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   About Transcriptions UCSB Humanities & Fine Arts Grant, 2001


  1. Abstract
  2. Background
  3. Proposal
  4. Budget

  • Date: February 14, 2001
  • To: David Marshall, Dean of Humanities
  • Cc: Elizabeth Cook, Assoc. Dean of Humanities; Leonard Wallock, Assoc. Director, IHC
  • Fr: Alan Liu, Carol Pasternack, Mark Rose, William Warner (faculty of the Transcriptions Project and English Dept. Specialization in Literature & the Culture of Information)
  • Re: Proposal for Special Research and Curricular Initiatives Funding

Transcriptions Funding Proposals

1. Abstract

The Transcriptions Project is requesting funding as a Special Research and Curricular Initiative to develop the Specialization in Literature & the Culture of Information recently approved for undergraduate English majors. The funding will assist course and Web-site development and also the creation of the specialization's innovative "extracurricular" dimension. The latter includes both a colloquium series that will bring students into contact with representatives of information-technology fields in California industry, media, and academia and undergraduate/graduate-student research teams that will contribute field work, writing, and technical work to the evolving Transcriptions Web site. In addition, Transcriptions will plan for a student internship program that may in the future contribute a summer component to the specialization.

2. Background

Seeded by a three-year grant from the NEH that ceases after the current academic year, Transcriptions ("Transcriptions: Literary History and the Culture of Information") has allowed six faculty members, more than a dozen graduate-student research assistants, and an undergraduate research assistant to collaborate in creating 13 Web-enabled courses about information culture as well as an extensive central Web site. Courses such as "Scroll to Screen," "The Culture of Information," and others address literature as itself an engagement with past "information revolutions" (including the writing and print revolutions) and thus place the study of literature in conjunction with the study of current information culture. The ultimate aim is to build information technology into the English curriculum in a way that does not reduce computers to a mere "tools" but integrates them conceptually with literary studies. Humanities students learn to understand and contribute to information culture while also, not unimportantly, outfitting themselves with the technical skills they need in their future lives (through Web-authoring and other assignments). In addition, Transcriptions has established an accompanying research initiative that includes a colloquium series and "topics" Web pages researched by graduate students. (All of Transcriptions' courses, colloquia, resources, and performance reports are online at The project has been favorably reviewed for the NEH by Prof. J. Hillis Miller of UC Irvine (letter attached).

Now Transcriptions is preparing for its next stage of development. As of the present winter quarter, Transcriptions is initiating one of the first of the English Department's new elective "specializations" for its majors. This year, the "Literature and the Culture of Information" specialization will offer four courses, including Transcriptions' first-ever lower-division, GE lectures. More courses are being planned for next year (see below). (See the following Web site for a fuller description of the specialization and links to its current courses: http//


Transcriptions is requesting funding as a Special Research and Curricular Initiative to develop courses for its "Literature and the Culture of Information" specialization as well as to create for this specialization an "extracurricular" dimension allowing students and faculty to collaborate on research bringing them into contact with industry, media, and academic leaders outside UCSB:

Course and Technology Development for the Specialization:
As confirmed by Transcriptions' past experience, a reality of Web-enabled instruction is that it requires continuing graduate-student assistance to build Web pages, offer Web-authoring workshops and drop-in help hours for students in classes, and provide technical expertise. Such service is valuable to graduate students themselves because it teaches them to use technology in ways that ultimately benefit their own research, teaching, and career options. In addition (as detailed in the section below), the overall educational value of assistant positions will now be augmented because they play a central role in the new, vertically-integrated research teams (faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates) planned for the "Literature and the Culture of Information" specialization.

Transcriptions is requesting 5 quarters of TA support next year. TAs will support the creation or technological advancement of the following courses for 2001-2002 (draft syllabi attached for several of these courses):

  • English 25, "Literature and the Culture of Information" (Liu)
  • English 165HL, "Hypertext Fiction" (Liu)
  • English 165SS, "Scroll to Screen" (Pasternack)
  • English 192, "Digital Science Fiction" (Warner)
  • English 122, "New Media Censorship" (Warner)

The need for TA support is amplified by the fact that the English Department's current job search in "digital humanities" may add as many as two new faculty members next year who will be contributing courses to the specialization on the relation of information technology to new media, electronic literature, gender, and globalism.

Colloquia, Student Research Teams, Student Internships:
One of the most innovative aspects of the new "Literature and the Culture of Information" specialization will be its attempt to meet the English Department's mandate that majors electing a specialization be provided with an outside-the-classroom, network- and community-building, "value-added" experience. Transcriptions is taking this mandate as an opportunity to think creatively and to build on its past success in assembling students and faculty in collaborative research teams. The plan is to create undergraduate/graduate/faculty teams whose research activities bridge between the academy and the outside world. Specifically, funding is being requested for the following four closely related initiatives:

  • Colloquium Series: An exciting aspect of Transcriptions has been its colloquium series, which has introduced faculty and graduate students in the English department to scholars and entrepreneurs in different fields related to information technology. (See For the new specialization, Transcriptions is planning to continue the series in a way that actively includes undergraduates. Transcriptions will bring onto campus interesting industry, media, or academic authorities and mount events specifically designed to bring them into dialogue with undergraduates. Possible speakers next year include Chuck House of the Dialogics/Intel corporation; Johanna Blakely, program director of the USC Annenberg Entertainment Initiative; Katherine Hayles from the UCLA English Dept.; Marjorie Luesebrink, noted Southern-Californian hypertext fiction author.
  • Field-Trip Events: Transcriptions "field trips" would realize a long-coveted ambition of the project: to bring UCSB students off-campus to explore the offices and labs of Southern California information-technology and media companies. In addition, field trips would be organized to various facilities in non-humanities disciplines within UCSB itself. Currently, for example, Transcriptions plans to approach the following off-campus and campus facilities to set up field trips: Computer Motion,, UCLA Media Arts Dept., UCI Art Dept. (The above organizations or programs are named because Transcriptions has already developed contacts with them.)
  • Research/Editorial Teams: There will be two research teams (one in Winter, one in Spring) consisting of a faculty adviser, a graduate-student supervisor, and two undergraduate research assistants selected from those enrolled in or interested in the specialization. The teams would follow up on the activities described above by conducting interviews and research related to the speakers, projects, and issues featured in the Colloquia and Field Trip series. In addition, the teams would research other issues related to courses in the specialization or the general topic of information culture. The results of the research would be edited by the team for inclusion in the Transcriptions/VoS/English Dept. database and thus on Web sites produced by that database (see above for description of the database-to-Web system). For example, a research team would interview an authority in the industry about speech-recognition technology, do research in the field of speech-recognition as a whole, produce an edited transcript of the interview and a precis of the field, create a set of annotated links to online resources, and "publish" the results through the database on the Web sites of Transcriptions, related courses, and VoS.
  • Planning for Student Internships: With the assistance of the Development Office, Transcriptions has in the past year consulted off-campus company executives and the UCSB CEEM program to explore the possibility of a summer student internship program for graduate students and undergraduates. (The feasibility of such a program is supported by the de facto record of the English Dept. during the past several years in placing some of its high-tech students in industry.) Because of the complexity involved in setting up internships, however, Transcriptions does not anticipate being able to roll out such a program next year. Instead, it is requesting the equivalent of "planning and feasibility-study" funding to lay the groundwork. If funded, the Transcriptions director would set up visits to businesses in Santa Barbara and the Southern California region and map out (in cooperation with Career Counseling) a support apparatus for humanities high-tech interns akin to the engineering-cum-entrepreneurial workshops now available through CEEM.


Teaching Assistantships (5 quarters) $23,364
Five quarters of teaching assistantship would be needed to support the plans outlined above. Three of these quarters would allow for a TA each quarter of the year to help create Web pages, support courses, provide technical assistance to students, and assist in general development. An additional two quarters would staff the two "research/editorial" teams described above (in which a graduate student would help supervise undergraduate research assistants). [Note: the requested funding amount is based on the 2000-2001salary scale for TAs, and would need to be increased if there is a range adjustment. To attract qualified graduate students to these positions, it is necessary to pay a salary competitive with regular TAships in the deparment.]

Colloquia $1,500
For honoraria and expenses of speakers in the colloquium series who will be asked to talk to undergraduates.

Undergraduate Research Assistants $2,800
As described above, the two "research/editorial" teams in the specialization would each involve two undergraduates doing extracurricular work as research assistants (a total of four quarters of research assistance; 10 hours/wk per student)

Administrative Course Relief for Transcriptions Director  
For administration of Transcriptions and the specialization as well as for planning a student-internship program (described above). In 2000-2001, the administration of Transcriptions has involved an average of one meeting per week in addition to other duties. This load is expected to go up with the launch of the new specialization. (Important Note: this course relief is not directly related to research but to orchestrating the whole of the related curricular and research tasks involved in the initiative. We are including it in hopes that it would be covered under the following language in Dean Marshall's original call for proposals: "Course relief for ambitious projects that combine research and teaching and require significant planning and organizational efforts . . . ." If this item does not qualify for the present grant because it is not directly tied in to a specific individual's research project or course, then we request that the item be broken out separately and the rest of the budget considered on its own.)

Total Budget with Administrative Course Relief $32,164
[Total Budget without Administrative Course Relief] [$27,664]
Other Funding Applied for or Received:

Funding committed by the English Dept.:

  • Staff-level technical support, $10,000
  • Graduate-student RAs for VoS/Transcriptions, $28,149
  • FTE for courses contributed by four faculty in the project (plus two more possible faculty next year who have been offered positions in the department in "digital humanities"): $22,500 for five courses (to be adjusted if the number of courses goes up)
[Note: Transcriptions will not be able to apply for Instructional Improvement funding for 2001-2002 because its successful applications in the past three years was predicated explicitly on a terminus in the present academic year]

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