Category Archives: Reflections

Sarah’s thoughts.

And here we are, somehow, at the end again, and I am not ready. The poem, “Little Gidding,” that I included on the prompt, feels a little contrived and unfair: “and to make an end is to make a beginning./The end is where we start from.” It equates beginnings and ends, countering finality with continuation. It feels unfair because it makes me feel like I should wrap up this experience neatly and move on, with the knowledge that yes, it is an end, and something else will come.  It’s unfair, but it isn’t untrue; it just doesn’t really do justice to how much this experience means, and how much of it I will carry with me forever.

 

For me, the beginning of this summer wasn’t in May, or April, but two years ago, when I first arrived at Lafayette and met the first cohort of summer scholars. I remember taking them to the Bucknell conference that year and being so impressed by their work, but even more than that, being moved by who they were, the questions they were asking, their willingness to take on uncertainty. And two years later, having witnessed three cohorts, I am still impressed; still moved. And I am very grateful, especially to you.

 

If we’re talking about becomings and being, being your teacher has helped me become a librarian. I will never forget one of my first conversations with Tedi, when she told me she started painting because she wasn’t good at it and she wanted to make room in her life for things she wasn’t good at but nevertheless loved. I think that this is the true spirit of research— to love what you don’t understand and don’t know if you can master. To try and set some mystery out into the light, like John did with Lamar’s album under bell hooks’ theory. These examples astound me, who, perfection-oriented in college, was far readier to dismiss what I couldn’t articulate than acknowledge a wider view than my own eyes, than acknowledge a nimbler tongue.

I loved watching Ben explain how his  research was limited by his own insistence on clarity of detail. How, he could imagine opening up storylines that had neither the exactitude nor the instantaneousness of a timeline, but had the narrative. I was proud when Daniel didn’t take a lazy path of exaggerating cause— when he gave nod to the many factors and directions that would play into more accurate ways of understanding inequality. I suppose I often see people bypass what is true (that answers are difficult, unclear, murky, and half-wrong) for what is neat, and I’m so thankful to have you as models for choosing harder, better ways.

Camilla, Idil, Jovanté, Tedi, I am glad you took on the matter of representation. I admire so much how tenderly you orient your thoughts to others, to who may or may not appear in the picture. Camilla, you are a writer; Jovanté, you are a poet. Idil, your meditations on freedom and values from our dinner strike me as deeply wise.  Maria, I knew (and loved) you first, and I adore how your question was born out of a true investigation into a seemingly simple question. Why would these folks choose the cold, when there’s a whole country for them?

You are beautiful; I am so grateful that I have had the chance to witness you. I think, as I grow older, I realize that one’s own habits of mind, the deeply treaded furrows, are dull after awhile. Thinking about other people, listening to them and learning from them— it’s refreshing and reinvigorating and you have made me anew, because you have offered me other ways of seeing, of thinking. You have turned flowers into metaphors and metaphors into sustenance. What alchemy you are!

There are things I could have done better. I wish I had found a way to stave off the anxiety of week 4. I wish I had given you more of a sense of what was coming, earlier on, and restacked assignments. I wish I had been here for week three. I wish we had more time. I’d love to hear your ideas for the shape of the future; I’d love to know how you imagine this program looking. You will have the chance to fight for it, and that’s a good thing.

And even though I’m not ceasing from exploration, soon I am taking up a position at UNC, the place where I started. Maybe the poem isn’t so unfair after all. But, because of you, I know that I will have a chance to see it better. See it with an eye toward representation, toward history, toward access, toward joy.

I have learned so much from you. I hope you are proud of your own minds, of each other. I hope that you continue to allow the things that you love to take up residence in your hours. I hope you offer your thoughts to the world and sometimes, I hope you’ll send them to me.

 

With love,

Sarah

How do you breathe, which is to say, how do you live?

Sometimes life is a prayer, a quiet one that you whisper on exasperated breath.  And sometimes days are but a breath, and weeks a string of breaths or prayers or breathing prayers or praying breaths that escape your lips before you even have the chance to sigh or sing or sit in silence.

These six weeks have taught me to breathe in ways I had never imagined possible before.

Inhale.  But do not take the entire world in.  Only the places and people and things that most excite you.

Work fervently.  Ask questions.  Ask questions about your questions.  Read and ponder and imagine and create and believe.

Exhale.

More than the black feminist theory, the literary criticism, the technical knowledge about Digital Humanities skills, I am most grateful for the process.  The space in between the inhale and exhale where we wrestled with our ideas in productive tension until they were proven durable.  Never before have I had to think so critically about my academic and technical choices, nor had I ever had to think about anyone but a professor reading my work, let alone the prospects of an audience.  I enjoyed being given the task of more than blank pages on which to breathe life – a platform to create, opportunities to face my fear of public speaking head-on, a community with which to engage and get excited about my and their ideas.  These are the things I cherish most about this process, the dynamism of research and academia I have encountered through these experiences.

Don’t get me wrong – I am excited about project and will continue to develop my ideas as I develop my ethnographic sensibilities.  This work has encouraged me to continue to focus on the richness of the Caribbean experience, quite often overlooked by academics from the Global North.  This work has also reminded me of the urgency of anthropological research – that it should always be seeking to make strange the familiar and the familiar strange so as to move towards a more empathetic and altogether more just world.  Afro-Jamaican working class women are positioned at the base of Jamaica’s race-class hierarchy, are often the victims of interlocking systems of structural oppression and are often blamed for causing the conditions they encounter.  As long as I can research, my work will always be positioned towards unpacking the social relations that intersect to produce marginalization in Caribbean societies, especially Jamaica.

But the process is what I will carry with me as I embark on the rest of this journey.

There is another way that this program has taught me to breathe.  It is the kind of gentle breath that asked me to be kind to myself, mind and body.  I’ve suffered from anxiety my entire life.  Lack of stability, security and the tentacles of poverty have done much violence to my personhood, but in an attempt to be productive, I had to face the ways I was not loving myself, even when I was given the chance to.  The night we sat around candlelight, having dinner, sharing ourselves with each other as a community, I learnt to breathe, to not police myself, but be vulnerable and live in the moment.  Today, I try my best to remember that.  And even while I was in and out of medical centres, body screaming in between blood tests and ECGs, I realized that the only thing my body really needed was rest, and care, and prayers and breaths and breaths and prayers.  I have not fully overcome anxiety, but I am on a path I’ve never trod before, one that leads to health of mind and body and soul.  I’m not crying, I promise.

I am grateful to this program in more ways than one.

I will end with one of my favourite poems from Nayyirah Waheed which best characterizes the turn my life has taken:

All the best for the summer, everyone.  Let’s keep in touch every now and then.

 

Reflection 5

This experience has been amazing and I learned so much about history of women and advertising, different ways advertisements affect our lives and what it means to be a working women in the US. But more importantly, I learned so much about myself and my own interests. After this internship, which gave me the opportunity to delve into the marketing world, I found that marketing is where my love for anthropology and business intersect.

I love my topic and thought my findings were really interesting. I started my research thinking that advertisements reflected the society they were in. As I looked closely to it, I found that there is more to it than the reality. Advertisements are really integral to our daily lives and our opinions on certain issues and through my project, I realized instead of just taking the information in, there is small details we, as a society, need to question. And those small details we don’t really think about set the standards for social ideals and normalize certain situations. Seeing how powerful advertisements are, I am excited to be involved in this industry, knowing that I could make a difference in this world through my contribution in advertising world.

Throughout these 6 weeks, I learned how to be a scholar. I learned the steps in doing a humanities research and that 6 weeks is really a short period of time to do a big project. I have so much more respect for all researchers now. There were a lot of decisions to make and all the small decisions I made were really hard. Before Digital Humanities, I didn’t really realize how every single decision you make shapes and your research in different ways and you have to be really careful with them, think thoroughly about every single one of them. They were all big decisions to me.

Also learning Tableau is another thing I got from this experience and I will show it off whenever I get a chance! I didn’t realize before I got into it how much it is used in business world, including data analysis. I can now confidently say that I know how to use this tool.

Looking back at it, seeing the title Digital Humanities and asking my friend who was a Digital Humanities Scholar last year what it is, getting confused, then talking to Sarah and just being super unfamiliar with all the tools she mentioned… I can say that I developed a sense of familiarity with digital tools now and the field of Digital Humanities.

Everything is becoming digital and adding this digital component to a humanities research enriches the experience. I loved my research, but I also loved building charts and galleries to support my findings. You cannot put 20 pictures on a paper, so having a digital platform to support your research only helps.

During my research, there was times I felt overwhelmed, stressed and rushed. Not knowing which direction to go as I started my research and trying to find a path, reading different articles on different things, talking to other people, all saying different things, trying to find data from all type of different resources… It was an exhausting 6 weeks and I would not be able to finish my project if it wasn’t for the people around me. All the librarians, professors, my fellow DH’ers and Sarah. I loved getting help from people, especially because I am the worst at making decisions, I loved having a variety of different topics and learning about all these different things and just having other people who were going through the same things as I did. And as the assignment says, this is only the beginning of a journey. I only have more questions now and I learned that questions push you to learn more. Next step is that I want to look at representation of minority groups in advertisements, maybe next year or maybe a few years from now. Doing my research, I realized there was barely any representation of women of color in advertisements and that is something I want to look at in future. So it’s not an ending, but only a beginning.

Fifth Reflection (Tedi)

On beginnings: It’s curious to think of how I started my digital humanities journey, full of hope and trepidation. Big plans had yet to be narrowed into smaller ones. Six weeks seemed to be a lifetime. Coding was merely a well-practiced dance of fingers on a keyboard. Though I’ve tried to carry this eternal optimism through my digital humanities process, imagination has ripened into realism. What was one plausible has become what is feasible. This, however, has been far from discouraging. There’s something satisfying, toothsome even, about grounding your fathoming in reality. The process of making, doing, editing and discarding is so organic that even forsaken ideas have their place in the practice. I can conclusively say that my greatest lesson from my digital humanities journey has been learning reverence for process. Before, I feared that my ideas would morph; now I embrace their inevitable metamorphosis. I rejected challenge; now I encourage the opportunity to absorb a new skill, however troublesome its acquisition may be. I do not want initial perfection; I want evaluation, revision, consideration.

On becomings: This respect for process has been evident in the archaeological dig of finding my research question.  But every draft, discarded or revised, lead me closer to my real inquiry. Truly, it was a process of discovering what I wanted to study, what I felt compelled to research. After time, energy, and a stack of library books, I discovered a void in the collective discourse on representation in reality television, and felt viscerally obligated to fill it. Likely my favorite thing about the digital humanities program was the allowance to study what I wanted to study, and the following process of discovering what that was. Never before have I been truly passionate about my research—and this passion was the product of process. I am grateful to process, for preventing me from pursuing my original research question, a topic on which I’m considerably less passionate.

On beings: Frankly, I feel accomplished. I truly believe that my research has made me more compassionate, considerate, and perceptive; in turn, I am certain that I articulated my project in a unique way, colored by the lens of my life experience, saturated by my complicated relationship to disability. Delving so deeply into the potential complications of life with disability has made me consider the physical impediments that disabled people face in many spheres of life; I look around campus and often consider how accessible it is, or ruminate on why I’ve never seen a student in a wheelchair. And continually, now and forever, I will consider how to be a better advocate for the disabled community. How can I discuss disabled issues without imposing the able-bodied white savior complex (which hovers, omnipresent) on every subject I touch? How can I be a better listener? How can I echo their ideas? Should I be quiet in order to let others speak? How can I do so when so few are talking and none are listening?

In this process, I have learned both the tangible and the intangible, of equal value. I have learned respect for process, but I have also learned how to operate Scalar. I have learned how to narrow the scope of my research just as I have mastered the art of the lightning presentation.

In truth, I have a complicated relationship with humanities. In many ways, I am more inclined towards simply “H” than “DH”; more drawn to words on a page than a technological labyrinth of graphs and tweets and maps and timelines. I don’t reject these tools, but I am resigned to ambivalence towards them. Frankly, I dislike how digital humanities pushes the digital, even at the cost of detracting from a project’s meaning but injecting flirty visuals. I believe that digital humanities exist for those whose work would better from these digital tools, but many humanities works do, and should, exist independent of this field (a field which so many are hungry to define). I believe that digital humanities should exist for those who pursue it, but should not be forced like medicine down the throats of those who are content with humble, unflashy academia. Those who care to evolve, may. Other may be satisfied with just the “H” in “DH”.

I feel an overwhelming sensation of gratitude to my advisors, my peers, academia, and to Lafayette for allowing me to pursue a research passion in such a conducive and assistive setting. I will be forever grateful for the skills that I have acquired, forever thoughtful about my place in academia, forever considerate about how to rightly advocate for marginalized groups, and forever glad to have experienced such an incredible research opportunity so early in my college experience.

An end to a beginning – Final Reflection (Camilla)

I must admit that when I first started designing my project, I was intimidated. I was intimidated by the amount of time I had to complete my mission, worried that my final project just wouldn’t be good enough. But over the past six weeks, I have gained confidence in my own abilities and in my work. These past six weeks have been enlightening in terms of just how much one can get done in a short period of time, my strengths and weaknesses, and the immense amount of issues unraveled over the course of my research adventure.

I have learned that the research process is a series of ups and downs. Last week at the Digital Humanities Meet up at Bryn Mawr, I listened to a member of Swarthmore’s faculty discuss failure. I began to reflect on my own failures, and realized more clearly than ever that failures are steps to progress. Failure isn’t stationary: it is a process in of itself, one which is sometimes necessary in order to succeed. My work continued to fluctuate: I bounced from mapping to data visualization to one form of web design to another, constantly waiting and wishing that something would sort itself out on its own, that suddenly the answer would be right in front of me, ready to put together. However, it wasn’t that simple, figuring out my project and my research goals was a pattern of trial and error, taking risks, spitting out ideas and eventually figuring out a combination that fit correctly. When I finally came across the ideal combination of research and conclusions and digital tools, the project came together much more smoothly and cohesively than anything else I had done prior in the process.

The bulk of the work that I have done during this research internship has been the process of discovery and learning. In the end, the project itself only took a fraction of the time; after all of my experimentation the direction I wanted to go in was finally clear. I was relieved and proud to have come up with a plan. I remember sitting in the classroom in the basement of the library for a few minutes after lab hour in week three and clicking the display button on my timeline prototype and thinking to myself how exciting it was to have come up with something so interactive and pleasing on my own. It felt good to design a project from beginning to end and to write a paper about what I truly am passionate about without a prompt predetermined by a professor. It was also an accomplishment I hadn’t imagined I’d achieve the summer after my first year of college.

Ultimately, this project has been a series of beginnings: from beginning my project and developing my research question (which flipped and spun in circles for weeks, I might add), to beginning a series of discoveries regarding indigenous issues, to finally, beginning a passion that might just continue to develop over the course of my academic career and beyond. My dad heard that I wanted to apply for this internship early in the spring semester and randomly sent me an article from The Guardian regarding Sami reindeer herding rights and said something along the lines of “how about this?” At first, I laughed. I didn’t think that I’d be able to form a project about a topic so obscure. I was sort of right in that with the resources available to me and the distance between researchers in Sweden and myself, the topic was too specific. But, I went ahead and tried anyway.

My project frustrated me, and the research available frustrated me even more. In the end, I embraced the frustration and the limitations to my research. I did what I could, and centered my research around the lack of data available. This way, whenever I present my research, I continue to raise awareness about the erasure of identity and the restrictions the Sami people continue to face today. One could say that it is my small contribution to human rights activism, a field I am keen on dedicating myself to in my career.

As these six weeks come to a close, I hope that I have been honest with my research. Early on, I discussed the importance of remaining objective when discussing a group far removed from my own cultural identity. I realized as time went on how difficult it is to convey Sami culture from an outside point of view without making accidental assumptions or categorizations – the very same issues I displayed in my findings regarding Sami treatment by the Swedish government. I did my best, and hope to someday be able to immerse myself more in this vibrant culture in order to understand it more deeply. I believe that with this challenge, I have grown as a thinker, as a writer, and as a human. While this project may come to an end (or perhaps not), the values I’ve learned to appreciate, and the skills I’ve gained will translate into all of my future endeavors. This reflection may be a conclusion, but this is really only an introduction.

Last Reflection

“Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.” Isaac Asimov

As reflect on the past six weeks, I think about home a lot. I love my topic not only because it is so close to home and I know first hand people who left home in search for better life, but also I am amazed what awaits those people on the other side. The decisions and challenges that a lot of them face reflect on their strength. I learned a lot about myself and the things I hold close in this process. By reading a lot about the refugee process, I appreciate that I have a place to call home, a luxury that a lot of refugees don’t have.

The process of conducting this research has been educational, challenging and frustrating at times. I wanted to do justice of the people I was studying and share their stories, so when I was stuck at some stages of my project, I felt I was falling short and not doing justice to my topic. Not only have I learned more of the history of my country, and how the rest of the world sees it, but also I reflected a lot on what I know about Somalia. I think about the stories of civil war that my mom and aunt would tell me when I was younger, and how that in a way shaped the way they see the world. My mom constantly reminds me to be grateful for the stability in our lives.

In this past year, as I got involved in Refugee Action and started this project, I am learning a lot about the evil in the world that forces so many people to flee home and leave everything that once felt familiar to them behind. Having the platform to educate myself about such issues, I feel it is my duty as a human being to at least educate myself about those issues. I plan to continue this process and contribute to this discourse as best as I can.

I am holding close to all the stories I read, and the people that I learned their stories and empathized with just by just reading about their lives. I want to leave behind my appreciation of this program to the next DH scholars who will find something they’re passionate about and commit themselves to learn more about it. I am grateful all for all of you for making this happen. It went fast, and I could not do without the help of each one of you. Thank you Sarah for all that you did for me this past year as my advisor and also in the last six weeks. You always feed me cookies or banana bread and I am going to miss that a lot.

“There is no denying that there is evil in this world but the light will always conquer the darkness.” Idowu Koyenikan

The Finale of Reflections

John Rodriguez

“You will take all you want from me
Oh, the innocence I lack
You will take all you want from me
But I will take it all back in the end”

-Eidola

I have love for my project, and the opportunity to do this work, because of the unexpected lessons I have learned about this country, music and myself through the duration of this program.

Firstly, I have always believed that change is possible. But this project has taught me that something greater than legislation has to change in order for equality. From Black Panthers to #BLACKLIVESMATTER, nothing has really changed but the time period. During Black Panther Era, activists complied with toning down their demand of complete overthrow of democracy for seeing more Black people in political positions; assuming that Black faces in high places would help stop Black death from government hands. However, still we are fighting and protesting for the same demands. I learned a while a go that the true definition of insanity is repeating something over and over again expecting a different result. And I wouldn’t say this experience made me a communist, but I have realized something greater than legislation has to change in order to make the greatest change.

From my experience of making beats and songs, I know that everything a person hears on a track is intentional; rarely anything is put randomly. Revisiting this album, but from a research perspective, opened my eyes to how deep an artist can go with their lyrics. One can tell their story, another’s story, or relay a message. After reading the historical ramifications of Black leaders using their influence to harm their people, and seeing Lamar’s struggle with complacency, I have vowed to use my privilege and power, as an academic student and artist, to never be complacent to injustices that occur back home and wherever. Not a lot of my brothers back home get the opportunity to research and gauge their interests, so I will make sure I always put on for them and myself.

Speaking of myself, working on this project has given me the chance delve deeper into my consciousness and analyze my own decisions. hooks’s novel Rock My Soul really opened up the conversation of what is self-esteem and how one knows their own mental state. It is intriguing how such a personal conversation is easier to hold with words on a page rather than with a person. Throughout my time hear I have also heard “the thing that makes you the most uncomfortable/scared, write that”. So, as a writer, I’ll hold myself to that and make more honest pieces.

The only thing I would change about my time here is that I wish I learned more about Sarah. Throughout your time of helping all of us, you’ve been able to see bits and pieces of our passions and interests. So far, I’ve been under the assumption that we would see each other face-to-face more over these years and that, then, I would have the chance to see your interests. But, what I have learned is that you are a great person that makes the absolute best out of what she’s given; thus, I am excited to see what is to come when you start helping others build their Digital Humanities programs. I already know I’m going to see the rest of you around campus so no need to get mushy like Daniel’s pasta.

“I’ll never lay down and die
For I am all that is love
All that is light
I’ll never compromise
For I was born of this world
To take back the night”

-Eidola

Final Reflection (Ben)

In addition to learning extensive information about the Sephardic Diaspora, the emergence of Sephardim, the conditions for medieval and early modern Jews in different regions and the various factors determining authorities attitudes them, this project also allowed me an opportunity to reflect on my role as a historian. Throughout my many weeks of researching, I found only a limited amount of primary sources from this area, illuminating the limits of historical reproduction. Most of the material I used was produced from a select group of well-off individuals and many remained anonymous. Thus, not just for my project but for all historical work it is important to represent the characters that I can but to also be cognizant of the majority whose stories gets lost through translation. These limits on history reassure my goal to make my project accessible to the public. By presenting these stories, I hope to teach the public about the events that occurred in this period but also to supply the grounds for them to recognize the limits and to reflect on the lost voices.

The field of Digital Humanities is not as straightforward as I initially predicted. The first few weeks we read a series of articles that attempted to define Digital Humanities as well as looked at one that  compiled Digital Humanists’ own definitions of the field. No two explanations were the same and some even pointed the frivolousness of attempting to agree on a definition. However, what revealed the variety and unpredictability of Digital Humanities was the diversity of our projects and our processes. Not only were all of our projects wholly unique, the course of action that we all took was one-of-a-kind as well. Even though multiple of us did mapping, we all approached it from different angles. Even when some us used the same digital tools, we ran into different problems and used them uniquely. The fact that we all, like the other digital humanists that presented at Bryn Mawr, have our own one-of-a-kind research topics makes it easy for us to have an affinity for that topic. Unlike traditional humanities research, there is more customization as a result of the digital component of the field; for this project there was an increased opportunity to create and to answer the question the way that I wanted. This sense of the project being even more original is why I have grown to appreciate not only my research question, but also my entire project, to a greater degree. In reflection, it was not just the questions that made our projects unique, but it was the way we approached them, the problems that we overcame, the choices that we made and the journey that we took over the past six weeks. I think that this path is what I really grew to appreciate. Looking back, it is knowing where I began, where I ended, and exactly what happened in between that allowed for the finished project that is most telling to me.

Knowing our my process is one thing, but being able to talk about it and explain it to others is another. This project, through the reflections, methodology and lit review sections of the paper, and presentation forced me to come to terms with all of the choices that I made. It forced me to be more conscious of every step in a way that other assignments do not. Furthermore, it forced me to be aware of how my research fits into academia more broadly. For the first time I reflected on how my work interacts with the larger community surrounding it.

This project was not just an exploration into one point in history. It was a meditation on history as a whole, on academics, and on my individual and unique thought process and approach to problems. In the end, the most exciting part of this endeavor is that the lessons learned here are only the beginning. Whether I continue to work on my map and website in the future remains up in the air, but the process the I underwent will continue to influence my forthcoming work. The critical thinking and the self-awareness that was required to create my own project from scratch will definitely prove useful in my academic, professional and personal life going forward.

 

 

 

The End, Beginning, and Middle- Last Reflection

“Every good story has a beginning, middle, and an end though not necessarily in that order. We are all great stories.”- Phil Kaye

Thinking about writing this reflection seems to the end of the beginning. Or maybe it’s the beginning of the end. Heck, it might even be middle of the beginning of the end. In this funny thing called life, who knows? This project has shaped me as a person and given me skills that I simply wouldn’t have had without it and the idea of reflecting upon these details seems to have a burden that might not be easily expressed in words.

The day I first uttered the words ‘city-building’ and ‘culture’ seems like a lifetime ago. I don’t think I would’ve seen the direction my project has taken me. From looking at hot dog stands in New York City, to thinking about doing research in Philadelphia, to finally deciding to focus on home, this project has been morphing ever since I started thinking about it. And I am truly glad to have accomplished what I did in six weeks. It’s not just the digital project, or the research paper- it is the combination of all the experiences that make up this beautiful thing called Digital Humanities Summer Scholars at Lafayette College. Much of what was learned can’t be seen on paper. In fact, most of it stays in our minds and hearts, not in the words we wrote. Who can explain the experience of being in a group of nine all striving for the same goal, all looking for success?

Personally, the project has definitely shaped my academic interests. I entered the program knowing that I probably wanted to go into graduate school sometime in my future, but not knowing specifically which masters or PhD program. For now, Urban Design and Infrastructure is what I’m planning to look at and it’s all thanks to this project.

It’s hard to think about what I would change in the experience of these six weeks. I think that there was a lot of things that were done well and some things that could’ve been better. In general, six weeks is simply not enough. The scope I had envisioned at the beginning of the project was doable, but considering I had no idea of the technical skills involved in creating the project (e.g. ArcMap and City Engine), it was simply impossible to do it all. A time frame of 8-10 weeks seems more appropriate. In fact, I don’t see why the project isn’t a part of, or funded by, the EXCEL program that the college has. It really is an incredible opportunity to do something self-led. In terms of writing the paper, I think that an annotative bibliography is important, but can be easily erased by having a first draft of the literature review in place of the bibliography. I also think that at the end of the project, drafts were too close in timing in order to be effective. Furthermore, I think I made a few mistakes in approaching the project’s content. I focused early on the tools I would be using, and not on the why. And although everything kind of (not really) worked out in the end, I didn’t create a very innovative, or inspiring, argument. Then again, research isn’t always inspiring? (life lesson learned?)

After a few weeks of consideration, I’m not sure that I will continue research on stratification specifically, even though it is a very interesting topic. Instead, there is a wide array of topics that have to do with urban planning and development that I haven’t looked at, even in Bogotá. I do want to think about publishing my article in an academic journal. I think it’s important that I go through that process, at least once- it gives almost invaluable experience. I am also interested in participating in INCUR and attending various conferences, as that is what I think I will be doing in the future anyways.

In our prompt for this final reflection, we were asked how we define Digital Humanities. To be honest, I think the water is even murkier now than it was at the beginning, especially after seeing all the different projects and ideas in a Bryn Marr conference we attended. So I don’t know if I have an answer. The closest I can get is simply a community that wants to be able to implement technical skills and tools to question human aspects of our reality. In the end, I don’t even think it’s worth defining. However, a debate I do want to see cleared up (at least in my mind) is the idea of whether scholars have to have a research question to implement Digital Humanities. I don’t think that you do, but all the programs I’ve seen seem to be geared towards that.

One important thing that I do want to mention is simply how grateful I am. Not only to the program director, Sarah, who has done a ton of work with helping us sort out the stories we want to tell, but also to my fellow Digital Humanities summer scholars. Many times, we don’t see the impact that we have on people, but as someone who is constantly looking at the ways in which people learn and interact with their environment, it has simply been a pleasure working and sharing time with you all.

Camilla, you’re seemingly endless drive sets standards and expectations for all those around you. You put a lot of work and dedication into what you do and I’m glad you weren’t discouraged by not finding the original sources you needed.

Maria, I’m glad you found narratives and stories that tell you a little bit more about yourself. I don’t know how many times you’ve had to say the word ‘migration’ in your presentations, but it’s truly remarkable. First migration, second migration, third migration…

Ben, I’m glad that there are people in the world that truly believe that events that happened more than 500 years old are interesting (that’s what history majors are all about, huh?). As our only rising senior, I hope you enjoy this last year at Lafayette.

Idil, I’m just glad we made it through using those digital tools. You take everything in with the calm and ease I wish I had and ended up with a project that seems to empower you, both as a women and as a scholar.

Jovante, keep on dancing. Don’t stop. It’s fascinating how dance and music prescribe both joy and an understanding on how we think about ourselves and others. Keep doing that type of research.

John, man oh man. You speak with so much passion when it comes to your topic. Sometimes you seem to lose yourself in the power of words, music, and especially, rap when talking about your project. That’s how you know you did something worthwhile.

Tedi (Theodora), I never once even thought about disabilities in the media, much less in romantic television shows. As you presented, it truly opened a new world of thoughts that I simply hadn’t been subjected to. Keep on eating mushy pasta.

Sarah, ah. I understand now why other summer scholars have kept the bond that you have created with them. Your continuing support is the only reason we get through the six weeks at all. Thank you for showing us an open mind and honest heart.

 

So, I guess I’m coming to the end of the beginning… or something like that. This has truly been a ride. And I feel like I should end this reflection the same way I started my digital humanities project: with a quote from Gabriel Garcia Marquez:

“We, the inventors of tales, who will believe anything, feel entitled to believe that it is not yet too late to engage in the creation of… a new and sweeping utopia of life, where no one will be able to decide for others how they die, where love will prove true and happiness be possible, and where the races condemned to one hundred years of solitude will have, at last and forever, a second opportunity on earth.”

 

Reflection 4

I realized that comparing the data to how women are displayed in the advertisements, I cannot make big generalizations about the motives behind creation of ads; therefore, I decided to keep my project as an observational study. Where I am struggling is finding high-quality images of poster ads in the 1940’s from reliable websites. I found a website that categorizes ads by industry and year; however, it is created by a person and not a reliable organization. I am meeting Ana tomorrow to see if she has any suggestions about which resources to use, so I think that will be helpful. I was not able to meet the professors due to summer time and professors not being in their office as often, but I am meeting one of them next week and e-mailing the other one my questions. Hopefully, that will help me settle my topic and what type of data I am using. Also, I decided that I want to focus on fashion, food & beverages and technology industries since they all have different audiences.

Another problem I am facing is finding the data on women’s occupations in the 1940’s. I wanted to compare the data to images in the 1940’s and 2010’s and then compare those two to each other; however, I don’t know if that is going to be feasible due to accessibility of older data. Skimming through internet, I found some data, but I need to look more deeply into it to see if it is trustworthy.

So far, I started playing with Tableau and I figured out how to make simple charts. I will try stepping into more complicated ones and we’ll see how that goes. I also need to figure out how to embed charts into websites like Scalar. I just created a Scalar book, but I haven’t decided on chapter names or anything else yet.

This week I will focus on going through the books I have left and taking notes, trying to create more complex charts on Tableau and find a more reliable website for advertisements from the 1940’s.