Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Pinning the Bard

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As many of you, my Shakespearian friends, may have noticed, I like doing research with pictures. This may imply a lot of things about me, such as the fact that I have a hard time digesting scholarly articles or that I'm an extremely visual learner. These are both true. However, something else that I have discovered is how truly helpful visuals can be in the arena of Shakespeare. Visuals are useful in understanding most ideas. Scientific concepts are best represented in graphics, while football plays really can't be understood without being drawn out. Shakespeare is especially enhanced with the use of visuals because much like football plays or scientific reactions, his plays were meant to be seen, not just read about. That's the reason that I've come to really enjoy starting off my research, or even my reading of a play, by looking up infographics, pictures, and movie stills. I've shared many of these on Slack, so hopefully you have been able to benefit from those, as well.

When Dr. Burton and I discussed my final topic during our interview, he brought up the fact that I've done a lot of my prewriting research through graphics, and I told him that my primary source for these graphics has been on Pinterest. I then showed him my "English Major" board on Pinterest that I started at the beginning of the semester. He was intrigued by this (my board gained another follower), and he challenged me with the task of writing a paper about how Pinterest, specifically, can be useful in the realm of Shakespeare. We talked about (and I later confirmed with further research) how there are papers written about the usefulness of Facebook and Twitter in the research realm of scholarly seriousness, but how there isn't much on Pinterest, at least that he had heard of. I did a bit of research on JSTOR, and found a few papers on Pinterest. One that stood out to me was written on the idea of using Pinterest to help teach math to elementary school kids. I loved the ideas presented in that paper because the woman writing it made the same point that I want too- that we have so many resources right at our fingertips; why not use them to learn? I know that when one thinks of Pinterest, the first thing that often comes to mind is weddings or fun recipes or easy DIY ideas. Those are all great. But the reality is that we can use it to learn more about the world around us. I want to prove that in my paper in regards to Shakespeare.

I started my research this weekend my posting three images (all found on Pinterest) to my Facebook page. The images are posted above. They are all different aesthetically and perhaps have different purposes, but I think that they are all meant to help somebody both want to read the play "Macbeth" and perhaps understand it better. The feedback that I got was interesting. Each of the three images was valued by different people for different reasons. Most said that while they were not interested in reading Shakespeare, the graphics did intrigue them. I then posted the pictures on our Slack channel, after discussing my idea with a few people. The feedback I have received has been different on Slack than it was on Facebook. This gives space to explore the issue of how Shakespearian scholars prefer visual interaction vs how those that have nothing to do with Shakespeare like it.   This small bit of research helped me a lot in being able to understand how different images work for different people, and how a search engine like Pinterest could truly help engage both the Shakespeare scholar and layman alike. That's what I want my paper to encompass and prove, that the social media resources we have can be useful in a deep, profound way in valuing some of the greatest work ever written.

I want to focus my paper on a few different plays; I'm thinking "Macbeth" and "The Tempest" specifically. I think those are two visually intense plays that could lend themselves well to Pinterest. However, it may be interesting to see how Pinterest could help with a play like "Measure for Measure", one that isn't well known and perhaps doesn't have the visual intensity that the previously aforementioned plays do. I'm still working through these ideas, but I'm excited to continue my research and see where it brings me.

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