Reading the Collective from the Particular

The Everyday Life in Middletown project seeks to comment on the collective experience of the everyday through diaries about the particular. They are focused while also being sprawling. We ask diarists to “write about their day” with little to no prompt and the only guidance and examples they’re provided are the diaries which are easily accessible online.  

The EDLM diaries are consumed by the particular. A new song a diarist hears on the radio when arriving in Muncie. A diarist runs into a problem at the pharmacy. Diarists eating bagels for breakfast or ordering a salad at dinner. Working on my project, so far, has been about working with this corpus and trying new things to see what methods help me best understand the project using digital tools or working with the text in a visual way.

First, I worked on prepping my corpus, where I ran into several problems. I have access to all of the documents, both original and “scrubbed” (edited for anonymity) that the EDLM team uses. I cross-checked these against the website and had to fill in a couple holes and create one folder on my laptop before I could upload them to Voyant-Tools. Using Voyant, I’ve been working through some questions of method and theory while considering how to do a distance read of a corpus dependent on the particular. We’ve had a lot of these conversations throughout the different iterations of the project, so those conversations are informing my work now—weighing how to think about detail while also saying something about the experience of the everyday and of life in Muncie, Indiana.

My progress has been slow while I’ve tried to work with different configurations of stopwords, where I’m deciding what is and what isn’t important on a textual level to help more meaningful connections rise to the surface. In one approach, I used as few stopwords (20) as possible to see what emerged from that method. With that method, pronouns and words signaling the personal were the most common— my, her, she, he, I’m, etc. While this method did demonstrate how intimate and particular to the person these diaries, are, I wasn’t sure it was the most productive for moving from the personal to something more collective. What does “everyday life” look like? What is the “everyday?” How do people in Muncie, Indiana live their lives differently than in other places, in other cities both more urban and more rural.

I then tried using Voyant’s automatic stopwords, just adding a few to the list (00, like, etc.) based on what the generated word cloud revealed. This was the visual result and my starting point as I move forward.

I’ll be using the following words from the word cloud, both based on their frequency in the corpus and based on my research and familiarity with everyday life theory

  • My/ Me
  • Time
  • Work
  • Home
  • Day

I’ll be using this set and adding the term “Muncie” to hopefully create a few creative ways to look at the diaries based on these terms. Some of the most useful functions so far are the collocates, to see how people are talking about the same thing but in different ways. Using the collocate function and some of the visual tools on Voyant, which I’m still familiarizing myself with, I will write a corresponding blog post for each of these for EDLM to share, as they see fit. I hope to write three for their site and to include both aspects of the distance reading while also pointing readers to the diaries themselves and encouraging people to take a look at the website. EDLM made a recent effort to encourage community bloggers and encourage this work!

I’m a bit further behind than I hoped to be at this point, slowed down by trying to use Voyant and by wrestling my corpus into something useful. I’m hoping my work will inform future efforts EDLM makes in this endeavor!

“Welcome, Darlings, to the Gay Movement” ArcGis Tour Draft

After spending many hours on Saturday in the AU ArcGIS lab on campus, I have completed the first few slides for the virtual tour of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF)-DC’s greatest hits.

Because the application isn’t ready to go live yet, I’ve inlaid screenshots for your viewing pleasure.

The following photos introduce the roots of the GLF movement, its goals, and the purpose of the project.
In theory, I’d like to have something scrolling behind the narrative other than a blank white page. I was unable to find how to do this, but will work on it more. My vision is to have a series of LGBTQ community flags perhaps.
The first interactive mapping component introduces the idea…
It plots the Friends Meeting House and inserts a digitized archival document from RHP’s archives.
The next interactive maps the march route for the first Christopher Street Gay Liberation March in 1970, a year after the Stonewall Riots…
The beginning and end of the route have photos from the events that were there. A speech made by Mattachine member Barbara Gittings from the march is also embedded.
This highlights the first night that GLF met and the ensuing protest outside the Georgetown Grill is below.
This photo plots where the GLF Commune house was located…
…and offers a photo with the names of those who lived there.
The last narrative function I had enough time to complete is about the interruption and protest at a conference held at Catholic University, and the chaos that ensued.
A photo of the interrupted speaker and a copy of the demands made by protestors are embedded next to each other.

Each map has to be replotted individually—at least that’s the easiest way I’ve found for the app to save my points on the map. I learned this by trial and error, and ended up creating and re-creating the first 3 points at least 4 times on Saturday. The following is the rest of the script that I hope to plot, and the titles will probably be changed along the way:

Trial and Error [Photo of Zephyr Restaurant]

Elated that Panther leader Huey Newton had invited gay delegates to the Revolutionary People’s Constitutional Convention, gay radicals danced at an evening rally at Malcolm X (Meridian Hill) Park on 16th Street NW.

Late that night, four of the activists stopped for food at the Zephyr, 4912 Wisconsin Ave. NW, near TenleyTown, but were ignored by the waitstaff. The four returned to where they were staying at American University and returned to the restaurant accompanied by 40 people. They entered the restaurant shouting, “Gay is good,” and “Out of the closets and into the streets.”

A male couple started dancing to the jukebox, inspiring a brawl to break out. The restaurant’s front window was broken and a bar employee was knocked unconscious. Police arrested 12 of the men. station. Officers then reportedly brought at least two bar employees into the lockup area, though it’s considered legally impermissible to let witnesses view arrestees before a formal lineup. The bar employees later identified some of the arrested men in the lineup.

Out-lesbian attorney, Renee Hanover, served as one of the defense attorneys on the case. She sought to publicize the issues and show that gays had legal grounds to fight back. Hanover challenged prospective jurors on the grounds of homophobia, making bigotry a factor in choosing jurors.

Two months later–January 29, 1971–the prosecutors dropped charges against 8 of the 12. The remaining four were on trial for three and a half more weeks before a Zephyr employee confessed that prosecution witnesses had all been brought to the lockup and pointed out suspects. On February 17, the prosecutors dropped the remaining charges.

[Clippings from the trial, mapping Zephyr, pictures]

Discrimination at Gay Bars Jan. 15 to February 1971

GLF members picketed the Plus One gay bar on Capitol Hill for complaints about discriminatory admission. Management had been asking for two ID cards and refusing women, drag queens, and people under 21, although the legal age for buying beer was 18 at that time. Protestors handed leaflets out to bar patrons and demanded a meeting with Plus One bar owners.

By March, owner Henry Hecht had agreed not to discriminate against nonwhites and women.

[Picture of Plus One, mapping, racism in bars recording]

Campaign Trail- February 3,, 1971

Gay activists asked Frank Kameny to run for D.C.’s new nonvoting seat in the House of Representatives. At that point, the city had no elected members of Congress and did not yet have an elected mayor or city council.

On February 3rd, Kameny appeared on four D.C. TV stations and numerous radio stations to announce his candidacy. Paul Kuntzler, Kameny’s campaign manager, asked for GLF’s help to collect petition signatures.

Kameny ran on the campaign to end unemployment discrimination against “homosexuals, women, blacks, and all other minority groups in government and private industry,” according to the Gay Blade.

A wrap-up party was held in the campaign headquarters near the National Theater, where Hair was playing. Cast members incorporated a “Kameny for Congress” sign into the show.

[Kameny flyer in the pdf, mapping the National Theater]

March 1971

In an effort to attract more African American members to GLF, general meetings were moved from Georgetown to St. John’s Episcopal Church on Capitol Hill.

[Map out, photo of St. John’s]

Gay May DayApril 24-May 3, 1971

On April 24, 1971, GLF-DC participated in a march organized by Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Within a week, many members returned to Washington streets for the May Day actions by a Yippie-led coalition of radical “tribes” opposing the war and aiming to paralyze the federal government.

The links between the gay and antiwar movements were fragile, however. Gay activists perceived the student anti war movement, from which many GLFers emerged, as homophobic and sexist. In February 1971, gay student leaders proposed a separate Gay May Day demonstration.

In Washington on Monday, May 3, May Day protesters converged at traffic circles, bridges and key intersections to create traffic jams, although there wasn’t much traffic to jam, since many workers stayed home that day. In Georgetown, “stalled” cars and “wayward” pedestrians created backups, reported Liberation News Service.

At George Washington University, students danced in the street and lifted car hoods so drivers would have to get out and close them. With the help of tear gas, police corralled and arrested about 7,000 protesters.

[Gay May Day photos, photos]

“Say it Loud, Gay is Proud” May 3, 1971

At the height of May Day disruptions and antiwar fervor, gay activists (made up of Mattachine, GLF, and GAA members] infiltrated and disrupted the American Psychiatric Association conference at Washington’s Shoreham Hotel. [Map on Shoreham Hotel, and photos]

At an arranged signal, dozens of protesters came whooping and hollering into the room and up to the podium, Kuntzler recalled. Activists—including many in various degrees of drag and war paint—burst in through doors, chanting, “Say it loud, gay is proud.” Psychiatrists sat in shocked silence or yelled with hostility.

Elderly shrinks defending the podium “proceeded to beat [protesters] over the head with their gold medals,” as Kameny remembered the scene. In the melee, a woman took off her high heel and started hitting Kent Jarratt over the head with it, he recalled.

The invaders pressed their basic message in a prepared statement: “We are not sick people. You’ll need to look at your ways of looking at us. We’re being hurt by your view of us.”

“Fuck You, ‘Brothers’”June 1971 (approx.)

Nancy Tucker, co-editor of Washington’s Gay Blade newspaper and initially a frequent lesbian participant in GLF-DC meetings, was so offended by male behavior in GLF that her goodbye statement at a June 1971 meeting scorched the men on her way out the door: “Fuck You, “Brothers”” [photo of Nancy, plus this speech]

“All right, guys, gentlemen, “brothers” . . . Nancy is leaving at last. I’m not going to Women’s Lib and I’m not going home to my kitchen to sulk. And I’m not going out to mis-spend what’s left of my youth in the bars. (Why should I? They’re male-oriented, too.) I’m just leaving. Leaving because this organization and this movement offer me nothing. Why should I be interested in homosexual rights—they’re based on (male )homosexual problems: entrapment, police harassment, blackmail, tea room assignations, venereal diseases. Christ, I can’t relate to that kind of shit; it has no meaning whatsoever for me. I’m leaving because I’m disgusted. I can’t relate to people (read that men) who need people (read that fetish objects). Snow queens, dinge queens, chicken queens, muscle queens, queen queens…. the list goes on and on.

Pick your favorite, or add your own to the list. I see this fetish thing in every male homosexual I know. I don’t see it in women. Thank God WE see people as people, not as objects. I’m leaving because I’m tired of coping with massive male egos, egos which cannot comprehend how anyone could want to have nothing to do with a male-dominated movement. If you cannot understand why I wish to withdraw, then my “liberated” brother, you are part of the problem.

Everywhere I turn, my senses are bombarded with the most appalling of crudenesses. I’m sick of watching skag drags parading up and down, prancing and dancing in their “finery” and mocking me and my sex with every step. I’m tired of hearing somebody referred to as “Miss” when he’s done a no-no: “Miss Terry, well, she’s always late.” “Miss Chuck, she just can’t seem to get herself together.” “Hush your mouth, Miss Cade.”

Crap! The incredibly blatant sexism of the Washington GLF could be told in many volumes. I’m tired of being called “girl.” I ceased being a “girl” several years ago. I am on my own now, I support myself, and I conduct myself in an adult manner—I deserve to be called a woman, and I have many more claims on that title than many of you do to the appellation “man.” I can’t even withdraw into homophile literature without being offended. Naked “studs” on every page. And those ads! “Wanted — triple amputee for photo exchange.” “Want cauc. male, over 8 inches, for Greek pleasures.” “Black stud needed as master for willing white slave.”

And on and on, ad nauseam. The ads abound with fetishism. Whatever happened to people, huh?

IS IT ANY WONDER WHY THERE HAVE BEEN SO FEW WOMEN IN THE MOVEMENT. AND WHY THE NUMBERS OF WOMEN ARE PLUMMETING?

Oh, but in our GLF there have been women. Yes, there have, and they’ve gone, too. How many can you count who have attended more than two or three meetings? (Not that I really expect you to be able to do it … Why should you be expected to remember mere women? After all, if you can’t go to bed with them, they’re of no use whatever.) There aren’t even women at the dances. BUT THE FACT IS THAT THERE ARE AS MANY FEMALE HOMOSEXUALS AS THERE ARE MALE. You faggots, and I use that word with every ounce of malice I possess, could care less about women. And you will suffer for it. Every time you put down a woman, you drive the knife just that much deeper into your own gut. You are committing suicide by your depreciation of the opposite sex.

Isn’t the worst thing that can be said about a man is that “He’s acting just like a woman.” Don’t you all strive to rid yourselves of effeminacy, for it’s wrong to seem like a woman. Woman is not n*****, gentlemen, but as long as you continue to believe it is so, you rip open your own bellies.

Gay Liberation will never succeed until Women’s Liberation succeeds. Your fate hinges on that of women, like it or not. Male homosexuals will not be equal until women are equal. And the wars which so many of you so violently (notice that word) oppose will not cease until such time as women, the lovers of peace, have an effective voice in the governments of the world. Liberation? Gay Liberation? Liberate yourselves, my friends. For myself, I don’t need you or it.”

Formal Movement’s EndJune 1971

GLF formal meetings ended at this time, however the GLF Commune at [street] carried on meetings and services to the community until 1973.

The Skyline FaggotsJuly 1971

At 1614 S St. NW—three doors from the GLF House in the Dupont Circle area—a half-dozen GLF members formed the new Skyline Faggots collective. Two of them, Ted Kirkland and Michael Ferri, moved from the GLF House, uncomfortable with the constant traffic of people there, and unhappy about having to support housemates who didn’t have jobs.

Skyline began with Ferri, Kirkland, Tim Tomasi, Jim Lawrence, David Duty and Kent Jarratt. Will Balk and Tim Corbett joined later, after Lawrence and Duty left. Skyline was named during a mountain getaway along Skyline Drive in Virginia, when an Elton John song was playing on the radio: “Skyline pigeon fly away.” So they called themselves the Skyline Faggots collective.

[Picutre of SKyline Members from pdf, also the banner in pdf, and mapping address]

To outsiders, Skyline was seen as less welcoming and more serious politically and philosophically, compared with the GLF House. Its members all had jobs and it seemed more disciplined than the GLF House.

Dignity DCSeptember 1971

GLF House residents formed an Old Catholic congregation, the Community of the Love of Christ, and the commune’s front room became “the Chapel of St. Francis and St. John” every Sunday. Residents Joe Covert and Howard Grayson led the services; Michael Ferri and Reggie Haynes also became ordained priests. MCC’s Paul Breton sometimes helped out. The group also celebrated Mass on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

In September, a group of mainstream Catholic gays formed a congregation of their own that still survives: Dignity DC.

Cruising Protest Jan. 5, 1972

In the last half of 1971, the U.S. Park Police had stepped up undercover operations near the U.S. Marine Corps memorial in Arlington, using plainclothes officers to arrest more than 60 persons on morals charges. [mapping Iwo Jima memorial, picture of protest in pdf]

The wooded memorial site, featuring a statue of marines raising the U.S. flag on the Pacific island of Iwo Jima during World War II, is between Rosslyn and Arlington Cemetery. Longtime gay leader Frank Kameny charged the police with enticement and beating of homosexuals and said the “police should maintain order and not rack up arrests and lists of homosexuals.”

Park Police officers told the approximately 25 Gay Activists Alliance protesters (including a number of GLF members) they could not demonstrate on federal property without a permit, the Washington Post reported.

The demonstrators gathered around 5:30 at the memorial, were given 15 minutes to leave the area or face arrest by the Park Police, and regrouped on North Meade Street to hold a press conference and read a “position paper.” They then marched back to the monument to face arrest, Washington’s Evening Star reported. They marched around the monument for about two minutes before they were arrested.

The group chanted gay-power slogans, wore sweatshirts showing the lambda symbol, and carried placards: Gay Love; Gay Power; End Police Entrapment; and Don’t Expose Yourself, You May Be Impersonating an Officer. The six arrested were released several hours later.

Jan. 12-15, 1972

The Venceremos Brigade, an organization started in 1969, regularly sent groups of young people to Cuba to work side by side with Cubans—typically in sugar cane fields—in an attempt to show solidarity with the Cuban revolution.

The Cuban statement said homosexuality clearly has the status of a disease, complete with stages, degrees of deterioration and contagion. The practical result was that gays could go to Cuba on the brigade, but only if they were not ‘gay first’.

On Jan. 12, about 25 “angry faggots met with the Regional Brigade’s coordinators and chosen brigadistas,” according to an article by Skyline. The gays demanded that the brigadistas withdraw from the brigade and make public their reasons. Instead, the gays were accused of “cultural nationalism” and were asked to prove their “anti-imperialist credentials.”

Some leftists said that dealing with the oppression of gay people could wait till after the revolution. Others insisted that gay people weren’t oppressed.

On Jan. 15, Skyline collective members and others, under the ad hoc name D.C. Faggots, crashed a Georgetown fundraising party for the Venceremos Brigade.

The D.C. Faggots arrived well prepared with a tactical plan to follow and a flyer to distribute. The flyer said, “Welcome to a faggot workshop” and asked guests to withdraw their support of the brigade.

[Map of Georgetown house where the fundraiser was held?]

Jan. 20, 1972

Protesting Cuban oppression of gays, the ad hoc D.C. Faggots persuaded the Community Bookshop’s Coordinating Committee to withdraw its support for the Venceremos Brigade. At an open meeting of the committee Jan. 20, the vote went against support.

The Faggots had failed to convince the brigade’s D.C. regional coordinators and the chosen brigadistas to withdraw from the brigade, so the gay group set about blocking brigade fundraising. Bookshop leaders vowed “that the Community Bookshop shall refuse

its support to the local contingent of the Venceremos Brigade by denying the Brigade its money and facilities until such time as the Brigade criticizes itself and Cuba in a real and meaningful way by word and action concerning the Brigade’s and Cuba’s oppression of gay men and women.”

DC’s First Gay Pride WeekMay 2-7, 1972

GLF activists Bruce Pennington, Cade Ware and Chuck Hall helped organize the six days of gay-related activities that became an annual Pride celebration in Washington.

About 50 gay men and women attended a lunchtime rally in Lafayette Park across from the White House, featuring public displays of affection staged “to help end the stigma and oppression” of homosexuals. Among the speakers: Rich Wandel of GAA New York, the Rev. Robert M. Clement of New York Church of the Beloved Disciple, writer Merle Miller, and local politician Ina Rodman. [Map Lafayette Park]

The week’s schedule included a variety of activities that were literally all over the map: the Rhinestone Revue (a drag show) at George Washington University; free pornographic movies at the recently opened Metropole movie theater at 4th and L NW; a picnic in Rock Creek Park; a student rap session and a gay poetry reading at the Community Bookshop; workshops at All Souls Unitarian Church; a communion service in Rock Creek Park; and a gay vigil at Maryland’s Patuxent State Prison. [map all of these/find photos/gay pride flyer in pdf]

Radical TherapyMay 1972

Michael Ferri and others had started a Radical Therapy group months earlier in order to give people non-sexist peer counseling and psychotherapy without the exclusionary fees of professionals.

By May 1972, the group had settled in the third floor of the gay community building at 1724 17th St. NW.

Radical Therapy was a free community service by gays and for gays. “What we have been trying to do in Radical Therapy is to get people together with others who have either been messed over in past, traditional therapy experiences, or who are just beginning to feel the need to find a free space atmosphere where they can begin to deal with the alienation and oppression they are feeling,” the group said in Quicksilver Times.

Radical Therapy was part of a developing health tradition in Washington’s LGBT community.

In January 1974, GLF activists opened another health service to the gay community—the Gay Men’s VD Clinic. It began as part of the Washington Free Clinic in the basement of Georgetown Lutheran Church. The Whitman-Walker Clinic, a later bulwark against AIDS, grew out of the VD clinic.

[Mapping, and a picture of VD clinic, etc.]

The collective started at 204 4th St. SE on Capitol Hill and later settled briefly on Vernon Street in Adams-Morgan. [Mapping and photo?]

Gay SwitchboardDecember 1972

Gay Switchboard opens a phone hotline for people with questions and problems.

Like the GLF House, Gay Switchboard—an offshoot of the DC Switchboard collective—had volunteers answering questions from gay people.

When Richard Woods was about 15, his call reached volunteer Bill Taylor, a GLF House resident. Woods recalled: “I looked up ‘gay’ in the telephone book, and there wasn’t anything, so I called the operator and asked her for gay anything, a hotline, and she gave me D.C. Switchboard’s telephone number. The Gay Switchboard was operating out of Switchboard. That’s how I found out about GLF, Earthworks. I met Bill through Gay Switchboard. He was a Wednesday-evening operator. I would call him every Wednesday.”

The Legacy of GLF-DC

Although GLF-DC only operated for two brief years, the organization and its members founded many significant institutions in Washington, D.C., such as Gay Pride Week, Black Gay Pride, the Washington “Gay” Blade newspaper, the Gay Men’s VD clinic (later renamed Whitman-Walker clinic), the Friends Radio Program, Black and White Men Together, and the Gay People’s Alliance of George Washington University.

I plan on focusing more on the project this weekend, and should be able to polish the tour completely in the next few weeks.

Digital Project Draft: Homegrown History

At this time I’ve got my family history blog, tentatively titled “Homegrown History,” up and running with some basic information about the blog, its intent and scope, and its first few posts. As mentioned in my original proposal, the scope of this project is essentially to provide a resource for people looking for information on how to get started in writing family histories. Based on feedback I got in class, and from conversations I’ve had with friends, I opted to take an approach with two components. The blog is one part a personal experience/reflective log about my own ongoing efforts to get into this style of history, and one part educational resource, with planned posts on basic research methods, resources available to users who do not have access to academic facilities/journals, as well soft and hardware tutorials.

What’s Next?

  1. Finish rolling out my Interview Preparation post. Even though it now seems I will be unable to actually publish an interview piece, at the very least the preparation post is still feasible.
  2. Finish my post on using census records, both in terms of the source and the platform you use to access them. I’ve already got most of the screenshots/documents I need.
  3. Create a Using Secondary Sources to Augment Family History post.
  4. Create a Resources and Suggested Reading tab.

Some Issues

The biggest issue I’m facing at the moment is that, due to unforeseen circumstances, the two family members I was planning to interview next weekend for a few blog posts are no longer available to do so before the semester ends. (They’re fine don’t worry).

There is also the issue of the title. I’ve never been particularly good at coming up with snappy titles, and I’m even less familiar with doing so in the context of brand-building. Does “Homegrown History” work/send the right message?

The other issue is that, the site, to put it frankly, is pretty ugly. The free version of WordPress seems to be fairly limited in what you can do to customize things without knowledge of CSS so I’m at the mercy of their editor/customize tool. If anyone has any tips about spicing up a free WordPress site I’d be happy to hear them. I have been reluctant to start dropping images into it, which would really help with the visual interest component because I’m not sure how image copyright works when posting to a blog. Also not really sure what images to even use. You can only use so many stock images of a family before it gets weird and I would rather not upload pictures of my own family onto the site. I lack the artistic skill to draw a site logo as well.

Project draft: “Lord Peter’s England: Britain Between the Wars”

Extraordinarily good site header by my sister, Laura McCauley, who was kind enough to help me out

Lord Peter’s England: Britain Between the Wars is up and running on WordPress.com. The site currently features its first content post, an examination of what the first Lord Peter Wimsey book, Whose Body?, can tell us about how shell-shock was viewed culturally and socially in British society in the early 1920s, as well as a host of informational pages to orientate users to the site and its purpose.:

  • About this site: This is a brief introduction to why the site was made and what its purpose is, as well as to the author of the site (that is to say, me.)
  • About Lord Peter Wimsey: Whilst writing the first content post for the site I realized that I didn’t really provide any sort of introduction to the series that makes it clear why reading it is worthwhile beyond its historical contents, which runs somewhat contra to one of my intentions for the site, which is that reading old books is entertaining and enjoyable and that gleaning valuable historical insights from them is a kind of bonus. I wanted to foreground that these books, on top of the didactic purpose they can serve, are tremendously fun to read, so I added this page introducing Lord Peter Wimsey as a character.
  • The Dorothy L. Sayers Society: This links out to the Society’s webpage, which is what is typically listed on published copies of Lord Peter Wimsey books as the main resource for learning more about Sayers’ life and work.
  • Reading literature for historical content: This was a page for the site that I had planned to include in my proposal, as in addition to doing my own historical literary criticism in the content posts on the blog, I wanted to demonstrate for the site’s readers how they can engage in similar practices while reading. This page briefly discusses historical criticism and New Historicism before suggesting some questions to keep in mind while reading in order to carry out such analysis. These sections are followed by an excerpt from the very beginning of the first Lord Peter Wimsey book and a demonstration, using that passage, of the sort of historical subtext that one can glean while reading.
  • Where to read: As I had mentioned in my original proposal, the Lord Peter Wimsey books have entered the Canadian public domain and as such are available to read online. In order to encourage site users to read them, I’ve provided the links to these texts on this page.
  • Site directory: This page will be updated with each new content post—it’s essentially serving as a table of contents for the site, organized by the different books in the Lord Peter Wimsey series. I’ve linked the content post that’s currently up, and I’ve listed the posts that I’m planning to write.

The content post that’s currently up, “Whose Body? and shell-shock,” exists to serve as a proof-of-concept for what the rest of the site will eventually be. This post combines excerpts from the novel with analysis and some historical research to discuss the portrayal of shell-shock in Whose Body? and what that portrayal tells us about British culture at the time that it was written.

With the site’s framework set up and the first post published, I’d love the opportunity to get some feedback now before publishing more posts along the same lines. The site directory page includes the titles of several other planned posts, which constitute my next orders of business. Each post is quite an undertaking as it requires me to reread a book while looking out for a specific topic that I remember as having been a salient part of that particular story, then carrying out close readings of passages that relate to that topic, and then doing some additional background reading, so I’m aiming to have up perhaps three more by the end of the semester.

I’d appreciate any feedback you can offer about the usability and the usefulness of the site, and of anything that you think might improve it!

Digital Project Update: Mapping DC’s Alley History

My original goal with this project was to create a tour for the history of Washington DC’s alleyways, and this goal hasn’t changed; however, I have narrowed down my tour’s focus on Capitol Hill. I am still using HistoryPin for my tour (as originally planned) and it’s been interesting to experiment with this platform. In addition to using historical images, I’m also including other sources such as newspapers and insurance maps. I think giving users the chance to look at a variety of sources and images will create a more compelling tour experience.

Overall, I have gathered a lot of great information from my research and have been able to collect some great visuals to use on this tour. What I am in the process of doing now is getting it on HistoryPin and organizing it in a way that benefits the narrative of my tour.

What’s Next?

Continue to research what every day life was like for the communities who lived in these alley homes. I have some good resources I’m using for this part of my tour; however, I haven’t found sources left behind from the people who lived in these communities. Part of my tour will address this, because I think it’s important to recognize who is included and who is absent in our history.

Finalize the tour’s path and the alleys I want to focus on. I am still in the process of deciding what alleys to include on the tour. I have a few essential ones that are already on HistoryPin, but they are quite a distance away from one another, so I’m trying to set a path between them that makes sense.

Decide on how long I want each tour entry to be. I don’t want to bog down my users with really long entries to read, so this is something else that I am working on. I like the length I have now for the entries I have put up already and think that I’ll continue with this amount of text. I have a section in the tour’s about page that includes resources I am using, so I will most likely encourage my users to check those out if they are interested in learning more.