Saturday, August 23, 2014

I have a new website!

It's been awhile since my last post, but for good reason.  This past Spring, I attended job interviews, accepted a new position, defended my dissertation and graduated, moved to New York state, and created a syllabus for a new class!

I'm now the Assistant Professor for Interdisciplinary and Digital Teaching and Scholarship at SUNY New Paltz, and I'm teaching a 19th Century interdisciplinary digital humanities class themed around Sherlock Holmes's London. I'm really looking forward to the semester, which starts on Monday.

My primary reason for writing this entry is bittersweet:  now that I have a position as an assistant professor, I want to make my blog double as an academic portfolio, and Wordpress better suits this goal.  As a result, all future posts will be at the new incarnation of "Anglophile in Academia":  I hope you'll follow me there.

Thanks for reading and for your support.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

"Songs of the Victorians" at the MLA

I presented "Songs of the Victorians" and "Augmented Notes" at the MLA on Friday on panel 207, "Diversifying the Victorian Verse Archive."  Phyllis Weliver, who organized the panel, presented first, and Yopie Prins concluded our session, with Meredith Martin moderating.  Phyllis spoke about audio recordings of Tennyson reading his poetry and on how his wife's musical settings of his verse can give modern readers a sense of Tennyson's desired meter, since both musical settings and audio recordings expand our conventional understanding of Victorian verse.  I built on Phyllis' justification of musical settings of poetry as legitimate grounds for scholarly inquiry and explained how traditional print media is insufficient for discussing musical settings or archival preservation by demonstrating what "Songs of the Victorians" and "Augmented Notes" have to offer (you can read my paper here).  Yopie then presented on musical settings of Tennyson's "Break, Break, Break" using "Songs of the Victorians":  an updated version of her article on these settings, originally published in the excellent collection Meter Matters, was added to "Songs of the Victorians" for the presentation, and she used it to demonstrate the need for new publishing platforms to examine the expanded Victorian verse archive.  She plans to ultimately add this article as a permanent part of "Songs of the Victorians."

This leads me to my new update:  I have decided to begin the process of turning "Songs of the Victorians" into a 19th century sound studies journal.  If any of my readers are interested in submitting content to be considered, please contact me (

Our panel had an enthusiastic and invigorating question and answer period in spite of the hour (the panel began at 8:30am), rounding out our session.  Overall, it was an excellent experience, and I'm grateful for all the feedback we received and for the interest in nineteenth-century musico-literary studies.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

On THATCampVA and Augmented Notes

On Friday and Saturday, I attended THATCampVA held here at the Scholars' Lab in Charlottesville, VA.  It was a wonderful experience!  In case anyone is unfamiliar with the idea of THATCamp, it's an "unconference," where people who share an interest in digital humanities come together to share ideas and projects in an informal setting.  Rather than conventional conferences, where people read papers and attend pre-scheduled panels, at an unconference, people pitch panel ideas both online in the days before the event and in person, and the panels are then scheduled on the spot.  The panels often have someone leading the discussion or demonstrating a tool, but the majority of the time focuses on everyone sharing their ideas:  essentially, everyone is a panelist.  I attended a very informative session on digital pedagogy on Saturday morning in which we discussed such tools as NowComment, class wikis, class-wide digital projects, and helping undergraduates cultivate their digital presence.  At another great session, we learned to make twitterbots, and I created my own based on one designed by Wayne Graham.  During lunch, we all heard some #dorkshorts, in which attendees have three minutes to demonstrate a digital project.  We heard fascinating presentations on the new design and features of the Collective Biographies of Women project and QLTP, a project that helps people create editions of Latin texts.  I also presented on "Augmented Notes" and "Songs of the Victorians" during this time, and got some great feedback.  In the afternoon I attended a really interesting panel on tools to analyze audio.  THATCampVA was wonderful, and I'm glad I was able to participate.

In other digital news, the code for "Augmented Notes" is now up on GitHub. If you want to look at how it works and to play with it, you can fork it and make any changes you want!  Also, I added a new feature:  on the "Box Drawing" page, users can now click on the "Align Boxes" to make all boxes the same height.  This should help produce a cleaner archive page for those who wish their boxes to be uniform.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Augmented Notes Has a Sandbox

I have two important pieces of news regarding "Augmented Notes":  first, I have straightened out the domain name glitches, so visiting will no longer redirect you to  Second, I have added a sandbox feature so that users who want to try "Augmented Notes" do not have to have their own files.  Simply click here or go to the "Augmented Notes" homepage and click where it says "Click here."  Users will be taken to a site with sample files of Bach's Prelude No. 1 in C major (BWV 846) (audio recording performed by Martha Goldstein).  Users can then draw a box around each measure, set the exact end time for each measure, and then click "download zip file" to get a zip file with the html, css, and javascript files necessary for an archive page like those at "Songs of the Victorians."

Please try it out, and let me know what you think! I'd love to hear your feedback!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Invited Talk on Augmented Notes

On Friday, I had the honor of giving a talk, called "From the Parlor to the Laptop: Victorian Lyrics and Digital Tools," at Columbia University about Songs of the Victorians and Augmented Notes.  Alex Gil, the Digital Scholarship Coordinator there and fellow Praxis Program alum, invited me as part of Studio@Butler's digital humanities speaker series.  I really enjoyed the format of the afternoon:  first, I delivered my talk and we had a question and answer session, and then, after a short break, we reconvened for a workshop in which I walked the participants through making their own website with Augmented Notes.

In my talk, I first explained the purpose and rationale behind building Songs of the Victorians, demonstrated the how archive and analysis pages work, and explained the design principles that governed the project.  Then, I shifted to a discussion of Augmented Notes.  I explained that I wanted to help other scholars build sites like Songs of the Victorians without needing the programming experience that I had to develop.  I demonstrated how I took my initial project and built a generalized, public humanities tool to help further scholarship and pedagogy.  I also gave a brief demo of the tool, which I showed off in more depth in the workshop.  The tool has changed slightly since I last wrote about it on this blog, so here is the new order of the steps:

1. Users upload three things to make an archive page: ogg and mp3 audio files (an ogg is necessary because firefox can't play mp3 files) and pages of the score. Users can optionally upload an MEI file.
2. The site then takes users to a page where they click and drag to draw boxes around each measures (they can also edit the sizes and order of these boxes); these boxes are what highlights each measure in time with the music.
Box Drawing Page: Boxes are red as they are being drawn (through clicking and dragging) and grey once they have been created.  Users can edit the boxes by changing their size and order and also delete them.

3. The site then takes users to a page to set the time data:  they hit the "save" button at the exact second each measure ends to record that time.  The site brings together the measure and time information, which enables each measure of the song to be highlighted in time with the music.

Time Edit: Users click on the "save" button at the exact end of every measure, which records that time in the open boxes at the right.  
4. Users then click "Download zip" to download a zip file with the html, css, and javascript files necessary for a complete archive page, which they can then style themselves. A sample resulting html file is below:

I was very grateful for all the fascinating suggestions and feedback I received in the question and answer period.  Some people suggested that I should consider altering the box-drawing tool to let users draw any shape they want:  this would let users circle individual notes and entire phrases.  At some point, I would love to add this functionality, although I will not have time to build it until next fall, because I am currently teaching, finishing my dissertation, and going on the job market.  I was also pleased to hear that some people are planning to use my tool for the classroom, especially in music appreciation or introductory music classes to help beginning music students follow along.

If you have any comments on the new features in Augmented Notes or ideas for future features, please do let me know! I'd love to hear your feedback!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Rails Girls: A Programming Space for Women

On Saturday, I was one of a number of coaches for Rails Girls at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.  This wonderful event is designed to help teach women the basics of Ruby and Ruby on Rails, and to ultimately help them build an application.  It was an excellent experience:  I was so impressed with how quickly all the attendees picked up the basics of the command line, programming, and web development.  

For those of you who would like to see exactly what we covered, we first went through much of Ruby in 100 Minutes and then jumped right in with building a Ruby on Rails address book application that lets users input their name, twitter info, picture, bio, and address, and then plots the address on a map.  Students who wanted a further challenge then followed instructions to put their app online using Heroku.  For example, Elizabeth Hopwood, one of the attendees I worked with, put her excellent app online and populated it with "Downtown Abbey" characters. 

I'm so grateful to Jeri Wieringa and Celeste Sharpe for organizing this event.  I'm thrilled to have been part of something that helps teach women how to code and that can actually help change the programming culture:  on numerous occasions at conferences, I've had people insist that I couldn't have created my two digital projects and that, as a woman, I must be taking credit for the programming work of a man.  Programs like Rails Girls can help change those horrible perceptions, by helping women feel welcomed into coding and into a supportive programming community and by publicly claiming programming spaces for women.  

I look forward to hearing of future Rails Girls events, and I hope to volunteer as a coach for other similar nearby programs in the future.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Songs of the Victorians is complete!

I am happy to report that with today's release of Arthur Somervell's "Come into the Garden, Maud" (1898), Songs of the Victorians is complete! This song joins three others--Caroline Norton's "Juanita" (1853), Michael William Balfe's "Come into the Garden, Maud" (1857), and Sir Arthur Sullivan's "The Lost Chord" (1877)--and, as before, includes an archive page (which includes a high-resolution scan of the first edition printing of the song integrated with an audio file, so each measure is highlighted in time with the music) and an analysis page (which includes an article-length essay on the song's interpretation of the poem it sets with musical excerpts of the score that are highlighted in time with the music).

Unlike Balfe's parlor song setting of the same text, which was designed for home performance and uses harmonic changes to critique the speaker's insanity, Somervell's art song setting was designed for public performance in a concert hall and presents a more sympathetic portrait of the speaker.  Although the song has harmonic irregularities, they are of short duration and therefore appear hidden in the song even more than in Balfe's setting.  This results in a musical depiction of the speaker from within the prison of his own mind rather than a critique of him from an external perspective.

Although Somervell's setting marks the end of this stage of development for Songs of the Victorians  the project will not lie dormant.  I plan to add new material over the next few years, and I am also seriously contemplating accepting submissions from other scholars (I have already had some volunteers) starting in the fall of 2014.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on Songs of the Victorians:  it's always nice to hear feedback, so leave comments below!

Keep following this blog for updates on future plans and for development information on Augmented Notes!