Final Thoughts

Over the course of the summer I’ve become more aware of the collaborative and experimental aspects of visual novels and how they correlate with DH values. In the beginning I only thought about how visual novels applied to DH through the combination of technology and the humanities, but after learning more about both communities I’m able to recognize more similarities between the two. Learning more about the values of DH made me notice when they did or didn’t relate to the way video games treat those same concepts.

After the first reflection, my definition didn’t change so much as expand to incorporate the knowledge I gained over the course of the last few weeks. I would define DH as reformatting the humanities with digital tools, using technology to make information more accessible and presentable in a number of different ways. Building ongoing projects with people from all different realms of experience, sharing skills and working in a diverse online environment are all encompassed by DH. There are so many different kinds of interactive experiences that can be used to present research in a more effective way than simply a long paper, and I’m glad that I now know that. I hope to incorporate the qualities of DH into future projects to make them more interesting and reflective of the subject matter I’m discussing. This program has changed my perspective when it comes to sharing and presenting information in an academic setting and I will definitely continue using the skills I’ve developed in this short period of time while introducing as many people to DH as I can.

Community in DH

Going to Lafayette was a really valuable experience because we got to speak with other students who were doing research in a similar setting but used a variety of different tools and were working for different reasons. Bucknell’s visit was also a good opportunity to interact with students who were spending the summer surrounded by DH and learn from their experiences. Discussing other people’s projects has really helped expand my definition of DH and what it encompasses. Since the rest of the cohort came in with a similar level of ignorance when it came to DH and the tools we were going to use, I found that it was useful to learn and share our discoveries with each other when it came to building our projects. 

In addition to meeting students, the workshops and presentations with different faculty members and other people who have been doing their own research and projects for a long time was a good way to see how DH can apply to our future research beyond this program. While I did not use a lot of library resources in my project and mostly read online articles, the faculty within the DSSF program have been incredibly helpful and understanding. My meetings with John Dettinger have helped me a lot throughout the planning and execution of my project as I used WordPress for the first time and continuously tried to alter my site with CSS I had no past experience with.

I think I’ve had a lot of positive interactions within the DH community this summer and that it’s a very open and accepting place. Despite being very new to DH, I don’t feel discouraged at all when it comes to considering my own involvement and thinking of ways that I can continue to interact with others within the community. I hope to continue observing more DH projects and learning about the kinds of things I can do to contribute to my own area of interest, as well as sharing the concept of DH with people who may have never heard of it.

Sound Engineering

Visual novels themselves combine a number of different digital tools to tell a story. They share a narrative through the use of not only text, but also audio, visuals, and gameplay. Creating a website has given a visual and interactive aspect to my research that embodies what a visual novel is, using different digital tools and forms of media to tell a story that could have been told in the form of plain text for a very different experience.

With a website I can present an abundance of screenshots and other images that allow for a more effective presentation than an essay would have been. In addition to images, instead of just describing different types of gameplay I’m able to link and embed videos that show exactly what I’m talking about. My project also includes a timeline going through the past of visual novels, and I believe that an interactive timeline of images and videos is much more interesting than just writing a list of dates and events.

In terms of structural soundness, I’ve organized my topics into a who/what/when/where/why/how format that I’m currently working to make a bit more sensible. I really like my format but it’s not particularly straightforward when it comes to what each word is representing within my project without actually exploring the entire menu. I’m hoping to find a way to fix this without completely compromising the design of how I’ve organized everything thus far.

While my project does not contain an abundant amount of literal sound and is currently structurally questionable, I still think the digital tools and media that I have combined present information in a more suitable fashion than an essay would have. Since the realm of visual novels is continuously developing, the content of my project is subject to change over time and luckily a website can easily reflect that. As the topic I’m discussing emphasizes the visual and interactive experience so much, it only makes sense that my project would do the same.


The purpose of my project is essentially to bring attention to visual novels and try to explain away the negative pre-conceived notions that contribute to their reputation as nothing more than weird Japanese pornographic games. Video games themselves now are not generally regarded as something worth academic study or focus but I believe that this is gradually changing with the release of more in-depth and thought-provoking games. I think that video games as a form of media that people can use to share ideas and express themselves creates a unique and diverse environment for digital scholars. It would also be nice if more people recognized that video games are not only for young boys.

When I started this program my definition of DH was very vague and confusing. Now I understand it as an extensive, collaborative network that strives for diversity and inclusivity when it comes to sharing information in all kinds of digital formats. It is a lot more broad and encompassing than I ever would have expected. I still have a hard time defining it, but I think I’m better at recognizing it. The combination of the humanities and technology allows as many people as possible to have access to information that you can structure and present in so many different ways.

When it comes to the program itself, I can’t think of much that I would change. I like the independent nature of our projects and the lack of daily structure, as well as the workshops. I know that in the past the workshops were a lot longer and I’m happy with the amount of time they take now. I guess if anything I would suggest more widely advertising it, since I never would have known about this program if my advisor hadn’t mentioned it to me. Maybe I’d suggest spending a little more time on coding because I think that’s something that myself and a couple of others struggled with a bit when it came to finding where and how to use code to alter our websites. Overall I feel like I have learned a lot and I wish more people knew about this program because I think it does a really good job of introducing and getting more people involved in DH.

Neoliberalism and DH

When reading about neoliberalism, particularly in academia, the emphasis on money is what stands out the most. There is the assumption that many people only participate in DH for the funding. It’s true that incorporating technology into the humanities might make it more economically appealing, contributing to the ongoing corporate changes in the liberal arts college system. However, we can’t forget the Digital Humanities effort to make resources more readily available for everyone regardless of their situation or location, often by publishing work in an open-access environment. DH strives to make information free and accessible for everyone, contradicting the money-centric assumptions.

In Neoliberal Tools (and Archives), the authors argue that DH is anti-interpretive, instead aiming to solely “archive materials, produce data, and develop software.” I believe that this description demeans the analytical aspect of DH; in addition to making such work accessible to as large an audience as possible, DH projects are also built to reflect the thoughts and opinions of all those who participate. This felt like an effort to make Digital Humanities appear shallow and potentially less impactful than it has the ability to be.

I can see how people make neoliberal connections to Digital Humanities by saying that it’s a field used to gather money. I believe that this is true in some cases, but I also believe that as Digital Humanities is a relatively new and developing field the people involved are generally interested and passionate about what they’re doing.

To some, college has become a place where people go to graduate and get a good job without actually learning anything. People don’t go because they’re interested in what they’re studying, they go so that they can get a degree and therefore hopefully succeed in society. Incorporating technology into the humanities has made it more appealing to this neoliberal college structure by taking a field that did not seem as fiscally appealing as other areas of education and implementing digital tools to interest university institutions and increase project funding. At the end of the day, I can see how people make connections between Digital Humanities and neoliberalism but I don’t think they’re as intertwined as some of these articles say they are.

Publishing and Accessibility

Historically, the humanities have been comprised of individual scholars who work alone and publish their final products in exclusive, institutional environments that can only be accessed through certain journals or university books. There is an emphasis on intellectual property and taking sole credit without recognizing or inviting the assistance of outside participation. This is what the Digital Humanities community is trying to move away from, into a social, open-sourced world where work is collaborative, accessible, and credit is spread among the people who continuously work to update and share information. By involving digital technology, the humanities no longer need to exist in a primarily physical state but instead are being altered for a medium with which people from all around the world can interact and contribute their own experience and expertise.

With this, scholarship transforms from a solitary experience to a group project as work is published on public platforms where the author(s) can receive feedback without the restrictions of exclusive licensing agreements and copyright. Publishing becomes a social act instead of the presentation of a set-in-stone final product. This leads us to the existence of platforms like Wikipedia, which may run the risk of spreading misinformation but also provides an example of the kind of global, collaborative, knowledge-distributing community that DH embodies. Traditional scholarly publishing follows a strict set of conventions that are no longer necessarily productive or beneficial in this digital day and age. Individual, institutional exclusivity is limiting and prevents the humanities from embracing the potential that digital humanists recognize with the rise of technology. There is also the risk that the service provider or company with access to privatized scholarly work could go out of business and as a result, the work could cease to become available to anyone at all. Widely digitizing information can prevent this.

At its core, the goal of Digital Humanities is to make all information as open and accessible as possible, regardless of one’s circumstance. Publishing information to the public creates an inclusive and all-encompassing environment where people from around the world can communicate their own knowledge and experiences to create something amazing without institutional boundaries. Instead of confining scholarly work to a solitary author who publishes within a narrow realm, the open-source options that accompany the internet allow for this core value of expansion and inclusivity to flourish.

Timeline JS

The digital tool I will be focusing on in this reflection is Timeline JS. It is a free, comprehensive yet simple timeline-creation tool that allows you to easily incorporate a variety of forms of documentation (videos, images, audio, maps, etc) by simply pasting the link to your desired media and all other information into a straightforward spreadsheet. Aside from your own text, all images and videos have to be linked from other parts of the internet, so you will need to make sure that the source has given permission to use their material. Usable sources, according to the Timeline JS website, include “Twitter, Flickr, Youtube, Vimeo, Vine, Dailymotion, Google Maps, Wikipedia, Soundcloud, Document Cloud, and more!” While some of these—like Vine—no longer exist, the list is still a good indication of the variety of materials that can be incorporated into your timeline. The completed spreadsheet is then immediately converted into a timeline that you can embed into your website by simply copying and pasting a link.

After your timeline has been created, you can continue to alter it in the spreadsheet and all changes will be applied to your already-made timeline; you can update the spreadsheet then immediately see your changes by refreshing the Timeline’s page. You can assume that anyone using this tool is primarily looking to create an interactive timeline. While you can incorporate a map into the program, there are probably better tools out there if mapping is your focus. I also find it very easy to use, and made a first draft of a timeline for my own project right after learning about it that I was pretty pleased with.

Using Timeline JS, you end up with a visually appealing timeline that allows you to control everything from the background imagery to the appearance of text and size of desired media without being overwhelming. Similar programs that I looked at had superfluous add-ons and options that just didn’t interest me. I am definitely planning on incorporating this digital ­tool into my own project to give an interactive overview of the origin and history of visual novel games.

Name: Visual Novels as a form of digital literature/storytelling

Owner: Emmarie Toppan

Summary: Create a platform that presents and discuss visual novels and their place in digital humanities as a medium that combines video games and literature

  • How do visual novels immerse you in interactive stories and differ from other kinds of video games and storytelling mediums?
  • Talk about what a visual novel is, criticism of the genre, origins/past/present future, levels of interactive storytelling, educational uses for visual novels, top genres (like nakige and why it’s important), Japan and anime, are they actually video games?, do they actually qualify as literature?, Japanese influence in the West, VNs from around the world, lemmasoft forms and all the homemade VNs (programs like twine), Mobile VNs
  • Would like to create a website that presents all of this information in an interactive and organized way, including an interactive timeline and maybe an archive of less sketchy games
  • Audience: people who enjoy video games and/or literature and want to see how they can be successfully combined


  • Primary sources (gaming platforms)
  • Articles and essays (resources/references)
  • Images/screencaps of games and gameplay
  • Timeline tool, maybe data analysis as well? (rise in popularity)
  • WordPress




Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8
List of resources List of articles Create timeline Collect images Complete visualization Project draft Final project presentation
  Project charter Read all articles Start implementing wireframe        
    Wireframes completed          


End of Life/Future Plans: As the realm of Visual Novels develops and evolves with the video game industry I’d like to keep the website up to date. If I do end up making an archive I’ll have an option for people to submit titles that aren’t already included, so I would monitor that as well. I’d hope that website and its information would evolve along with the field it represents.
– something to show future employers (maybe)