This year, I attended the 2012 Modern Language Association (MLA) Convention in Seattle, WA. My presence at the convention was motivated by my interest in both literary studies and pedagogy. As a panelist on a special session on nineteenth-century flânerie in Paris, I presented a paper titled “Elevated Flâneries: Bourgeois Women, Spectatorship, and the Façades of Haussmann’s Paris.” My talk focused on the literary and artistic representation of bourgeois women in relation to the changing façades of the Parisian apartment buildings during the 1860s and the 1870s, when Haussmann’s innovations in urban planning that reshaped the city’s architecture. My study combined representations of women in works by Zola, Morisot, and Caillebotte with the specific architectural developments of the Parisian apartment building in Haussmann’s grands boulevards. I concluded that, in their works, these authors and artists of Second-Empire Paris captured the shifting place of bourgeois women in relation to the public space of the city’s boulevard culture, one that enabled women access to the experience of flânerie through the specific layout of the new apartment buildings.
The session topic proved to be of great interest. Other papers on this panel included work on the links between fashion and flânerie in Guy de Maupassant’s prose and studies of the figure of the child flâneur in early 19th-century Paris. Although it was scheduled as the last session on the Convention’s closing day, the panel gathered an exciting group of scholars in the nineteenth century in the audience.
At this year’s Convention, I was invited to participate in the MLA’s Digital Humanities workshop. Its theme, “Getting Started with DHCommons,” focused on bringing resources in digital humanities to researchers and teachers in the humanities. Here, I received valuable training in digital humanities resources for research and teaching. The workshop gathered scholars from virtually all humanities disciplines, encompassing a wide range of areas, from history to literary studies, from philosophy to language pedagogy. It quickly became obvious that new, dynamic tools for storing, archiving, demonstrating, and evaluating digital pedagogy across disciplines were emerging. Workshop participants were introduced to the basic methods and projects offered by DHCommons as well as the key research tools and pedagogical resources in digital humanities developed by THATCamp, Zotero, and National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE), to name a few. Through the Digital Humanities Workshop, I received hands-on training in metadata standards and digital tools for creating and gathering digital collections, such as Omeka, Drupal, and TEI basic tags. The Workshop’s extended activities included the exciting MLA panel, “Building Digital Humanities in the Undergraduate Classroom,” which was particularly helpful in understanding the broader applications of digital humanities in the classroom. As I learned about these digital tools and resources through the Workshop’s numerous sessions, it became obvious that the pedagogical possibilities in the area of digital humanities remain endless. I returned to UC Berkeley with newfound circle of colleagues in digital humanities and specific ideas for implementing digital humanities in the foreign language classroom.
I am grateful to the Berkeley Language Center for its support, for it has enabled me to share my interdisciplinary research on nineteenth-century cultural topography as well as obtain training in the developing, groundbreaking field of digital humanities pedagogy.