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1997 Culpeper Proposals
Other Years:  1999 , 1998

Art History | Chinese | English | Philosophy



Charles Rhyne - Art History

Please consider this an application for designation as a "peer mentor" in Reed's peer mentoring program funded by a grant from the Culpeper Foundation.

As you know, I have a continuing research and teaching interest in the use of digital images in the teaching of art history and related disciplines. As recognition of the possibilities of digital images spreads throughout the academic community, the number of related disciplines is increasing rapidly.

Two of the five "possible areas of investigation" listed in your April 30 memo are related especially directly to my current work: locating and evaluating Internet/web resources for student use; and "use of computer projection for classroom presentations." To this I would add a number of other interests, especially the creation of new digital image resources for student research.

Since it is inevitable that the teaching of art and art history, not only within the department but also in the humanities program and other departments that increasingly make use of our slide collection, will gradually adopt digital images for student research and classroom teaching, it is desirable that there be individual members of the Reed faculty who both understand the special character of Reed teaching and are up to date on the possibilities of computer use.

In your email message to me yesterday, you ask for "what you have already written, plus the courses that would be able to use the technology, plus a list of faculty with whom you'd be willing to share your explorations."

PUBLICATIONS ON DIGITAL IMAGES AND INTERNET RESEARCH

In print:
  • Computer Images for Research, Teaching, and Publication in Art History and Related Disciplines," Visual Resources, Vol.XII, No. 1 (1996), pp. 19-51.
  • Computer Images for Research, Teaching, and Publication in Art History and Related Disciplines, The Commission on Preservation and Access (Jan. 1996). This is a reduced version of the article above, published as a separate report.

    In press:

  • "Student Evaluation of the Usefulness of Computer Images in Art History and Related Disciplines," Visual Resources. ca. 10 pages with 5 full page color illustrations.
  • "Rethinking Research: The Immense Potential of Museum Web Sites for Research,"
  • Museums and the Web, 1997: Selected Papers. Ed. David Bearman and Jennifer Trant. May 1997.

    Almost completed:
    "Images as Evidence in Art History and Related Disciplines," Archives and Museum Informatics.

COURSES THAT WOULD BE ABLE TO USE THE TECHNOLOGY

All courses in Art and Art History will eventually use digital imagery, first because, if only for financial reasons, many images will be made available only in digital format, secondly because the quality of digital images is already beginning to overtake the quality of hardcopy images. Thus, all courses that study material culture will eventually depend on digital images. Already, courses in literature and history make use of our slide collection. Especially in courses with heavy student enrollment, such as Reed's Humanities courses, it is too expensive to make multiple copies of expensive books available so that digital images offer the only possibility of providing high quality images to large numbers of students at the same time.

FACULTY WITH WHOM I WOULD BE WILLING TO SHARE MY EXPLORATIONS

Faculty in the departments above would be especially appropriate. Increasingly, I am interested in the use of high quality images in other disciplines such as biology.

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Hyong Rhew - Chinese. "Designing an Electronic Textbook/Workbook"

I propose that I learn how to use technology in writing a language textbook/workbook, and, of course, to write one for my class. As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention, and I am being drawn to this project particularly for the following two reasons. First, most of the textbooks of the Chinese language available today are written in China, and do not always address the needs of the classroom situation in American colleges. Producing a text myself may be a solution, but not an attractive option because, among other things, I may end up adding another textbook to an already crowed market. However, producing it electronically may be different. Not only could it make many things we do now easier and more efficient, but it may also force us to re-think the notion of the textbook in a fruitful way.

Second, it has been a frustrating process to teach all four skills of reading, writing, speaking, and listening on first- and second-year levels with limited resources of a small liberal arts college, and at the same time to raise students' proficiency to a level sufficient for research for their senior thesis. My proposed project will focus on investigating the use of technology for improving specifically writing and reading. Although the four skills are closely connected, it would be possible, and of course more tangible, to develop an electronic textbook/workbook that addresses reading and writing in ways that those skills can be improved through interactive methods and brought back to the classroom to be related to listening and speaking. I am looking to technology in order to expedite the learning process and overcome some of the limits of a small liberal arts college setting.

I will do the following if awarded a mentorship:

1. investigate existing technologies, especially employing interactive methods, that may be used in the production of an electronic language textbook;
2. study the promise and the limitations of the technology in order to define the scope of the textbook-writing project in realistic terms;
3. consider the ways in which the notion of a language textbook can be altered, or even revolutionized, when advanced computers and technology become a part of writing a textbook;
4. host a workshop sometime in the fall of 1997 to share the findings with colleagues who teach foreign languages, and be available throughout the year for discussions of the questions of technology and teaching.

I plan to attend a conference at Middlebury College on technology and language pedagogy in June, and I will have better idea about the direction that I should take for the project as well as the ways in which I could share information with other members of the faculty. I readily confess that I am a novice in this field, and that I feel awkward about the word "mentor." But I would like to pursue some ways in which my students could benefit from innovative textbooks and, more importantly, innovative considerations on my part on teaching through advanced technology. If it takes my courage to carry a label of "mentor," I guess I will live with it. Your support and suggestions are very welcome.

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Laura Arnold - English

In the past year I have been investigating the use of computer technology in American Studies courses around the country and have begun to apply some of these strategies in my own courses (most notably English 341--"American Literature: Nation and Narration." The goal of my study was both to give students access to otherwise unavailable materials and to make it easier for students to do interdisciplinary work. This summer I would like to expand upon the work I began this year in constructing American Studies Web pages for Reed and determining the best way to integrate on-line materials into my courses.

The web page that I constructed for English 341 this Spring was based upon the "web museums" concept used by the American Studies Program at University of Maryland. For this course I set up "museums" that had links to art, material culture, literature (hypertexts), and history that was related to the period we were studying (the nineteenth century). This format appealed to me because it allowed students a certain flexibility in determining which materials they chose to analyze. In addition, because the museums covered a variety of topics in American Culture, my hope was that the sites would be useful for students in other American Studies courses at Reed College.

This summer, I would like to continue this project and make it more accessible for students interested in studying American culture by setting up a Reed College American Studies Home Page that would have links to web museums in colonial American Studies and nineteenth-century American Studies. These sites would include links to art, literature, religion, history, and music that would be used in my course in early American literature and culture next Spring ("American Literature to 1865: Gender and Sexuality"). I would also like to coordinate with my colleagues in the history and religion departments who will be teaching courses in early American history and religion so as to include links relevant to their courses. The home page will also include links to American Studies projects at other institutions. This would give students a greater sense of what exactly American Studies is and would provide faculty with access to ways that other people in the field are using technology to complement their teaching.

In addition to constructing these web museums, I would like to continue to research the ways people have been using web pages to aid class discussion and course papers. The American Studies Crossroads Project has a number of sample projects listed on-line, and I would like to adapt some of these to the texts I will be using in the Spring. I would also like to experiment with some of the conversational software that Reed has and that is available elsewhere. (This was acquired too late to be integrated into my course this Spring.)

I believe that this work would not only help foster a greater student understanding and interest in American Studies, but also would complement the projects proposed by Robert Knapp and Gail Sherman, in that it would provide examples of how courses in American Literature can benefit from computer technology.

If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me or call me at 771-1112 x7329. 

Robert Knapp - English

For the last several years I've been playing an informal ìmentorî role with colleagues in my department. I've given show and tell sessions on using the internet (especially in order to discover bibliographic resources for literary study), I've coordinated equipment purchases for the department, and I've attended workshops at Yale and at Princeton on hypertext, electronic textual analysis, and other aspects of the application of information technology to the humanities. As chair of the Division of Literature and Languages, I appointed this year a committee (chaired by Gail Sherman, with Laura Arnold, David Silverman, Marco Dorfsman, and myself as members) to study our needs in this area and make recommendations to the Division.

I'm applying for a mentorship through the Culpepper grant in order to bring these various projects closer to public fruition. With equipment purchased through a Mellon foundation grant, I've begun investigating textual markup and analysis software. As of this writing, the most promising markup programs appear to be SoftQuad's SGML Editor and possibly BBEdit's less specific but highly versatile text editor, now in an update of its fourth version; the most likely text analysis software seems to include Michael Barlow's Monoconc and Paraconc, the University of Toronto's TACT, and two Oxford University Press programs, OCP (a batch processor) and WordSmith Tools (recently given a good review in Computers and Texts, Number 12. I've also begun learning Icon, a good language for string analysis, and may see whether I can cobble together a few primitive tools of my own. Early in the fall, I plan to offer at least one workshop for any interested colleagues in my division, in which I will explain and demonstrate what I by then understand about the basics of textual markup and analysis. And later in the year, I'm planning to seek funds (from you, Marty) with which to bring Willard McCarty (an alum and currently director of humanities computing at King's College, London) to Reed in order to explain the intellectual interest of the electronic analysis he's done of Ovid's Metamorphoses (due to appear from Princeton University Press next year).

Prompted in part by the good example set by Laura Arnold and Gail Sherman, I want to incorporate some of the results of this summer's work into a set of web pages, certainly ones designed to accompany the junior seminar that I'm teaching in the spring, but perhaps also for my course this fall, and if my colleagues are interested, for the department and division as well. As you know, HTML is a lively subset of SGML: I imagine that what I learn about textual markup for textual analysis will have synergistic effects on my understanding of how web pages can be used for coursework. If time permits, I want also to explore using frames and netmail in order to permit students to view and comment upon one another's papers. Laura and Gail and I have been in frequent communication about our separate but nonetheless related projects, and I'm sure we'll pool resources and experience. Since one of the central topics under discussion in the committee that Gail chairs is how to expand the appropriate use of information technology within our Division, it seems sensible for us to begin by exchanging ideas and strategies under the auspices of this program.

Gail Sherman - English

I'm most interested in working with web-based syllabi, locating and evaluating internet/web resources, and use of computer projection for classroom presentations. My focus is primarily on medieval materials (literary and historical-that is, art-historical, history of religion, and history of philosophy), although I will also be developing materials that are more purely literary for a contemporary fiction course, and interdisciplinary materials for a course on Bible as literature, narrative, and art.

As you know, I've started exploring internet-based resources for medieval studies (especially Chaucer), and have developed (with Kyle Napoli's and Laura Wolford's support) web pages for Eng 301, Eng 560, Eng 352. I am unsatisfied with the interctive limitations of the web pages I have for these courses, and am interested in spending time this summer developing user-friendly assignments for my syllabi that ease students into a more active role as users of the web resources (spottily utilized by students in my current courses).

I will teach a version of Eng 560 (a course on contemporary fiction and theory on representating mothers) next spring as an undergraduate course; in Fall 1998, I will teach an MALS course on biblical narrative as literature, history, and art, which I plan later to develop into an undergraduate offering (to fulfill vague promises I've made the department for years). For both of these courses, I want to develop a web-based syllabus and materials (esp. visual images).

This spring, I presented a brief paper on web-based resources in my Chaucer course at the Seven Deans' Conference on educational uses of technology, and found that (in this as inother areas) I would enjoy mentoring my peers. I have the great advantages of not being a "techie," and of having an extremely over-comitted life, so I can effectively address my colleagues' fears about technology as well as about time. These are perhaps the greatest strengths, in addition to my distinct subject team of mentors you will eventaully pick. I feel confident that Robert Knapp, Laura Arnold, and I will work well as a team and as individual supporters of each others' work. while we are in one department, we have quite distinct foci. 

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Mark A. Bedau - Philosophy

The aim of my project is to develop methods to enable students with no programming expertise to explore the consequences of complex thought experiments in the philosophy curriculum. Specifically, I will gain experience in how web-based course materials and computer projection in the classroom can enhance the effectiveness with which students learn the philosophical implications of these complex thought experiments.

Contemporary philosophy in the areas of metaphysics, the philosophy of mind, the philosophy of biology, and the philosophy of science is increasingly informed and influenced by complex thought experiments associated with the interdisciplinary fields of complexity and artificial life. First-hand exploration with these thought experiments is the only effective way for students to appreciate them. This is partly because of the vastly more vivid impression created through first-hand experience, but it is also because philosophical evaluation of these thought experiments is possible only if one can subject them to open-ended exploration. At the same time, the complexity of these thought experiments makes them impenetrable without the help of computer simulations. Thus it is difficult to bring these thought experiments to ordinary philosophy students for philosophy students are not usually computer programmers.

I am now in the process of producing special software that will allow non-programmers to explore the philosophical implications of complex thought experiments. My initial efforts are focused on two specific thought experiments:

  • The Game of Life. Designed by the mathematician John Conway in the 1960s, this is widely acknowledged to be the classic complex thought experiment, illustrating many of the philosophically relevant issues.
  • Tierra. This is easily the most famous complex thought experiment in the field of artificial life the locus of my philosophical work in recent years. This experiment explores what happens when simple self-replicating machine language programs compete for RAM space and CPU time.
  • Both of these thought experiments vividly illustrate philosophical insights about complex systems (e.g., that very complex macroscopic behavior can emerge spontaneously from trivially simple microscopic mechanisms). But successful pedagogical use of these thought experiments will take more than the software; I also need practical experience in how best to bring this material to my students. My Culpeper project would provide this experience. Specifically, I want to investigate how the following two curricular technologies could help my students:

    • Web-based course assignments. The thought experiments all involve the simultaneous interaction of many micro-level elements in a system. The main philosophical issues are connected with how different kinds of global structures emerge out of these micro-level interactions. The global behavior sometimes depends on special features of the individual micro elements, but sometimes it does not. It is important for students to explore how a complex system's global behavior depends on micro-level contingencies. One good means to this end is for students to design micro-level entities, predict the global effect of having a large population of them interact, and then observe what actually happens when they do interact. It is especially valuable for students to collaborate on these experiments; different students would design different micro-level entities and then combine them in one system. A natural and effective way to organize this collaborative experimentation is with web-based course assignments in which students would drop their individually designed entities into a group experiment organized on a course web-page. So, I need to experiment with how best to design the appropriate web pages and orchestrate the interactions among the students.
    • Computer projection in the classroom. The only way to give a class shared first-hand experience with the complex thought experiments is with live in-class computer demonstrations. This means using computer projection in the classroom. The effective use of this technology requires a process of thorough testing, in order to become proficient with the technology, to have ample experience trouble-shooting, and to learn what works well (e.g., what demos are too complex for students to follow, how much time to budget for open-ended demos which involve student input, etc.).

    These complex thought experiments would be quite useful in a wide variety of courses in the philosophy curriculum, including Philosophy of Mind (Phil 315), Philosophy of Science (Phil 310), Metaphysics II (Phil 401), Metaphysics I (Phil 202). I expect that they would also be used in senior theses.

    Many other faculty could benefit from my experience. To start with, many of my colleagues in the Philosophy department teach the courses I listed above, and they obviously could learn directly from me the benefits of these new teaching technologies. Many philosophy faculty at other institutions would also be quite interested in learning about how to teach philosophy students about these complex thought experiments. (There is an annual philosophy conference devoted to just this kind of venture, and about 75 philosophers attend each year.) In addition, my experience will be a concrete model for student exploration of complex thought experiments in a number of other disciplines, such as Economics, Political Science, Sociology, and Psychology. (I have already co-advised one Philosophy-Economics senior thesis in exactly this area which was possible because the student was an experienced programmer and I'm currently co-directing a Philosophy-Economics independent study with Zenon Zygmont in how complex thought experiments are relevant to economics.) In fact, it happens that some of the same complex thought experiments are used across a number of disciplines (e.g., the iterated prisoner's dilemma), and informal conversations with some members of Reed's Economics and Political Science departments has indicated that there is substantial enthusiasm for learning about my experiences in this area.

    In addition to a summer stipend for myself, I seek funding for student assistance (about $1500) and travel to conferences and other institutions (about $1000).

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    Last Modified: February 10th, 2000