Lisa Marie Rhody

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literature, technology, teaching

associate director of research at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media

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May06

The Story of Stopwords: Topic Modeling an Ekphrastic Tradition

Posted on May 6 by

The following paper was first presented on July 9, 2014 at DH2014 in Lausanne, Switzerland. The slides can be found here. The story I’d like to tell you today is about exploring hermeneutic spaces between poetic convention and artistic invention. It’s a story about the strict algorithmic logic of topic models confronted by the rich ambiguity of poetry to revise long-standing critical assumptions about the syntactic and semantic compression of poetry. It might even be considered a cautionary tale about how exclusively relying on close reading of texts diminishes our interpretive reach. The story I’m going to tell you features the critical tradition of ekphrasis—poetry to, for, and about the visual arts—as it unfolds through a digitally-enabled, critical deformance that occurs while preparing and modeling a corpus of 4,500 English-language poems with the latent dirichlet allocation algorithm, commonly called topic modeling. [Slide 2] The purpose of my story is three-fold: First, to demonstrate through a case study the influence of stopword removal on topic models of poetic corpora. Second, to suggest one way we may respond to the concerns...

Apr30

Working the Digital Humanities: Uncovering Shadows between the Dark and the Light

Posted on Apr 30 by

Last July, I received a welcome email from Wendy Hui Kyong Chun asking if I would be interested in responding to her 2013 MLA “The Dark Side of the Digital Humanities” roundtable presentation in an extended conversation that would be published in a forthcoming special issue of differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies.  Wendy’s generous invitation led to what I feel to be a productive and convivial dialogue about the “cruel optimisms” of the digital humanities, and I’m delighted to be able to share widely the fruits of that conversation. I remain grateful to Wendy for asking me to participate and to Richard Grusin for the occasion that prompted this special issue, and I look forward to the conversations that follow. Under our author agreements with Duke UP, Wendy and I can publish our own PDF versions of the article published in differences. Therefore, I have chosen to post one such copy here.  Aside from oddities caused by reformatting such as pagination, hyphenation, capitalization, and other surface discrepancies, the text of this pdf should be the same between the two versions.  For the...

Aug07

August Company

Posted on Aug 7 by

The station wagons arrived at noon, a long shining line that coursed through the wet campus. In single file they eased around the orange I-beam sculpture and moved toward the dormitories. –Don DeLillo, White Noise In the academic universe, the end of the summer signals the beginning of our new year. Explaining that parents and students on move-in day at College-on-a-Hill “feel a sense of renewal, of communal recognition,” DeLillo’s narrator also channels his own ritualized response to the start of the academic calendar—the communal quality of the “back-to-school” ritual reinforces a sense of belonging and welcoming, as well as nervous energy about changes to come. Personally, this year’s back-to-school ritual is different because this time I am one of the new arrivals. I am excited to say that I have accepted a Research Assistant Professor appointment at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media (RRCHNM) at George Mason Univeristy. This academic year, for me, will bring a whole new set of projects, adventures, and challenges. For the last 6 months, I have worked on a part-time...

Apr12

What can DHers learn from improvisation and Tina Fey?

Posted on Apr 12 by

It’s no secret among the people who know me that I love Tina Fey’s book Bossypants.  Jason bought it for my birthday last year. I was approaching a “milestone” year and that point in my research where I felt like maybe I’d gotten myself into something I simply wouldn’t be able to pull off.  Knowing me as well as he does, Jason figured I needed a little humor, a little wisdom, and a little sense of female camaraderie to carry me through.  He suspected Bossypants would do the trick, and he was right. In her memoir, Fey draws on four rules of improvisation that she believes work well as guiding principles for her career.  I think they also make great lessons for digital humanists, and I think, in the end, they really describe quite well the kind of DHer I’d like to be.  The first rule of improvisation is AGREE.  Always agree and SAY YES.  When you’re improvising, this means you are required to agree with whatever your partner has created.  So if we’re improvising and I say, “Freeze,...

Mar28

Teaching LDA with the Topic Modeling Game

Posted on Mar 28 by

[The following post was featured as a Digital Humanities Now Editor’s Choice on April 2, 2013.] In February, I visited Matthew Kirschenbaum’s #ENGL668K Introduction to Digital Humanities course at the University of Maryland, and I brought to class an activity that I had been mulling over in my own mind for a long time, called the Topic Modeling Game.  The game is designed to teach the basic principles of topic modeling with LDA through engaged, constructivist, and problem-based techniques. As I was learning about LDA myself, I realized that I was essentially playing this game in my head over and over again: following through how I thought LDA worked, learning where I made mistakes, revising my assumptions, and playing the game all over again.  When I went to write about the results of my topic modeling experiments for the Revising Ekphrasis project in my dissertation, what I discovered is that I really needed a way to explain topic modeling such that someone who had no knowledge of the methodology could read the results of my experiments and trust my conclusions. That...

Mar28

Guest post on NodeXL on ProfHacker

Posted on Mar 28 by

Today, ProfHacker published the second of two posts I’ve written about using social media network analysis and visualization software called NodeXL, titled “NodeXL: Learning from Visualizations of Social Media Networks.” In this post, I talk about what we can learn from importing, calculating the metrics of, and visualizing Twitter conversations that include a hashtag (#) related to a conference.  In the example I provide, I talk about the Modern Languages Association convention that happened last January.  I’m looking forward to writing a few more posts about how to get started with NodeXL in the coming...