Saturday, October 21, as part of a conference hosted by the Social Science Research Council/Mellon Mays programs, Kenton and I delivered a talk about our work. We presented under the title "Intergenerational Research in Practice," the main theme for the conference and also an ideal topic for us to cover given some of the projects we've been developing over the last few years, including our Novel Generator Machine, the Literary Data Gallery, and this randomized statement projector focusing on Black Novel Dedications.
Before getting to those 2023 projects, though, we first looked back 10 years.
In the summer of 2013, as a graduate student at the University of Kansas, Kenton decided he would listen to all of Jay-Z's catalog produced up to that point. A few tech ideas began to converge. For one, Kenton noticed that his Apple device facilitated the ease of identifying and organizing the nearly 200 songs Jay-Z produced or appeared on.
He also took note that Samsung was releasing a "free" Jay-Z album that summer, while collecting data on listeners. In turn, Kenton started collecting quantitative information on Jay-Z's music career. Kenton was using data to build the foundations for what would become massive datasets (See collaborators dataset vol. 1 and samples dataset vol. 1) and a digital book, #TheJayZMixtape.
Alright, also in summer and early fall of 2013, I started a new distinct data project of my own. I began collecting information about African American literary and cultural studies courses taught at SIUE. It began by charting courses over the previous few years, then I moved to the previous ten years, and eventually I documented the courses the department began offering decades before I arrived.
Charting the expanding number of courses and the growing Black student enrollment made it possible for me to make a strong case for increasing the number of tenure-track professors with expertise in African American literary studies. Long story short: the organization of quantitative data about literary courses proved vital for the eventual expansion of our unit.