Also called Performative Experiments in Humanities Computing: Interactive Templates for Intuitive Learning and Research, Emily Dickinson: Technology and Mythobiography was a 2001 Faculty Fellowship project of Professor Carol Burbank from the Department of Theatre. Employing two different models of performative technology, a series of interactive templates for student experiments in writing, and a web collage or performance “fugue,” Dr. Burbank explored the way pastiche and narrative function within a technological frame. Both tools are were used in one of the University’s Core courses, Theatre 110, to encourage functional, yet creative interfaces for scholarship and pedagogy through the use of inherently experiential theatrical and performance paradigms. Professor Burbank’s work in this area has also greatly enhanced MITH’s Digital Directions project, a three-week residential summer course for high school juniors.
In an archived 2002 version of the project website, Burbank describes the project thusly: “Computer stagings, steeped in the experience of process, scripted in a collaboration between users and designers, could be a medium in which audiences become directors, or perhaps some hybrid between authors and ‘spect/actors’ to use Augusto Boal’s term. If the computer user can become an active participant in critical self-invention and the negotiations of cultural identity, then we can begin to develop a new method of participatory theatre in which presence and immersion is rooted, not in the physical community of live theatre, but in the experience of manipulating images and creating an online community and an ongoing virtual site-specific performance space. In this space, interactive multimedia ‘fugues’ can serve as mirrors of critical and personal relationships with Emily Dickinson, staging the unconscious mythobiographical imperatives that twist our perceptions, and give us the pleasure of the poet’s imaginary company.”