751 Matching Annotations
  1. Apr 2016
    1. the end toward which the Web is evolving

      But what's great about the Web is that it isn't static--how can we say that there's an end it's evolving toward?

    2. ideo gameplay (and this was especially true in an arcade of the 1980s) is necessarily a hybrid experience, bodily as well as mental.

      This is the thesis, in brief. And it's useful: we should dispense with words like "disembodied," which occlude our understanding of the ways our bodies inhabit virtual spaces via real interfaces in material ways.

    3. MacDonald’s

      I love that academics don't even know how to spell McDonald's.

    4. From a different perspective, McGann and Johanna Drucker’s Ivanhoe project is a practical experi-ment developed to use dynamic digital simula-tions in a gamelike environment to explore the ongoing reception histories of literary works (see Rockwell). I

      Yay! #ivanhoe

    5. He advocates a “quantum poetics” in which texts are seen not as “discrete phenomena” but as non-self-identical events that include the position and engagement of the scholar (Radiant Textuality228–31)

      Cool extension of the good/old model of Iser: not only is a new text produced by each reader/reading, but neither reader nor text is a stable unit outside of the encounter of reader/text. Similarly, in the above reference to Hayles, one can't isolate the cultural forms of Web 2.0 media from the subjectivities that experience them, since the two sides constitute each other anew, constantly.

    6. The author’s avatar visiting an educational site in Second Life

      I don't know why I find this so hilarious. Can someone tell me?! Nominees for thought bubble addition to scene?

    7. Flying avatars are fun, as I’d be the first to admit. But the overall experience of Second Lifeduring any given session is much less totally immersive, self-contained, and disembodied than the uninitiated might have been led to be-lieve.

      What did we once think the future would look like? How does the future look now? Why is the fantasy of "disembodiment" in virtual reality naive? How does the author describe the interface between one's body and the visual phenomena onscreen in 2ndLife?

    1. Gamification offers this exactly. No thinking is required, just simple, absentminded iteration and the promise of empty metrics to prove its value. Like having a website or a social media strategy, "gamification" allows organizations to tick the games box without fuss. Just add badges! Just add leaderboards!

      "Don't forget to follow me on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat!" Brands and companies have been reaching out to their fans much more often as of late, not only to reach more individuals but to also further push their products upon a greater number of people.

      Here are some "epic company twitter fails" for your enjoyment.

    2. because games are systems, they offer a fundamentally different way of characterizing ideas.

      Systems that undermine other systems.

    3. They realize that commercial games are big and shiny and cost millions or tens of millions of dollars.

      Interestingly enough, with the growth of free and open source resources online, and the establishment of game platforms like Steam and Origin, indie games have become their own genre!

    4. People know that there's something magical about games. They don't always express that opinion positively, but even condemnations of video games acknowledge that they contain special power, power to captivate us and draw us in, power to encourage us to repeat things we've seemingly done before, power to get us to spend money on things that seem not to exist, and so forth.

      Power to draw us into a story's narrative.

    5. Katy Perry earworm

      Funny that he is pooh-poohing Katy Perry in the first sentence.

    6. Organizations ask for loyalty, but they reciprocate that loyalty with shams, counterfeit incentives that neither provide value nor require investment.

      Bogost has a LOT of feels...

    7. Games or points isn't the point -- for gamifiers, there's no difference. It's the -ification that's most important. Zicherman makes the point for me: "What gamification does is allow marketers to focus on what they know best -- convincing consumers to take loyalty and purchasing actions -- using a powerful toolkit of engagement gleaned from games."

      Don't games, in essence, require points, winning and losing? The reason games fit so perfectly into the domain of education is because they are a quantitative measure.

    8. When people complain that "serious games" is an oxymoron miss the point: it's supposed to be an oxymoron. When people hear "serious games," this contradiction is foregrounded and silently resolved.

      LOL just got called out HARD.

    9. Most recently, Serious Games have offered another, more general attempt to expand games' scope

      Personally, the idea of "serious games" seems like a bit of an oxymoron; the attraction of games is to take something mundane, such as certain aspects of education, and approach them from a new, progressive way. If we are "gamifying" things just to maintain their "serious" nature, isn't this counter-productive to our efforts?

    10. It connects gamification to other, better known practices of software fraud. These include malware, spyware, and adware. While some uses of -ware still have positive or neutral associations (shareware, freeware), people are more familiar with the more nefarious variants, thanks to negative press coverage of software exploits.

      To call malware, spyware, and adware "software fraud" is a bit light, isn't it? Doesn't that make this point... fraudulent?

    11. Organizations ask for loyalty, but they reciprocate that loyalty with shams, counterfeit incentives that neither provide value nor require investment.

      Another emotional point. Your argument crumbles with your flawed logic. You're forgetting intrinsic subjective value - who are you to dictate subjective experience?

    12. Gamification offers this exactly. No thinking is required, just simple, absentminded iteration and the promise of empty metrics to prove its value. Like having a website or a social media strategy, "gamification" allows organizations to tick the games box without fuss. Just add badges! Just add leaderboards!

      But it also introduces a wider audience to games who wouldn't normally be present.

    13. Margaret Robertson has critiqued gamification on the basis that it takes the least essential aspects of games and presents them as the most essential. Robertson coins the derogatory term pointsification as a more accurate description of this process.

      By maliciously targeting the idea of pointsification so much, are you then dismissing the community of competitive gamers?

    14. Note how deftly Zichermann makes his readers believe that points, badges, levels, leader boards, and rewards are "key game mechanics."

      Relax yourself - they also can participate in creating a new form of storytelling if everything is viewed objectively.

    15. power to get us to spend money on things that seem not to exist, and so forth.

      Let's not forget the social aspect of the game which does in fact translate into real life interaction. If a game has a P2W model, you're able to then use that as a form of achievement. Your feelings outside of the game do exist in relation to that non existent entity.

    16. And "climate change" suggests that global warming is a phenomenon of adjustment rather than disaster. After all, change can be good!

      Let's not get ahead of ourselves, little lefty - remember, there's cooling happening as well.

      ~ a just as concerned moderate studying environmental science

    17. This is why "gamification" is such an effective term. It keeps the term "game" and puts it right up in front, drawing attention to the form's mysterious power. But the kicker comes at the end: the "-ify" suffix it makes applying that medium to any given purpose seem facile and automatic

      I can't decide if this reads as highly sarcastic and ironic or not...

    18. "Serious games" has a specific rhetorical purpose. It is a phrase devised to earn the support of high-level governmental and corporate officials, individuals for whom "game" implies the terror just described; something trite and powerful, something that trivializes things, even if that trivialization is precisely part of its power.

      I agree entirely, but then what do we call a game that challenges our very moral perceptions? Our beliefs and ideals and understanding of the world?

    19. People know that there's something magical about games. They don't always express that opinion positively, but even condemnations of video games acknowledge that they contain special power, power to captivate us and draw us in, power to encourage us to repeat things we've seemingly done before, power to get us to spend money on things that seem not to exist, and so forth.

      @ Novels

    1. After much consideration and many changes to the manuscript it has finally been decided that instead of the Indomitable- the not tamable, this ship will be named the Bellipotent- war+power
    1. Even the Wikipedia entry on The Sims also (as of this writing) notes that “It has been described as more like a toy than a game” (Wikipedia)

      I find it troubling calling "The Sims" a "toy", still more of an RPG in my opinion. All the quantifiable definitions of a "game" aside, I would still call it a game.

    2. But others would say that, while The Sims may have sold well, it is not a game. Rather, they say, The Sims is a “toy” or “simulation.”

      I fail to see the difference between RPGs and simulation games. It seems all the same to me

    3. The notion that we could have gotten similarly clubby, trying to exclude someone else’s work in new media, now seems repulsive

      sort of funny how "clique-y" the literary community is when it should be imperative to embrace new ideas and media

    4. the other is designed to employ the contents of net-work RSS feeds and web page

      sadly admit that I'm not quite aware of the purpose of RSS feeds

    5. New Word Order takes an interaction structure invented for competitive play with quantifi able outcomes—for gameplay—and repurposes it as play that re-contextualizes and explores the potential of poetic language.

      Through reinventing, does the original game lose itself? Should we keep the ideas associated with half-life within the game or should they be removed. Are we just using the engine?

    6. The assertion that interactive dramas are not games is relatively well accepted among game scholars.

      Interesting - but isn't it still an experience outside of your experience that you control? That you direct?

    7. The focus on quantifi able outcomes (which The Sims may not suffi ciently possess

      This isn't true. Infrastructure growth, growth of your population and progress in the game are all quantifiable outcomes.

    8. also performative in a manner controlled in part by the read-er.

      Reminiscent of Iser's virtual text and implied reader?

    9. personal thought experiment

      WHAT. There are one too many words in this terrible phrase, which is both pretentious and ridiculous.

    10. how they are played.

      So, essentially...the medium is the message? I think I've heard that somewhere before...

    11. ig. 5. Text Rain shows interactors a video image of themselves in an alternate reality. The letters of lines of poetry fall from above, coming to rest on anything darker than the background—inviting creative play with this language made physical

      This interestingly reminds me of Conway's Game of Life! (Who knows if it is a game according to these standards honestly)

    12. Here, there is no winning or losing, and the point of interaction is not to accomplish a game goal. The inter-actor certainly forms opportunistic short-term goals, but usually in terms of the dramatic situation. In this case, to be “not a game” is to be a different kind of playable digital media, calling for a different type of engagement, than usually comes to mind when the term “game” is used

      I certainly relate to this argument moreso than the Sims one - Facade is really an experience, and although you can assign yourself the goal of 'keeping them together' it's really a set of algorithms with inevitable outcomes and a little bit of luck.

    13. Some people are under the impression that The Sims (fi g. 3) is the best-selling PC game of all time (Adams 2004). In fact, as of this writing the publisher of The Sims, Electronic Arts, on its website leaves all qualifi ers aside to call The Sims“The #1 best selling game of all time.” But others would say that, while The Sims may have sold well, it is not a game. Rather, they say, The Sims is a “toy” or “simulation.

      Throwback to our in class discussion about escapism!

    14. The promotional game for the movie A.I. had no offi cial name, but here I’ll use its nickname: “The Beast” (Stewart).

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Beast_(game) for those who, like me, were woefully uneducated on this.

    15. “It’s a computer novel.”And that is . . . ?“A novel that can be told only through the medium of the computer

      I'm not sure how I feel about this rigidity... if it was written specifically to be experienced on the computer, that's a different story to saying it can therefore only be experienced that way. That kind of rigidity is why the prejudice and judgement is how it is on digital humanities and novella. We have no conception of the future of literature as of right now.

    16. Portal

      I find the use of the word portal within digital interactions oddly fascinating, similarly I find "hub" intriguing - both connote this idea of other levels, platforms, transformation and transportation. It says a lot about how we view, and always have viewed technology.

    17. Grace and Trip

      Not sure I see the similarity with Liz and Richard Burton, but ok, if you say so.

    1. An opening Narrator · March 28, 2016 It was a dark and stormy night… Just kidding. Of the Bellipotent and its human cargo remains much to be told–all, in fact–but digressions will predominate here and throughout, to the detriment, I’m afraid, of ingress. As a prolegomena, then, a bit about the figure of the “Handsome Sailor” that roamed the pages of books … View More

      Definitely wish there was a conversation view rather than the posts appearing in a chronological order. The posts show what they're a response to but the visual is definitely lacking to keep some kind of order.

    1. Be less direct, man.

      This too (i.e., the original move's title) is confusing, just in terms of formatting.

    2. Be less direct, man.

      Would be great if this were a link to the move or in quotations marks or something to set it apart.

  2. Mar 2016
    1. an opera of mine quite dear to my heart

      A lot of talk about this opera has been about its apparent homo-erotic subtext, and Zachary Woolfe spelled out a bit of itin a 2012 article for the NY Times. A considerable amount of scholarship has constructed the suspicion that Britten, Forster, and Crozier's adaption hinges on a suppressed love between Claggart and Budd.

      Woolfe notes,

      "Forster wrote that Claggart's aria at the end of Act I, which consciously echoes Iago's "Credo" in Verdi's "Otello," represents "love constricted, perverted, poisoned, but never the less flowing down its agonizing channel; a sexual discharge gone evil."

      This leaning by Britten and co, interestingly predates Eve Sedgwick's analysis of homosociality, which makes explicit comment about the fraught relationship between Billy, Vere, and Claggart that is explored in the opera through dramatic and musical means.

    2. E.M. Forster and Eric Crozier

      Theater scholar Minou Arjomand makes an interesting note about the relationships between Britten and the two. After a 1964 revival of the work at the original location, E.M. Forster wrote back to the reviewer at The Times after the article written had entirely excluded mention of him or Crozier. Unfortunately, often it so goes that collaborators get moved into the shadows alongside the Big Name. While my quick look around suggests that the Crozier has been excavated since the performances mentioned (if only by the glaring abundance of scholarly work on this particular opera, holy shit, Arjomand's scholarship reminds us of the mutability of Text and what a peculiar thing a musical adaptation of literature can be.

    3. the performance

      I mean, it's an opera. And opera certainly isn't casual listening (not for me, anyway). But there are some nice parts, so perhaps they're worth spotlighting--

    4. Peter Pears

      Biographer Paul Kildea has put forward the hypothesis that Pears, who was intimate to Britten (both musically and otherwise), may have given Britten syphilis, the complications of which had ended his life just three years prior. If so, the resonance of this being his last performance stands a moving tribute.

    5. Britten from beyond the grave (not to mention Forster): I love it!

    1. While interactive dramatic experiences may fail to meet many of the criteria of formal game defi nitions

      I don't know. My experience at Sleep No More was game-like. After 30 minutes of exploring, my goal became very clear: find your way back to the bar.

    2. “an interactive Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.”

      This sounds simultaneously amazing and horrifying. In fact, I'm pretty sure this may be the digital version of Edmund Burke's theory on the sublime and the beautiful.

    3. by removing the goals, or more specifi cally, by not describing some possible outcomes as better than others.

      Exactly. The goals aren't removed, but they become user/player/gamer-directed.

    4. formal game defi nitions, and to distinguish between computer games and other forms of digital entertainment.

      We're barely even on the cusp of defining literary form, let alone digital and game forms. To consider and formally define them is to note their worth and continuty, which many people struggle to do with modern forms

    5. RPGs have emergent quantifi able goals but usually no single overriding outcome

      This relates to our discussion on 4/23, particularly Josie's comment about how her goal in playing The Sims was to build the biggest family tree, but that was a goal she chose/gravitated toward, not one outlined by the game-makers (#sorrynotsorry for the Hunger Games nod).

      Also, hypothes.is should add a function for mentions. I tried @JosieWatson, but as you can see, nothing happened.

    6. Be-tween low and high culture. Between trivial play and serious writing.

      How does Bogost's discussion of "serious games" fit in here?

    7. This is very much at odds with what one might loosely call goals of fi ction: exploration, insight, and the renewal of the perceived world through alterneity.

      What about l'art pour l'art and all that jazz? McDaid is promoting a purely telic view of literature (i.e., that it has some goal beyond itself).

    8. Because I need to consider some things that are “not games.”

      How Saussurean. From Course in General Linguistics:

      In the same way a word can be exchanged for something dissimilar, an idea; besides, it can be compared with something of the same nature, another word. Its value is therefore not fixed so long as one simply states that it can be “exchanged” for a given concept, i.e. that it has this or that signification: one must also compare it with similar values, with other words that stand in opposition to it. Its content is really fixed only by the concurrence of everything that exists outside it.

    9. “magic circle”

      Is the "magic circle" of a game like the assumed "fourth wall" in theater? If so, then a game radially disrupts, or separates one from, reality (i.e., from all angles), while the theater (and perhaps, by extension, literature, etc.) does so linearly.

    10. high and low culture electronic texts

      WAIT. There's not only highbrow and lowbrow (and apparently, "middlebrow," according to an article I read last week) but there are also electronic textual versions of these categories? This remnant from phrenology has gone too far.

    11. this is not a game”

      Ceci n'est pas une pipe?

    1. Just add badges! Just add leaderboards!

      About five years ago, Kaplan tried to do this for online SAT and ACT homework. It didn't work. Also, it was way too complicated. Teachers/tutors had to go through a four hour seminar about the badge, etc. system so that we could then explain it to our students. I did the seminar twice and still didn't get it.

    2. It would require the partial or even wholesale reinvention of the way things get done.

      Why can't gamification be an additional part of the process rather than replacing the existing whole?

    3. points isn't the point


    4. Making good games that hope to serve some external purpose is even harder.

      Is there a autotelic/telic distinction here? Making games for the sake of games versus making games for a higher sociocultural or political purpose? Are games the "new art"? Or just an extension of art?

    5. "serious games,"

      In terms of written rhetoric, interesting that here, the phrase is uncapitalized and bracketed by quotation marks, while before it is Serious Games. Reads as much more serious.

    1. y contrast, IVANHOE discourages players from assuming that there is something to be called, say, "The Poem Itself". Perhaps even more crucially, it routes the acts of an interpreting agent back into the material being studied

      I would be interested to hear different writer's opinions on this notion. I'm sure many would be intrigued by the idea; it definitely widens the avenue for the potential of a piece to stay relevant over time. But I would imagine that some writers would dislike the fact that readers believe in an idea that there is no such thing as "the piece itself," and that their piece is a thing to be changed. Then again, the amount of effort and thought that it would take for such a reader to practice this game on that writer's piece should be flattering to the writer.

    2. IVANHOE is not like a "creative writing workshop,"

      A tad pretentious; lose the quotes!

    3. Pride and Prejudice
    4. In recent years the scene of humanities instruction grows less like the classroom of the 1930s, when the remarkably successful teaching protocols of the New Criticism were invented.

      I learned through the lens of close reading, and it is still a touchstone of my ability to connect to a work. However, games like IVANHOE and the current technological influx into the classroom has made the ability to close read that much more precise. Not only can I look at "just" the text, I can find all the resources and context that surround that text.

    5. Victorians rewrote and reimagined the book. Why are we so hesitant about doing the same thing?

      I don't think we're hesitant to "remaster" or "rework"; if anything, I think our culture has been extremely spoiled by the acting of the rewrite. If and when we don't like a character, we simply rewrite them, kill them off, or change their persona. To a certain extent, it seems as if we're more afraid to accept a piece for what it is, or for what the author intended it to be.

    6. This view of textuality implies that any textual object—what in IVANHOE we call "the source text"—has to be encountered within a dynamical "discourse field" (i.e., the extended network of documents, materials, discussions, and evidence within which the work is continually being constituted).

      Using networks for the sake of using them.

    7. as that all interpretation pursues transformations of meaning within a dynamic space of inherited and ongoing acts of interpretation.

      So essentially misinterpretation. Interpretation should exist within the scope of the text - by altering the text, you then create a new text open to a new form of interpretation. However, you're now a level removed. It's still a misinterpretation of the original text because it's something that didn't happen.

    8. In our own day readers often react to other unresolved tensions in the book

      This coincides with the idea of fan-fiction. If there's a loose thread in a book where other things are possible, fans will immediately write it out and share it online.

    9. "creative writing workshop,"

      Why is this in quotation marks? Seems a bit derisive.

    10. Lewis Carroll

      A game for the Alice books would be super trippy and fun.

    11. "Composition as Explanation."

      I recall this Stein essay as a discussion of composition over generations, but I could be mistaken. Her writing can be headache-inducing at times.

    12. several stories by Murakami

      Comma Haruki? Is he well known enough to be alluded to by just his surname, or is there another Murakami I don't know about? Also, Haruki Murakami's work doesn't really seem to jive with the preceding texts...like a literary version of the Sesame Street segment "One of these things is not like the other."

    13. By contrast, IVANHOE discourages players from assuming that there is something to be called, say, "The Poem Itself". Perhaps even more crucially, it routes the acts of an interpreting agent back into the material being studied.

      So, like our annotation project, gameplay in literature encourages a move away from the Formalist approach.

    14. Harold Bloom observed some 25 years ago

      This has nothing to do with anything, really, but I just need to share that I have such complicated feelings about Harold Bloom. Thanks.

    15. The concept of criticism as "a doing," as action and intervention

      What about criticism as art? Think Oscar Wilde's "The Critic as Artist," and later, Joel Spingarn's "The New Criticism." From the former:

      That is what the highest criticism really is, the record of one's own soul. It is more fascinating than history, as it is concerned simply with oneself. It is more delightful than philosophy, as its subject is concrete and not abstract, real and not vague. It is the only civilized form of autobiography, as it deals not with events, but with the thoughts of one's life; not with life's physical accidents of deed or circumstance, but with the spiritual moods and imaginative passions of the mind...

    16. improve bibliographical and research skills

      Particularly helpful.

    17. IVANHOE promotes curricular dependence on creative, synthetic practices and engagement with primary materials that have traditionally been inaccessible in classrooms.

      I've always thought of literary analysis papers as creative writing with a need for evidence. The ability to formulate ideas and critical analyses from a text itself (and others' interpretations of the text) is absolutely invaluable, and a skill that needs to continue to be honed!

    18. For example, when many Victorian readers complained about Scott's decision to marry Ivanhoe to Rowena and not Rebecca, they were clearly responding to one of the book's underdeveloped possibilities

      Compare this to the Harry Potter series, which J.K. Rowling ended with Hermione marrying Ron, a pairing she later admitted was almost entirely fan-driven.

    19. For example, when many Victorian readers complained about Scott's decision to marry Ivanhoe to Rowena and not Rebecca, they were clearly responding to one of the book's underdeveloped possibilities.

      It's fascinating to see how an author's work can become adopted entirely by their readers (Barthes would be proud), so much so that they steal some of that world-building authority from the author. Especially with the rise of the digital and fandom age, with fandom and twitter, the fourth wall no longer has to exist, and there are many different versions of the same world out there for one to explore. #TeamRowena vs. #TeamRebecca

    20. Players will be rewarded to the degree that their critical interpretations have been made explicit within an interactive community of other players through the creation of well-documented commentary on their individual contributions, and critical assessment of other players' work.

      This claim makes me realize how game-like, in a way, the marginal space of hypothes.is is: the gratification of sharing ideas with peers or being praised or replied to or disagreed with, etc.

    21. Because we all bring that world with us into the classroom as (so to speak) the cultural air we breathe, New Critical models of instruction now regularly specialize and restrict both the materials and the arena of that general education the Humanities educator has always so carefully cherished. Because the Humanities have never been about specialization but about the training and education of broadly informed citizens, we are being called to imagine new instructional methods and procedures. IVANHOE is being developed to help answer that call.

      Strong claim to the broader significance of the game, its implications for thinking about how the humanities is changing (or should change) in the 21st C.

    22. Interpreters are expected to keep a journal in which their interpretive moves are justified and explained in relation to the originary work and/or the moves made by the other agents.

      Great design feature: as a litcrit professor, very important to keep the reflective aspect front and center even as we're immersed in the play. For similar reasons, Brecht thought that theater-goers should smoke cigars, like boxing fans, since the smoking created some distance from the "game" and hence space for critical reflection rather than mere absorption.

    23. Performative interpretations of all kinds—translation, for example—have much in common with IVANHOE.

      Obvious links to the way recording a novel underscores its status as a "score," a means of generating performances, and with Barthes's musical metaphor for "playing" a text.

    24. the most important of which was the idea that the game would have to be played "in" a role, or en masque, under an explicitly assumed conceit of identity.

      I'll be curious to see what you students think, but I think the WordPress plugin would be cooler if each user could play any role in any move.

    25. We took that avoidance as a sign of a poverty of criticism, which goes broke by following a Gold Standard of value. IVANHOE would encourage, instead, as much circulation and exchange as possible.

      I like this. To take a "lame" or "out of fashion" text and make it cool again by reading/playing it in a radically new way. In one of his essays, Benjamin talks about the "revolutionary energies of the outmoded," and this game would seem a way of generating such energies.

    26. concept of criticism as "a doing,"

      Doing things with novels: get it, folks? There is nothing new under the sun.

    27. For example, when many Victorian readers complained about Scott's decision to marry Ivanhoe to Rowena and not Rebecca, they were clearly responding to one of the book's underdeveloped possibilities

      Useful link to fanfiction in our own moment and of a piece with Rubery's analysis on one hand and Barthes's on the other, allowing for a "readerly" approach that "rewrites" the text with each reading.

    28. Ivanhoe

      I would be intrigued to know the meaning behind this reference - perhaps it's to Walter Scott's novel, which re-shaped 19th century genres and literary interests.

    29. Why are we so hesitant about doing the same thing?

      An interesting discourse following our consideration of audiobooks resembling printed books - why do we actually need novels to resemble "conventional" physical presentations? I think it's so largely to do with the lack of cultural identity that we have as a society - our music, clothing, art forms; we have nothing original, therefore nothing can or should be.

    30. IVANHOE (http://www.ivanhoegame.org/) is a research and pedagogical project for humanities scholars and students working in a digital age like our own, where books are only one among many cultural sources and objects of critical reflection. It is designed within the framework of the traditional goals of humanities education: to promote rigorous as well as imaginative thinking; to develop habits of thoroughness and flexibility when we investigate our cultural inheritance and try to exploit its sources and resources; and to expose and promote the collaborative dynamics of all humane studies, which by their nature both feed upon and resupply our cultural legacy.

      It's kind of frustrating how long drawn out this description is - I understand the modern necessity to sound as obnoxiously intelligent as possible (point and case there), but this doesn't really say much for a first impression on what Ivanhoe does, just what it means for the academic circle.

    1. marlingspike

      A tool used to splice rope and wire (google) https://www.google.com/webhp?hl=en#hl=en&q=what+is+a+marlinspike

    2. hoar frost

      frozen water vapor (can be found on vegetation etc) (google) https://www.google.com/webhp?hl=en#hl=en&q=what+is+hoar+frost

    3. dominies

      "Dominie" might here mean pastor (google) https://www.google.com/#q=what+does+%22dominie%22+mean

    4. sphynx-like

      Does this imagery aim to draw a parallel between these "negroes" to a historical point in Africa predating the slave trade? (The Egyptians are considered to have one of the greatest ancient civilizations.) This imagery is at a contrast with primitivism.

    5. but in the case of the ship there is this addition; that the living spectacle [pg 118] it contains, upon its sudden and complete disclosure, has, in contrast with the blank ocean which zones it, something of the effect of enchantment. The ship seems unreal; these strange costumes, gestures, and faces, but a shadowy tableau just emerged from the deep, which directly must receive back what it gave.

      This quote, along with a later section (p.63 in our book : when Delano is deeper in the ship and meets the sailor holding the symbolic knot), make me wonder if there is a parallel between "the ship" and the enchanted forest we encounter in works of Shakespeare. (Even if Melville is making a slight satire?) Both "places" are able to border reality or create a new space where the truth, which is hidden or obscured in reality, is able to come to light.

    6. oakum

    7. Babo

      The footnote on p.41 in our book tells us that Melville combines "Delano's More" and Babo, "captain of the slaves" into this one character.

    8. saya-y-manta

    9. surtout
    10. freebooter

      another term for a pirate (google) https://www.google.com/#q=what+is+a+freebooter

    1. Any platform that supports video annotation

      The idea of annotating movies is exciting. How great would it be to annotate the Marshall McLuhan scene in Annie Hall?

    2. the speed and scale at which it can be practiced

      In the 21st century, immediacy is a commodity unto itself.

    3. It can also help students learn to read more deliberately, attentively, even caressingly, not only marking and defining unfamiliar words, concepts, or references, not only positing interpretations, but also registering their sensory experience of a text, exchanging a hermeneutic approach for the erotic one memorably advocated by the critic Susan Sontag.

      I've used the same copy of A Room of One's Own for multiple classes, the first of which was my AP English Literature class during my senior year of high school. Every time I use it, I get to reread my annotations from two, five, or ten years ago; it's amazing what changes in terms of what I found unfamiliar or what resonated.

    4. "They Say"/"I Say": The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing

      I never had to take English 120, but isn't this the book the department recommends for it?

    5. offering a kind of intimacy at scale

      The idea of offering literary intimacy, often perceived as "missing" from digital texts, harks back to the ideas presented in "Community Reading and Social Imagination" (Bérubé et al.).

    1. this model can be quite powerful when extended to include students.

      Will the DIY annotation movement replace the prevalence of Norton Critical Editions et al. in the classroom? I can't help but think of the additional benefit of saving money on expensive anthologies and scholarly editions that can be quite costly.

    2. future utility of annotations

      This is important from a pedagogical standpoint; so many high school and undergraduate students are never told why they should annotate.

    3. Even before there was a web, there were dreams of annotations.

      There's a great parody of Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? here: Do English Majors Dream of Annotations?

    1. Learning in higher education is governed by rules though, however arbitrary and make-believe those rules may be.

      I very much concur with the frustrated tone held here, especially considering my educational background. In England, everything on a syllabus is dictated by one of three core programmes. Teachers don't mark any of our final assessments; all of our exams are forwarded to massive educational warehouses. We don't get our papers back unless we pay to get them back (despite the fact that they are technically our intellectual property) and we have no ability to gain extra credit or form our intelligence outside of formal examination. For someone like me, who struggles greatly in formal sit-down examination, you're really doomed to fail. There is no"play" in British education.

    2. separate from other aspects of life

      My first instinct was to say "but what about the Sims?", but really if you think about it, they're a bunch of algorithms that live for an average of 2520 minutes and can go to space through looking into a telescope, etc. ... that's definitely at least some form of escapism!

    3. The students thus actively intervene in the original text, rewriting it in unexpected ways

      Or can add to the original text by writing new material that is also interactive.

    4. glitching—intentionally corrupting a digital artifact—as a kind of playful deformance.

      The Library of Congress article supplied in this piece (http://blogs.loc.gov/digitalpreservation/2012/11/glitching-files-for-understanding-avoiding-screen-essentialism-in-three-easy-steps/) also describes screen essentialism, which is essentially, "digital objects aren’t just what they appear to be when they are rendered by a particular piece of software in a particular configuration. They are, at their core, bits of encoded information on media."

      I find this concept incredibly interesting, since it understands artifacts produced by computer technology on a very reductionist level. Pretty much, at its core, a PDF is no different than an mp3 or an .mov -- all are skeletons consisting of strings of text code.

    5. Playful pedagogy aims to put learners in a flow state—that utterly absorbing state where, as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi puts it, “nothing else seems to matter” (6).

      I see it more as a dramatic turn from traditional pedagogy. It's so removed from its original form that it almost seems playful.

    6. play is voluntary, separate from other aspects of life, uncertain, unproductive, governed by rules, and simultaneously more or less dependent upon make-believe (9-10).

      I can see this almost being synonymous with reading.

    7. Metagames is a course about games about games. While metafiction is a staple of postmodern literature, it is less common to think about videogames—and by extension, play—in these terms.

      This could actually be a sound platform to explore the issue of existentialism in a "playful pedagogical" sort of way. Now the idea of a postmodern/nihilist Sims sequel is firmly planted in my brain -- the objective of the player to lead their Sims character to a meaningful life, despite the character possessing the knowledge that their life is literally just a game, and can be ended simply by "pulling the plug" (LITERALLY).

    8. While metafiction is a staple of postmodern literature, it is less common to think about videogames—and by extension, play—in these terms.

      If metafiction is a staple of postmodern lit, what is metagaming a staple of??? Cue existential crisis...

    9. indie game designers have used the open source platform Twine to create personally expressive and politically powerful hybrids of games and narrative

      I've been waiting for this unit to link to this Flavorwire article called "A Sad Person's Guide to Interactive Fiction."

    10. A Makey Makey is an inexpensive microcontroller that replaces typical computer inputs (mouse, arrows, keyboard controls) with any object that conducts electricity.

      So much cooler than the look-a-raw-potato-can-be-a-battery project we did when I was in second grade...

    11. Playful pedagogy recognizes that there is no single correct answer; rather there are always multiple approaches to a problem.

      This is so crucial!

    12. playful pedagogy allows learners themselves to discover their own objectives—and to change them if need be.

      For those unfamiliar with learning objectives...here's an cheat sheet of Bloom's taxonomy, which is old-school at this point, but still valuable vis-à-vis pedagogy and its history.

    13. learning comes to be a series of pathways, different for every student, rather than a straight shot toward a desired destination.

      I like this; that way the concept (e.g., how to solve the problem, how to answer the question how to analyze the poem...whatever learning objective you choose) remains, even if the details don't, and can be applied to similar (or different) scenarios.

    14. Playful pedagogy strives to infuse learning with the excitement and unpredictability of children’s play.

      During my career as a test prep teacher, I taught a few classes with students who were hard to engage. They were silent, which is so very difficult for a classroom setting that uses the Socratic method combined with group work as its foundation. The kids would sit in their groups and work independently. I finally created a quiz/board game amalgam (they dubbed it "Kateardy") that got them to interact not only with me but also with each other.

      Never underestimate the power of competition and candy when trying to bring teenagers out of their shells.

    15. Each player makes a “move,” describing an action or decision their character makes, and the next player makes a move in response

      Am surprised no one's brought up roleplaying yet. It's popular in fandom, and is basically like writing collective fan fiction (which is sometimes then published for other people to read as a work in and on itself! Work into Text much?).

    16. There is a product—an essay, a project, an assignment—though that product may not necessarily contribute to the world of knowledge in any kind of productive way.

      Interesting juxtaposition of product versus productive. Wonder what the etymology is.

    17. separate from other aspects of life

      What about mimetic play?

    18. Minecraft

      I've never played, but I hear good things! Reminiscent of the Sims games, that has grown into a sandbox world (think adult dolls?) wherein the developers have very cleverly begun to promote and incorporate fan made "custom content" to the game. The Sims Resource is one such place that hosts a wide array of custom content. http://www.thesimsresource.com/ Fascinating to see the developers themselves promote these fan made works.

    19. students create knowledge rather than merely absorb or duplicate knowledge

      I like this. We don't often have that freedom to get creative with a text, but I do so love when we're given the imaginative space to do so.

    20. games, performances, and other “not serious” pursuits

      "Performances" Is such a broad category--I would argue that there are some performances (e.g., theatrical productions of plays) that are extremely serious.

    21. Serious pedagogy is a high stakes pedagogy, high stakes which may in fact limit creative problem-solving.

      After so many years in an education system that emphasizes the need to follow instructions and do exactly as we're told(specifically, high school more so than college, funnily enough), I find myself floundering a bit when we get assignments form professors now that simply go: Do your thing, go nuts. It's a terrifying but amazing feeling.

    22. Playful pedagogy strives to infuse learning with the excitement and unpredictability of children’s play.

      The same space where people learn the best! I remember learning Mandarin in Singapore and memorizing the characters best when we did it as a game, rather than with stone cold memorization.

    23. It is hard.


    24. simultaneously more or less dependent upon make-believe

      Someone elses's or your own? As I've gotten older it feels like I've almost gotten more dependent upon other people's imaginations for entertainment, for play (video games, TV, movies). I suppose that's why I am so drawn to creative writing, because it does allow me to tap into that imagination of old.

    25. Course objectives, learning assessments, grading rubrics, and so on. When it comes to the element of rules, learning is not so much the opposite of play as it is zombie play, a jerky, lurching automatic response devoid of vision, passion, and awareness

      "Zombie play": I love it. And as the parent of a Pre-K and 1st grader in the era of Common Core + high-stakes testing, it's amazing how accurate this account is, even for the youngest students.

      Here's a zombie game.

    26. Ambiguity over Certainty. As anyone who has played Euchre knows, once the outcome of a hand of cards is certain, the round is over, even if cards remain to be played. Certainty is the enemy of play, while ambiguity sustains it.

      Again, a keyword from literary aesthetics--ambiguity--creeps in the back door.

    27. Play abounds with mistakes, failures, and most importantly, second chances. Every “Game Over” is also the start of a new game.

      Yay failure! Losers of the world unite; you have nothing to lose but your games!!

    28. play is defined by six key elements: play is voluntary, separate from other aspects of life, uncertain, unproductive, governed by rules, and simultaneously more or less dependent upon make-believe (9-10)

      I'm not the first to observe this, but "play" in this account sounds exactly like the "aesthetic" in Immanuel Kant's philosophy.

    1. really love the fact that Drucker calls the ebook qualities "kitsch-y". The animations are simulating physical books, but most ebook readers read them for convenience and sans the page turning etc.

    1. Bucephalus

      "Bucephalus was the horse of Alexander the Great, and one of the most famous actual horses of antiquity"

    2. barbaric good humor

      Reminiscent of Melville's descriptions of people of color in both Moby Dick and Benito Cereno.

    1. Book history attends to the reception and the uses of the artifact: what is done to books as well as what has been done with books.

      So this is where our class intersects with marginalia- what are individuals doing with their novels, outside of the realm of straight reading?

    2. But Harry Potter is a tale of marginalia

      Harry Potter fan fiction -- a touchstone of marginalia -- has become its own significant form of literature. I would argue that Harry Potter is not a children's novel; the breakout of young adult fiction has bridged the gap between children's books and "adult" novels.

    3. What thus distinguishes tutored from untutored writing—and what distinguishes the adult from the child—is the ability to reproduce one’s own hand without variation over time.

      Can't it be argued that children have their own, distinct voice? Even if that voice changes over time, it is still uniquely "their's".

    4. That children wrote in books and that their annotations may survive attest, for some, to an eternal common-place: this is something children did and do, whatever time or social world they live in.

      But is this really just an aspect of childhood imagination? There is something to be said for individuals who maintain this aspect of youthfulness and continue annotating into their adult lives. Does this mark them as more creative than their non-annotating counterparts?

    5. These women were the “guardians” of American children’s literature.64But they were also guardians of literacy.

    6. Such acts enable us to see not just the public text but also the private response. No book is the same once it has been marked. Its social function, its textual status, its place in literary his-tory or on library or home shelves has changed irrevocably

      Again, reminiscent of Iser's theories. Although, I wonder about the insight the juxtaposition of the public text and the private response, particularly the helpfulness of the latter. Will any random private response (i.e., annotation) do? Certainly, Melville's Marginalia provides insight, but what about a text with otherwise anonymous annotations?

      Also, this:

    7. That is the myth of print itself: that through the mechanical reproduction of identical copies, any single copy is as good as any other

      Benjamin, Benjamin, Benjamin!

    8. One copy should be as good as another.

      Like the letters practiced in copybooks?

    9. There is a maximal feel to these lines: a universal, almost biblical injunc-tive quality, as if the Ten Commandments were distilled here, not into the double tablets of the desert, but the double page of the girl’s copybook

      Yes, but the New England Primer, for example, was far form secular...check out "H" (My Book and Heart / Shall never part).

    10. Girls on both sides of the Atlantic were increasingly encouraged, throughout the eighteenth cen-tury, to develop skills in handwriting as part of a broader social education

      But were they allowed to do much with this perfectly feminine penmanship? Virginia Woolf's hypothetical Judith Shakespeare from A Room of One's Own comes to mind.

    11. The story told in writing manuals, like the story limned in Lionel Tolle-mache’s marginalia, is one of personal growth. And in the end, the true mark of an adult is the well-formed signature

      The metaphor of writing as personal growth seems a bit far-fetched to me.

    12. Adult writing, like adult signatures, is consistent

      May be an old wives' tale, but I'm pretty sure there's a popular theory that adults whose handwriting doesn't change are more likely to be sociopaths or serial killers or something of that...ilk.

    13. a goal of moral education

      Echoes of Plato's Republic...

    14. During these fifteen hundred years, writing masters made their livings training children to model their penmanship on proper forms.

      So, Lerer is talking about the aesthetic discipline of writing. Did this practice really end in the early twentieth century? Because I remember several units on proper penmanship during my elementary school years in the early to mid-90s.

    15. This is a study, then, of readers as much as of writers

      Iser? Iser.

    16. the annotator as an imaginative subject

      We haven't talked much about our imminent Billy Budd game yet, but I wonder if "the annotator" (child or novice adult or scholar) is a feasible "part" or "role."

    17. ater stains, bird droppings, rips by mice and dogs—all survive carefully encased in glass, like ruined leavings from some Pompeian library.

      I wonder if the paperback of Ulysses I spilled a Venti iced coffee on in 2009 will make it into one of these displays some day. Probably not, but a girl can dream, right?

    18. That children wrote in books and that their annotations may survive attest, for some, to an eternal common-place: this is something children did and do, whatever time or social world they live in.

      If this is something children do whatever time or social world they live in, do the margins begging to be written in become Twitter feeds and Facebook walls in a twenty-first century world?

    19. annotations that not only illustrate the cul-ture and the motives of the individual writer but also change, irrevocably, the status of the annotated book as artifact.

      This aim seems to combine not only reception history and reader-response theory but also Iser's ideas of the virtual text and the implied reader.

    20. Book history attends to the reception and the uses of the artifact: what is done to books as well as what has been done with books.

      How does reception theory as a mode of literary criticism fit here? Should there be a reception theory devoted merely to book as objects? What about Benjamin's ideas in "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction"?

    21. all children desire to fill in the blanks in books

      "Filling in the blanks" is not only having a moment but also aiming to reach a new audience. See Mo Willems's Don't Let the Pigeon Finish this Activity Book (2012) for ages 3-8 and the current trend of adult coloring books (Johanna Brasford's are so popular that she was moved from the Tarcher Perigee imprint at Penguin Random House to Penguin proper) and activity books like Keri Smith's Wreck This Journal.

    1. which means that more than 700 could still be extant somewhere, waiting for scholars to find them.

      Imagine opening up an old book and seeing Melville's annotations! (and adding your own to them as well?).

    2. "Melville was extraordinarily dependent on the writings of other men," says Mr. Otter. "He has an incorporative imagination."

      Benjamin would argue that this is the very basis of storytelling, novel or not, and that storytelling is inherently built upon the backs of stories from the past.

    3. someone already had erased Melville's check marks, underlinings, and scribbles.

      Aw, come on.

    4. "The name died before the man,"

      But the stories never did. Benjamin would be quite proud.

    5. old-fashioned textual scholarship with new digital technology to track the writer's creative process,

      Fascinating when one considers the many scholars of Literary Theory who believe that the author is entirely separate from the work, for example, Barthes and Foucault.

    1. “Canton.” “And there, Señor, you exchanged your sealskins for teas and silks, I think you said?” “Yes, Silks, mostly.” “And the balance you took in specie, perhaps?”

      Trade system with China very popular at this time, 17th century, as spices, silk and other goods were very precious to Westerners. Delano is a prominent figure in trade systems with China(Hughes, 3) and noticed a lot of cultural differences, foot binding for example but also fails to notice human conditions, which Melville linked to slave revolt.

      http://www.thepeacefulsea.com/canton-system.html https://drewarchives.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/henryhughespaper.pdf

    2. The Spaniard’s manner, too, conveyed a sort of sour and gloomy disdain, which he seemed at no pains to disguise. But this the American in charity ascribed to the harassing effects of sickness, since, in former instances, he had noted that there are peculiar natures on whom prolonged physical suffering seems to cancel every social instinct of kindness; as if, forced to black bread themselves, they deemed it but equity that each person coming nigh them should, indirectly, by some slight or affront, be made to partake of their fare.

      Diseases were poorly understood. They still held the notion that it has to do something with atmosphere or spirits (four temperaments). The observations are not wrong but such theories are. This is interesting as observations lead to misunderstood conclusions. Seeing as how Delano can observe behavior of the sick but not of what would be coming. Melville adds on to this temperament sentiment: "using Delano's trusting disposition and generosity. There is a lot of disposition and feelings towards slavery in general. Philanthropic abolition to ardent favored practice of it.


    3. Upon gaining a less remote view, the ship, when made signally visible on the verge of the leaden-hued swells, with the shreds of fog here and there raggedly furring her, appeared like a white-washed monastery after a thunder-storm, seen perched upon some dun cliff among the Pyrenees.

      It appears that there were many storms, namely hurricanes, during this time that Melville simplified. Storms were problematic since sailors and explorers had little technology to forecast weathers and sail safely. Melville used this to explore the theme of seeing and unseeing as you cannot forecast ahead what might happen. Fog and storms also limit distance of vision and no instrument, telescope or binoculars can help. The is mention of Saint Dominick the ship that sailed during Haitian revolution. So the writer explores that the ship is a reference to either events during those times. All in all, this would be reference and connection to chaos, hazards and displacement. Gales and Black violence displace each other but Melville makes it so that they happen simultaneously. It is said that "The ship was driven with ill intent," which most people would agree to slavery.

      (pp 445-451) http://digitalcommons.bucknell.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1314&context=fac_journ

    4. Such were the American’s thoughts. They were tranquilizing. There was a difference between the idea of Don Benito’s darkly pre-ordaining Captain Delano’s fate, and Captain Delano’s lightly arranging Don Benito’s.

      As has been mentioned before, I wonder how much Melville's use of the light/dark dichotomy is rooted in racial prejudice, and how much is just a metaphor of seeing and "illumination" (not that we can ever fully divorce language from life as such through which it is upkept).

    5. The slave there carries the padlock, but master here carries the key.”

      Aside from the syntactical way that this sentence arranges the slave and the master-- the former gets the independent clause, from which follows the fact about the latter-- it is interesting to note Melville's play with these two symbolic items, the padlock (there) and the key (here).

      ".. suspended by a slender silken cord, from Don Benito’s neck, hung a key. At once, from the servant’s muttered syllables, divining the key’s purpose, he smiled, and said:–“So, Don Benito–padlock and key–significant symbols, truly.”

      The binding character of the two items is given a magical dimension and affirmed through Captain Delano's satisfied comment. But I want to note that while this serves very effective as literary language, this instance in which physical binding is brought to the foreground of the narration existed within the matrix of an economy, in which a whole fleet of financial practices operated in conjunction. Not to be forgotten is the complicity of insurance underwriting, and so ownership here wouldn't depend so much on our padlock and key, but on a document stowed away in a filing cabinet somewhere.

      In 2000, California State Legislature took up the Insurance question and passed SB 2199.

      "The Legislature found and declared that: (a) Insurance policies from the slavery era have been discovered in the archives of several insurance companies, documenting insurance coverage for slaveholders for damage to or death of their slaves, issued by a predecessor insurance firm. These documents provide the first evidence of ill-gotten profits from slavery, which profits in part capitalized insurers whose successors remain in existence today.

      (b) Legislation has been introduced in Congress for the past 10 years demanding an inquiry into slavery and its continuing legacies.

      (c) The Insurance Commissioner and the Department of Insurance are entitled to seek information from the files of insurers licensed and doing business in this state, including licensed California subsidiaries of international insurance corporations, regarding insurance policies issued to slaveholders by predecessor corporations. The people of California are entitled to significant historical information of this nature."

      Though we cannot know for certain what the case was for Alexandro Arando, it is interesting that his companion is then used to perform the theater of property relationships.

      However, Melville's use of the Deposition as a factual account, working to create distance from the narrator's testimony, uses the Deposition to strike a counterbalance. The findings of SB 2199, another instance of law working to bring something to light, reported that,

      "…There is a tradition in the Corporation, though no written evidence of it has come to light, [ftnt. 1 - many of the records of the period have unfortunately been destroyed] that in the middle of the eighteenth century a cargo of slaves (each of whom was branded on the thigh) was insured, and heavy weather being encountered on the voyage, some of the Negroes were jettisoned, and in the consequence a claim for General Average was presented by the owners."

      "An Act of 1799", the same year that the encounter on the San Dominick occurs, "put an end to such inhuman practices, for it provided that: 'No loss of damage shall hereafter be recoverable on Account of the Mortality of Slaves by natural Death, or ill-treatment, or against Loss by throwing overboard of Slaves on any Account whatsoever, for restraints and detainments of princes, and people of Africa, caused through any Aggression for the Purpose of procuring Slaves'.

      SB 2199's transcript can be read here.

    6. Some months after, dragged to the gibbet at the tail of a mule, the black met his voiceless end. The body was burned to ashes; but for many days, the head, that hive of subtlety, fixed on a pole in the Plaza, met, unabashed, the gaze of the whites;

      At first reading this I could not figure out the significant to the silent black man that met his end so I gave it a metaphorical meaning. I thought this was a representation of the black man's will. But now will some historical context and the original the man voiceless end takes on multiple meanings. Seems like a pun on his voicelessness. Firstly he was figuratively silenced because his revolt failed. He also showed his will because he did not beg. And lastly, historically Blacks were not capable of arguing/defending themselves in court against a white. So in this sense, Babo and his crew were figuratively and literally given a voiceless end. (American Slave Code pg. 1-2)


    7. “Yes, all is owing to Providence, I know: but the temper of my mind that morning was more than commonly pleasant, while the sight of so much suffering, more apparent than real, added to my good-nature, compassion, and charity, happily interweaving the three. Had it been otherwise, doubtless, as you hint, some of my interferences might have ended unhappily enough. Besides, those feelings I spoke of enabled me to get the better of momentary distrust, at times when acuteness might have cost me my life, without saving another’s. Only at the end did my suspicions get the better of me, and you know how wide of the mark they then proved.”

      It seems more often than not , when being taught about the "slave trade" historians forget to teach about the slave revolts that happened aboard ships. Yes, we learn about the slave revolts that happened decades/centuries after Africans landed in their intended country but what about the ships that never made it. After doing some research I've found out that between 15 and 20% of slave ships had a revolt. Some ships made it back to Senegal and some disappeared at sea. So why then, with 1 out of 5 ships being taken over, does Captain Delano not figure out the situation sooner. Historically crew members prepared for revolts and were aware that a mutiny may arise.


    8. Paraguay tea

      Paraguay tea, in this instance, is yerba mate, of which Paraguay was the leading producer prior to its independce (after which, it would be superseded by Brazil and Argentina). The mention of throwing of the "heavier sacks of mata" come right after the mention of the reduced number of slaves remaining on the ship ("now not more than a hundred and fifty... but then numbering over three hundred souls"). One can suspect as to why over half of the slaves perished (scurvy and fever are mentioned earlier in the text) but it would not to be unreasonable to assume that some of them, like the heavy mate, were thrown off for the same reason. Joseph Mallord William Turner's 1840 painting "The Slave Ship" deals with this practice, and would not have been unfamiliar to the culture-savvy readers of Putnam.

    9. Off Cape Horn we had heavy gales. In one moment, by night, three of my best officers, with fifteen sailors, were lost, with the main-yard; the spar snapping under them in the slings, as they sought, with heavers, to beat down the icy sail.

      The infamous Cape Horn is particularly known for being a difficult naval route, and many a ship have been known to suffer losses rounding it. The real Delano, sailing in 1799, dates before a lot of the documented wrecks. Audiences who kept up with maritime affairs would have been no stranger to stories of naval dissapearances in those waters. A short scholarly compilation of this can be found at here

    10. Upon gaining a less remote view, the ship, when made signally visible on the verge of the leaden-hued swells, with the shreds of fog here and there raggedly furring her, appeared like a white-washed monastery after a thunder-storm, seen perched upon some dun cliff among the Pyrenees.

      This play on light and dark is extremely fascinating, particularly if one considers Melville's use of the color white in Moby Dick. While the color white is often used to symbolize purity and goodness, Melville inverts this idea entirely. Ishmael ponders over what Moby Dick's whiteness means - is it evil? And if so, is black then, good? Or is the color white the combination of both evil and good, or perhaps the absence of both altogether?

      The whiteness of the whale is a topic that Melville frequently ponders. For example he states, "[i]s it that by its indefiniteness it shadows forth the heartless voids and immensities of the universe, and thus stabs us from behind with the thought of annihilation? . . . Or is it, that as in essence whiteness is not so much a color as the visible absence of color . . . is it for these reasons that there is such a dumb blankness, full of meaning, in a wide landscape of snows . . . ?" This can be found here.

      Melville may be playing with these ideas again in "Benito Cereno," as he likens the whiteness of the ship to religious motifs of the monastery and the monks, and yet he also fills that very same ship with shadows. If so, what implications does this have for race relations in "Benito Cereno" ?

    11. First, the affair of the Spanish lad assailed with a knife by the slave boy; an act winked at by Don Benito. Second, the tyranny in Don Benito’s treatment of Atufal, the black; as if a child should lead a bull of the Nile by the ring in his nose. Third, the trampling of the sailor by the two negroes; a piece of insolence passed over without so much as a reprimand.

      The "negroes" of Benito's ships are strange characters in this sense. I am having a hard time understanding why at this time Captain Delano did not at first think that it time to question Benito alone or attack the ship. According to the American slave code, slaves were to be considered property, they were not to raise there voice or hand at any white. Just the act of raising its voice would result in 39 lashes or death. This should have been a direct indication that things upon the ship were awry. (American Slave Code pg. 1)


    12. After this, nothing more could be said; though, indeed, Captain Delano could hardly avoid some little tinge of irritation upon being left ungratified in so inconsiderable a wish, by one, too, for whom he intended such solid services

      Even though Delano didn't participate in the slave trade, he did participate in the industry of sealing. Found this from NYU.edu website w which was called a "barbaric industry that fueled conspicuous consumption"


    13. superstition

      I found it interesting that Melville opted to not include Delano's passage about seamen's superstitions. I thought this added another dimension to Delano's persona.

    14. Marking the noisy indocility of the blacks in general, as well as what seemed the sullen inefficiency of the whites it was not without humane satisfaction that Captain Delano witnessed the steady good conduct of Babo.

      Interesting to see the overall attitude towards natives is similar in Delano's Narrative with senses of a "religious exceptionalism" and "blessing" them with their religious practices. A holier-than-thou sentiment when he mentions that the natives can now have an accomplished civilization from the white men.

    15. As master and man stood before him, the black upholding the white, Captain Delano could not but bethink him of the beauty of that relationship which could present such a spectacle of fidelity on the one hand and confidence on the other.

      Nathaniel Parker Willis's "Night Funeral of a Slave" is reminiscent here, wherein a slave owner mourns the death of his slave. In the piece, there is a deliberate emphasis by the owner that his slave is also his friend, his most trusted companion. However, that manipulation can be seen blatantly throughout the text as ownership and possession are hidden in the guise of friendship, through the use of extremely racial rhetoric, specifically, the emphasis on color.

      The text presents the slave owner in mourning as he proclaims, “I lost this morning the truest and most reliable friend I had in the world” (333). Despite the forced and deliberate change from slave to “reliable friend,” the ownership of the dead slave continues to seep throughout the text. In Willis’s desire to convey the slave owner’s friendship with his dead slave, he serves only to highlight his blatant ownership of the slave – the antithesis of the equality and freedom that a friendship implies. “I have a hundred others,” the slave owner continues, “many of them faithful and true, but his loss is irreparable” (333). While his speech is supposed to highlight the slave owner’s affection for his slave, it serves only to emphasize how, to him, this “lost” slave is merely one of many. The traits that the slave owner chooses to commend them on; “faithful” and “true” speaks most directly to his objectification of his slaves into mere tools that serve his purpose as well.

      This type of manipulation, or perception perhaps, can be seen often in Benito Cereno, particularly in Delano's perception of Babo, particularly when he is so awed by the latter's loyalty that he offers to buy him. By commending Babo on his loyalty and companionship, this serves only to push the Pro-slavery agenda (much like Willis's intention) for it insidiously praises traits in the slaves that are directly beneficial to their own enslavers.

      The narrator's tone here could perhaps also be called into question. A decidedly unreliable narrator, one must wonder if he is speaking to the flaws in this perception, or if he is standing by and supporting this manipulation.

      Willis, Nathaniel P. “The Night Funeral of a Slave.” Littell’s Living Age Vol. XXI 1 Jan. 1849: 333-334. Web.

    16. Benito Cereno, borne on the bier, did, indeed, follow his leader.

      In The life of Toussaint L'Ouverture by J.R. Beard published in 1853, the three heads of the rebellion, Dessalines, Christophe, and Clervaux, penned a proclamation entitled, "In the name of the Blacks, and the Men of Colour" (Beard 287). Within the proclamation, there states:

      "[a]s to those who, possessed by senseless pride, interested slaves of guilty pretension, are blind enough to think themselves the essence of human nature, and declare that heaven made them to be our masters and our tyrants–let them never approach the land of Saint Domingo; if they come hither, they will find chains and banishment" (288).

      This role reversal of "master" and "slave" is particularly interesting as it undoubtedly reflects the very nature of "Benito Cereno." Just as Delano is disillusioned by Cereno's appearance of power, the real power rested in the hands of Babo. Delano's inability to notice the real power in Babo echoes the power that the three heads of the rebellion had as well.

      Not only were the men instituting their claim upon Saint Domingo with their proclamation, but their threat to individuals who supported the slave trade likewise flipped the institution on its head. Pro-slavery individuals were not threatened with death, but with "chains and banishment," sufferings that were undoubtedly inflicted upon countless of slaves.

    17. “SAN DOMINICK,”

      As previous comments have pointed out, Melville's alteration of the ship's name to San Dominick points to the Haitian Revolution in the French colony of Saint Domingue that began in 1791. The rebellion was a nation-wide slave revolt against the French, and while L'Ouverture was undoubtedly the leader of the revolution, there were, according to The life of Toussaint L'Ouverture by J.R. Beard published in 1853, three other heads of the rebellion included Dessalines, Christophe, and Clervaux, who penned a proclamation entitled, "In the name of the Blacks, and the Men of Colour" (Beard 287).

      In it, they state, "[t]he independence of Saint Domingo is proclaimed. Restored to our primitive dignity, we have secured our rights; we swear never to cede them to any power in the world" (Beard 287). This section is absolutely reminiscent of the curious question found in "Benito Cereno," wherein the reader wonders what exactly the motivations are for Babo and his men.

      While the obvious answer would be freedom, Melville curiously tells the reader that Babo, in fact, was a slave back in his homeland as well. Why then, would their ultimate destiny be home? The proclamation from the Haitian Revolution, undoubtedly gives the reader some insight to this question.

      This "primitive dignity" that they speak of may allude to one's innate freedom to choose for oneself, to decide on one's destiny. Applied to "Benito Cereno," the proclamation appears slightly paradoxical. On one hand, one's ability to choose frees Babo from his enslavement on the ship, on the other, it also delivers him back to enslavement in his homeland, the antithesis of refusing to "cede" his regained power.

      However, there may be an interesting resolution to such a conflict. Should the narrator be trusted and Babo was indeed a slave back in his homeland as well, perhaps this "primitive dignity," and their motivation for overthrowing Cereno, was merely to regain the illusion of choice in a world where they were frequently robbed of them.

    18. “You are saved,” cried Captain Delano, more and more astonished and pained; “you are saved: what has cast such a shadow upon you?” “The negro.”

      As mentioned previously in class, this quotation (excluding the final line, "[t]he negro") is used as an epigraph in Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man. Interestingly enough, the entirety of the novel is available online (much in the fashion of "Benito Cereno" on Project Gutenberg) by DePaul University's e-portfolio site. The epigraph page can be found here. It is fascinating not only to see the texts that may have influenced Melville's writing of "Benito Cereno," but also the works that may have been in turn influenced by Melville.

      The exclusion of the final line, "[t]he negro," particularly in a work like Invisible man, where Ellison's primary focus revolves around an examination of African Americans and their visibility in American society in the 1930s, raises interesting questions about Melville's work as well.

      Ellison's question of visibility, for example, speaks greatly to Melville's "Benito Cereno" as Delano is entirely incapable of truly seeing the situation for as it was. So blinded by the politics of the era, and the pervading notion that Africans were not to be in power, Babo and his power are literally rendered invisible to the Captain.

      Is Ellison attempting to answer Melville's question with his novel? In that even the invisible African is able to cast a shadow upon society? Further, what does this say about "Benito Cereno" as a whole? Perhaps this too, depends entirely on what we do and do not see.

    19. which has gained for the negro the repute of making the most pleasing body-servant in the world; one, too, whom a master need be on no stiffly superior terms with, but may treat with familiar trust; less a servant than a devoted companion.

      Toni Morrison addresses this use of language which is often of a paternal relationship between whites and slaves, or the relationship of an owner to a pet. This language is dehumanizing and looks to create a justification for slavery. Morrison says that the "willful blindness" of Delano's language "...absolves him of all responsibility." Morrison believes Melville does this to reveal how racism is constructed to sustain slavery and argues that the "'happy, loyal slave'" discourse has present-day consequences. http://www.thenation.com/article/melville-and-language-denial/

    20. –that, beside the negroes killed in the action, some were killed after the capture and re-anchoring at night, when shackled to the ring-bolts on deck; that these deaths were committed by the sailors, ere they could be prevented. That so soon as informed of it, Captain Amasa Delano used all his authority, and, in particular with his own hand, struck down Martinez Gola, who, having found a razor in the pocket of an old jacket of his, which one of the shackled negroes had on, was aiming it at the negro’s throat

      Amasa Delano describes, in A Narrative of Voyages and Travels, an almost identical situation when the rebel slaves were captured from the Tryal:

      "Whilst putting them in irons, I had to exercise as much authority over the Spanish captain and his crew, as I had to use over my own men on any other occasion, to prevent them from cutting to pieces and killing these poor unfortunate beings. I observed one of the Spanish sailors had found a razor in the pocket of an old jacket of his, which one of the slaves had on; he opened it, and made a cut upon the negro's head," (Norton Critical Edition, 207).

      Whilst both the real-life and Melville-drawn Delano ensured within the range of his authority that the captured slaves would not be hurt (ensuring them a trial), the real-life Delano appeared to have more sympathy and pity for the captured slaves. By contrast, Melville's Delano seemed to have an indifference towards the slaves at best (aside from ensuring they were not killed prior to trial). Perhaps this use of artistic license incorporated by Melville (certainly related to the difference in POV between the narrator and Delano) renders the moral ambiguity of his text as more effective.

    1. To accomplish this, he makes 5% of his students’ grades dependent on their “quality of failure.” Privileging failure like this helps students speak up in class and for the class to identify if, how, and where they were wrong.

      Now this is an idea that I can buy into - as a young student with learning disabilities, I struggled inherently with outlining and verbalising my own opinions, let alone understanding the misconstructed-construction of others, like my professors. There's also the fact that many just don't try in a classroom environment, and to have my failures or those of an apt student posed against and akin to those who simply didn't bother has always been a constant source of frustration and anger for me.

    2. The Journal of Interactive Technology & Pedagogy features a section on “teaching fails,” and in this one Mark D. Pepper discusses what happened when a controversial image was shared on his class’s blog. When the comment thread “got ugly,” students wanted to know why their teacher hadn’t intervened—not noticing that it was 11pm at night. Pepper considers this a teaching fail because he did not meet his student expectations nor did he help them understand how a blog functions differently from a class discussion. This experience is a second tier failure since the issue stems from people’s expectations of technologies rather than the tool itself. The essay closes by discussing how Pepper now prepares students to interact with the blog and to establish ground rules, and is a useful site for those who include similar public assignments.

      This frustrates me, as the professor, in my eyes, did little/nothing wrong - yes, censorship and moderation is needed in communal projects such as this, and I agree entirely that had this occurred during the day/an accessible time for the professor, it would have wholly become his responsibility to monitor it. However, in lieu of the lateness of the event and his detachment from the students, I think it's more irresponsible to blame him than anything else, as it discredits the will of the student. After all, were a group of students to have a heated, controversial conversation outside of class-time, we would not expect a professor to mediate it from wherever he/she is.

    3. Although it can be disruptive and stressful to lose control of the classroom, these moments of failure create opportunities for engaged learning. The students learn to see us as fallible and discover that such problems can be overcome.

      In theory for sure: but much like many great ideologies, this is a flawed argument in its blatant optimism, in my opinion. Professors do, indeed, need to be able to adapt and diversify their teaching in order to expand the students reading and understanding of the subject and, on a grander scale, life. However, the reason interactive whiteboards, tablets and even simple projectors are called teaching assists is for the simple reason that they were created to further and assist educational potential. To deny that they greatly benefit education to the point of modern reliance in the field is to deny that the typewriter revolutionised the physical book.

    1. "The name died before the man," Mr. Olsen-Smith says. "Compare Melville to Mark Twain, for instance — a man who remained beloved throughout his life and after, up to the present. People saved every scrap. … It's a different story with Melville."

      I find this very interesting in relation to modern scholarly studies of Melville as somewhat of a mystery and confusion. That is marginalia doesn't illuminate or endear him to us is intriguing.

    2. the notes Melville made in his copy of a critical source for Moby-Dick: Thomas Beale's 1839 book, The Natural History of the Sperm Whale.

      The glory of functional marginalia as opposed to my haphazard scribblings of "lol" and "relatable"