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Erin Pevan

Erin Pevan

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April 27, 2017

Creating your project’s identity: What’s in a name?

April 27, 2017 | By | No Comments

For my last CHI blog pre-project launch post for April, I want to include a short discussion of the thought process and decision making that goes into creating a title for a digital project. It has been the part of my project that I’ve been sitting on for the longest time, deliberating between different titles that would best capture the attention of a wider audience and reflect the overall premise of my project. In the end, I decided to go for both catchiness (at least, in my perspective) and connection to the overall basis of the project and the narrative of the website design, both of which are based upon my use of and exploration of Norwegian literature for national identity markers. Therefore, borrowing from the sometimes-wordy, yet descriptive and fun, titles of Norwegian folktales, I decided upon a title that reflects my personal quests for exploring Norwegian literature while also explaining (in a subtitle) the purpose of the project. Stay tuned for next week for the project launch and you’ll see what it is!

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March 29, 2017

Snags and setbacks won’t slow me down

March 29, 2017 | By | No Comments

News flash: sometimes your project doesn’t go the way you expect it to!

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February 24, 2017

An organized chaos of Ngrams, corpora, and theory

February 24, 2017 | By | No Comments

At this point in my project exploring Norwegian national identity in literature over time, there is not much to report other than my continued progress knee-deep into the different pieces of my project. Over the past several weeks, I have been delving into different visualization tools to illustrate trends in national identity in Norway over time, and Ngram viewers (such as Google Ngram Viewer and Culturomics Bookworm, as well as a new fun Ngram discovery from the Norwegian Nasjonalbibliotekets Språkbanken repository) are the tools I am currently testing as my visualization for these trends.
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January 28, 2017

Circumnavigating the choppy waters of evidence gathering in Norwegian national literature

January 28, 2017 | By | No Comments

Recently, as I’ve begun to build my project and begin the first explorations of constructing the corpus of textual evidence through which I will examine national identity in Norway, I’ve been vexed with an epistemological challenge of using such evidence in my corpus that includes examples of literature, folklore, folk songs, and the like. Can such evidence provide solid, justified examples of meaning and knowledge based in truth, or is it a medium through which discourses of opinion provide problematic challenges in discerning fact from fiction? Well, thankfully, I’ve explored this issue before, and with recent input from the American Anthropological Association conference I attended this past November, I have found many ways in which cultural heritage research, and anthropological research in general, has made great use of the wealth of material that literature provides as evidence for such topics such as expressions of national identity. Read More

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December 27, 2016

Rifling through a stack of books: Examining expressions of Norwegian national identity

December 27, 2016 | By | No Comments

In my last CHI blog post of 2016, I’ll discuss the next steps of my project, expanding from my last post regarding the visualization of cultural heritage and ethnographic topics to the overall scheme and vision of my own project on Norwegian national identity. As with most large scale and content heavy projects, mine has evolved over these several months to this current iteration that not only serves as the main component to my master’s thesis, but also as the platform from which I can launch further projects that involve my interests in Scandinavian culture heritage, language, and the use of technology as the medium through which I can explore these interests.  Read More

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November 15, 2016

Navigating the visualization of language and identity in Norway

November 15, 2016 | By | 2 Comments

Since my last blog, I’ve ruminated upon the overall purpose of my CHI project; it first shall serve as the digital component to my Master’s thesis, and it second shall serve as that culmination of my background in history, information technology, and anthropology. But even more important, this project serves to digitally represent a somewhat abstract idea, that of the connections between language and identity, and to extend the examination of these relationships beyond text.

In these last few weeks, my project has been molded and shaped to fit this narrative that explores the connections between language and identity, and serves to answer questions regarding how language has become a marker for identity in Norway, and how these identities are expresses in forms of narrative, from literature to music lyrics to comics to art. This project aims to use forms of narrative to tell a narrative of language and identity, and what this means for the multicultural society of Norway – how, over time, the connections between political and cultural machinations have had a profound affect upon language in Norway, and how language has manifested as a marker for Norwegianness. In addition, I want to tell the story of how notions of homogeneity are challenged through language in Norway, and how identity in Norway is expressed in terms of the relationship of these different communities to the Norwegian language. This project aims to help reassert awareness of the importance of Norwegian language identities by providing a timeline of access to their literature and see, through examples of their literature, why language is a hugely important concept in identity formation. Some questions that have churned in my head include:

  • How is literature used to address and express issues of language identity in Norway?
  • How can a digital platform negotiate boundaries and barriers of language use and identity in ways another medium is perhaps limiting?
  • How can we use a digital map or timeline to show flexibility in language use boundaries in ways that acknowledge the complexities of creating boundaries of language use and identity? How are these complexities challenging assertions of homogeneity?
  • How can a digital platform be used to acknowledge perspectives and boundaries, such as those in a cultural, political, or colonial context, while still providing an answer to the question of how literature, through time, has contributed to a Norwegian national identity through language?

These types of musings become important for scholars to examine in the age where words become extremely powerful tools to express ideology, especially in the media, and in the case of national identity, expressive of what it means to be a part of that identity and whether or not your personhood reflects that ideology and identity.

The next step in this process of forming a digital project of a seemingly abstract idea is visualization. I must admit, my first step in this process was to create the tool, of which I felt I had a better handle, and adapt my story to the tool. However, in reviewing this process, I’ve now realized the importance of making your narrative the prime component of the project FIRST, and let the tools fall where they may. Tools for digital visualization are abundant in this day of open-source material; I believe that, given a good sense of creativity, storyboarding, and a lot of examination of the tools out there, you can create any perfect visualization to tell your narrative in a way that both conveys your argument clearly, while also generating a useful and exciting user experience design. If you create your visualization first, you run into the danger of limiting the bounds of your narrative, and what arguments you want to convey. Once I made it through this hurdle and really formed (for the most part) that narrative, I began that journey: how do you visualize the connections between language and identity in Norway?

In Wendy Hsu’s 4-part blog series On Digital Ethnography, available on the website Ethnography Matters, she explores the relationships between extending ethnographic research beyond text and into the digital world. A key component of this series is to consider the role and form of the digital medium as ethnographic knowledge itself. In particular, Part 4 considers the power of moving beyond print medium as a means for conveying ethnographic knowledge. In particular, she says

“If we open up the definition of ethnography beyond text and print, then we can start to envision a media enriched, performative, and collaborative space for ethnographers to convey what they have encountered, experienced, and postulated. Utilizing the affordances of digital media, ethnographic knowledge can be stored, expressed, and shared in ways beyond a single medium, direction, and user.” (Hsu, Ethnography Matters).

Again, it’s about keeping the narrative in focus, and molding those tools to best express your narrative to your end-users. In particular, she discusses the digital medium as a multi-sensory and multi-dimensional experience, including not only video, audio, text, but also through space and time. The assertion of placing a project within a spatial or temporal context to construct stronger arguments and provide essential information is not new to academic scholarly work, but in the realm of digitization, we find a new power in our ability to tangibly visualize this spatial or temporal context for a better user experience.

My next step in this project is to further ponder the different tools and visualization platforms that will best convey my narrative of the relationships between language and identity in Norway. I foresee a temporal aspect to this project, so utilizing Timeline.js might prove useful. Is there a spatial component? Possibly, since much of Norway’s language history is also tied to terrain, historical territorial disputes, and positionality of different communities. An ethnographic archive of different examples of Norwegian narrative searchable through space and time? It’s time to dive into the repositories and find out.

Reference:

Hsu, Wendy. 2013 Ethnography Beyond Text and Print: How the digital can transform ethnographic expressions. http://ethnographymatters.net/blog/2013/12/09/ethnography-beyond-text-and-print-how-the-digital-can-transform-ethnographic-expressions/

 

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October 21, 2016

Språklivet: Using Digital Humanities to explore connections between language, identity, and the problem of boundaries

October 21, 2016 | By | No Comments

Since my last blog post, the foundations of digital project planning have been arranged, and the next steps have been taken towards creating the framework for my CHI project. From learning the fundamentals of project management to work plan preparation to geospatial web mapping, the tools have been placed in our hands to begin the process of building a solid digital space that houses a compelling theoretical argument and visualized representations of our evidence.

I’ll be quite candid in saying that ruminations of my project have been lurking in my mind for several weeks now, further established and solidified as I continue through my readings course, a course designed to ignite those sparks of thought and theory in hopes of contributing to the development of a project. My ideas and their solidity were put to the challenge when an opportunity to apply for a conference in Göteborg, Sweden (Digital Humanities in the Nordic) presented itself and suddenly all of those ideas needed organization. And this is where I saw the efforts of the last several weeks of learning and challenges and collaboration exude through my project proposal.

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In preparing this proposal, I considered all the ideas (however general they may be at this point) I wished to considered for my project, as well as honoring my interests and greater research goals. In addition, I also took the valuable advice and direction from my graduate committee when considering the ultimate goal of this project, as well as the greater theoretical question I am aiming to answer, or at least attempt to answer. In this, several questions came to mine to start the framing of my project. They include:

  • How is literature used to address issues of language identity in Norway? How can a digital platform negotiate boundaries and barriers of language use and identity in ways another medium is perhaps limiting?
  • How can we use a digital map to show flexibility in language use boundaries in ways that acknowledge the problems of creating boundaries of language use and identity?
  • How can a digital platform be used to acknowledge perspectives and boundaries, such as those in a cultural, political, or colonial context, while still providing an answer to the question of how literature, through time, has contributed to a Norwegian national identity through language?

I envision this project wholly within a digital space such as a web map, or more simply a web site, in the most simplistic sense. The project itself will be housed within a digital space, utilizing a digital mapping environment provided through open-source platforms Github, Leaflet, and Mapbox, and enhanced through JavaScript and Python programming to maximize functionality and ease of the user experience. Digital mapping and the possibilities entailed within this structure allow for conveying the natural fluidity and negotiation occurring across language boundaries.

While the project has a long way to go in terms of planning, organizing, and really tackling that theoretical question, this is a start. Next week I will be attending a workshop in LEADR which will introduce 3D Modeling with photogrammetry. I’m not new the world of 3D modeling (I’m looking at you 3dsMax) but I am new to creating 3D models in conjunction with photography. I’m hoping this new tool provide an extra dimensions to a future iteration of my CHI project!

Erin Pevan

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September 29, 2016

Introducing Erin Pevan

September 29, 2016 | By | No Comments

Hei sann alle sammen! My name is Erin Pevan and I am one of the new CHI fellows for the 2016-2017 Academic Year. I’m a second year graduate student in Anthropology, currently working on finishing a Master’s degree before I delve head-on into the PhD. I’m a bit of anomaly in the department, a jack-of-all-trades kind of person, so my research and interests and experiences are diverse and expound. In addition to the CHI Fellowship, I am also a Bailey Scholars Program graduate fellow/convener and a TA in the department of Anthropology.

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