Monday, August 31, 2015

Call Me Jaz

Hello! My name is Jazmine, but most people call me Jaz. My whole name is so long it doesn't fit on church records. I'm a senior now and I have no idea where the time has gone. I love to dance, eat (almost everything), and just chill with my family and friends. I'm from Hawaii so naturally, I'm accustomed to sand, warmth, and sun. I love snow but Winters here have not been the easiest for me.

My experience with Renaissance literature is limited to what I learned in my British & World Literature classes. From what I can remember, we read several works from Sir Philip Sidney, William Shakespeare (of course), and William Tyndale. I have to admit that I follow the typical English major cliche: I love Shakespeare, especially his sonnets. My favorite play has to be "As You Like It," though that could change because I'm reading several more plays in another class. One of my favorite sonnets is, "My Mistress' Eyes Are Nothing Like The Sun," just because Shakespeare drops one of the best compliments that could ever be said. 

I prefer to have a hard copy of a book rather than an E-Book, but I do like that E-Books are easy to access and more convenient. I realized this in class on Monday when Dr. Burton was talking about how quickly things travel via internet. Most of the E-Books I've been exposed to have been through my mom, but I'm starting to consider reading more E-Books on my own. I'm excited to begin this process in publishing our own E-Book. I wasn't expecting our curriculum to be geared toward media but I definitely think its relevant and I look forward to the rest of this semester!  


My name is Doridé Uvaldo-Nelson (Door-ih-day). My name has always been one of those things that made me different from all of the kids in school, but over time I learned to embrace it. I grew up in Mesa, Arizona—and yes, it is blazing hot there.

My interest in the Renaissance stems from a love of Shakespeare's plays. I did both my minor and major's capstones on some of Shakespeare's work and felt confident in the subject matter compared to other classes. I have, however, read some Dunne, Ben Johnson, and a little bit of Spenser, but my memory is incredibly weak on the material since it was reviewed quickly for an intro to Brit Lit class over a year ago. The one thing I do remember enjoying was the "aha" moment that comes when the old English suddenly clicks beyond just comprehension and a larger idea emerges, and the Renaissance is the perfect genre for that.

As for e-books, my experience comes mainly from my Kindle. When the Kindle first came out, I was apprehensive because I couldn't imagine reading a book without literally turning the page or without the book-smell. I eventually gave in when I saw the prices I could get on books I had been dying to read. I've enjoyed e-books much more than I ever expected to, but I find that my attention differs if I'm reading an e-book vs a print book.

Come meet me!

My name is visible in the post already, so I won’t start there. I’ll start instead with an overview of what’s beyond the name: the sophomore who looks for cats to vacuum any time she needs to write an essay, but is paradoxically studying English anyways because she wants to be a published author. I worry about her sometimes. She’s a little dense, so reality might not set in until she uses those rejection notices to light the campfire in her trailer park. If they allow fires.

As her father remarked recently, “[she] goes through books the way we eat chips.” `Tis a hunger we all share here, and I mention it only because her fodder was devoid of classics (gasp!). She ate other things. Redwall. Inkheart. High School classics like Call of the Wild, White Fang and To Kill a Mockingbird. If you ask her to define Renaissance literature – or even the era – she has to think a little. She’s the fast food junkie discovering salad bars: a little unsure in how to assemble the thing, but conscious that carrots and sprouts will be a step up from her potato chips.

Her own renaissance is barely sprouting. Like I said, she’s a junkie. She likes to feel the wind on her face from thumbing through a thousand-page book. Email her an ebook and she pokes it like it might bite. Like I also said, though: she's hungry. As she learns to navigate and participate in a digital sphere, I imagine she will also develop the dreadful habit of playing with her food. After all, she reads in order to write. 

< Isaac > ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ < /Isaac >

Isaac Lyman

One day during summer 2014, I got crazy sick. Skipped work. Put my life on hold. Laid in bed all day. But did I skip the Fictionist concert that evening? Duh no.
My name is Isaac. I'm a computer programmer and I tend to think like an engineer; I don't really fit the English major mold. But I'm here and I probably won't go away even if you tell me to, so there.

As far as the Renaissance goes, I think I'm in favor of it. I like Shakespeare a lot (I'm genuinely jazzed that we'll be studying Hamlet). My all-time favorite homework assignment involved memorizing and acting out one of Claudius's soliloquies. I would tell you that it was a life-changing experience, but if you don't automatically disbelieve that every time you hear it from a college student, you're probably not skeptical enough. Anyway, it was awesome.

Aside from the bard, my experience is limited. I can kick it with Donne and Montaigne if I have to. I think Donne's "The Flea" is excellent from basically every perspective: religious devotional poem, seduce-ish love poem, blood-and-guts poem, making-people-uncomfortable poem, and those are all the perspectives I'm aware of at this point in my education.

I'll be frank about my experience with eBooks (as if I'm hedgy about other things). I've found eBooks to be generally of a much lower quality than regular books from, you know, Random House or HarperCollins. And I've always looked down my nose (which isn't that hard with a nose like mine) at people who take on the title of "author" after self-publishing a book. One kid in my high school "published" a fantasy novel that he was really proud of. I tried to read a couple pages of it. It was just the worst. That was how I learned that there's no minimum standard for self-published works.

A point for optimism: There is a substantial body of high-quality self-published work online (blogs, online news media, open-source code, etc.) that I have a high respect for. Therefore, high-quality eBooks are not such a far-fetched idea that I cannot conceive of their existence. On the contrary, I am eager to test the waters and see how something like this comes together, and I will be glad to contribute what I can to this project.

The Literary Past Meets the Digital Present: eRenaissance (a student ebook project)

a mockup cover
for our prospective eBook
Two years ago my students and I created this blog (and other online resources) in an effort to create an ebook connecting the study of literature from the European Renaissance of the 15th-17th centuries with our current digital renaissance. It was our belief that one good renaissance deserves another, and so we titled our work eRenassiance: Literary Past, Digital Present. I am now inviting a second group of students to build upon this foundation and complete that project.

The European Renaissance was a long period filled with many false starts; this will always be the case when some watershed event in culture (like the arrival of a new medium) overturns familiar assumptions and practices. So I do not feel bad that in 2013 we failed to complete and publish our book. In fact, in the meantime (working with other students) I've found an improved ebook publishing platform (LeanPub), and had students successfully publish a book somewhat similar to this one, Digitally Disruptive: Current Topics, Historical Perspectives. Given that success, and the foundation laid from the prior students, I am confident we can complete and perfect what they began.
Students recently published
this ebook in 2015 on

As always with my courses, I invite my students to make their process public, precisely so that others can (as we are doing with a prior generation of students) build on what now do.  That is why we will be blogging our way toward publication.

In addition to the blog, at our disposal is the Open Renaissance Wiki where prior students collected and organized content and ideas. And we can, of course, communicate directly with those previous students and even invite them along if they have interest in resuming participation. We may engage other online tools, too, to help us reach our destination.

I am confident that over the course of the next few months we will in fact produce a completed book that will not just document student learning; it will become a resource for others' learning and a contribution to the conversation about how we come to terms with a world being radically revised by its communications media.

Six Themes
I have identified six themes, lenses by which we can understand Renaissance literature. These have proven to be handy concepts for understanding our present day, and also for conceptualizing our own project: