Sarah Kersh, Kathleen Jarman, and Georgia Christman (Dickinson College)
During the summer of 2015, the Mellon Foundation Digital Humanities grant at Dickinson College, funded a project to produce an online, annotated edition of a volume of poems written by Michael Field and entitled Sight and Song (1892). “Michael Field” is actually the pseudonym of two women writers, Katharine Bradley (1846-1914) and Edith Cooper (1862-1913). Self-called “poets and lovers,” Bradley and Cooper were aunt and niece, lovers, collaborators, and opinionated literary-society women. “The Michael Fields”—as they were known to their friends—are central figures, even if often overlooked, in late-nineteenth-century literary and artistic culture.
The completed project is an online, annotated edition that is appropriate for a range of students. It was built to be used as a teaching tool that will allow students access to both the poems and associated images, as well as background information for comprehension. A volume of ekphrastic poetry (i.e. poetry written about paintings), Sight and Song verses needed to be carefully paired with their corresponding paintings. The immediate access to images and interactive text make Sight and Song more accessible to students and teachers alike and brings to the forefront the current relevance of a text previously marginalized. Pushing beyond the annotation of the individual poems, the students also used Gephi to create models of repeated patterns and key words present in the poems and the paintings.
In this presentation, Kathleen and Georgia will detail their role in faculty/student collaboration and highlight the pedagogical and scholarly implications of using digital humanities tools like the annotation module and Gephi. Moreover, they will explore what it means to bring out of the shadows the Michael Fields—whose unusual biography and writings have the potential to resonate with current students.