Teaching Hemingway in the Digital Age
Call for Papers: Teaching Hemingway in the Digital Age
Teaching Hemingway in the Digital Age combines two broad aims: to make available to high school and college teachers a wide selection of the best techniques and contemporary digital tools for teaching Hemingway to 21st century “digital age” students, and to showcase how digital humanists use Hemingway’s writing for their own scholarship and teaching. The subtle textures of Hemingway’s prose can provide valuable training for contemporary students who need above all to learn to read slowly and with close attention to a literary text. (In fact, the novelist Andre Dubus III touched on these benefits in his 2012 PEN Hemingway keynote address, remarking that “In this digital present where so many human faces are lit with the glow of one screen after another, a time when the notion of individuality and the truly real is beginning to blur, more than ever before we need the life’s work of Ernest Hemingway.”) How do we illuminate the dense complexities of Hemingway’s seemingly-simple prose to readers used to skimming websites? How can we highlight his characters’ attachments to physical environments when students are more attuned to virtual ones? Alternatively, contributors might consider whether “digital age” students are by virtue of their environment and experiences somehow more connected to Hemingway’s life and his writing.
But Teaching Hemingway in the Digital Age is not intended simply to indict contemporary students and their smartphones. More important, we expect contributors will describe pedagogical opportunities for teaching Hemingway that are made possible with digital applications or digital humanities, opportunities that illuminate unique qualities of his work and life. We hope that the contributors to this collection will document not only the divisions but the remarkable, unexplored parallels between Hemingway’s works and the contemporary digital era, offering ways to bring those comparisons to life in the classroom.
While the final organization of the collection will depend upon the accepted essays, we anticipate three general thematic sections:
I. The “Digital Divide”
Those of us responsible for teaching the works of Ernest Hemingway to 21st century students often find ourselves trying to bridge an ever-growing “digital divide.” Simply put, students accustomed to seeing virtual landscapes on a screen often find it difficult to picture literary ones. Yet an appreciation of Hemingway’s work depends in large part on understanding the physical world he recreates. In his 1935 Esquire piece, “Monologue to the Maestro,” Hemingway stated that aspiring writers must “be able to go into a room and when you come out know everything that you saw there and not only that. If that room gave you any feeling you should know exactly what it was that gave you that feeling.” The generative power of things is an important principle in Hemingway’s entire body of work. Can students who have not been trained to pay attention to actual places—and things-in-their-places—understand the intensity and fidelity of Hemingway’s literary environments? Or does training one’s eye toward virtual landscapes, paradoxically, somehow give students better (but different) skills for reading Hemingway’s real ones?
A second topic in this section might concern individuality, community, and solitude. Students born in the 1990s or 2000s have grown up in a social-media-driven environment, one in which individuality is often expressed and defined in ways that are decidedly oppositional to some of the best-known Hemingway “code” heroes, reticent yet contemplative figures who so often go it alone. The 21st century emphasis on “connectivity” sits at odds with solitude, stands in opposition to introspection. Instead, the digital-age focus is often on constant connection and collective, ubiquitous sharing—minute-by-minute updates of our thoughts and all our daily ‘data.’ (Students’ attitudes towards solitude have altered so much, as William Deresiewicz has written in an often-quoted 2009 essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education, that we are, in fact, witnessing “the end of solitude.”) But solitude, introspection, and individuality are some of the core traits of Hemingway’s characters. How do we teach texts such as “Big Two-Hearted River,” a narrative of an entirely solitary fishing trip, to students who may rarely or never be alone? In what sense can the social media-immersed student possess some new or illuminated understanding of the relationships between Hemingway’s individual characters and their communities?
II. Digital Resources for Teaching Hemingway
Digital humanities scholars are currently developing platforms to teach Hemingway’s writing to students on their terms, and students themselves (undergraduate and graduate students alike) are participating in the invention of digital Hemingway technologies. We are interested, in this section, to publish essays concerning the use of such resources. What do spatially insular stories like “The End of Something” look like when we create digital maps for them? How can a digital cartographic technology like a GIS (Geographic Information Systems) map show how much wider Hemingway’s spatial sense of the world became in The Sun Also Rises? Other examples of recently-developed Hemingway digital technologies include student-created Google Lit Trips interactive maps; the “Hemingway App,” a downloadable text-editor application that can edit a writer’s style based on a Hemingway-esque algorithm designed to produce prose of “clarity and simplicity”; or the JFK Library’s recent digitization of Hemingway’s childhood scrapbooks (a watershed moment in Hemingway studies, because students and scholars no longer have to travel to Boston to see the documents). In short, there is much of Hemingway’s life and work that can be made more accessible and meaningful with these new digital tools, and we are interested in contributors’ commentary on both the creation and/or use of these resources.
III. Virtual Hemingways
In this thematic section of the book, we invite contributors to consider the ways that 21st century Hemingway internet resources provide rich opportunities for seeing Hemingway in new lights and from multiple angles. We seek contributors who can speak about specific digital resources that have been created around Hemingway’s life and work and who think broadly about what kind of Hemingway those resources manufacture. When we enter Hemingway’s name into any basic search engine like Google, hundreds of separate and fragmented ‘identities’ emerge of him as a writer and a man. How do students make sense of the Hemingways they encounter on Wikipedia or as depicted by Tumblr bloggers? Which picture of Hemingway is more credible? Which of these and countless other virtual spaces are likely to be used most enthusiastically by our digital-age students, for better or for worse?
Deadlines and Contacts: We are looking for essays of approximately 2500-4000 words that consider topics related to the broad theme of teaching Hemingway in the digital age as well as essays that address the teaching of specific texts. The editors welcome essays from emerging scholars, and the published collection will reflect a wide range of critical approaches. Proposals of no more than 750 words should be sent to both Laura Godfrey (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Teaching Hemingway series-editor Mark Ott (email@example.com) by June 1st, 2017 to ensure fullest consideration for inclusion in the volume. Authors whose work is accepted should plan to submit completed manuscripts by September 1st, 2017.