reinterpretation of popular Victorian texts by mapping selected textual data onto a Victorian visualization model.

Reinterpretation emerges with every step of my project's process—it necessarily emerges from the making and reading process in a few ways:
  • Through critical scrutiny of Victorian information visualization—the relationship between form and content, and how cultural beliefs are variously encoded with each visualization model.
  • Through close reading of the primary texts and through the decisions that are necessary for selecting and sorting textual data.
  • Through employment of computational tools by which a Victorian visualization could serve as an open-ended, speculative model for distant reading of data from the primary texts (in the long term—my proof of concept is very humble in scale).
  • Through contributor exploration of patterns suggested by the visualized data—in my case, socio-political constructions of the late Victorian maternal subject.

Author: Alison Hedley
Word Count: 261
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