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Lives, Legends, and Legacies

Literature is an experiential medium that stands apart from the descriptive and observational humanities.. A single individual can live a thousand lives through an author’s pages. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Aenean non elit sed lacus dignissim cursus. Praesent blandit ligula eget libero commodo, id aliquet libero volutpat. Donec quis velit elementum, vehicula purus vitae, venenatis mauris. Mauris varius id nunc vitae rhoncus. Sed gravida nisl elit, et volutpat nisl molestie sed. Nunc hendrerit lectus eget vehicula consectetur. Sed feugiat consectetur ligula a feugiat. Fusce efficitur a lectus vel condimentum.

Digital Humanities is not merely deploying technology in the humanities, but rather employing technology within the humanities to do things that would be impossible but for modern technology. Vivamus maximus ultricies mi, sit amet bibendum tortor auctor maximus. Vestibulum a metus id nibh interdum aliquam at congue urna. Suspendisse potenti. Nullam arcu elit, dapibus ut dolor eget, euismod dignissim diam. Cras tristique augue libero, eu congue mauris mattis eget. In consectetur id turpis ac vehicula. Curabitur a gravida ligula.

Language and culture studies Praesent nec tristique nunc, non pellentesque est. Nulla sit amet lectus nisi. Nam in orci auctor purus rhoncus vestibulum sit amet et orci. Sed tempor justo a tristique interdum. Sed ante felis, vulputate eget ultricies id, pretium ac lectus. Nunc convallis pretium metus ac tempus. Nullam ullamcorper nulla at nunc ultrices rutrum. Curabitur magna tortor, ornare id imperdiet eget, interdum sit amet erat. Vivamus a dapibus elit.

Marginalia theory Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Orci varius natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Duis magna eros, condimentum sed cursus non, finibus non enim. Pellentesque lorem dolor, semper facilisis neque quis, pharetra lacinia lectus. Mauris gravida nisi quis dui ultrices viverra. Ut a quam velit. Aliquam erat volutpat.

Popol Vuh Nam semper eu nulla id condimentum. Mauris consectetur nulla sed odio fermentum, gravida lobortis lacus consectetur. Nulla ullamcorper mattis ornare. Curabitur vitae urna in nulla ornare malesuada. In lacus ante, aliquam ac augue ac, rutrum porta justo. Integer nec lacinia diam. Praesent arcu metus, finibus ac arcu quis, molestie laoreet ex. Quisque scelerisque risus diam, vitae tempor massa pharetra aliquam. Maecenas neque tellus, dapibus in tempus et, sodales nec est. Mauris vulputate feugiat nibh, ut maximus odio euismod nec. Sed ultricies fringilla leo ac fermentum. Sed tincidunt quam eget nisi malesuada dapibus. Ut facilisis ipsum metus, sed venenatis arcu iaculis sit amet.

Spanish-American Colonial Texts

Tikal Central Complex Temple IIRoughly five hundred years before the Spanish conquest, the ancient Maya civilization that once erected breathtaking stone temples and civic complexes dissolved into small- and mid-sized regions of power and influence. The jungle swallowed their monuments and the Spanish conquerors, chaplains, and missionaries of the sixteenth century suppressed most of what remained of the pre-conquest culture. Of particular loss were their fan-fold “books” made from lime-bleached amate and adorned with the majestic figures characteristic of Maya writing. Only three such confirmed items survive today—the Madrid, Paris, and Dresden codices—Folio from Madrid codexall of which had already been whisked away to Europe long before their existence became known to the world. Still, Maya epigraphers could not meaningfully decipher these or their stone inscriptions until the latter part of the twentieth century. In the absence of authentic and comprehensible material, the written accounts of the Spanish establishment arose as the authoritative sources of historiographic and ethnographic information on the pre-colonial civilizations and populations. A number of these colonial texts are commonly recognizable, but perhaps the most recognizable of all is Popol Vuh.Continue Reading

Spanish Language & Culture

officially Spanish-speaking countriesSpanish is the fourth-most spoken world language and an official language of twenty-one sovereign states. The practicality of studying Spanish is an important consideration, but Spanish is not simply a medium of communication but rather a gateway to engaging other cultures more fully. From history to literature and from arts to economies, the ability to communicate in the language is perhaps the single greatest advantage. It can be summed up in Sir Francis Bacon’s apocryphal quote: Scientia potentia est (knowledge is power).

Spanish is one of the five romance languages (the others being French, Italian, Portuguese, and Romanian). The romance languages are known for their artistic heritage, but even in the modern era the languages continue to employ expressive forms that they uniquely possess. Continue Reading

Technology & Digital Humanities

caveman chiseling wheelTechnology should produce one of two outcomes: easier and better. When humans invented the wheel, it made work easier; when humans acquired fire, it made life better. Today we can still see this principle at work in a digital perspective. Computing technology makes banking and accounting easier while that same technology makes television and movies better. Depending on one’s perspective, technology also creates a subjective efficiency which, depending on a user’s perspective, can be interpreted as easier or as better, but not necessarily both.

airplaneSometimes, though, technology does achieve both easier and better. While the wheel made work easier and fire made life better, modern transportation joins the wheel and fire to make movement easier and better.

In higher education, technology facilitates the exchange of ideas, mitigates the drudgery of mundane tasks, and delivers consistent and uniform content. Technology used by educators tends toward better while technology used by students leans more toward easier (i.e. online courses produces better institutional outreach and easier student access). In learning new languages, web-based applications such as Quia are great examples of producing both better and easier: instructors can gauge subject matter comprehension and learners receive instant feedback (an essential element of discipline theory on the role of grammar in language learning). Humanities technology, however, should not be confused or conflated with Digital Humanities, however, is an entirely different creature.

Digital Humanities does not hang on the mere implementation of computer or internet technologies. Doing things differently is simply innovation. As I pointed out in a prior essay, to qualify as Digital Humanities, digital technology must be utilized or exploited in a manner that produces humanities scholarship in ways that would not have been otherwise possible.

John M. Woodruff, Ph.D.

Dr. John M. WoodruffJohn Woodruff holds a Ph.D. in Romance Languages from The University of Alabama, an M.A. in Spanish/Latin-American Studies also from The University of Alabama, and a distinctive B.A.U.H. in Spanish/Mathematics from the University of Montevallo.

A specialist in Spanish-American colonial texts, Dr. Woodruff applies critical theory of paratext, marginalia, and rhetoric to an eighteenth-century manuscript containing the oldest surviving text of the Quiché Maya narrative known as Popol Vuh. He is the only scholar to apply modern marginalia theory to Popol Vuh and his most recent publication looks at marginal annotations and modal shifts that expose an unacknowledged authorial entity within the first folio recto. Other areas of interest and study include Maya anthropology, the Cuban missile crisis, and the Generation of 1927 poets and dramatists. More recently, Dr. Woodruff has taken an interest in gender law and policy.

In addition to his formal academic inquiry, Dr. Woodruff is presently authoring a novel, a collection of evocative short stories, and a textbook. He is also the author of various workflow automation utilities including Excellent GradesFormMail++ and CalTX.