Our secret? we had the biggest campaign in AUB this year, and the best part is, every single member feels like family.
It is finally time to unleash the project I have been working on since the beginning of the semester. For the first time in 3 blog posts, I am not only granting you with a sneek a peak, but with the whole work and its boring details !
I hope you enjoy reading about the process of this research – If not, you can just skip to the interpretations and concluding statement !
a. Data collection
As described in my first blog post; a Google spreadsheet was uploaded by our professor on Drive, and made available to both ENGL 205 and ENGL 207 classes.
The students were asked to go around and interview relatives, friends and colleagues and would add their findings as entries in the Spreadsheet.
Personally, I focused on my family – mainly my grandfather and great cousins. This way, I gathered information dating from the 20th century.
Getting to my second blog post, it occurred to me that cinematography could have an impact on the assigning criteria in High Schools. I then decided to assemble data and attribute a “yes” or “no” (answering whether the book was interpreted in a movie or not) to each title.
In order to do so, I used IMDb, one of the most popular sources for movie identification and rating.
The total data included around 500 entries. Facing a tight time limit, I’ve decided to extract some of the data.
In order for that extraction to be accurate, I firstly disordered the spreadsheet. Secondly, I selected 20 titles, skipped another 20, and selected another 20 etc. till I reached a total of 201 entries.
To each entry I searched its possible adaptation movie on IMDb and wrote “yes” or “no”.
c. Studying Frequencies and Distribution in the Data
As I entered my data, I noticed a high repetition of the same titles that also were attributed a “yes”. Triggering a sense of interest, I started paying more and more attention to that phenomenon.
In order to study it statistically, I used Excel’s COUNTIF formula and added a table of frequencies. Afterwards, also using Excel’s tables and charts, I was able to configure the following graphs showing;
1. The number of books that were repeated vs. the amount of times they were in the “No” spreadsheet”
2. The number of books that were repeated vs. the amount of times they were in the “Yes” spreadsheet
I also calculated the Average amount of repetitions in both sheets and the results were as such:
Average amount of repetition for the “Yes” sheet: 2.87
Average amount of repetition for the “No” sheet: 1.18
d. Using Palladio/Searching for an adequate digital Platform
Through my work, I endlessly tried to connect my previous findings with another field (time, space or emotion). I also wanted to work towards an opened question. My teammates tackled Space and Languages; I ended up focusing on education and books. At first, I tried to filter out only the “ST” findings. However, I figured that it wouldn’t matter whether it was during ST or FT, as what mattered to me were the emotions evoked in the reader, and how high schools should use it in order to make the student love literature.
In order to do so, I had to work on emotions.
Our professor had advised Palladio as a Digital Platform to visualize interconnections and networks between the different fields in the spreadsheet.
I did my research for two days, trying to find another Digital Platform that would express these connections with colors (such as “CartoDB”, which works with locations); hence using the color wheel of emotions we first employed.
Unfortunately, such a platform was really hard to find, and I ended up using Palladio in the most effective way possible:
- I noticed a larger Diversity of emotions when the book was made into a movie:
- A larger Negativity in emotions when the book wasn’t made into a movie in 21st century graduates, vs. more Intense emotions when the book wasn’t made into a movie in 20th century readers.
- Network showing emotions related to books that were made into movies across the years.
e. Finding a scholarly article to back up the research
As a last step in my procedure, I searched the AUB library databases for scholarly article regarding the topic.
I found two articles that I will be using in the interpretation section;
- Lighting the Flame: Teaching High School Students to Love, Not Loathe, Literature – By Michael Milburn
- Connecting Students with Shakespeare’s Poetry: Digital Creations of Close Reading – Joan Lange, Patrick Connolly, and David Lintzenich
2. Interpretation 1: The Influence of Movies on Literary Popularity in High School
The first thing I would like to look at is how movies affected the literary world.
Whether the movie was watched or not, it is almost obvious that having a screening of the book popularizes the latter, hence increasing the amount of young adults (who are old enough to go out to the movies) reading it.
In order to follow my teammates’ steps, having the book interpreted in a movie has as well, to a certain extent, categorized it as a “Classic” or a “must” to be given in High School.
N.B: I would like to point out that I’m working on a correlation here, and not a one-sided relationship (it is also the popularity/success of the book that lead to its screening).
3. Interpretation 2: The emotional impact of Movies on High School Readers through time
As shown in the Figures above, a higher intensity in emotions (Ecstasy vs. Neutral/Happiness) is figuring when the book was made into a movie. Also, in the “Not interpreted into a movie” graph (The first one Posted); you can find “Boredom” connected with strictly 21st Century dates of Graduation, vs. Excitement/Admiration that are only found in 1985.
4. How to use these findings; the Screen-Book Correlation
In his article, Michael Milburn tries to find a way of transforming the disregard of students towards literature into an interest. Across study, he highlights the importance of High Schools going towards more popular and modern literature, even if it means leaving out some of the classics:
“But I have also learned that often one must show adolescents the way toward great literature by starting them off with ordinary-not bad or frivo- lous, just ordinary-writing. By lighting the flame” (Milburn 6) – “”We never get to read things like this,” one student enthused, flipping to the first page. I congratulated myself on taking the time to research my curriculum and basked in my newfound hipness: the students left murmuring about the forthcoming movie version starring George Clooney” (Milburn 6).
In line with my findings, the following excerpts show indeed the importance of considering the modern/popular works in a High School’s curriculum as it both lights the reading fire in the students’ hearts and increases their excitement and appreciation of literature – in correlation with the screening.
Moreover, digital platforms encourage students into close-reading literature. As mentioned in the second article, asking students to make a movie out of Shakespeare’s plays drove them into paraphrasing, analyzing and enjoying the work. To relate this to my findings, one could say that movies (that include sound, music, and visual emotion) express some things that word cannot; they have the power of unleashing hidden meanings in the written work.
To conclude, Digital Humanities should be more implemented in schools. Also, it is crucial for High Schools to consider the popularity of a reading/work in order to start lighting a passion for reading in a student’s life – which will later aid him in his university studies and career.
a. Research Biases
First of all, research biases are inevitable, as the data is being extracted by College Students, who are each interrogating a limited amount of people. Some of my results may be biased because of the lack of quantity in entries from the 20th century, or an overload of entries in 2014 for example.
b. Lack of questions/Time to ask
Second of all, a lack of questions such as whether it was interpreted in a movie or not, if the movie was watched, the date of publication of the book… both biased and slowed down my research.
I also ran out of time and couldn’t interview more people or alter the data (add a new field). These suggestions should have been made at the beginning of the semester.
One of the major difficulties I faced was the misspellings of Titles (I had to go over them all to know whether it was the same book spelled differently or not, which I had to do in order to study frequency), the different languages in which the book was translated was also an issue in the calculation of distribution and frequency.
Finally, the emotions weren’t all extracted from the wheel. Commas, additions and misspellings also slowed down my work. A strict application
6. Suggestions for further research
For further research, I would suggest an introductionof broader fields of study inside the topic such as the Cinema alongside specifying the year of publication of the book and restricting the tags for emotions. Furthermore, as this issue was the hardest to tackle, I’d like to suggest a proposition of a variety of Digital Platforms, that tackle datasets in various ways and modes for all forms of research, and in order for the student to study his case the most efficient way.
Humanity has undergone important Identity crises, Intellectual ones, Economic ones and Political ones.
We are part of a generation that’s undergoing an attention drawing crisis. We don’t know where to draw our attention;
Is it towards the lack of jobs or the refining of our CVs?
Is it all about following our passion or supporting our families?
We don’t know whether we should draw our attention on the people dying of thirst, or those who are of hunger. We don’t know whether it’s about the orphans or our retirement wage.
We don’t know whether it’s about salaries or being overqualified.
We don’t know whether it’s about avoiding traffic or avoiding terrorist attacks.
Our attention is being fought on by national politics and the price of petroleum.
Between our family’s future and our sexual identity.
Between our children’s freedom and their safety.
We’re the generation of ulcers, of sweating, of heat and global warming. We’re the generation of waste, of money, of depression and ecstasy.
We’re the generation of fast cars, fast food, fast money. We’re the generation of speed.
We’re the over ambitious ones; we’re the ones who smile with pride on High tech’s advances and frown at the rise of crime.
We laugh at new sitcoms and cry over newly discovered diseases. We’re the fabricated ones.
We’re the generation of medication and iron deficiency. We’re the insomniacs, the anxious, the crazy.
We’re the ones who are either ignorant or know too much to be at ease. We’re the ones who choose to try and fight or drink and flight.
We’re the ones who do both.
We’re the generation of a denied misery. We’re the generation whose attention’s drawn between denial and threat.
We’re the generation of advances and fallbacks.
We’re the generation of imagery and not reflection; the people who need to see in order to believe.
We’re the generation of movement and stagnation.
We’re the generation of freedom of speech and cell bars.
We’re stuck in front of Yellow lights.
We’re the generation of instant reactions.
We’re the population who begs for patience but lost the ability to give it.
We’re the sons of music; we’re the fathers of bombs.
But this generation is the only one that could ever give birth to a generation I like to call the revolutionary one.
After having met with my group, and discussed on Whatsapp some of the results – a drafted temptative plan of potential topic ideas was structured. We knew we wanted to talk about Classics: Google vs. Lebanese Schools.
More specifically, the extent to which lebanese young adults/the ministry of education’s taste in books was coherent with what the rest of the world would recognize as a classic.
Starting from there, we got a few ideas:
The first was connected with the Arabic language – We noticed the PU schools assigned more arabic literature than the PR ones.
From there, we went into the subject of emotions. Did books that were assigned by the school have more of a “boring” or “passive” impact on the student’s emotion than books he read with his own will? If we were to consider that a few decades ago reading was more in vogue, and people were more interested in literature regardless of its level of suspense/humor/action (having reading as a main tool of entertainment automatically affects the person’s emotional feedback); then did high schools, through time, alter their assigned literature in a way that would interest more the students personally/according to recent events/culture, hence bending away from classics?
I think it would be interesting to be looking at that phenomena, however I don’t think a “spatial” map will help out, I will also need to figure out a way to filter the information accordingly.
Another very interesting aspect I found was the relationship of the recurrence of the book in our list/the interest in it vs. whether it was interpreted in a movie or not. Indeed, a lot of people I know only read the book after having watched the movie – or read the book before the screening of the movie – or even bought the whole sequel in order to anticipate what would happen in the next movie. Sometimes, when the movie reaches the deep emotions of the person, the famous “you should see how even better the book is” leads to a popularity explosion of the book.
Some might look at it in a different way however; movies impose on the reader faces/colors/voices and limit the reader’s imagination during the reading, which could decrease and bias the cathartic impact on the reader.
Finally, it is clear that I’m still confused on the direction I am willing to take regarding my research – but with the support of my group and a more clear and filtered data, I’m positive that I’ll get somewhere and draw an intersting conclusion. Anyhow, in case I don’t get there, the course of the research would’ve brought me experience and maybe opened doors to topics that should be tackled in a different manner.
There are things that you don’t expect when you agree to be “Une Cheftaine”.
I never expected to have as a main struggle a race with time in teaching them as much as I can before I let go. Looking at you today all I could think of was “I have so much more to teach you”.
This little one had to slip from my fingers earlier than I ever thought. This little one is in the ring of a main fight with life; “Leaving”. All I could think of was “I wish I had taught you more, I wish I had more time”.
Being a scout isn’t just about having fun or camping. This little girl right there knew what it was all about; loyalty, friendship, honor, respect, love and courage. A heart like hers is rare to find. A mind full of her crazy ideas is what I will miss the most. Texas Hoes, you are an amazing little girl, and it’s time we let life teach you more than I ever will.
Thank you for everything you’ve add up to mine but mostly for teaching me that it’s not always about how much I teach or give, it’s about the love in giving it.
Fière d’être ta cheftaine,
Welcome to another one of our mapping projects at the English Department at AUB.
This one is assigned in ENGL 207 – Introduction to Literature II.
In this course, we will try to come up with a correlation between the books high school students have read in Lebanon (during their free time or assigned by a professor) through time, space and emotional response.
In order to do so, we were divided in groups of three. I have collaborated with a similar group in another literature course, in a digital project as well. Therefore, I’m not worried about the workflow in a team, as I am used to having the tasks divided upon students from different majors and backgrounds.
We still haven’t figured out how to divide the work; our data isn’t complete yet, and we’d rather assign each group member a task that goes in line with his skills and interests. Needless to say, we will have the tasks assigned equally and will keep submissions and finalization to be done as a team.
It is still too early to say what will come out of this digital project. I’m suspecting a strong contrast between pre-civil war and post-civil war literature assigned in Lebanese High Schools. I also think that certain canonicity in classical literature will appear. Indeed, and with the little amount of data I have gathered for now; traditional authors such as Shakespeare, poets such as Blake and novelists such as George Orwell are recurrent in almost every interviewee’s answers. I’d primarily conclude that the universality concerning politics, social issues and the human condition that are predominant in their works persuade the Educational Institutions into assigning them to future leaders, craftsmen and activists.
Finally, I think that we should add to the interview the language in which their school is based, especially if it’s a French one. The French mandate in Lebanon had a huge impact on Education – most of the assigned literature during/after the mandate was in French, and at some point, speaking the Arabic language was forbidden in High Schools.
Also, given the fact that the amount of students who read (21st Century Graduates) has significantly decreased, it would be interesting to look at what they would read in their free time. What kind of books attracts students in a world where reading is less in vogue than ever? Can we find a pattern? Are those books related to movies that were released, true stories?
Moreover, I think we should add a document of the possible biases/exceptions/obstacles that we might face as researchers, in order for our conclusions to be meticulously narrowed down.
I expect a lot of complications from this research project, and maybe now the whole process isn’t clear enough. However, I have worked on a mapping project in the previous course and the results amazed me; I still read my analysis to scholars and show the maps to friends.
– I listened to an opponent volunteer tell me how he wished he could help us out, that he was here against his free will and for money.
– I met amazing people from all ages, different ideas both men and women.
– The volunteers with me carried people in wheelchairs in order for them to vote; defeating the lack of electricity, social justice and infrastructure.
– I heard endless hopeful wishes from the Lebanese army and security forces that Beirut Madinati would win; they were begging for change, begging for cultural respect and justice.
– I saw corruption with my own bare eyes knowing I could do nothing about it but stand there; and I stood.
– I saw bullets in the sky because of results that weren’t even official – one more proof of how corrupted this is.
– I saw bullets, not hugs. Bombarding sounds and not laughs.
– I found happiness helping hungry, poor people with the rest of our food; giving our balloons to kids regardless of their family’s political views, they understood politics better than we ever did.
– I found hope in children’s eyes and elderly’s hearts.
– I found people who think the same way I do; who accepted different political views and respected them fully.
– I saw the politicians who were once enemies’ team up for a common enemy; and yet they can’t seem to do so over basic civil rights (or a president).
– Yesterday I saw a bigger hypocrisy from the citizens, and not from the candidates.
– I saw the biggest diffusion of responsibility amongst the people I respected most.
Yesterday I witnessed sadness, frustration and anger. Then again, haven’t we been witnessing these things ever since we were born? Aren’t we immune to this?
The only difference about yesterday is that hope was born. A hope that wasn’t there before and that just tops all of the above and made me smile, dream and have a good time.
I believe in hope, I believe in Lebanon and I refuse to give up. Six years won’t change my mind nor will 12 or 24. I understand why people leave and I can’t blame them. But I have decided to be among the few who stay and fight. I’m not doing this for my own sake; I’d be long gone by then, but for the sake of my children, and yours.
I will respect the war, I will respect the martyrs, I will still hang out with a “Byerteh” and have lunch with whatever color a person’s wearing.
Beirut madinati, Jounieh madinati, Jbeil madinati even Saida, Akkar, Trablos and all the cities I haven’t visited yet madinati.
Lebnen baladi; and I will stay, I will stay, I will stay.
Map showcasing my data (Green dots – 78 records) vs. the Class’s data (Blue dots)
Gathering my data did encounter various difficulties, the first being timing.
I had classes all day till 5 PM and meetings/Group studying till 8 PM. As a young woman in Beirut, walking around in the evening alone to take pictures didn’t seem very safe. Therefore, I had to wait for my friend to walk with me, and most of my pictures were taken in the dark.
Also, I knew I’d want to work on an area-based project where we had a high amount of data, and I live in Jounieh during the weekends. This is why I waited for the weekdays in order to take pictures of my data.
Second of all, tagging seemed complicated, especially when configuring my map (the order mattered, and a lot had to be taken into consideration). I’d suggest an addition of categories for the features, so that the sub-features would be narrowed down.
Concerning my data, it was mostly taken around Ashrafieh. The one night I took a lot of pictures, I had focused on the old signage in Mar Mikhael – Gemmayze – Monot. It was clear that old signage had a kind of type in the font, colors and languages used (mostly french and arabic). Hence my first idea for my final project which was Old VS. New. However, the lack of a tag for this didn’t let me go through it. Ergo a second suggestion of adding a “Old/New” tag.
Overall, data collecting and map configuration were a whole new experience to me I’d never think I’d encounter in an English course. This activity shed the light on things we had internalized as Lebanese citizens, and now I can’t stop looking at signs and trying to analyze them.
As a Lebanese young adult, 50% to 70% of my time I spend on my cellphone. More specifically – On WhatsApp.
Not that I am proud of it or anything, but spending that much time on this peculiar mean of instant communication has shed the light on the complex distribution of language by my interlocutors upon their texts.
In order to share my observation (that I find fascinating) with you, I have picked 2 WhatsApp Groups in which all members with no exception follow the below criteria:
– Live in Lebanon
– Fluently speak (Oral and Written): French, Arabic and English
– Mother language: Arabic/French
Next, I skimmed through a total of 100 texts and chose them to try and find a pattern of how we use English French and Arabic.
To make it clearer, I started taking note of the emotion/purpose intended in the text and then attributed to it the language used.
Below are the final charts I got as a result :
In the “First Words” category, I have picked Time, Space and Food; the three fields in which we first learn/listen to lexicography as toddlers. We could also add to it Anger and Excitement, but I stuck with the evolutionary perspective on things, in which Food and the ability to situate oneself in Space and Time are primary.
Indeed, it is clear that concerning Time, French is highly dominating – in Food (alongside Arabic) too.
What could explain the domination of English in situating actions in Group 2? Or even, the complete absence of French in Group 1 ?
If we were to consider the types of groups I studied (one being just for fun, the other including people that work together), we could say that English is highly used as a formal language in scheduling (ergo the upcoming chart in which I divided formal and informal writing). Also, one could consider that according to the criteria, we all live in Lebanon, which automatically gives a preference to Arabic in referring to places.
Our negative feelings are divided into two parts : Anger and Sadness.
Anger is mostly expressed in Arabic; it’s the language with which we are most familiar, and that’s not only a mother tongue language, but also one that almost no one in Lebanon wouldn’t understand (unlike French which is rarely spoken in Beirut areas and towards the South). Expressing our anger in Arabic would thus (as I’d conclude) guarantee a universality to our speech. I’d also say the same in regards to Humor.
What about the excessive use of English in expressing Sadness ?
I have tried to come up with an explanation for this one, and all I could find and decided to stick to, was blaming the Media.
In fact, most of the highly emotional/romantic/sad/makes-your-eyes-cry-like-a-waterfall movies/books/TV shows the members of these two groups watch are all in English. Could this mean that as we grew up, exposed to highly emotional art, we internalized a certain English – the Special Sad Edition – vocabulary?
I’d also conclude similarly concerning the Excitement category.
Also, most of the news we watch and Universities we attend are English-based; hence the high amount of written English in the Persuasion category.
Before I wrap up, let’s take a look at (my attempt of building) a Formal V.S Informal Speech Chart :
Looking at the charts, one could conclude that we Lebanese young adults are indeed quite fluent in the three languages. The French did have a mandate for a few years here, and the use of French could be explained by WWI History.
But what about English?
Could this be a proof of the strong Westernization in the Middle East? Or could it be displaying a result of the large Lebanese Diaspora? Or even, of the high exposure to English Media and Entertainment?
Does this mean that in WhatsApp Linguistics, we could be talking about a Lebanese English among other “Englishes” ?
You can find below some samples of the data I used
After having read the prefaces of two famous dictionaries; Webster’s 1828 and Johnson’s 1755, one would get a general sense of the first being closely related to Religion and Spirituality, in contrast with the second being more scientific and perplex.
As I went on searching and finding definitions of random words in both works, I was more and more surprised of the qualitative and quantitative distinctions between the two. In fact, Webster seems more elaborative in terms of non-concrete concepts, whereas Johnson extends his explications on more tangible ones.
By the time I had gone over words from diverse categories, I decided to try and shed the light on the mentioned difference.
Therefore, I looked up the words: Mad, Happy, Scared, Love, Beauty, Nature, Doctor, Bible, Christmas and Philosophy.
At first, I was more or less surprised of how Johnson barely expanded emotion definitions. The reason I felt so is because Lerer had mentioned how Samuel Johnson’s dictionary was in close correlation with his emotional state.
If you look up happy for example, Webster gives eight different uses of the word whereas Johnson only mentions three. The perspective that Johnson seems to omit in comparison with Webster is a more fictive, virtual one. He doesn’t use terms such as Harmonious, instead, he seems very direct and realistic in phrases such as in a state where desire is satisfied.
Throughout my research, I have also noticed the important recurrence of referring to the Bible on behalf of Webster, in contrast with a reference to Dryden (critic and translator), Locke (philosopher and physician) and Shakespeare by Johnson.
If you look for the word “Love”, Webster relies on biblical references in order to give an example of the word’s usage “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Matt. 22.”. Jonson on the other hand, relies on Shakespearean quotes and some from Cowley “I could not love I’m sure
One who in love were wise. Cowley”.
I would say looking into two dictionaries in a comparative way makes you realize the role lexicography plays in history. Comparative lexicography also sheds the light on the extent to which the author has an impact on the final work.