Tuesday, February 28, 2006

This process of editing a chapter was even easier than I could have imagined. By simply double clicking on the screen and adding the brackets, you can literaly add anything to the text. I edited my chapter for the first time earlier this morning before class, adding a history side note I remembered from a previous class. While I can see immediately the usefulness of this type of text, I think the reader should do one of two things before reading any text on the wikki. Either first read a hard copy of the text without using the wikki at all, or read the online version, however don't click on any of the links. I believe this is useful because when first reading a text the wikki might tend to distract you. When first reading a text sometimes the basic plot or even the setting might be hard to understand. While a bunch of links to side notes about all these things could be uesful, it would be more beneficial on a second read through. The first time reading any text the person's mind should be focused sulely on that text and trying to make sense of the plot by him or herself. After a first read through then the wikki shows its unique usefullness because now when the reader understands the story and knows how it will end, links to side notes about characters, themes, plot lines, etc. makes tremendous more sense and become even more useful in the analysis phase. However I must also point out the fact that the wikki still is remarkable because of the fact that books that would never be published now get a chance to live again. This fact alone makes it very valuable and I'm sure this type of text format will become increasingly popular. It still can't replace the feel of a book in your actual hands though!

Just wanted to add sorry about spelling mistakes if their are any, I check but I'm terrible at it.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

OK...so at first, reading online didn't seem so bad. I didn't have to go out and buy a $38.00 book just to destroy it with my marking pen. I didn't have to carry the book wherever I went with false hopes of sitting down on a random campus bench to read it. But then I realized how long The Fortunes of Perkin Warbeck was. And then I cringed. For the past week, I've spent more time at my computer than I have in the last two semesters combined. Contrary to popular belief, I'm not a college student who sits on his laptop day by day, talking to long lost friends online. You'll only find me here writing a term paper, shooting an e-mail, or (occasionally) writing a blog. But reading an entire 19th-century novel on my computer screen has been one of the hardest tasks I've ever attempted to complete. And I say "attempt" because I have not finished the challenge yet.

Dr. W-G is right: I've never read a book for an English project without a pen and/or highlighter in hand. I don't have the patience to write my notes in a Word document. So I'm forcing myself to remember almost everything I read. Not such a good idea.

That being said, I do find it a bit uplifting to know I can make a dent on this project with my own thoughts and formatting. To know that thousands around the world have access to MY work is pretty cool.

So, for now, I'll keep trodding through this "wonderful" technical breakthrough. Hopefully by the next blog, I'll have MORE positive things to say.

Until then....

Aaron

Thursday, February 23, 2006

-Think about how many hours we work in front of our computer desk for a day.
Well.. I pretty much live in front of my computer and I thought it was time for me to not complain about reading online for hours and hours. B.U.T.. I realized this is quite a work, and I found myself becoming impatient and keep looking at the clock. lolFirst of all, it was frustrating to realize that I still didn't get the plot right in spite of my second time to meet Perkin Warbeck.Secondly, as we all talked about this last time in class, my eyes and butts got tired and couldn't concentrate on very well. (but still I spend a lot a lot a lot of time in front of my computer doing homework, researching, writing paper, playing games, chatting,,,lol)

Since I could not mark or underline on the computer screen, I had to use my notebook and write down things that I want to look at later or things that I have no clue what it is about. It is good that at least we can highlight lines as we read. You know, some online text doesn't let us to highlight the text. One of my weaknesses was the fact that I was not familar with the history background. Their history is just..so....long.. Hopefully I can get through this novel and get something out of it!

Reading online is becoming very common I think. A lot of e-books are out there. I want to get used to it , and I hope I can and we all can find out more advantages as we keep working on it.
So far, my advantage of reading online is that I read faster than when I read a book which is good~ :-)
Oh brother... the readjustment period. As english majors we are accustomed to reading literature with "A pen in hand", according to Dr. Webster-Garrett. I find myself going through withdraw because of the pen loss. I've been printing out the readings becuase it's been such a hard transition. Don't get me wrong, I like the idea of the Web of Mind. I'm learning to love literauture in a whole new way, but I have to get used to leaving my mark on a text that anyone can read.
After delving a little further into the hypertext I found reading the text on a computer screen easier. Marking my place by right clicking and highlighting an area, allowed an easy return to where I left off.
Shelley has a habit of introducing a character and then not mentioning him or her until several chapters later. For example, she introduces Edmond son of Richard III in the first chapter and then he drops out of the story until four or five chapters later. Hernan de Faro appears in one chapter and goes unmentioned in another. Although with so many characters it would be hard to talk about them at the same time or involve them in the plot all at once. Sometimes her time line is a bit confusing as well. Years will pass and I don' t know they have until she mentions Richard is 18 and only a chapter before he was 14. Sometimes I'm confused by her style of describing action and get lost in her character descriptions. I do like her character descriptions. She does a good job of creating an imaginable, vivid portrait of her characters. However, she places her portraits in the middle of action. During an escape or a battle scene she stops the action to describe Richard's rosey cheek or a brave character's stature. Is this a characteristic of Gothic literature? She provides portraits of the same character repeatedly, especially Richard, Edmond, Monina, and Hernan de Faro.
At times she will mention a character's inability to speak English, yet following that announcement the same character converses with an English person. Richard eventually learns French but not until he has lived with Madeline for a while. I'm nit picking now.
I like her characters and I enjoy reading the battle scenes. However, her characters are too perfect in their chivalric representations. I'm not sure if that is on purpose or if I'm mistaken. They share many characteristics with chivalric characters; for example, they possess bravery, modesty, beauty, passion, intellect, piety, and many others. Futhermore, they exist in exagerated and idealized versions of what their counterparts might have been. In other words, her characters do not resemble reality. Her telling of history seems to be ensconced in a highly romantic, chivalric world.
I'm constantly surprised at how easily the characters fall for the plots of their enemies.
Just from making the responses to and initial research of questions and issues, my understanding of the text is better. I like responding to texts as I go anyways, but I like the prospect of conversing with the rest of the class.
Furthermore, I'm surprised at how short her chapters are and I think it would flow better if I didn't have to click back to the home page in order to start the next chapter.
All in all, I found the chapters I've read to be engaging, fun, humerous, sometimes confusing, and enjoyable. I like following the characters through the chapters, and her character portraits are entertaining and funny. Several times her characters will stop in the midst of escape and tell a story.
It would be interesting to read and compare the other Perkin Warbeck text that was published at the same time as Shelley's.
So reading on line is not fun. Luckily "Fortunes of Perkin Warbeck" makes up for the inconvience of having to strain my eyes until my head hurts. It has been such good reading that I have managed to keep moving through it, but it is difficult. I'd much rather be able to curl up on my couch with a blanket and the book and read, instead I have to sit uncomfortably with my computer in my lap. I also find it takes so much longer to read from a screen than from a piece of paper. I tend to lose my place constantly. I would much rather just buy the book than have to read from a computer screen again, even if it is convienent. I do like the convience of making notes directly to the page but that is about the only fun part. Well, got to get back to reading!
So far it has been a slow read for me because of all the adjusting of the text and it is hard to look at the screen of the computer for long periods of time. I do think that incorporating technology in the classroom is a good idea because it has become so much of who we are and what we are becoming. I also think that the blogs are a good idea, because for some it is easier to write their thoughts down on paper or computer then to speak them out loud.
Reading Mary Shelley's Fortunes of Perkin Warbeck online has definitely been an interesting experience so far. Reading it online is extremely difficult, after looking at the screen for 20 minutes in an uncomfortable desk chair, I want to be done reading! I do enjoy the novel so far, it's very confusing though.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Hello and Welcome members of ENGL 637 and ENGL 438, new comers to the Web of Mind! This blog space is devoted specifically to our interests as a scholarly community interested in the Victorian period. While you are required to make at least two journal posts documenting your experiences and reactions to the online text of Mary Shelley's Fortunes of Perkin Warbeck, I hope you'll bookmark these pages and visit them often whether to trade questions and info about class, to respond to one another in an informal and friendly environment, and/or to generally carry our community outside of our classroom walls.

Just as a conversation starter, working with digital texts is not something I envisioned for myself 10 years ago. At that time I was a teaching fellow at DU and a fellow graduate student went on for what seemed like hours about how I must integrate technology into my humanities classrooms. My eyes glazed over, I made mental notes about how pompous he sounded, and I generally acted like a luddite. That he was right is undeniable. That he was a little pompous is also true. People who are right and know it generally are.

Flash forward to 2001.

Lo! The time is now, saith the Presidents of the MLA and the ALA, to learn how to defend our selves and our discipline in an era of technocratic and shrinking funding.

It's a sad fact that today the humanities are often described as non-essential to creating competitive intellects. Point and case: President Bush's recent plan to help American students exalts the importance of science and math and ignores literature, the Arts, history, etc. Now, we all know that doing science and math well depends upon being able to read and critically think. These are the very skill sets literary studies is guaranteed to fine tune. But because I don't create a better rivet, something measurable in terms of the capitalist model of product relations, I'm often confronted with the assumption that the humanities have no lasting benefit for the individual or society. I, as is obvious by now, disagree.

But that doesn't change the fact that my field is changing. Classes are migrating online, academic publishing is going digital, and fewer presses are in control of what gets published. If we are to have access to all sorts of books, technology needs to become our friend, or at least no longer be our enemy, and we need to start creating digital archives. It's no longer satisfying or practical to sneer at the techno-geek (who makes a ton more money than I do, btw) from some lofty poetical position. I have to embrace my inner technophile and see the art and possibility of reading and authoring in this new context. In my opinion, if I have to go down this path of technology and books online, which I think I do, then I want to have some control over how this technology is developed and some insight into how it works and what it can do.