A Burning Idea - Spring 2019 Course

A COPLAC Digital Distance Learning Course

Page 3 of 14

Progress Update: We Have A Website!

We have a site! While we still have plenty of editing to go to get our finished project as perfect as possible, I’m happy to say that Avery and I have finished the first draft of our website. I checked several items off my to-do list this week to get to this point. First of all, I finished transcribing our interview with Dr. Eickholdt and converted the document into a pdf to put on our site. For now it’s located on our “for educators/students” page, but I might create a separate page for interviews and place it there, along with our written email with Mr. Kling, which I also put on the “for educators/students” page in pdf form. So that we would have additional information on that page outside of the interviews, I also added a link to the ALA’s informational page on banned books week. I then took my compiled list of outside articles from our google drive folder and placed it on the “additional resources” page. Right now it’s divided into two sections, “general” and “Harry Potter and Wicca.” Depending on which resources Avery wants to add to the list, we may add additional categories.

In regards to my individual pages, I made the most progress on the “cases” section. The “Harry Potter in the US” section was already half-finished, as I had completed the “Series Summary” section earlier, so all I needed to do on that portion of the site was add content to the “National Reaction” page. On that page I’ve added context to the national censorship debate regarding the Harry Potter series by discussing various efforts to ban the book in schools since its 1998 US release. I’ve also included a StoryMap documenting some of the landmark cases regarding the series outside of the Gwinnett County case. The Alamogordo book burning in particular fascinated me while I was conducting my research, especially considering the recent Harry Potter burning in Poland for the same reasons, so I wanted to find a place to highlight it. I really enjoy the StoryMapJS tool, and thought this would be a great way to incorporate it into our site.

For the “cases” section, I left the “Laura Mallory” and “Original Complaint” pages as they were and added content to the other five, including the “cases” tab itself. While I do want to put more on Mallory’s page, since she is the original complainant and primary player in this case, I’m wary to add anything that could come across as authorial bias. Since we don’t have access to much of Mallory’s own voice, I’d rather err on the side of caution than accidentally smother her presence. On the “cases” tab I’ve added a short blurb describing the content of the upcoming pages and posed some questions we’re attempting to answer in our analysis of the Mallory case. Under “Appeal 1” I’ve got a description of Mallory’s system-level appeal of Magill’s original decision. Since the majority of the action involving this case happens in Appeal 2, I used this page to offer additional information on the school and its placement in the Gwinnett County school system, along with a map of the South Gwinnett cluster. Following Dr. Hajo’s advice, I’m going to reupload the map as a jpeg rather than a pdf so it will load faster. On “Appeal 2,” I use direct quotes from the State Board of Education’s official decision and our interview with Dr. Eickholdt to discuss Mallory’s expanded appeal to the local board. This page in particular is very content-heavy, so I plan on going back in later and breaking it up with some images or a video clip featuring the section of our interview that I featured in text. “Appeal 3” is much simpler, since there was not an official hearing at this point, but I did include a pdf of the State Board’s decision. Not only do I find this document extremely interesting and very useful for understanding the case as a whole, but I also think it is a key primary source that needed a dedicated space where visitors to the site could locate it easily. My “community response” page definitely needs the most work at this point. While I’ve added some perspective on and brief analysis of local response to Laura Mallory and the Gwinnett County case, I still need to include a discussion of the internet response to Mallory. My primary goal for this week is to flesh out this page in greater detail so that I have a better idea of how that information works in coordination with the other elements of our site.

Progress Update: The Homestretch

Clipart

Bumps in the road

Wow, I cannot believe the first drafts of our website are due this week! These past few weeks have been very busy for me, so I have had to push my website to the back burner. I got sick, my grandfather had an extended stay in the hospital, I took two exams, and to top it off my glasses broke. Now, I am writing this blog post from a conference center in Orlando, as I am simultaneously listening to a lecture on experimental biology. Despite all of these bumps in the road, I am confident I will be able to finish by Tuesday and produce a good quality website. 

What’s done? 

The website is looking good! All of the primary source documents and interview pages are finished. Additionally, I made a Coggle diagram for the homepage. I am not entirely sure I will keep it, as the format of the embed is not as visually appealing as I want. I am really looking forward to hearing everyone’s feedback during class! 

What needs work? 

Of course, I will not be able to call the website truly complete until every last word has been checked over. The homepage is subject to change, as is the section titled “The Media.” This page contains news articles and the dates they were published to show how the media circulated information, and may have contributed to the censorship of The Golden Compass. There is a good amount of overlap between this page and the timeline, so I am considering condensing them. Additionally, the timeline needs and update, and perhaps some new pictures. Lastly, I need to finish my summary of the book, which  should be relatively easy to do. 

Evidently, I still have a bit of work to do. It would have been nice to be a little bit ahead of where I am now, but it is difficult to account for unexpected delays. Nevertheless, I want to make sure my website is exactly how I want it to be. I am looking forward to finishing up the last couple of edits, and viewing the completed first draft.

Progress: Website Draft

After lots of coffee and approximately a thousand years of arguing with WordPress, the first draft of our page is complete!

The Good News

I definitely feel much more proficient in using WordPress than I ever thought I’d be, and I’m impressed with what we’ve gotten our website to do. Baylee very skillfully placed some hyperlinked buttons around our site which look sleek and help with navigability. I, on the other hand, have been enjoying using the PDF embedder feature for the case documents.

The last few days have been mostly taken up by the “Significance” section of our site, where I tried to outline some of the case’s major themes in the larger context of censorship. I wanted to outline how our case works with the general argument between controversy and literary value/merit, as this seems to be at the core of most, if not all, major censorship cases. I also devoted some time to talk about the faulty handling of this case by Norman Public Schools, and how that reflects a general ineptitude on the part of school district administrations in handling cases like the one at Whittier in a way that does not allow the complaints of one to dictate the experience of all. I’m quite proud of this section–and it doesn’t even look that much like an essay! Yay!

The Bad News

An agonized Baylee desperately tries to fix her graph (Gordon, 2019)

Baylee and I were never able to find a way to embed our Venngage infographics onto the site. Although she was able to make some great graphs for her demographics page otherwise, I’m very bitter that I couldn’t use by beautiful, clickable navigation graphic. By the time we figured out it wouldn’t work, it didn’t seem worth it, time-wise, to make another one on a different site. I might still do this before the final draft of the site is due, but for now, Baylee’s buttons look just fine.

Also, I never heard back about permissions to use our clippings from The Daily Oklahoman. I’m going to keep them on the site for now and try emailing them yet again this week.

We also never got an interview with our professor, Dr. Rees, as her schedule got too hectic last week. We could still do this, but I think our site functions perfectly well without it. She also doesn’t know a lot about the author, book, or case, so I’m second-guessing how much this would contribute. I’ve been feeling somewhat anxious about the amount of material we have compared to other cases, but it should be good enough. The site is concise and navigable, and I think it accomplishes what it sets out to.

Onward!

Having this first draft done is a huge weight off my chest, especially considering the workload I have for other courses this week. I look forward to seeing what everyone else in class has to say about it, and I can’t wait to look at the other projects in more detail.

A Burning Idea: Progress Report 5

I suppose this shall be my final progress report, having met my quota of five progress report posts with this one. My half of Geneseo’s website is near, but not quite, complete. Three pages still need to be written, namely my analysis of the censorship case, an historical overview of censorship, and the page which I already have the research done for and simply need to spent a few minutes to write, on the religious objections to The Golden Compass, specifically focusing on Philip Pullman’s rather inflammatory comments. I also need to touch up the several other pages I completed over this weekend, namely adding pictures as opposed to the plain text several pages have now.

Ultimately, the writing of these pages was not too terribly arduous, once I finally managed to sit down and do so. Sitting in Crickets Coffee, my cafe of choice, on a rather uncomfortable stool for around four hours until my once-fully charged laptop was on the bring of battery death (using the term “dying” for running out of power is somewhat bizarre, honestly). Before getting into the individual pages I just wrote, an irritance: I know not if this is how WordPress sites are or if this is a function of our chosen theme, but putting words in italics on our site also bolds the words without actually marking them as “bolded,”independent of whether that is wanted. Considering MLA has book titles in italics, this is certainly somewhat upsetting and something I am unsure of how to change. So it goes.

In writing the page offering a short biography, I was impressed at just how many awards Philip Pullman had won for his writings. Pullman was even granted a knighthood this prior 2018 holiday season, which is pretty impressive. Pullman also won both a Carnegie Medal and “the Carnegie of Carnegies,” for being the reader-chosen best recipient of the medal within its first seventy years. Pullman also has won several other awards, the most notable of which to my untrained eye seems to be his status as the first children’s author to win the Whitbread Book of the Year Award.

Image result for knight
You’re given free armour and a horse when getting knighted, right? Find this image here.

One of the other recently-created pages was a brief history of the Halton community, which, having done my research and written the page, is not necessarily as useful as one might have hoped. Halton is a regional municipality in Canada, formerly a county and before that a district, meaning it is not a community in the traditional sense, rather being a somewhat more reaching municipal jurisdiction which actually includes three towns and a city, each of which have their own identities. Still, the page was written, though it feels like it mostly has to do with a history of the shifting administrative tendencies in Canada than a specific community.

I also created a StoryMap JS this previous Saturday showing the locations and details of those other challenges to The Golden Compass that I could actually find information for, in chronological order. The reasons for the challenges, or at least the main ones mentioned, were all pretty similar, focusing on the (here I would typically put “supposed,” and consistently do on the website, but Pullman is about as explicit as one can be) anti-Christian and anti-Catholic elements of the novels. Though, the challenger in Winchester, Kentucky, also objected to drug consumption in the books, namely wine and poppy with meals. The Halton case also seemed to have had some amount of objection to the novels’ supposed violence. So it goes.

That is all that comes to mind for this post. Enjoy thine day.

A Burning Idea: Progress Report 5

I suppose this shall be my final progress report, having met my quota of five progress report posts with this one. My half of Geneseo’s website is near, but not quite, complete. Three pages still need to be written, namely my analysis of the censorship case, an historical overview of censorship, and the page which I already have the research done for and simply need to spent a few minutes to write, on the religious objections to The Golden Compass, specifically focusing on Philip Pullman’s rather inflammatory comments. I also need to touch up the several other pages I completed over this weekend, namely adding pictures as opposed to the plain text several pages have now.

Ultimately, the writing of these pages was not too terribly arduous, once I finally managed to sit down and do so. Sitting in Crickets Coffee, my cafe of choice, on a rather uncomfortable stool for around four hours until my once-fully charged laptop was on the bring of battery death (using the term “dying” for running out of power is somewhat bizarre, honestly). Before getting into the individual pages I just wrote, an irritance: I know not if this is how WordPress sites are or if this is a function of our chosen theme, but putting words in italics on our site also bolds the words without actually marking them as “bolded,”independent of whether that is wanted. Considering MLA has book titles in italics, this is certainly somewhat upsetting and something I am unsure of how to change. So it goes.

In writing the page offering a short biography, I was impressed at just how many awards Philip Pullman had won for his writings. Pullman was even granted a knighthood this prior 2018 holiday season, which is pretty impressive. Pullman also won both a Carnegie Medal and “the Carnegie of Carnegies,” for being the reader-chosen best recipient of the medal within its first seventy years. Pullman also has won several other awards, the most notable of which to my untrained eye seems to be his status as the first children’s author to win the Whitbread Book of the Year Award.

Image result for knight
You’re given free armour and a horse when getting knighted, right? Find this image here.

One of the other recently-created pages was a brief history of the Halton community, which, having done my research and written the page, is not necessarily as useful as one might have hoped. Halton is a regional municipality in Canada, formerly a county and before that a district, meaning it is not a community in the traditional sense, rather being a somewhat more reaching municipal jurisdiction which actually includes three towns and a city, each of which have their own identities. Still, the page was written, though it feels like it mostly has to do with a history of the shifting administrative tendencies in Canada than a specific community.

I also created a StoryMap JS this previous Saturday showing the locations and details of those other challenges to The Golden Compass that I could actually find information for, in chronological order. The reasons for the challenges, or at least the main ones mentioned, were all pretty similar, focusing on the (here I would typically put “supposed,” and consistently do on the website, but Pullman is about as explicit as one can be) anti-Christian and anti-Catholic elements of the novels. Though, the challenger in Winchester, Kentucky, also objected to drug consumption in the books, namely wine and poppy with meals. The Halton case also seemed to have had some amount of objection to the novels’ supposed violence. So it goes.

That is all that comes to mind for this post. Enjoy thine day.

Finishing Up the First Draft

Our goal for turning in the first draft was to have all of our pages finished. We did not want to leave anything out, that way the rest of the semester can be spent perfecting anything our peers point out.

Technical Difficulties

As I have said before, I am not the most technologically advanced person in the world. Genevieve and I originally really liked how user friendly a website called Venngage was for that exact purpose. Neither of us had ever created an info graphic before, preferring generally to stick to the writing part of technical writing. Sadly, venngage turned out to be anything but user friendly.

I emailed Leah last week, frantic, because no matter what I tried, I could not get either of our graphics to show up on the site. She installed a plug in for us that still didn’t work. She tried something else that appeared to work from her end, but when I tried to do, it only showed up about half the time.

We were really sad to scrap our graphics, but we had no choice but to start over.

Learning to Use Google Sheets

Since I was working on the page of our site about Norman, Oklahoma and the schools, I knew that I wanted to include relevant information about the people who lived there. I had all of the data, but no knowledge of how to put it in a spreadsheet in the correct form. Eventually, I figured it out, and made three graphs that match our theme. I’m really proud of myself for them.

During this process, I actually feel like I became relatively fluent at embedding things into word press. Besides the actual writing, I was able to play around with the site and make it look exactly the way I wanted it.

Learning by Being Stubborn

There were some little problems with the layout of the website that honestly made me want to throw my computer against a wall. One really dumb one was the fact that WordPress does not automatically register an empty text box on the actual website. I finally figured out (after immense internet searching) that all you have to do is press control+enter.

I love buttons. There are probably 20 buttons on our website because they are exactly what I was looking for. I was so happy when Leah showed us how to use them in class, because I genuinely would never have figured it out.

Overall I am just really proud of the website Genevieve and I have been able to create together. It was not intuitive to me, considering how long I struggled every time we needed to use Google Sheets. However, I think this experience so far has been invaluable, and I can’t to see what everyone else thinks of our website.

A Reflection on Native Voices

Reading Reflection 3

Researching and writing on the history and culture on the Appalachian Mountains for the context section of my website brought me – unexpectedly – back to one of our class earlier class reading assignments, “The Dearth of Native Voices in Young Adult Literature: A Call for More Young Adult Literature by and for Indigenous Peoples,” by Kenyan Metzger & Wendy Kelleher (2008).

In all honesty, I thought I had a relatively good understanding of the history of Appalachia. But, after a night of research, I realized I only knew half the story – the story that that is recognized and taught in general history classes, and even featured as standardized test material (*shiver* – I have to say that I definitely do not miss the days of S.O.Ls).

To write briefly, I was familiar with the story of the Scots-Irish in Appalachia and how the settlers impacted the culture. For example, on Dialect Blog, Ben Smith (2011) discusses the significant linguistic contributions of the Scots-Irish Settlers. When I originally thought of writing a brief overview of Appalachian culture, I only thought of showing of this European side of history and culture.

However, many of the sources I began studying acknowledged another group of people that had a monumental impact on the region: the Cherokee Indians. To illustrate, in an article from The Appalachian Voice on Native American trails, Marshall & Marshall (2008), “[t]hree hundred years ago the southern Appalachians were home to the sovereign Cherokee people. Over fifty towns and settlements were connected by a well-worn system of foot trails. . .This Indian trail system. . .was the blueprint for the basic circuitry of the region’s modern road and interstate system” (para. 2).

Reading about the history and influence of Native Americans made me completely rethink what Appalachian culture is, and more importantly, how I wanted to present it on the website. In the words of Metzger & Kelleher (2008) in the Dearth of Native Voices in Young Adult Literature: A Call for More Young Adult Literature by and for Indigenous Peoples, “literature may help students to see who they are now not just in the context of history” (p. 38). In the article, this quotation is used to support the idea that Native American youths need to see representations of people who share and live in their contemporary culture (Metzger & Kelleher, 2008), but for me, the quotation brought me to consider the idea that literature, generally, serves as a reflection of different types of people, events, and cultures. Native American culture is vital in understanding what it means to be Appalachian – an idea that is commonly featured in Appalachian literature, which makes Native American representation and culture extremely relevant and important for the region’s literature, far more so that the small amount it gets recognized.

In the conclusion of the article, Metzger & Kelleher (2008) state that “[w]e must also share culturally relevant literature with non-Indian youth, so that they may appreciate the diversity of culture. In turn, the culture of all students must be recognized as essential to a broader understanding among students and teachers alike” (p. 41). This quotation became a guiding thought for the cultural context section of my site. I spent some extra time exploring articles that discussed more of the Cherokee and Native American influence in Appalachia so that I could include information about Native American history in addition to the history of Appalachian settlers – both equally important pieces of the story that The Floatplane is devoted to narrating.

References

Marshall, K., & Marshall, L. (2008, October 30). Indian Trails of Appalachia Appalachian Voices. Retrieved April 8, 2019, from http://appvoices.org/2008/10/30/indian-trails-of-appalachia/

Metzger, K., & Kelleher, W. (Winter 2008). The Dearth of Native Voices in Young Adult Literature: A Call for More Young Adult Literature by and for Indigenous Peoples. The ALAN Review, 36-42. Retrieved April 8, 2019.

Smith, B. T. (2011, June 15). Ulster Scots and Appalachian English. Retrieved April 8, 2019, from http://dialectblog.com/2011/06/15/ulster-scots-and-appalachian-english/

The Progression of Progress

Warp speed activated!

Since my last progress update, Maelyn and I have completed a number of assignments on our website. We are moving ahead at warp speed and we are scheduled to complete our website by next week’s class meeting!

First things first, we are chugging along on our homepage. We have a great opening text written out and we have put in buttons for website visitors to click on to navigate them to pages of interest such as Anne’s bio, the challenged passages, Culpeper’s demographics, etc. We have completed Anne’s Story and National Opposition pages too. Her life has been turned into a StoryMap JS, with special focus on the diary in her life. In National Opposition, we discussed the history of censoring Anne’s diary in the United States, with the earliest push for its removal from textbooks in 1982. In this page, I found a fantastic quote about the diary by Anne’s cousin, Buddy Elias:

“It’s really her. It shows her in a truer light, not as a saint, but as a girl like every other girl. She was nothing, actually; people try to make a saint out of her and glorify her. That she was not. She was an ordinary, normal girl with a talent for writing.”

Other completed pages include Passages in Question. This part of the site explicitly states and explains the passages in the Definitive Edition of the text that has caused the most uproar over the years. One passage, dated March 1944, has Anne describing her genitals in detail. The second passage, dated January 1944, shows Anne in a different light, one concerning her sexual orientation. She “had a terrible desire to kiss [Jacque], which I did. Every time I see a female nude … I go into ecstasy.” As far back as the 1980s, these parts of the diary have repeatedly been challenged and censored. In fact, Otto himself censored this and other sections of the diary before publishing.

We have also recently added an acknowledgements page to list everyone who has helped us along this process (including our great professors!).

Some pages which are still in progress include the home page, our interview pages, revamping Key Players, and writing about our experiences in its designated tab. The home tab is nearly complete! We just have to arrange the navigation buttons the way we want them. We are running into some issues as far as the design of the website itself on the Key Players page. We have very little information concerning who was involved in the censorship and how, making our page seem a bit bare. But we will work a bit more to get the right design going! UPDATE: We combined tabs together and got the design issue figured out!

Reading Response and Reflection

After working on the website these past weeks and working with the history, I decided to do a reflection on some of our previous readings. The two articles I looked back on was “Best Practices for Writing History on the Web” by Sean Kheraj and “Why Don’t Archivists Digitize Everything” by Samantha Thompson. I wanted to look back at these two because I remembered thinking ‘oh we should use this’ or ‘that might come in handy.’ Most of the stuff from the Kheraj article was easy reminders that we got through out the semester, things like keeping it understandable for all readers, make it accessible, and use pictures. Looking through our site, we did try to have a photo, or storymap, on each page. Cody did the historical pages of our website, which was good because I read through them to see if I could understand what he wrote since I am not a history person. Everything seemed clear to me, but I think we will need other people who are unfamiliar with our case to read and let us know if we need to cut down. Another feature that Kheraj mentioned in his article was using hyperlinks. I love hyperlinks, I used them last year in my class blog and usually use them when I’m drafting research papers. Our website definitely made a lot of use of them! Especially having the photos link to the original source. We haven’t uploaded any video or audio, but we do have the audio of our interview with Dr. Erbelding. Rereading this article was a nice check-in on our original vision for the website and reminding us why we planned things the way we did.

The Thompson article I reread because I didn’t get to write about it earlier, and it (with other recent events) reminded me of why record keeping is so important. I can’t imagine all the different ways archivists have had to problem solve to figure out how to digitize items. It is hard too because scanning can take a long time, and as they mentioned it doesn’t fully capture the whole artifact. Plus with hundreds of years worth of papers, documents, photos, and diaries, that process of digitizing would take ages. Especially in historic homes or museums that do not have the access to technology or help to digitize. Digital archives have a lot of faults too! Just a little water is all it takes to ruin everything, or maybe just a computer virus and everything is gone. This concept of digitizing archives is something that most people outside of history/historic preservation do not really think about. It would be tragic if we lost all that information, it would be the Library of Alexandria all over again (I’m bitter). The great thing about having Cody as my partner and friend is that I find out some cool preservation facts. One that he told me is that they lower the amount of oxygen in the room where the Star Spangled Banner is kept to keep it from deteriorating. I’m sure he has told me other things that preservationists use. This article was just a nice reminder that not everything can be digitized, and there are certain roadblocks to digitizing other items.

Image result for library of alexandria

A Burning Idea: Progress Report 4

I have come to the rather aggravating conclusion that something about the WiFi of SUNY Geneseo, or at least in my dormitory (which, admittedly, may be a facet of its being “the oldest dorm on campus,” as if that was a good thing) does not agree with my desire to update our WordPress site. I have yet to have an issue when writing these blog posts, but the internet seems to have some problem with me when attempting to put new text into our site. This is incredibly upsetting, but I suppose it is what it is. Directly prior to the writing of this post, I was in my preferred coffee shop off of Geneseo’s campus, where I was able to work on and update our site as I am meant to be able to with (relative) ease. This is an excellent excuse for me to waste more money on those rosemary olive bagels I so love, one supposes.

Image result for bagel
Bageliffic!

I just completed what will turn out to be one half of the religion page on our website, discussing the history of publicly funded Catholic schools in the Canadian province of Ontario. We did not have an obvious place to put this, so I decided that it would be a subpage under religion, as will be the actual religious controversy around The Golden Compass book and probably movie. Of course, the internet decided to go down in that cafe directly before I was able to actually link that bloody page properly, so it now exists in WordPress without being able to be accessed from the public site. Joyous.

The history of public Catholic schools in Canada follows some similar lines to the discrimination against Roman Catholics in the United States, with the whole “allegiance to a foreign power” and “they are undermining our (Protestant) way of life shticks. Though, astonishingly from my American point of view, because the “normal” public schools in Ontario were very much if a Protestant origin, compulsory religious learning for all students was not abolished in what are now Canada’s secular schools until 1969. This is absolutely a product of my own American biases from our history of pretending that we have a separation of church and state. but that seems astonishingly recent to have stopped forcibly propagandizing children into religion. This also gave me an excuse to reference the fact that Irish and Irish-Americans attempted an invasion of colonial Canada in order to get to leave the British to leave Ireland, which is fantastic (the Fenian Raids, for reference).

I also wrote up the description of our COPLAC course this week, although I intended to do more, though I have been doing more unwell than I would like. Regardless, enjoy thine day, dear reader!

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