I wish that I had documented my process for doing this assignment. I didn’t do that, so I’ll have to piece it together from memory. I’ll link to sections of the LibGuide as I go. To begin, here’s an excerpt from the scope note I submitted in October.
Whitney Sperrazza’s HASTAC project is titled “Feeling Violation: Digital/Physical Approaches to Sexual Violence.” When I met with Whitney, she was not able to formulate a research question, but she is interested in finding out how digital tools and methods can be used to help readers “…gain new critical perspectives on literary representations of sexual violence and the writing and reading bodies interacting with those representations.”
I never got a clear idea of what Whitney is trying to accomplish with this project. It occurs to me now to ask what the readers she mentioned would do with those new “critical perspectives.” It might have been worth it to ask her what the existing critical perspectives are.
Being the Librarian
I’ll discuss my search strategies and my attempt to help Whitney conduct her own searches. Since I’m in school learning how to be a librarian, I thought I’d start with Library of Congress Subject Headings.
Subject Headings and Keywords
Below is a table showing the subject headings (grouped by topic) that were useful in my searches of scholarly databases.
I experimented with these keywords when searching Google.
- language of sexual violence
- dance therapy for rape victims
- art therapy for rape victims
- rape survivor stories
- rape survivor poetry
- sexual violence
- haptic aesthetics
The databases I consulted included Gender Studies Database, MLA International Bibliography, PsychINFO, and Counseling and Therapy in Video. I also suggested the use of Twentieth Century American Poetry.
Tips and Tricks
The search tips I placed in the LibGuide included links to pre-existing help content in the LibGuides environment. I also embedded video tutorials on using EBSCO Host and ProQuest. I got the impression that Whitney wasn’t looking for help from a librarian, so I hope she can at least benefit from the search advice.
In Their Own Words
Because Whitney was interested in how sexual violence feels, I decided to go to the source and find stories told by people who have experienced this violence. I searched Google using the phrase “rape victim stories.” This yielded lots of results, which says a lot about our society.
Whitney told be that she had been looking at Renaissance poetry and drama for depictions of sexual violence, so I decided to include other arts disciplines in my materials search. I gathered links to articles, papers, books, and images that touched on the topic. They can be found in the “Sexual Violence in Literature and the Arts” section of the LibGuide.
This painting is an example of sexual violence depicted in visual art.
Modes of Therapy
The LibGuide includes a section with links to information about art, dance, and music therapy. I don’t know how useful this would be to Whitney, but I felt I would be remiss not to address the topic of recovery from sexual violence. There is also a section titled “The Body and Movement.” This section includes links to resources about Laban Movement Analysis. If Whitney chooses to dig deeper into this area, I think she would need to consult an expert.
Tech Tools and Other Projects
Whitney indicated that she needed to learn about some of the technologies used in implementing digital humanities projects. I provided a list of web resources that discuss a wide variety of technology tools. I don’t know exactly what she envisions for the project, so I just grabbed what I could find so she can use it as a jumping off point.
I listed some DH projects that might be similar to what she wants to do, but I’m not sure that I hit the mark. She did show me a project that peaked her interest called “the real white faces of australia.” It is an experimental browser showing images of people who were affected by the White Australia Policy.
Now that I’ve taken a second look at this project, I’m hoping that Whitney can do something like it. She might have to scrap a lot of her initial ideas and open up to new possibilities, but something great could happen.
Wrapping it Up
I loved this assignment! I love searching for stuff! I think I need to do a DH project even though I don’t think I fully understand what one is. I’m not sure anyone really knows what makes something qualify as a Digital Humanities project. Maybe we shouldn’t use the term Digital Humanities. Perhaps, since everything done these days is touched by the digital, we should just do what we do, and then put it online. That’s a topic for another post.