(Begins March 28) Herman Melville’s novella “Benito Cereno,” a nineteenth-century story of mutiny at sea, is a duplicitous text. Somewhat in the manner of a detective story, Melville’s narrative raises questions about its design and its designs upon a reader. This class seeks to understand the text’s perils and pleasures by applying digital tools to the reading process. We will explore methods for deepening the reading experience, using a wide range of approaches:
- Reading and annotating the text in MIT’s Annotation Studio
- Fluid-text analysis: exploring and collating different versions—magazine and book publication, as well as different editions and formats
- Comparison with source text, Amasa Delano’s A Narrative of Voyages and Travels, and other literary and historical sources
- Marginalia: Melville’s manuscript annotations as critical tool
- Text analysis using Voyant Tools to locate significant patterns
- Digital research in MIT Libraries databases
Students will read and discuss texts intensively in class; practice using different digital platforms; post questions and responses in a class discussion forum; present an in-class report; and keep a portfolio of materials to submit at the end of the term. No technical expertise required.