Jill Terry Rudy, English and Jarom McDonald, Office of Digital Humanities (through March 2016
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 MEG had three main conceptual tasks. Because Dr. Jarom McDonald left the university for industry work, only one of these tasks was accomplished. However, reassignments within the Office of Digital Humanities helped this project continue to attain certain academic objectives.
Data Structuring: Dr. McDonald accomplished minimal work on processing the text in such a way that it can be computationally approached. However, he assigned Tory Anderson, Senior Web Application Developer, to oversee the database. Anderson has a graduate degree in computational narrative which aligns well with the academic objectives of this project.
Visualization: Because minimal work was done on restructuring the data, students had little access to utilizing a series of open source tools to generate a collection of visual representations of the data. Still, Anderson worked with Dr. Rudy and the research team to stabilize and reformulate the database categories, and the software programs utilized, for the long-term sustainability of this resource. This stabilization took most of the MEG timetable. The revamped database went live in November 2017.
Data Analysis: Although some of the higher end tools are not yet available, Dr. Rudy and the students have been able to place different subsets of the data into forms that explore and analyze the fairy tales and the shows in which they appear in ways not possible outside of the currently available computational approaches. Dr. Rudy and students have been able to use the database to analyze what patterns might be made evident, and ask new questions about how these patterns reveal new, altered, or augmented understanding of the nature of both the texts and the medium. Understanding the relationship of fairy tales, television, and popular culture has been a key contribution of this MEG cycle.
Additionally, Dr. Rudy proposed and taught a section of English 394R: Applied English, with graduate student MEG participant Preston Wittwer as teaching assistant. This extended the number of undergraduate students who participated in this scholarship by 10 students. Student entries on the fairytales.byu.edu blog present their research findings to a public audience.
Evaluation of the Mentoring Environment
We stated three mentoring outcomes in our 2015 application; all have been met or exceeded because we selected skilled and highly-motivated 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. Winter semester 2016, two M.A. students and one undergraduate student presented their research at the Western States Folklore Society 75th anniversary meeting at University of California-Berkeley. As a preview, the students presented their papers on campus, and one student presented her research at the BYU English symposium. Winter semester 2017, Dr. Rudy, Tory Anderson, and two graduate students and an undergraduate presented at the Digital Humanities Utah 2 conference at the University of Utah.
• Students hired by MEG funds experienced every Primary Principle of Mentoring. They met weekly with Dr. Rudy during winter and fall semesters of 2016 and monthly during winter 2017 and weekly during fall 2017. Students employed for the MEG also mentored the students enrolled in the Engl 394R course, giving in-class presentations, evaluating the research and blog posts, and giving direction for event planning and public humanities outreach. Anderson received student input to facilitate the data reorganizing and stabilization of the database. 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, gender relations, and identification and decision-making influenced by fairy tale scripts and popular media consumption.
• 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 maintaining the project 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 Into the Woods,” this last event in collaboration with the Theatre and Media Arts department. In 2017, Dr. Rudy completed her final year on the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Partnership Development Grant, “Fairy-Tale Cultures and Media Today”; students had access to this international partnership, including traveling to Utah State University to hear a lecture and meet Jack Zipes, a most eminent fairy-tale scholar in North America and PDG member.
Ariel Peterson Hubbard: documented weekly meetings and assignments, maintained the blog “Visualizing Wonder,” conducted data analysis. M. A. student in English.
• Presented FTTV research at the BYU English Symposium, March 2016.
• Presented at the Western States Folklore Society (WSFS), April 2016.
• Presented at the Digital Humanities Utah 2 (DHU2) conference, February 2017.
• Set to defend M.A. thesis, chaired by Dr. Rudy, in January 2017.
Lauren Redding: updated the database, maintained social media including the blog and Facebook page, contributed to public humanities events, serves as liaison between MEG students and Tory Anderson, project web developer. Undergraduate student in English.
• WSFS presentation.
• Interned at the National Museum of Women in the Arts with the Washington Seminar, winter 2017, received internship because of FTTV digital humanities experience.
• Presented at the “Setting the Stage for Into the Woods” outreach event, November 2017.
Preston Wittwer: contributed to database, researched current trends in television and fairy-tale media, served as teaching assistant for Engl 394R course, moderated outreach events. M. A. student in English.
• WSFS presentation & DHU2 presentation.
• Published peer-reviewed article, “Don Draper Thinks Your Ad is Cliché: Fairy Tale Iconography in Advertising.” Humanities, March 2016 special issue, “Fairy Tale and its Uses in Contemporary New Media and Popular Culture.” 6 May 2016. Link.
• Published peer-reviewed article, “Say My Name: Walter White as Heisenberg and Reading Breaking Bad as a Classic Fairy Tale.” Midwest Quarterly 59.1: 70-80. Originally presented at Southwest Popular/American Culture Association Conference. Albuquerque, NM. 15-18 February 2017. Paper presentation from a seminar paper prepared for Dr. Rudy’s 640 seminar, fall semester 2016.
• Teaching mentorship for English 394R: Applied English, winter semester, 2017, with Dr. Rudy. Created mock-job interview for final assignment and assisted in developing a business plan assignment geared to improve the FTTV project.
• Conference Planning Committee; “Networks, Nodes, and New Approaches to Adaptation Studies Conference,” February 24-25, 2017 at BYU.
• Defended M. A. thesis, “How President Barack Obama Reshaped the Rhetorical Presidency by Slow Jamming the News,” November 2017.
• Applied to doctoral programs in media studies for 2017, inexplicably not accepted. Applying now for rhetoric and media studies doctoral programs.
Giselle Valentine: helped with later stages of database stabilization, updated database, designed promotions for outreach events, conducted data analysis, edited 394R student blog posts. Undergraduate student in Theatre and Media Studies.
• DHU2 presentation.
• Currently serving in the Japan Tokyo South mission.
Grace Teito contributed during winter 2016, working on Infographics. Erica Smith and Cortlynd Olsen are members of the Engl 394R course hired as undergraduates to work on the project. During fall semester 2017, they participated in data analysis, database updates, and public humanities projects, including regular blog posts and organizing a screening of the season premiere of Once Upon a Time and the “Setting the Stage” event.
Students enrolled in English 394R: Applied English, Visualizing Wonder section, winter 2017: Monica Allen, Emma Anderson, Abby Ekins, Heidi Grether, Colton Johnson, Cortlynd Olsen, Shana Pickett, Rachel Rackham, Erica Smith, Sarah Thompson.
Where they are now, MEG students from 2014-2015 grant:
Megan Armknecht—received M.A. degree in history from Oxford University in 2016. Interned with LDS Church magazines, fall 2016. Currently a PhD student at Princeton University studying history.
Madeleine Dresden—defended MFA thesis, summer 2017. Worked for BYU Radio as a writer from 2015-2017. Currently an adjunct instructor for BYU English department.
Lauren Matthews—defended MFA thesis, winter 2016. Dr. Rudy was a reader on her thesis committee. Currently a Lecturer at Snow College.
Jessie Riddle—defended her master’s thesis in folklore at Indiana University, spring 2017. Interned with the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, summer 2017. Currently a PhD student at Indiana University.
Kristy Stewart—set to index the Routledge Companion to Media and Fairy-Tale Cultures as freelance editor; completed other book indexing projects for Pauline Greenhill, principal investigator for the SSHRC Partnership Development Grant. Currently runs her own editorial consulting business.
Graduate employment–$2,800 (because of writing instructorships, graduate students mostly worked on a one-hour-per-week contract; their contributions are vital to the MEG)
Travel–$2,300, including travel to UC-Berkeley for WSFS, and fees for DHU2 conference
Supplies for public humanities events: $400
Supplies for event promotion and research books–$315
Total expenditures: $14,315