3.129 Unconventional History; STELLA (161)

Thu, 15 Jun 89 22:13:26 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 129. Thursday, 15 Jun 1989.

(1) Date: Tue, 13 Jun 89 22:23:00 EDT (21 lines)
From: <BCJ@PSUVM.bitnet>
Subject: Journal of Unconventional History

(2) Date: Thu,15 Jun 89 16:48:12 BST (120 lines)
From: J.G.Anderson@VME.GLASGOW.AC.UK

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Tue, 13 Jun 89 22:23:00 EDT
From: <BCJ@PSUVM.bitnet>
Subject: Journal of Unconventional History

Read this in American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Newsletter:

Unconventional historical papers: have you written or are you now

considering a historical essay that is so original in concept or treatment
that it cannot find publication in mainstream journals? If so, the editors
(both historians) of a proposed new _Journal of Unconventional History_
would like to hear from you. Please send one-page abstracts only, with a
cover letter explaining why you feel your work is too unusual to get a
hearing elsewhere to Editors, Journal of Uncnventional History, 2442 Mont-
gomery Avenue, Cardiff, CA 92007.


[sorry -- no e-mail address or names provided...
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------128---
Date: Thu,15 Jun 89 16:48:12 BST
From: J.G.Anderson@VME.GLASGOW.AC.UK




Software for Teaching English Language
and Literature and its Assessment

6 University Gardens, Glasgow University, Glasgow G12 8QQ.
Tele: 041 339 8855 ext 4980 * Email: STELLA@UK.AC.GLASGOW.VME
Telex: 777070 UNIGLA * FAX: 041 330 4804
Director: D.M.O'Brien BA, BPhil. * Programmer: J.G.Anderson MA.

Our aim at STELLA is to examine the applications of computers in
tertiary-level English teaching and to develop software in the broad
area of English Studies. Start-up funding for the project was an award
in December 1986 of f90,000 from the Computers in Teaching Initiative
(sponsored by the Computer Board and the University Grants Committee),
supplemented by funds from the Glasgow University.

Three departments are involved in STELLA : English Language, English
Literature and Scottish Literature. In the first stage of the project,
we have explored the use of computers in the multiplicity of
skills involved in these disciplines, seeking to enhance existing
courses rather than to start completely new ones. Emphasis has been
placed on attractive presentation and on a high level of student-machine
interaction, especially in self-instructional packages.


English Studies encompasses a wide range of types of subjects, demanding
different inputs and different skills. The interests of teaching staff
involved in the project range from language teaching and linguistics to
the formal and conceptual properties of texts in English and Scots, with
a special focus on the language and literature of the Renaissance. Hard
choices have had to be made between packages which can be produced
relatively quickly and transferred to different datasets, and more
pioneering work in uncharted areas. For the first two teaching years we
have concentrated on the former, while at the same time bringing into
use in teaching already existing research databases.


Language : Not surprisingly, language-based studies have proved most
amenable to computer applications. The style of packages used in the
teaching of modern languages has been adapted to produce an Old English
course which supplements traditional teaching and develops both analytical
and creative language skills. Parts of this package are adaptable to the
teaching of modern English grammar to both native and foreign students,
and courses in Middle English, Older Scots and Old Icelandic are also
being developed.

The Renaissance : The technicalities of verse-writing have proved equally
suitable for computer analysis. The Basics of English Metre introduces
students to traditional metrical forms, while Renaissance Sonnets enables
them to explore in greater depth the rhyme schemes and imagery of a
particularly cohesive group of texts.
The relatively long tradition of computer-generated concordances in
English Studies has meant that a body of machine-readable texts is
available, but for more specialized work datasets have to be created,
as in the case of Scots Renaissance Sonnets and 17th Century English
Stanza Forms.
The language of the Renaissance is examined using resources from
the Historical Thesaurus of English database, which records vocabulary
innovation at all periods of English. Through the Windows environment,
this database is linked to the text of King Lear so that students can
examine neologisms and key-words in context. Links can also be made
with the Analytical Index to the Short Title Catalogues.

Literature and style : Literary texts often require a considerable input
of explanatory information, culled by the student from a variety of
sources. Our hypertext edition of the medieval poem Piers Plowman embeds
the text in a multi-dimensional learning environment, providing
contextualisation through a series of inter-related files. Connexions
between elements allow freedom of movement for browsing or locating
specific references.
In other classes, students are introduced to the stylistic analysis
of short texts, using the resources of Word and Quest and moving from
the established databank to texts of their own choice. Bibliographical
skills are developed as students assist in the creation of a bibliography
of Scots periodicals. In the longer term, staff research on literary
applications is expected to add further dimensions to undergraduate


Our continuing aim is to make the benefits of computer-assisted learning
available to increasing numbers of students. In addition to offering
new ways of approaching the subject matter, the computing environment
enables students to work at their own pace and to develop creativity and
independence through project-type assignments. They (and their teachers)
gain intrinsically useful skills through familiarity with the machines.
Existing packages will therefore be adapted for use in further courses,
at the same time as new materials are developed, in, for example,
narrative analysis, corpus-based studies, and language teaching.


Student access is through a laboratory containing a networked cluster
of 12 Research Machines Nimbus microcomputers linked to the University
mainframe. Further PC's for development work are situated in departments
and in the programmer's office. Members of the Computing Service and
Computing Science are involved in advising and monitoring the project.

As much of the system as possible is menu-driven, and particular
attention has been paid to creating user-friendly front-ends for the
research-generated materials. Our intention is to transfer all the
portable software into an MS Windows environment, thus giving the user
immediate and flexible access to the data.