This post is part a series of blog posts by the Tri-Co DH summer fellows. Darcey Glasser (BMC ’13) is an independent fellow researching and creating a "Literature Lab."
I’ve asked my peers, who are studying everything from chemistry to Spanish to architecture, to define the word "laboratory."
The responses I've received have been mixed:
“A place to experiment and test theories.”
“Somewhere you conduct experiments to find results.”
“A place where machinery and tools are found and used for scientific purposes.”
“A place of learning, studying, and trial.”
What I have realized through these responses is that it is difficult to come up with any one definition, and what is even more interesting, it doesn’t seem a laboratory has to belong to any one field of study. After all, aren’t there theories and results in other subject areas? Don’t you learn, study, and experiment in architecture? Spanish? Even English Literature? What at first may seem a problem of semantics, hints at a deeper issue in academia; the divides we place between areas of study for the sake of productivity. My peers’ responses have inspired me to challenge these divides in the hope of eliminating them, or at the very lease broadening their definitions, and my first step is to create a Literature Lab.
What is a Literature Lab? Thanks to the Tri-College Digital Humanities Fellowship, I have been granted the time, funding, and most importantly, the support necessary to find out exactly what the words Literature Lab entail, and I aim to do so by using these words as, not only the title for, but also my inspiration for an interactive website that places the scientific method in direct conversation with the creative process.
A map of the site (below) illustrates the concepts forming the site as I am developing it.
As you can see, each slice is a piece of the scientific method, designed to guide the user from one step to the next, while still allowing for a creative fluidity between sections so the user can freely explore. In each slice are the tools and instructive goals for the user to apply these scientific themes to the creative process. For instance, here are two slices.
By the end of this lab, users will have used the steps of the scientific method to hypothesize, test, and draft a creative project of their own choosing. Using the tools provided such as a live chat option, writing tools, and access to a literary database of criticism, users will not only produce works but learn that creation is scientific and science creative.
This collaborative website is in fact itself a collaborative project. Thanks to the Tri-Co Digital Humanities and the support surrounding my project, I have been able to work with others who share a common interest in genre blurring. I aim to publish a working website by the end of the summer. This my first funded independent project and it is an extraordinarily exciting endeavor!