18.705 exam question

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Wed, 13 Apr 2005 08:24:24 +0100

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 18, No. 705.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Wed, 13 Apr 2005 07:48:28 +0100
         From: Vika Zafrin <amarena_at_gmail.com>
         Subject: Re: 18.701 exam question

Martin writes:

> I'm just tagging up the abstracts for the ACH/ALLC conference in June. I've
> got through about 100 documents so far, and it's quite remarkable how
> little I end up knowing about the content of the document after marking it
> up. I'm very aware of its structure and hierarchy, consistency in style,
> punctuation, and so on, and I'm especially aware of the size of the
> bibliography (which is complicated and tedious to tag, so every item
> registers as a small pain). But as far as reading critically goes,
> absolutely not.

Having edited several issues of an online journal, I feel your pain.
But your message makes it apparent that there are different kinds of
tagging: what you do when working on conference abstracts seems to be
different from what a literary scholar might do when, say, tagging a
poem for themes.

Off the top of my head, I'd put it this way: "Tagging, when used as
an annotation tool, is necessarily part of a critical reading
process." This immediately gets in trouble, since what you're doing
with the abstracts is also annotation. So we'd need to distinguish
among kinds of annotation.

All of this makes me think that Willard's original proposal is an
excellent exam question! It practically begs for a multifaceted
response. It's also a trick question, since it invites discussion
rather than the One Correct Answer. If the students have been
actively practicing critical exposition throughout the seminar, the
question is a fair one. If they haven't, it might need to be
rephrased to indicate that they aren't expected to come up with a
single answer.

Or are they?


Vika Zafrin
Director, Virtual Humanities Lab
Brown University Box 1942
Providence, RI 02912 USA
Received on Wed Apr 13 2005 - 03:39:44 EDT

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