Caitlin Jeffery

Exploring the depths of digital literature

No one ever really gets used to nightmares

To challenge how we read, I took a quote I really enjoyed from HOL “No one ever really gets used to nightmares” and cut it into pieces “No one/ever/really/gets/used to/nightmares” and went to and “click surfed” the synonyms. The synonym for no one was nobody, the synonym for nobody was menial, and so on. The sentence transformed and after 27 synonym clicks for each word it became “Negligence deadly abhorrent dread extinguished melancholy.” I loved dissecting the individual words and seeing them transform with each click in front of me. It was chaotic and fluid, like the book. My only rules was I could never use the same word twice. I liked how dark and nightmarish the sentence became and how deconstruction is a nightmare in itself.

I pasted the words into a cool hallway picture I found and made the hallway form the words. See below for the different pictures.

Final Version:

With Just Text:


No one ever really gets used to nightmares
Nobody consistently actually acquires accustomed hallucination
Menial frequently absolutely procures addicted aberration
Boring much exactly effects absorbed delusion
Irksome extravagant correctly conclusion immersed mirage
Vexing bizarre perfectly culmination rapt fantasy
Hassle grotesque quite consummation enamored apparition
Disagreement eerie just realization enchanted phantasm
Strife unearthly dispassionate grasp fascinated shadow
Competition sublime aloof embrace intoxicated obscurity
Antagonism outrageous cold entwine inebriated ambiguity
Antipathy egregious intense surround wasted puzzle
Loathing nefarious burning circumvent haggard perplex
Repugnance detestable incandescent emaciated complicate
Objection atrocious effulgent disappoint gaunt elaborate
Doubt flagrant radiant disillusion desolate imposing
Hesitation infamous lustrous embitter destroyed grandiose
Equivocation perverse polished irritate overwhelmed egotistic
Fallacy spiteful shining exasperate affected narcissistic
Paradox vindictive glistening gall damaged conceited
Enigma merciless slick animosity impaired vain
Bewilderment mortal icy antagonism debilitated ostentatious
Discombobulation lethal bitter hostility decrepit pompous
Stupor malignant sour malevolence antiquated pretentious
Lethargy fatal rancid malice repugnance archaic hollow
Apathy catastrophic loathsome revulsion obsolete depressed
Indifference tragic abominable horror extinct dejected
Negligence deadly abhorrent dread extinguished melancholy


House of Leaves: Digital Artifact

I played around with how the hallway changed and made a video with altered images of my hallway. The song is “Virgin State of Mind.”


Digitally Defined

How do you define something that hasn’t defined itself? What I like about Digital Humanities is that it is a new and emerging field. It is still growing and figuring out what it is and is organic in a technical way.
Two of the articles this week (“Digital Humanities Triumphant?” and “What Is Digital Humanities and What’s It Doing in English Departments”) referred to Wikipedia for their definitions and Wikipedia, to me, is digital humanities itself. Wikipedia is a collaborative effort to use technology to explore, define, and distribute knowledge to masses.
My favorite of the the articles was “Why Digital Humanities Is ‘Nice'”. The way Scheinfeldt writes about Digital Humanities reminds me of how Reddit is. Scheinfeldt notes that digital humanists are “often more concerned with method than [they] are with theory…the methodical focus makes it easy for [them] to ‘call bullshit.’ If anyone takes an argument too far afield, the community of practitioners can always put the argument to rest by asking to see some working code, a useable standard, or some other tangible result.” If you have ever been on Reddit (if you haven’t, go now), that is exactly how it feels. People often get called out to support their statements. It creates an interactive learning environment. You can easily link to articles, videos, pictures, blogs, etc. and from there learn more. It makes learning become three dimensional.
I also liked Mark Sample’s “Notes Towards a Deformed Humanities.” In regards to taking works apart and putting them back together Sample writes:

“I don’t want to put Humpty Dumpty back together. Let him lie there, a cracked shell oozing yoke. He is broken. And he is beautiful. The smell, the colors, the flow, the texture, the mess. All of it, is is unavailable until we break things. And let’s not soften our critical blow by calling it deformable. Name it what it is, a deformation. In my vision of Deformed Humanities, there is little need to go back to the original. We work…not to go back to the original text with a revitalized perspective, but to make an entirely new text or artifact.”

His take on a Deformed Humanities is a lot like technology itself. Don’t take apart and then rebuild a clock. Take apart a clock and make a radio. Digital Humanities isn’t about doing what has been done over and over, but trying something new. I went to a seminar about social media in the workplace and a lot of people talked about how life was better without social media and how it is ruining knowledge. I asked them if they just weren’t using it correctly. Most had never thought about it that way and were inclined to stick with social media=bad, but a couple talked to me after and we had a great discussion. Social media takes apart previous communication conventions and makes something new and that new can be amazing. Think about how social media has changed the way people receive information? When the Colorado shooting happened, I didn’t find out the next day reading the paper, I found out within a half hour through Facebook.
The Internet has the biggest library and is the largest classroom. You can learn anything. Heck, I spent a couple hours this week learning to do Cups from YouTube videos (video below, apologies for my lack of rhythm).
So what is Digital Humanities? To me it is collaborative learning through all available platforms. It is organic and pretty much anyone who has an online presence is already taking part without realizing it.

Anna Kendrick: 


The Printed Web

I am sitting here typing on my iPad, the tv is on in the background, and I have 4 articles printed out on my lap. Technology is beckoning me away from typing as much as it did when I was reading. How easy would it be to stop writing at this moment and start playing Angry Birds, surf the Internet, read a book, or do all of these at once? I used to be able to curl up in my bed and read for hours and now I have to push myself to focus on two pages of text. I relate when in “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” Friedman is quoted “[A] blog post of more than three or four paragraphs is too much to absorb. I skim it.” There is so much truth to this. I often find myself mid-article getting curious about something else and moving on and on and on. I may have started reading about maternity leave and somehow ends up on an article about cannibalism.

As readers, we tend to think we are a bit smarter, a little more refined in taste than others. Yet how easily any of us can get pulled into YouTube videos of cats. I spent a good chunk of my day looking for sloth gifs (so adorable by the way). But how is this enriching to me? I have a phone in my pocket that connects me to things in a way my parents generation ever thought possible. Who needs to know anything when you can Google it.

But while I love technology and the ability to access anything I could ever want to know, it does worry me about what it means for the future. I recently tweeted “Information: Our parents had to know it, our children have to know how to find it, we have had to do both. Curious what the effects will be.” Nicholas Carr asking the simple question, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” is something I really worry about as a mother. I grew with the technology and have familiarity with what came before. My kids were born into technology. You should see how my 5 year old can maneuver around Netflix or access apps on my phone or iPad. Heck she even me prized my password from watching me swipe.

I read “The Veldt” before in high school and I think I sort of wrote it off. Reading it as a mom, I had a physical reaction to the story. It made me sick thinking of technology replacing the parents. When Peter wishes his father dead and he replies “We were, for a long while. Now we are really going to start living,” I can see how the engrossment in our own technology is a sort of death. With Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. it feels as if at time meaningful communication is gone. I tend to call people less because I can just check up on them when I have time. It creates a selfish and isolated form of communication.

I don’t think we are at an stage where technology can 100% parent our children, but they can easily learn more from a tv show or iPad application than parents at times. I struggle to find the balance and I worry that my kids ability to access information whenever will make them not care to know or remember it.

In the end though I agree with Carr that technology is like books, there is a lot of garbage out there and you have to make the conscious effort to weed out the crap and find richer works.



Destruction as Creation

Talk about some beautiful words and imagery. I decided to reword it and create something new with the phrases. This was a lot of fun to play with.

Heavenly slant of light,
Teach it anything, despair.
When it comes, there’s a certain scar
Sent us of the air.

The landscape listens, hurt it gives us,
None may hold their breath.
We can find no shadows,
But internal difference.

On winter afternoons,
When it goes, like the weight
There’s a certain, ‘t is like the distance
Of cathedral tunes.

An imperial affliction
Where the meanings are.
‘Tis the seal, that oppresses
On the look of death.

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Ophelia is a Goner

All up and ready!!!!

Prezi Presentation: Death of Ophelia

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Criticizing criticism?

When reading any text it is amazing how many interpretations it can have. People of different classes, ages, sexes, perspectives, etc. each bring their own selves to a text. By being able to analyze a text in so many ways, you can dig into deeper meanings and discover things you would have never noticed otherwise.

If you were to look at The Importance of Being Earnest from a biographical criticism perspective, you would see how Algernon is based on Wilde and the plot is a satire of the world he lived in. By looking at it this way, you see how Wilde’s history and experiences contributed to what you are reading and it is important in your understanding of the text.

From a feminist perspective, you would see that all the characters have a fanciful idea of the lives they want to live. Algernon and Jack have the freedom to pretend to be someone else and live that dream, but Cecily and Gwendolen are restricted by their sex. Cecily reads books and writes stories, which was more accepted at that time. The most interesting piece for me, is that it is in fact a woman who has the most power. All their happiness is contingent upon the approval of Lady Bracknell.

Theories can lead you deeper into the text than even the write has gone. To his death Tolkien would argue that The Lord of the Rings was not allegorical even though many people could interpret the good west against the evil east as the Allies vs. the Axis. Tolkien may not have intended to make it allegorical, but one could argue that the world he lived in could have contributed to the text and be an indirect representation.

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The Importance of Being Who?

I love this play so so much. You have these people who live a lives of responsibility, obligation, and must live up to certain standards and as an escape from that world, so they create an alter ego of sorts. That alter ego gives them a freedom proper society doesn’t let them have. This of course leads to a hilarious turn of events once Algernon discovers Ernest is not being earnest and is really Jack. Algernon sympathizes as he has a made up ill uncle he uses to get away himself. Eventually they both pretend to be Ernest in earnest to woo the women they love. In the end they discover Jack is in fact Ernest and was accidentally earnest by saying he had a troublesome younger brother, since he discovers Algernon is his younger brother.

Algernon: “The truth is rarely pure and never simple. Modern life would be very tedious if it were either, and modern literature a complete impossibility!”

The best scene is when Gwendolen and Cecily are at tea and discover they are both engaged to the same person, but not the same person, and in fact no person. In the end you get a 1950s film perfect ending where everyone ends up with who they should and no sooner then they need to.

I think we all to some extent create alternate versions of ourselves in different ways. Some people do it by drinking and some just by changing what friends they are with. I know when I am with certain people I feel I can be louder, sillier, and crazier. It isn’t who I am normally, but it is nice to have a change of pace. When I am with my kids I tend to be more mindful of how I act and the words I say, so it can be refreshing to get away and swear like a sailor. Algernon and Jack just take it to a different level by literally being people they aren’t.

All in all this play is hilarious. Wilde’s play on words and witty dialogue is timeless. Love love love this play.


One may smile, and smile, and be a villain

This is probably my tenth-ish reading of Hamlet and I still love this play. The complexity, depth, and interpretation of these characters are just so rich that it hooks you in. Each reading I find myself re-evaluating my stance on characters, their motives, their meanings. How many works can you say do that?

I have to say, no matter how often I read this play I always feel bad for Ophelia. Don’t get me wrong, I love Hamlet and the complexity of the characters, but her character just breaks my heart. While it is often debated if Hamlet does truly love her, I feel in his quest for vengeance he punishes Ophelia. At the same time, she never has faith in his love for her.

I love the part when Polonius reads his letter to Ophelia to Claudius:

“Doubt thou the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt I love.”

Hamlet tells her to not doubt him or his love, but Polonius dissuades Ophelia:

“And my young mistress thus I did bespeak:
‘Lord Hamlet is a prince out of thy star.
This must not be.’ And then I prescripts gave her,
That she should lock herself from his resort,
Admit no messengers, receive no tokens.
Which done, she took the fruits of my advice;”

Polonius thinks that Ophelia rejecting Hamlet drives him “Into the madness wherein now he raves, And all we mourn for.” In fact, it is she that is driven eventually to insanity and suicide. Ophelia is very much a game piece in Hamlet, being used by her father. Hamlet is so resentful of females at the moment because of his mother cheating on his father and the events surrounding his father’s death, that he is completely distrustful. I really do believe he loves Ophelia, but he isn’t in the right mental place to do anything about it. This poor girl just doesn’t understand because she has no knowledge of what is going on in Hamlet’s head. Heck most readers are still trying to figure out what is going on in Hamlet’s head! When she rejects him as her father asks, it just adds fuel to the fire that Hamlet has against females and makes him more resentful because he can see she is being used as a pawn and wants her to make her own choices. After he discovers her death, he professes his deep love for her:

“I loved Ophelia. Forty thousand brothers
Could not with all their quantity of love
Make up my sum.”

In the end this is a tragedy play for a reason. Poor Ophelia.


The Art of Loss


“The One Art” is simply about loss. The writer suggests that by losing small things here and there, you will start to get used to loss and won’t be as affected when a bigger one happens. She starts with losing small things like keys, then names, and the losses keep escalating in importance. By the end you find out she lost a person and it isn’t quite as easy as she thought.

When she writes “I shan’t have lied. It’s evident the art of losing’s not to hard to master though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster” you feel she is having a hard time forcing herself to pretend it is no big thing. She is forcing herself to finish the poem.

As someone who just lost one of the most important people in my life, this poem hit a chord. Losing people is not easy and I feel like for other people’s sake you have to force yourself to move on and pretend it is easy to get over. People keep asking me how I am doing and am I alright. They really don’t want to know I feel broken inside and cry randomly. They want to hear I am better or fine because they don’t want to think of loss as difficult. They want to pretend, like the writer, that it is something fairly easy to get past because they hope it is so. But the loss of a person isn’t the same as losing keys. Keys, names, objects, etc. are all replaceable losses. A person isn’t.


defined as mom

mom: caretaker, hero, cheerleader, doctor, chronicler

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with Lans Nelson/Pacifico


Exploring Literature in a Digital Age


Living Between the Lines