Week 15 Journal

At the end of this week, I presented at Kemp! Preparing for doing so was helpful because it gave me the push to make a lot of the numerical visual aids I’d be using in my final paper anyway, and deciding how to format and structure these in advance ended up being helpful in how I envisioned the rest of my writing process. I think my presentation went fairly well; I think that if I’d had the entirety of my paper written rather than just part, it could have been a little bit more interesting, but I was writing long two papers concurrently that week (and presenting three times at Kemp!) and at the very least my presentation was an effective overview of my topic.

I liked seeing my classmates’ presentations, though Dr. Scanlon’s question about confirmation bias made me remember what I’d felt about the Great War poetry study I’d looked at the previous week. I answered her by replying that this kind of confirmation bias was exactly what I’d wished to avoid in studying. I don’t think there’s anything terribly wrong with asking questions we already think we know the answers to – in first reading All Quiet on the Western Front, I certainly wanted to plug it into a number counter and confirm which I already knew, which is that in the chapters where Paul goes on leave, there’s a huge downturn in “we” and a great uptick in “I”. But on its own, this kind of numerical result doesn’t make for a super interesting avenue of literary investigation. That’s why I admired Blatt’s approach, one focused on asking a legitimate question that did not by default have obvious answers.

Overall, though, I feel like I learned a lot from this class, and I was deeply invested in Wednesday’s discussion on the place of computational and quantitative approaches in the greater field of literary studies! I feel grateful for being more aware of these contemporary voices in the field, as well as having gotten to engage with some of them, and I look forward to seeing everyone else’s presentations, as well as finishing my paper!

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