I am interested in the debate here between sentimentality in the construction of digital narratives of oppression, like the example from your class, and the appropriation of that sentimentality in consumer culture, which the IKEA commercial mocks. The IKEA commercial and a narrative of sentimentality and material culture reminds me of a similar story on NPR on The Afterlife of American Clothes, which I listened to last night, but it plays with sentimentality in a different way.
The project you shared, to me, seems to adopt what I perceive to be tropes of sentimentality, particularly the images shared, but I do not think that they are thus ineffective. In genre studies particularly, we talk about the expectations that our reader has for a work to match a certain number of expectations. I think here, also of rhetoric and the notion of pathos or an appeal to pity/emotion. Rhetorical studies have looked at pathos in great deal, both in its effectiveness and in how overplaying pathos hurts an argument. I wonder if rhetorical studies might help to frame this narrative question?
I wonder how these fan-made versions of zombie narratives both differ from and mirror the mainstream zombie narratives of the Romeros, Kirkmans, and Boyds of the world. Are genre conventions typically subverted or is the opportunity used to expose, play, and/or circumvent the tropes of the genre?
Additionally, what is it that makes zombie narratives such an appealingly fertile ground for fan-made or independently-funded projects while other horror genres (vampire, lab monsters, etc.) don't enjoy that sort of attention?
I was so excited when I saw the title of this post. I have been teaching a zombie literature/composition course for the past few years. The course traces the zombie (narrative) from the first zombie stories to the present. I require the students to write a zombie story at the end of the course. Many of the students post and share their stories on zombie fan sites. Some have even turned their stories into YouTube videos.
Prior to this, I never considered technology's impact on the zombie narrative beyond improved graphics in zombie films. Technology has provided zombie fans agency that many other fan cultures have had for several years. This post has started the wheels turning in regards to how the change in zombie narrative will impact the apocalyptic rhetoric often associated with zombies and the rhetoric of zombies in general.
I think varying the line thickness or color to symbolize the difference between narrative and discourse time is a fantastic idea. I agree that this project could be done with multiple static print maps, charting the author's journey, but you're right that a digital map offers so much more in the way of layers and visualization tool. I've been playing with adding layers to the base map, and I like the freedom it gives users to isolate certain features on the map or see multiple elements at once. I'm still so new to ArcGIS and the digital mapping world that I have to remind myself to think beyond the static map and instead imagine the interactive possibilities of a digital map. Thank you for your suggestions.
Jamie, Thank you for the suggestions. I've heard of Neatline, but I haven't explored its capabilities for this specific project yet. I think you're right that it could help me address some of the issues I ran into with imagining the space of the narrative. I'll check it out!
There is a lot of power in digital archives and individuals have more power over their public image than every before, but what do you think of the fact that this agency is folds hand-in-hand with consumption? For instance, Facebook offers us a plethora of easy to use tools to archive ourselves, but what it is hoping we do is create the best possible profile with which to sell us things. In one sense, this is the price we pay to use the tools, because nothing comes for free. Likewise, our attempts to maneuver around the consumptive nature of Facebook (like installing adblockers) force the company to, well, become more annoying and drop ads into our Facebook feed disguised as friend's posts.
A question I keep coming back to about materiality is what we hope to capture in the process as well. Your example of the Carlyle letter serves as a great example. Access to the archive seems blissfully open access. Yet, when their letters are typed out and translated within text, what do we lose in the process. I did not see a way to see a scanned image of the original letter. I already have the desire to see the original letter, to see if the handwriting changes at any point, if there are any notes are anything included with the letter. While I am sure this is more readable than the handwritten letters, I wonder how to get access to the original. I am not sure that I am properly describing what I mean, but ultimately, digital archives have a narrative of their own, that they are better and more accessible than geographical archives, but I wonder what the rubric for that statement is.
Jordan, as you have been in the process of learning ArcGIS, I was wondering if you have seen Neatline. I was at UVA for a THATCamp and they were discussing it there. It seems like a tool made for the kind of work you are doing. It's hope is to narrativize spatial data. Maybe, though ArcGIS is better at the coding/backend work and Neatline is better at visualization. I plan to play more with it when I have some free time.
I find the proposed digital maps to be a fascinating tool for conveying a large variety of information about a text. Of course, you could make a static map within a print medium, but I can imagine a great number of ways in which digital media can expand that presentation. For example, in depicting the path of this journey, you could vary line thickness or colour in order to provide visual clues on the divergence between narrative and discourse time with thicker lines or "warmer" colours showing the places where a greater amount of discourse time is devoted to that location.
Depending on the coding skills put to use in constructing such a project, a digital map could have additional features which a viewer could hide or display. This would allow you to display the frequency of words or phrases which affect the narrative, such as moments of retrospection. Using your example of the Sedgwick's comparison to New York, you could use digital tools to search for and graph references to American locales, perhaps in contrast to the narrator's own historical imagining of what the local would be like. Also, you could use such a digital map to mark which locations provoke moments of reminiscence, using the digital text to search quickly for words like "remind" and "remember." There are definitely many avenues in which a digital map allows you provide visual clues of the varying narrative moments within the work
And NOW I'm really excited to get another Digital Writing course. I would love to teach a segment on vine (or other social media) and identity. Thank you for these resources and for the great ideas!
You make a great point about college students' online identities, and I think of this in terms Susan D. Blum outlines in her book My Word! Plagiarism and College Culture, Cornell University, 2009. She sees today's college student as adept at performing many selves, and one of those is, as you point out, this sort of broad entertainer-identity associated with social media. Blum brings Sherry Turkle into the discussion with Turkle's question that I think is important to our conversation here: "Do our real-life selves learn lessons from our virtual personae?" ( Turkle qt. in Blum 79) This would make a great starting point for a critical assignment that engages students with something like Vine—which is just plain so much fun to work with. So, for example, instead of qualitatively evaluating a Vine according to its entertainment value, create the opportunity for students to think about the different ways they present themselves in different parts of their lives, and perhaps challenging them to bring those identities into new places—?