I probably should have taken some more time between the end of class and posting this blog, because there is no way that I will not sound like a lovesick teenager about the Cather Archive. It has basically everything that I could want in an archive, with a few exceptions I’ll mention later.
It is easy to get around. It looks pretty. And it has simply fantastic tools. Here are a few of them-
The Geographic tool, which maps her world using Google maps and awesomeness.
It is excellent that it even tells you what she did in the place she visited.
My actual text was “On the Gulls Road“, published in McClure’s Magazine in 1908. The entire story is laid out, and you can access scanned images that edition (or at least, I’m assuming it is that edition). I decided to use the short story and play around with TokenX. TokenX is a really impressive (to me, at least) tool that allows readers to manipulate the tale in many, many ways. You can WordCloud it. You can search for keywords. You can even, for reasons I don’t quite understand, replace all of the words with blocks. I think the tool I liked the best was the Replace Words with Images tool. I think it is a fantastic and innovative way to visualize keywords. I searched “look”, “looked”, “gaze”, and “eyes” (for basically no reason), and got this. I think that is just a really interesting way to think about the frequency of a particular theme (perhaps not in this story, which I know nothing about, but in general).
So I had very few problems with this site. I do think that the images they use to replace words could be altered- for example, you can insert a fish but no mouth? And my object-specific problem is that I think ignoring the rest of the magazine the story appeared in is problematic. I do not know much about that specific magazine, but it must be important where the story was placed in the layout, what other stories were chosen, what ads were used in that magazine, etc, etc. I think those questions are crucial to determining how Cather’s own society categorized her writing.
That said, I absolutely loved the site. My agony at this not existing for the Alice novels or Emily Bronte is intense.