Changing Perspectives on English

Over the duration of this Digital Humanities course so far, the way I view English as a language and subject, literature, and reading have all changed in different ways when I compare my new perspective to past experiences I have had with these concepts. I used to only see English for reading and writing it. However, the inclusion of Humanities in this English course taught me that there is much more to English than just reading poetry or prose and writing essays based on analysis. Although there are educational benefits to these types of English classes, it is more relatable to apply the concepts of the Humanities in a digital form as this relates more to the world we live in currently.

I have learned that annotating is a significant part of reading and writing. It helps to keep track of your thoughts, ideas, questions, and connections to the text. Something that Digital Humanities has contributed to the way I go about doing this is by using an online journal to organize the things I have learned throughout the course and ideas I have about what I am reading in the various texts. It has been helpful to learn how to use VS Code and go about keeping all of my journals in a folder that I could later submit and share with others on GitHub, which is another platform I learned how to use and push files to. This very blog post is a new experience for me as I have never used this type of platform to organize my thoughts surrounding these new considerations of the Humanities and share them with my peers.

In terms of literature, I only wrote essays and research papers on what I read in my previous English classes. After taking ENGL 340, I know there is a greater variety of ways to analyze what I read including journals, timelines, and examining the reoccurrence of words in a text in order to decide which words are significant and which are stop words. It was also different to look at various versions of books like we did with Walden. A lot of times, we don’t consider anything other than the book we are reading, but there is so much more to the process of writing than the published book in our hands. There is a long process of adding new ideas and narrowing down or taking things out that may not belong or may not pertain the the interests of readers. It was a change to consider just how different one version of a book can be from another and to think about the reasons each change might be. I learned that literature can incorporate Humanities and the ways our lives have changed over time based on technology, communication, what we prioritize, etc.

This class opened my eyes to more genres of literature outside of what I typically read. My other English classes involve reading 18th-century English literature and African novels, folklore, and even art as this is also a form of literature. The readings for this class have very different content than books like “The Information” and “Walden” do as there is less emphasis on the plot and literary elements, with more of a focus on the concepts, history, and the way the ideas about technology and the humanities make you think about your own life and experiences. The books read in ENGL 340 gave me a new perspective on what literature can ‘be’ as what “qualifies” can often be misread of undermined. Although not all parts of the course were based on reading and writing, we still used concepts of studying English and using resources like our own technology (computers) to share our ideas and consider our individual thoughts about humanity, technology, and how this has developed over the course of history.

As the entire world is in a unique situation with the threat of COVID-19, this course has had even more of an impact on my view of the world around me, especially being a college student learning remotely. It has caused me to reflect on the impact of technology on my life and how different things are when it comes to staying connected when you are being asked to stay away from them to prevent the spread of the virus. The way news and information has been shared regarding the coronavirus has also changed the way I see technology and the concepts involved with the Humanities. I will never be able to view life the same as I did before living through this pandemic, but this doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. Instead, I can remember this time of struggle as a learning experience to influence how I continue to live my life and interact with those around me, as well as how I consider what I have to appreciate about what resources I have to get me through such a difficult and trying time.

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