I was recently fortunate enough to ask Dr. Lisa L. Tyler a number of questions regarding her digital project (Virtual Hemingway) as well as her experience as a member of Humanities Commons. Tyler is a professor of English at Sinclair Community College, where she teaches literature, composition, and business communication. Her research interests include modernist literature and intertextual connections between Ernest Hemingway’s fiction and novels by female authors. Tyler was also a major participant in the recent Humanities Commons digital summer camp, where she shared her thoughts, discoveries, and challenges. I was especially interested to learn more about Tyler’s Virtual Hemingway, a digital project that houses links to over 500 Hemingway-related online sources.
CD: Why did you choose Humanities Commons to house Virtual Hemingway?
LT: I had been looking for a new venue for Virtual Hemingway, and Humanities Commons seemed like the perfect home—it’s free, its interface was easy for me to use, and it’s readily available to people working and teaching in English departments.
Has Virtual Hemingway and/or your use of Humanities Commons changed your research, teaching, and/or professional identity? If so, how?
I tend to do my research alone, and it’s really easy to feel isolated at times. With Humanities Commons I can see the potential for collaboration as people work on projects rather than having to wait until an article or book is finished and submitting it for review. That seems like a huge advantage for someone like me.
Do you have any plans to add to your Hemingway project? If so, can you describe them?
I am thinking of adding some resources for scholars to attract them to the site. For example, I am considering adding an index to an un-indexed book that scholars could more easily consult if it had an index.
I’d really like for college teachers to see the quality of resources available online now—after spending a few minutes browsing on Virtual Hemingway, they could easily assign students to read half a dozen supplementary articles by veteran Hemingway scholars or emerging new voices and not have to worry about photocopying, securing permissions, costs for students, and so on.
Would you recommend Humanities Commons to other scholars and educators? Why or why not?
Yes—it’s been very helpful for me! But I would caution that some fields within my discipline are much better represented than others. There are very few modernist scholars represented, for example—I’m not sure why.
Has your use of Humanities Commons(overall, not just with the project sites) surprised you in any way? Were there features or results you weren’t expecting?
I didn’t know I could build a website, start a blog, or create a digital humanities project with tools provided by Humanities Commons. When I signed up for the Humanities Commons virtual summer camp over the summer, I was hoping to create a personal CV site. I had no idea how much else was available!
What is Virtual Hemingway‘s ideal future? Do you hope others will use your digital projects? If so, how?
I would love to have people who teach English use the site to assign students to listen to a radio play of A Farewell to Arms and write about how and why it differs from the novel, or read an academic article and report on it to the class. I’d like to see people developing online courses turn to Virtual Hemingway to find audiovisual resources they could incorporate into their class, such as video interviews with Hemingway scholars or NPR radio stories about the lasting significance of his work.
Do you have any advice for other scholars and/or educators who are considering building a project site on Humanities Commons?
The virtual summer camp was really useful to me because it broke down the process step by step. None of it was difficult, but it is tough to take time during the academic year for this kind of ancillary work. I think having a digital presence is becoming more and more important all the time.
Did your participation in the HC Summer Camp influence or change your digital presence? What was your most important learning moment as an HC Summer Camper?
Yes! The summer camp was a terrific help. Once I created my personal site, I was so happy with how it turned out that I wanted to build on that.
I also like the fact that I can attach the URL for my personal CV site to my email signature and share it on social media. I have two books that will be published in 2019, and both publishers sent questionnaires asking me whether I had a website. Now I do!
Is there anything else you’d like to share regarding Humanities Commons and/or Humanities Commons sites?
I’d like to see more people using the site because it gains usefulness as a collaborative tool only as people use it.
Are there any changes or additions to Humanities Commons that you hope to see in the future?
I think there’s plenty there already!