Hello again, CHI community–I’m so excited to be back as a Senior CHI Fellow and have the opportunity to work with the wonderful group of scholars that make up the ‘22-’23 cohort.  My name is Katherine Knowles, and I just started my fourth year in the English department here at Michigan State. My research interests include early modern drama, affect theory, performance studies, cultural heritage, and digital humanities. I am currently working on the proposal for my dissertation, which is tentatively titled “Bodies in Space: Imagining Place and Producing Heritage through Shakespeare’s Plays.” I aim to explore the ways in which the cultivation of English heritage related to Shakespeare is heavily reliant on the subjectivity of space. Space is often presented as subjective in the plays, and this subjectivity has been transferred to the way audiences are instructed to react to performances and literary heritage sites.

Last year, I developed the Stratford Memory Map project. As part of this project, I created a website that featured a map of the cultural heritage sites in Shakespeare’s hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon. Each marker included a word cloud that showed the words most commonly used to instruct visitors on how to react to cultural heritage sites in guidebooks from the 19th century. Over the summer, I was able to visit Stratford-upon-Avon and take pictures of these heritage sites myself. As such, the project has changed slightly since the end of my previous time as a CHI fellow.

This year, I want to expand on the ideas from this project while taking things in a slightly different direction. I still want to focus on the cultural heritage industry in Stratford-upon-Avon, but I want to move away from mapping and word clouds. While I am still slightly unsure what form my new project will take, I’m hoping to perhaps take a look at the history of the Shakespeare heritage industry in England and how it has evolved over time. I think there is an interesting line of inquiry in examining how interactions with literary heritage sites in Stratford were curated via instructions in guidebooks, but I’m wondering if there is a better way to collect and represent this information digitally. 

I am very much looking forward to exploring these ideas further this year, and I’m so excited to have the opportunity to be a CHI fellow again.