A New Approach: Reading with Data Sets

The data sets that we worked on this week were very challenging for me. At first, my data sets did not even work right at all just because I messed up with one little component on the import of a journal’s data set. I worked with Rhythm magazine which I figured would be more about music and literature, but it was purely based on art forms. The journal subtitle emphasized that it was an art, music, and literature monthly which I never would have known without looking at the data sets.

I got really frustrated while working with the data sets and I definitely would not go out of my way to use them all the time because when I read journals or use them as resources for my own writing, I typically find what I am looking for on JSTOR.  There are times when it is definitely difficult to find a subcategory such as psychoanalysis versus fetishism, queer theory, dream analysis, Marxism and such, but I typically have no trouble finding the category of criticism for example. Though all that I listed are types of genres, or rather, critical schools of thought, my data sheet for Rhythm actually included more categories for the medium of the article listed under genre rather than genre itself. There was a list including images, poetry, and articles. Poetry can be seen as a medium of writing or a genre of writing since it is slightly more specific than just saying writing. However, I was figuring I would see more words like horror or drama or words referring to literary time periods like romanticism and medieval.

There are obvious benefits to using data sets when one wants to be an informed writer at all let alone a DH participant. The pivot table makes it so one can choose which part of their data to look at and it was very helpful to look at the different article names in the magazine as a whole in alphabetical order. While searching JSTOR or going to the library, the physical library that is beginning to somewhat seem a part of ancient times, it is very difficult to be able to find every article. When one searches for the type of reading they want to pursue online, it actually displays less information about the magazine choices and typically narrows it down to a more specific genre of article or the most recent and most favored magazine articles. If one does not even know how to search for all articles in a magazine then data sets can be useful to keep things generalized as much as they can be used to keep things specific. I am also very glad that I did not run into a lot of numbers since I get a little confused with quantitative information. I think it’s important that the Modernist Journals Project and the data sheets are geared more towards humanities oriented scholars rather than mathematicians.

Even as I am writing this article, I feel like maybe I did something wrong with my data sets because I feel like I may be missing the full purpose and ability for which the data set could reach.The sheets do seem to be very useful for organizing research and maybe even organizing the amount of writing to be included in one’s DH webpage to educate others, but right now the hassle to organize everything into a datasheet is too great for me. I know I will have to play around with journals and the Modernist Journals Project a little more in the data sheets and pivot tables to know the extent of their significance.

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