Starting at Zero

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I came to the digital humanities because of my love for zombies. It might seem like a strange leap: from the undead to learning about archives, big data, interactive maps, html and coding. But I realized there was no centralized location where a zombie enthusiast and/or researcher could go to find all cultural production about zombies: film, literature, visual art, music, etc. My long-term goal is to build a comprehensive archive with an interactive map, where lovers of zombies and researchers alike will be able to find everything zombie, and cross-reference based on keywords. You can see what I have created so far here: http://thezombiearchive.com/.

It’s been a long process that is far from over. So far, I have been able to list most novel and nonfiction about zombies through the present, and films about zombies through the 1970s. Luckily, there are some full films available on YouTube, but I’m still in the process of summarizing plots and finding scholarly articles about these films and books. I also find myself constrained by the WordPress format. Hopefully, as I learn other programs, like Omeka, my project will be able to expand and take the shape I envision for it.

It feels like I came to DH as a blank slate. DH was just a bunch of zeroes and ones to me, not a language that could create something new; tools and resources that build archives and transform information that could be used, not only in the classroom, but for research purposes. When I joined our department’s Digital Humanities Working Group, I felt that I had a lot of catching-up to do, since the discussions surrounding DH had been taking place for years before I was attuned to them. Lori Brister and the other ladies of the group—I feel so thankful for all their patience and help (not only for their help with DH, but for their advice on teaching, writing, dissertating), and for making me feel like the group is also mine—have pointed me to amazing sources about discussions in the digital humanities, particularly Stephen Ramsay’s blog and Mathew Gold’s Debates in the Digital Humanities. I’ve also been starting to learn HTML and CSS at Codecamy, which is surprisingly fun and makes me feel like I have some sort of strange street-cred (which is a discussion I find particularly interesting: can you be a DHer without “building”? What does “building” entail?). This is all to say that I’m super excited to keep learning and building my project! Next steps: find a good (and free) mapping tool. More soon…

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