Research in the Digital Humanities: A 5-Tier Ordeal

After reading Trevor Owens’ blog post on conducting research in the digital humanities, I began to think how Maxwell’s approach could (and most likely will) apply to my later projects. In a broader sense, I want to address how technology has contributed to the continuation of othering in American culture by reinforcing dated symbols on a new digital platform. 

GOAL

To demonstrate technology’s ability to further impose harmful othering attempts to various groups and negotiate ways to reverse this trend.

CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK

     1. Kenneth Burke’s rhetorical theory, specifically concerning the emphasis on symbols and identification

     2. Academic understanding of technology’s influence on the power structure in American culture (from Kristin’s 597 course)

RESEARCH QUESTIONS

     1. In what ways does the presence of technology (more specifically, the internet) extend othering in American culture?

     2. What aspects of its capabilities affords technology this authority to reinforce certain modes of identification and symbol definition?

METHODS

     1. Read and critique Burke’s works, including A Rhetoric of Motives, as well as supplemental scholarly work on Burke, to establish a framework of identification and symbol use

     2. Survey the presence and treatment of different groups in society (e.g. gender, race, political affiliation, etc.) in online spaces

     3. Select one group and perform a close analysis specifically looking at how the members are othered or distanced from the dominant identification

VALIDITY CONCERNS

While I’m expecting to find a wealth of research and examples to draw on, I’m equally anticipating finding artifacts, like sites and blogs, dedicated to inclusion and bridging different social groups. 

FINAL THOUGHTS

As an undergrad and during my first semester of graduate school, I’ve gained literacy in foundational rhetorical theories, especially in their connections to social constructs. Throughout the upcoming semester, I hope to gain a stronger understanding of digital technology’s role in rhetoric. More precisely, I’m interested in learning how writing for the web, as well as access and interface design, has furthered projected stereotypes. It’s apparent that digital technology has progressed to such an extent that it has penetrated nearly every aspect of American society, thus changing and influencing the culture. I hope to take the theories from this course to further my research in contemporary othering and identification. 

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