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Digital Approaches to Poetics

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SPARC Course
26th April- 9 May 2022
Conducted by Dr. A. Sean Pue
Host: Professor Nishat Zaidi

Dr. A. Sean Pue, Associate Professor of Hindi Language and South Asian Literature and Culture at Michigan State University offered a two-week course titled Digital Approaches to Poetics. The host faculty of the course was Professor Nishat Zaidi, Department of English, Jamia Millia Islamia. The course had five sessions of two hours each. The management and coordination of the course were assisted by Ph.D. scholars, Steven S. George and Mohd Aqib. The course was attended by 19 participants across different departments of Jamia Millia Islamia, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and the University of Delhi.

The sessions were held offline in the Seminar Hall of the Department of English, Jamia Millia Islamia, and followed a workshop mode in which participants created static websites and learned the usage of various digital tools for scholarly purposes. The course was divided into five modules, namely:

  • Poetry as Data
  • Open Data in Indian Languages
  • Minimal Computing
  • Digital Editions
  • Poetry Across Digital Media

Addressing the emerging trend of production and consumption of poetry in Indian languages on digital media, this course introduced the participants to computational approaches to Indian- language poetries using free and open source solutions. The first module included discussions on the shift from analog to digital poetry and also the structuring and modeling of data. The participants learned about data types and their conversion into binary notations. It was followed by creating webpages and learning to arrange and style the content in web repositories.

The participants were then introduced to several other tools to deal with white spaces in poetry text and right-to-left and left-to-right scripts of South Asian languages. They were also trained in the visualization of metricality of poetic lines. The fourth module was about introducing the participants to digital critical editions. There were discussed the affordances of digital technology and how they can be used to compose critical editions and also what should be the features of critical editions in the languages that participants speak and are working on. It laid down the techniques that are currently being used in various digitization projects across the world and their limitations. It also suggested ways in which these limitations can be overcome.

The course closed with the final module on visualization, sound and video analysis and cultural analytics. The participants learnt about the compositions of image and video data and the ways to annotate and store them. They also learnt about the differences between vector- and pixel- based graphics, visualizing sound files as well as analyzing sound and video files using different open source tools and the challenges that current object and face detection technology presents.

It was followed by a discussion on how visualization of poetry can be useful to scholarly interests. Towards the end, the participants learnt about the ways of mining data from World Wide Web and social media before sharing their experience of the course. Since most of the participants were postgraduate students or Ph.D. scholars, it benefitted them by helping them expand their research interests and methodologies. The Final session was a closed session with Jamia DH team to discuss the future course.

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