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Interdisciplinary Knowledge Work: Digital Textual Analysis Tools and Their Collaboration Affordances

COLLABORATIVE APPROACHES TO THE DIGITAL, L. McGrath, ed., Utah State University Press, 2011

30 Pages Posted: 19 Jan 2012  

Monica E. Bulger

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute

Jessica C. Murphy

University of Texas at Dallas

Jeff Scheible

University of California, Santa Cruz

Elizabeth Lagresa

Harvard University

Alan Liu

University of California, Santa Barbara - English

Date Written: 2011

Abstract

In his experimental seminar, “Literature: Cross-Disciplinary Models of Literary Interpretation,” Alan Liu asked students to form groups around topics of their choosing and perform analyses using digital tools on their materials. Our group represented four different disciplines and therefore formed around digital tools, rather than content. Each of us took a tool in which we were to become “expert,” and applied that tool to everyone's prepared data. We found that a research focus can form around a set of digital tools even if the objects are not uniform.

In this chapter, we discuss how we applied technology to our research goals and collaborative work. We address the main goals of our collaboration, as they emerged through our work together: to explore implications of using digital textual analysis methods on a variety of texts; to uncover possibilities in our datasets through experimentation with different tools; and to recognize the possibility for cross-disciplinary use of the methods we tested. We observed that the tools trend toward certain forms of interpretation and we examine how these trends affect the types of collaboration and analysis possible, but also how they can be re-purposed for alternative approaches. The most important lesson our collaborative experience taught us is that working together both pushed us and liberated us to experiment with our data and methods. In fact, much like our visualizations provide a big picture view of the texts we study, the multidisciplinary nature of our process forced us to step back and view our research at a macro-level. Although our collaboration began as a class project, playing together with technologies led each of us to new and significant understandings of our texts.

Keywords: digital humanities, educational technology, textual analysis

Suggested Citation

Bulger, Monica E. and Murphy, Jessica C. and Scheible, Jeff and Lagresa, Elizabeth and Liu, Alan, Interdisciplinary Knowledge Work: Digital Textual Analysis Tools and Their Collaboration Affordances (2011). COLLABORATIVE APPROACHES TO THE DIGITAL, L. McGrath, ed., Utah State University Press, 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1987699

Monica E. Bulger (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

1 St. Giles
University of Oxford
Oxford OX1 3PG Oxfordshire, Oxfordshire OX1 3JS
United Kingdom

Jessica C. Murphy

University of Texas at Dallas ( email )

Texas, TX
United States

Jeff Scheible

University of California, Santa Cruz ( email )

1156 High St
Santa Cruz, CA 95064
United States

HOME PAGE: http://film.ucsc.edu/faculty/jeff_scheible

Elizabeth Lagresa

Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.rll.fas.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do

Alan Liu

University of California, Santa Barbara - English ( email )

United States

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