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Author Archives: Raven Gomez

Final Project: Gaming & Representation in Digital Humanities (Anthony & Raven)

For the final project, Anthony and I have created a playable beta of a game that attempts to address the intersections of online spaces, education, representation, and equity/accessibility through digital tools in learning spaces. Raven and I divided this post into two in order to explain our different angles on the same goal.

Our proposal will  focus on the power of identity and aims to provide a perspective of what is possible in using games to expand the pedagogical scope of interactive mediums as a tool for learning and re-creating the standards of knowledge production in higher education. To do this we will be referencing small scale games and creating our own Twine game as a model. We will be emphasizing the gaming content, and related source material and will be referencing Digital Humanities pedagogical practices that can be theorized into game-building strategies to structure equality and dismantle power-dynamics in traditional classroom settings, and aims to integrate this practice in introductory level writing courses at the community college level (as Anthony elaborates on in his post). Our larger goal being to also create a Twine game, which is currently in a beta/bare bone stage reflecting some of our own experiences as Latin(x), students in college settings and how game creation can be a cathartic experience in our own education. We will also be looking at Kishonna Gray’s “Race, Gender, and Deviance in Xbox Live:Theoretical Perspectives from the Virtual Margins” & “Live in Your World, Play in Ours’: Race, Video Games, and Consuming the Other” by David Leonard as a contextual approach to understanding the cultural approaches to avoid and utilize in our own gaming project. In summation our aim is to expose students & faculty to the possibilities simple text-based games can offer as an alternative mode of written expression in higher education settings.

Games: Homebound,  College Admissions Simulator, & Everything’s Fine

College Admissions Simulator

Homebound

Everything’s Fine

I wanted to use these three games as a positive examples of some student projects that  can be easily incorporated into a “Cyborgian” classroom. These in particular were created by students at an Amherst College course titled “Video Games and the Boundaries of Narrative”with Marisa Parham I took last semester. The first is a group collaboration I was involved in, the College Simulator is intended to allow the player to think critically about the desensitizing process involved in the college admissions process. In thinking of the differences between inclusivity and equity, the categorization of students based on class, race, gender, and economic standing greatly blurs the lines of how colleges interpret and sell the “diverse” college experience. I enjoy sharing this game with students because it allows them to think outside their own experience, and into an aspect of a perspective which has systematically determined and shaped the lives of many students of colors attempting to center an institution which has historically excluded them from being included into higher education. Alternatively, Everything’s Fine explores the usage of “Mechanics as Metaphors” which portrays the immersive experience of a 1st generation college student managing their mental health and cultural expectations of leaving home to pursue a college education.  I’m also interested in drawing from Amanda Phillips’ syllabus, “Gaming & Justice” and her critical work in finding the connections between written and game based narrative expressions as an example of the type of work Dh’ers are doing with interactive mediums in the classroom. 

I’ll end by sharing a sneak-peak at our current game project: How Have Your Experiences Shaped Your Paper, through an image of the narrative tree-branch used in Twine to demonstrate the narrative timeline of each curated dialogue. You can currently see certain title words sticking out as reference to some of the themes we are hoping to cover in the larger game. It also offers an insight into the scaffolding/structure process of Twine as an accessible platform. Please feel free to explore and play some of the short games I linked below!

DHUM 7000 Proposal Presentation Sign-Up

Hello folks! Matt asked Anthony and I to put together a doodle poll for our upcoming two sessions of student presentations on 12/4 & 12/11. Please sign up for one of these dates, as we must condense the presentations so that everyone has a chance to share their work. As Matt mentioned in class each proposal should be no longer than 6-8 minutes each unless you are collaborating which allows from an extended presentation time.

DHUM 7000 Proposal Presentations

Excavating the Slave Experience: An Interactive Pedagogical Mapping tool

Hello all,

I just wanted to pass along the link to Excavating the Slave Experience, created collaboratively by MALS students, Monika Wright, Iris Finkel, and Tristen Goodwin, which explores how runaway slave advertisements could be digitally archived and recorded as a pedagogical tool to inform of the historically violent process of tracking black bodies as a source of free labor which can also be found within the Simone Browne piece. In thinking of Brown and Nakamura’s reading I’d love to further explore how digital tools can be used to combat systems of infrastructural, and digital inequality, specifically in Digital Humanities knowledge production. Furthermore, how interactive mediums can possess the capacity to counter the misconstrued identities of marginalized people as we continue to think of our own role as “Dh’ers”. As Nakamura points out the through the exploitation of Navajo women in the pursuit of capitalistic, consumption-based technology, it is the lack of acknowledgement in addressing historical inequality which is the foundation which continues to perpetuate cycles of  mis-representative narratives of marginalized people in association to labor in the digital world. Indigenous games scholar, Elizabeth LaPensée, talks about the process of “Digital Preservation” in her work of creating graphic novels and video games which re-appropriate traditional symbols of technology such as the classic Atari Space Invaders, and re-platforms narratives in a way which re-centers the perspectives of colonialism and stories of European conquest.  You can get a taste of this in her game Invaders in which you play as a Native person combating the “foreign” forces in the embodiment of space invaders (colonialists) with single-arrow bursts which translates the disorienting experience of making sense “alien” technology and the history of domination and conquest.

These tools of digital preservation may not be complete solutions in undoing systemic inequality, but can perhaps do the work of sparking the inquiry for individuals to delve further towards understanding issues outside of one’s experience.

Sophia Smith College, CDHA, and LaGuardia CC Archival Project

 

Apologies for the late blog post! I just returned from a weekend at my undergraduate institution, Smith College for an archives project deeply related to this week’s theme of DH and Archive studies.

As mentioned in Stephen Brier’s “Radical Teacher”, the history of the CUNY Digital History Archive, and the significance of “..stor(ies) that can and should be told and must be linked to the broader history of public higher education in the contemporary era..” became the guiding framework as I delved into my current research archival project.

In 2015 during my time as an undergrad, I participated in a 1 credit course in the Sophia Smith Archives, which not only exposed me a skill-set of navigating archives, but exposed me to a serendipitous collection which would spark my interest for the years to come. The collection involves The National Congress of Neighborhood Women (Archive directory in link) in collaboration with the City University of New York (aka CUNY), specifically Hunter & LaGuardia Community College’s involvement with an experimental/nontraditional off-campus curriculum for women of lower-economic neighborhoods from 1971-1979. I’m still perplexed as to why such a large collection of CUNY related materials would be at Smith College, an all women’s liberal arts college in rural MA, and as a current “DH’er” & graduate student, I wanted to return to this collection and see if it would be possible (and what the process would be like) to transition these materials to the CDHA with the support of Stephen Brier and the Wagner Archives at LaGuardia Community College.

The bureaucratic process involved in attempting to digitize this collection for an open-access platform has not been the easiest process, which deeply echoes the tone of Dr. Stephen Roberts article, “The Differences between Digital History and Digital Humanities”. Particularly, I’m interested his exploration of DH as a field of study, and limiting accessibility into considering archival projects as a pedagogical tool to decipher history in the learning process. Considering the usage of digital tools to preserve this archival collection has been met with several restrictions due to the collection’s content including written testimonies from NY state senators and congresswomen, and other confidential materials from the time which can limit accessibility & inclusion in considering students from the CUNY community. Ideally this would be a project that should not only be made public, but could be drawn as a resource for CUNY students at LaGuardia community college that could be incorporated into a course, or project for a broader understanding of the history of community college’s in relation to the student’s direct and individual experience. These broader notions of how history, politics, and education policy intersect deeply inform how we as graduate students, in limited positions of power could engage in the dismantling of accessibility of historical documents in higher education.

 

Going through these resources, which includes handwritten testimonies from the women of this program was particularly cathartic for me, and my personal experience graduating from LaGuardia Community College in circa 2014. It felt as though a part of my history, which involved the now radical concept of allowing women (mostly women of color from neglected parts of Brooklyn) to remain in their neighborhoods to pursue an associates degrees “off-campus”, engaged in developing an empowered sense of community and pedagogy in practice had been forgotten when I noticed the collection had not previously been accessed since 1991. How can Digital Humanities radicalize the process in which archival material can be accessible to ensure history can be persevered an utilized to communities that need it? And how can we ensure that students of all educational backgrounds have the tools to navigate materials in an archival collection? I wish I could share more of the images I gathered from my trip without breaking any restriction rights, but I’m hoping to send these materials back to CUNY (digitally) soon. 

Text Mining, Diversity Mission Statements Across Several Colleges

So this is my first time using Voyant, and I’m pleasantly surprised by how intuitive and easily I was able to make use of some it’s cool features. For my assignment, I wanted to reflect on the current and former academic institutions I’ve had experience in both professionally and academically.

Throughout my academic journey, I’ve noticed the term “Diversity” greatly varies depending on the needs and values each respective institution embodies. Based upon our individual perspectives, the term diversity can be quite broad, making it’s application in college settings more difficult to track. Going into this project some guiding questions I pondered were: Would there be differences in the marketed (term) values of diversity between private and public colleges? How would I narrow down the list of colleges? What were my own definitions of diversity, and what aspects are most valued in my own perceived ideal of what diversity means in a college setting?

To begin I narrowed down my college list to six institutions:                                                              (1) Cuyahoga Community College                                                                                                             (2) Smith College                                                                                                                                         (3) LaGuardia Community College                                                                                                            (4) Amherst College                                                                                                                                      (5) CUNY Graduate Center                                                                                                                          6) Hunter College

After attaching the urls to all “Diversity Mission Statements” of each college into Voyant, the first image of “trends” appeared:

To dive in deeper, I did a separate chart of the top 5 terms from each institution’s Diversity Statements, which excluded the glaring amount of times each institution self-referenced itself as seen by the large texts of “Smith” & “Amherst” in the image above. While the amount of times each college felt the need to reference itself was intriguing in itself, I wanted to focus on terminology outside of the name to which followed below and chose to exclude it from the following charts. Aside from the college names, here are the Top 5 terms associated with the Diversity Statements of each college:

Reminder: (1) CuyahogaCC (2) Smith (3) LaGuardia CC (4) Amherst (5) CUNY GC (6) Hunter

As shown above, the top 5 trends are, Diversity, Student, Academic, College, and Community. Whilst the obvious mention of diversity did not surprise me, the remaining terms did. So in response, I next, wanted to compare these top trends with the five terms (values) I thought were most important in identifying what diversity should mean in college setting:

Values: Inclusion, Equity, Disabilities, Gender, & Race

As demonstrated in the chart above, these 5 terms were only mentioned at less than half the amount of the top trending terms. Personally it was greatly disheartening to see that Race was mentioned the least out of the terms which I had selected in what I had perceived to be the most important aspect of diversity.

I also thought it was noteworthy to explain why I chose to select Inclusion & Equity as separate categories. Inclusion can be thought of being granted the permission, or in college terms, “acceptance” into an academic setting, while Equity is what it means to valued in a space without conforming to the standards and values of an institutional space. It was through this distinction one of the most compelling differences between private and public institutional values. According to the chart above, Inclusion was most mentioned in (4) Amherst & (2) Smith, and Equity termed most at (1) Cuyahoga CC & (2) Smith. While the Equity overlaps at Smith College, Inclusion is remarkably mentioned at a much higher rate, especially in comparison to the remaining public colleges which mark either of the terms as almost nonexistent.

Another important aspect of the data correlates circles back to Race. While still the most underrepresented term within this category, it was mentioned the most at: (3) LaGuardia CC, (5) CUNY GC, and (6) Hunter College, in comparison to (4) Amherst, and (2) Smith college which were almost invisible on the chart.

I could’ve delved much further into this project, but felt it could easily become overwhelming through Voyant to distinguish the demographics of each college respectively, and compare how that might reflect the terms prioritized in each Diversity Statement, but this is still an intriguing indicator to how different colleges determine what terminology best encompasses their missions of diversity. In many ways marketing diversity is a huge advertisement which entices students of all walks of life into an expected experience to be had, versus a declaration of Equality within spaces in higher education. Affirmative action, and other policies created in an attempt to equalize higher education can be easily lost in the growing definition of what it means to be a diverse space. I appreciate playing around with Voyant as a sort-of “reality check” into how diversity is constantly manipulated in ways which can result in it’s impact and original meaning being lost in an ever-growing perception of #colorblindness in our nation.

Lastly, (if you’re still reading at this point) I thought it would be a nice bonus to include this nice chart Voyant suggested for me:

As titled, these distinctive words are categorized as trends outside of the corpus that were individually mentioned the most. What can we continue to further draw from these valued terms in each college mission? And how do our own perceptions affect how we decide to gather data from these types of mining software?

https://voyant-tools.org/?corpus=31ea7d1a0f48ff91307440084261a51a&panels=cirrus,reader,documentterms,summary,contexts