October 26, 2022
Research Plan (2022)
The fall of 2023 will see the publication of Norman Mailer’s Lipton’s: A Marijuana Journal, 1954–55 by Skyhorse. In this 106K-word journal Mailer documents his ideas and artistic development as he experimented with marijuana and tried to find a publisher for his third novel The Deer Park. Edited by J. Michael Lennon, Susan Mailer, and myself, this book grows out of Lipton’s Journal, a Digital Humanities project published on Project Mailer in 2020. The digital project publishes the complete working journal that stays as close to Mailer’s working manuscript as possible, while the book is abridged and polished for publication. Lipton’s online is meant to be easily searched, while the book is more easily read and searched with a proper names index. Both projects contain an editors’ introduction, extensive annotations, and contemporaneous correspondence between Mailer and Robert Lindner that illuminate the friendship between friends and Mailer’s ideas in the journal. An excerpt from this work was published by the Times Literary Supplement in August 2022.
I also look forward to collaborating on other Digital Humanities projects at the intersection of literary and media studies. I keep abreast of new platforms, and I hope to perhaps transition The Mailer Review to a platform like Scalar which would make it more useful for scholars. As part of collaboration, I hope to continue to assist colleagues to develop their own work via digital media, particularly those in the Norman Mailer Society, like Jason Mosser and I have done with “Superman Comes to the Supermarket,” “In the Red Light,” and “The White Negro.”
With AI tools like ChatGPT becoming more available and powerful, much of the way we build digital projects will change. Certainly there are other implications for this technology, but since these AI tools respond to text-based prompts, English and the Digital Humanities are prime disciplines to embrace and take critical advantage of these tools in teaching and learning. For example, to use AI tools in the most effective way, a command of rhetoric and syntax is necessary to achieve the desired results. In other words, since these AI tools use natural language processing, English Studies is in a great position to combine these tools for the creative expressions in the age of AI. I intend to develop examples of the intersection of these tools for teaching and learning which would lead to new approaches in creating DH projects, leading to new courses and even whole curricula. Since DH is in large part about building things, AI seems an obvious and integral step in the future of Digital Humanities.
I plan on continuing to be an active Wikipedian, continuing to address unrepresented areas of the project, like Women in Red, and to improve the encyclopedia’s current offerings. Wikipedia will remain an important part of my classroom approach in teaching digital writing and humanities. In addition, I would also like to develop a Digital Humanities textbook, tentatively Writing.Digital, to support my teaching of online writing, since current textbooks inadequately cover this material. I plan to make it online and open so my students may use it for free and the community at large might benefit as well. The text would address writing for electronic presentation, include strategies for effectively using specific platforms, and how to incorporate AI tools to augment project building.
I plan to pursue an aggressive schedule of traditional, peer-reviewed scholarship. I have two book projects that I would like to complete: a monograph about Mailer’s short fiction and an edited volume of Mailer’s interviews since the publication of J. Michael Lennon’s Conversations with Norman Mailer in 1988. I hope to publish the latter as part of Melville Press’ “The Last Interview” series. For the short fiction book, I plan to apply for a fellowship to the Harry Ransom Center in Austin to examine Mailer’s story manuscripts and correspondence during the 1950s when he wrote most of his short fiction. Likewise, I hope to write an article that compares the multimodal work and ethos of Norman Mailer and William Blake, a comparison that I’ve only recently considered.
- ↑ Lennon, J. Michael, ed. (1988). Conversations with Norman Mailer. Literary Conversations. Jackson and London: University Press of Mississippi.