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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: Models for Mapping Victorian Maternal Mobility

For my proof of concept, I decided to plot data from my texts onto a bell curve. The bell curved graph emerged in the nineteenth century; this model directly contributed to the Victorian cultural conception of normalcy and abnormalcy (Davis 12). A bell curve visualization of the maternal subject thematically emphasizes a cultural discourse of normalcy and moderation that the texts invoke through the prescriptive behavioral guidelines.

The model does not, of course, offer the definitive visual reinterpretation of the texts—nor can such a model exist. The texts are not objective, closed systems of data that can be objectively interpreted by the reader. As Warwick, Johanna Drucker and others have pointed out, for humanities computing, and for literary computing especially, data is often unquantifiable. Here, the authors do not present most of their data in numbers, and their information comes from subjective perspectives on medical and proprietary codes. Moreover, I also perform a subjective interpretive act. From a humanist point of view of digital studies, these steps are inescapable, and their acknowledgement is in fact essential—as demonstrated by Drucker's refiguring of data as capta. Rather than objective, “given” data, the raw information is actively taken capta. Knowledge production is “situated, partial, and constitutive [in] character” (“Humanities Approaches”).

Author: Alison Hedley
Word Count: 206
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