Jill Terry Rudy, English, and Jarom McDonald, Digital Humanities
Evaluation of Academic Objectives
This project has leveraged data processing and visualization methods that are becoming significant paradigms in digital humanities scholarship; specifically, we have repositioned the existing teleography of fairy tales on television from Channeling Wonder into a data corpus that can be mined and analyzed visually, spatially, and temporally.
This initial project had three main conceptual tasks that all were accomplished:
Data Structuring: As the teleography existed in bibliographic form, the first major component of the project involved creating a database for computational approaches. Dr. McDonald worked with digital humanities and the MEG team to create the database. He composed programming algorithms that have enabled Dr. Rudy and her students to better comprehend the scope of the data and metadata, and identify the types of interactions and relationships that might be exposed by different types of visualizations.
Visualization: Dr. McDonald used customized tools or scripts to generate a collection of visual representations of the data. These visualizations show new relationships among data points, compare different sets of values, track the data over various time periods, and identify specific parts in relationship to various wholes. They have taken the form of histograms, geospatial maps, network graphs, or tree-based graphs.
Data Analysis: Based on student research questions, we placed different subsets of the data into forms that explore and analyze the fairy tales and the television shows in which they appear in ways not possible outside of such computational approaches. Drs. Rudy and McDonald as well as the research students have analyzed the visualizations for what patterns are made evident, and have formulated unprecedented research questions about how these patterns reveal new, altered, or augmented understanding of the nature of both the texts and the medium.
Evaluation of the Mentoring Environment
We stated three mentoring outcomes in our 2013 application; all have been met or exceeded because we selected graduate and undergraduate students intent on conducting and sharing research about fairy tale and television using digital humanities methods.
- Students working on the project produced and presented their own research questions and interpretations based on the visualizations. Before presenting at the national American Folklore Society (AFS) meeting in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in November 2014, we did two presentations at BYU for families and former fairy-tale graduate assistants and for the College of Humanities. Students were actively involved in the data organization and coding of the database with ATU tale type numbers. They learned techniques of formulating and fulfilling a “big data” project—although admittedly our corpus of televised tales from the teleography is small by big data standards.
- Students experienced every Primary Principle of Mentoring. They met weekly with Dr. Rudy during winter and fall semesters of 2014 and 2015. We met several times during spring and summer terms both years as well. Dr. McDonald facilitated the data organizing and interpretation phases of the project and tailored the visualizations to the students’ research questions. Our AFS presentation involved colleagues from the International Fairy Tale Filmography at the University of Winnipeg, so students developed personal and professional relationships. By writing proposals, giving presentations, and organizing public humanities events, students fulfilled central academic activities including data preparation, analysis, interpretation, and presentation in written, oral, and visual formats and apt venues. Tales involve life lessons, usually in secular situations, but students have been encouraged to integrate their spiritual understanding with the formulation of their interpretations. Their projects centered on issues such as economic and political ramifications of fairy tales on television, international and environmental relations, and agency and family life.
- This academic mentoring environment has advanced student’s professional careers because it combines conventional literary skills of textual analysis and interpretation with current technologies that facilitate new forms of analysis. The student team particularly has been adept at public outreach leading to a website (fttv.byu.edu); blog (fairytales.byu.edu); a presence on social media outlets; and public events such as the conference paper presentations, an “Unbirthday Tea Party,” and “Setting the Stage for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” this last event in collaboration with the Theatre and Media Arts department.
Kristy G. Stewart: organized database and ATU tale type coding, created and initially maintained the blog “Visualizing Wonder,” conducted data analysis.
- Indexed the book Channeling Wonder as freelance editor
- AFS presentation
- Completed MA in English and taught Digital Humanities course for BYU
Madeleine Dresden: contributed to database, created and maintained social media, created and organized public humanities events on Alice in Wonderland and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.
- Attended inaugural meeting of “Fairy Tale Cultures and Media Today” Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada partnership development grant as Dr. Rudy’s RA
- AFS presentation
- Finalizing MFA thesis and going to work for BYU Radio as a writer
Jessie Riddle: contributed to database and aligned ATU codes, kept notes during weekly research meetings, redesigned the blog banner, conceptualized analysis and research methodologies.
- AFS presentation, networked with key folklore programs for graduate applications
- Accepted to Indiana University Folklore MA/PhD program with fellowship, fall 2015
Megan Armknecht: helped with later stages of ATU codes, conducted data analysis.
- AFS presentation
- Lead author, collaborating with Dr. Rudy and Dr. Sibelan Forrester of Swarthmore College, “Identifying Impressions of Baba Yaga: Navigating the Uses of Attachment and Wonder on Soviet and American Television,” for Marvels & Tales academic journal, 32 manuscript pages
- Accepted to Oxford University MA program in American history, fall 2015
Preston Wittwer, Ariel Peterson, Lauren Matthews, and Audra Coleman participated in data analysis and dissemination projects during fall semester 2015, including regular blog posts, creating an Infographic, and organizing the “Setting the Stage” event at The Wall.
The initial student wage request was for one undergraduate and one graduate student, because of the SSHRC grant I was able to extended wages and travel to fund two undergraduates and two graduate students winter 2014 to spring 2015, and then with help of the MEG, SSHRC grant, and a BYU graduate research mentorship I worked with three graduate students and one undergraduate fall 2015.
Travel–$3200, including SSHRC meeting in Winnipeg for graduate RA, and 4 students to AFS Supplies for public humanities events and books–$500
Total expenditures: $9700