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.

Reflection 3

This week, I decided to make some twists in my project. Instead of looking at how advertisements shape society’s perspectives, I am not looking at how advertisements reflect culture. Therefore, I will look at data on occupations of working women, compare that data to working women displayed in the ads and analyze if the data aligns with how working women are displayed. I also limited the industries I will focus on into fashion, beverages and food; however, I am still creating a database of ads and I am trying to keep an open mind and be flexible with which industries to use. I also found more resources to use including a master’s thesis on “Female stereotypes in 21st century news and business magazines” and the book Manipulating images: World War II mobilization of women through magazine advertising. Finally I started experimenting with Scalar and Tableau. I already feel more comfortable with Scalar, but Tableau is taking time to figure out.

As for the articles, “Putting the Human Back into the Digital Humanities: Feminism, Generosity, and Mess” by Elizabeth Losh, Jacqueline Wernimont, Laura Wezler and Hong-an Wu and “Toward a Cultural Critique of Digital Humanities” by Domenico Fiormente were about what we have been discussing so far. They approach the exclusive nature of the field through different lenses. The article “Putting the Human Back into the Digital Humanities: Feminism, Generosity, and Mess” approaches Digital Humanities, and the technology field in general, from a feminist perspective and explores the contrast between the greater awareness on structural racism and sexism in the US and failure of reflection of the movement in interdisciplinary academic fields. Another issue is the Wikipedia example given in the article; while trying to address gender imbalance, Wikipedia created more imbalance and controversy. The article closes by explaining that there is some progress being made to decrease the gender gap and increase the inclusivity in the field of Digital Humanities. On the other hand, the article “Toward a Cultural Critique of Digital Humanities” looks at the Anglo-American identity of Digital Humanities. Fiormente questions the Anglo-American nature of the field and explains that even though there are fields like Digital Humanities around the world, they are made invisible by the Anglo-American hegemony in the academic research field. He then goes on to explore the geopolitics of DH and concludes his argument by offering “federation of diverse associations” model and encourages digital humanists to engage in reducing political, economic and social unbalances.

When introduced to Digital Humanities, like Fiormente mentions in his article, I thought the distinguishing factor for DH was the methodology, the fact that it is a collaborative research and includes a digital component where the research/data is presented. However, reading these articles and seeing the politics involved in the creation and progression of the field and realizing that it is just a reflection of the male-dominated technology industry is disappointing. On the contrary, the fact that at least these conversations are taking place and the gender gap is recognized give me at least some hope that some progress is being made in making Digital Humanities a more inclusive community.

Reflection 2

So far, I have been reading Working Women in America which is about the history of women working women, women in everyday jobs and gender inequality in workforce. I also have another book Women’s Magazines 1940-1960 which is about gender roles and the popular press and that will be useful in determining how magazines were structured after World War 2.

I also have been looking up different companies’ ads over different periods and Bureau of Labor statistics. I am trying to find a pattern between different companies in similar times and the statistics on Bureau of Labor. Determining which companies’ ads to use and excluding or including the exceptions are the what I am looking into currently. Jean Kilbourne’s documentary series Killing Us Softly is also a really interesting resource about the ideal image of woman that ads create. Although the documentary series is not about working women and more about the ideal beauty, it is still really helpful and interesting.

Looking at other digital humanities projects, I really like the exhibit on The Archigram Archive Project and I want to have a similar exhibit for the ads I am using in my project. I wanted to make a timeline, but I don’t think timeline will work especially because I will be looking at specific time periods rather than a continuous period. I also feel better about Scalar and I think it will give me a lot of flexibility since I can create different tabs for different things.

I need to start narrowing down my topic, but there are so many interesting resources that I don’t know how to narrow it down. I will read all the research done and documents I found so far within this week and hopefully will come to conclusion.

I still am not sure which time periods to focus on, but I found lot more interesting ads after World War 2 than during the 1970’s; therefore, I will probably focus on ads during World War 2 and maybe a little after, since the later ones display women as housewives whereas the ones during the war portray working women. As for the current ads, there are a lot of controversial ads belonging to 21st century.