The Underground reached out to DePaul English alum Lauren Peterson to learn a bit more about what led her to the Digital Humanities and undertaking her Senior Capstone project, which explores the intersection of technology and the humanities.
On her background and undertaking the study of literature:
“I am a DePaul University alum and majored in English with a concentration in creative writing. I became interested in writing my senior year of high school and by the end of my sophomore year of college, I knew that writing was a craft I was passionate about and semi-okay at. I enjoyed most of my experience in the world of an English major, whether it was creating stories and the complexities of coming up with fictional characters or delving into the structural side of English literature. But it wasn’t until the last quarter of my senior year that I discovered a new dimension to this field that I thought I knew so well. Just as in my studies of English, I am constantly surprised by this city and the new areas I have yet to explore, despite growing up on the South Side of Chicago and living in Lincoln Park for the past four years. So I had the idea to learn more about the two and how they intersect. In creating this project, I learned new skills and that I could push myself to go beyond boundaries. I learned more about the city I have called home for the past twenty-two years, and I learned how literature could intersect across space and time to influence new generations.”
On becoming familiar with digital humanities:
“In April of this year, I enrolled in Professor Shanahan’s Senior Capstone course, which portrays the English sphere in what was for me a new light: it merged literature with technology, resulting in a field known as the digital humanities. Throughout the course, we discussed how famous texts from great authors like Jane Austen are transformed in how we perceive, manipulate, and understand these materials with the modern applications we have access to today, making connections to authors that implement these developing uses of technology for literature, like Jennifer Egan does.
On being inspired to think deeper:
“The more I thought about it, I wondered how authors of the past would utilize such devices, questioning what kind of new platforms they may use to reach their audience or what kind of media presence they might have within our technologically driven society. One idea that sparked my interest from the very beginning of the quarter was this concept of showing literature through a video format, even though I knew nothing about editing videos or using Adobe applications. But I was set on it. I also knew that I wanted to utilize the city I had in front of me–the city I had grown up in–and started to realize the multi-faceted roles one person can have within a city, and how it can offer benefits to others today. In the case of Jane Austen, this includes groups such as Stone Cold Austen, a woman’s arm wrestling team, and Jane-athon, an Austen related hacking event, both of which are based in Chicago. But it doesn’t end with Jane Austen. There are numerous topics to be touched on, technologies that are being developed, texts that are being reinvented in new formats, and continuing the process of transforming literature to reach others. There’s a whole new world of possibilities that are waiting to be uncovered in the English realm.”