The Poetic Media Project

A research lab in Stanford’s Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA)

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The Poetic Media Project seeks to expand upon current work in digital humanities at Stanford and collaborate with other researchers that share one or more of these core goals:
  1. To research, teach, and assess historical thinking
  2. To research, teach, and assess poetic thinking
  3. To research, teach, and assess the semiotic agency required to interpret transmediated narratives
  4. To research, teach, and assess semiotic agency required to create transmediated narratives

Building upon current work on projects like Lacuna Stories, Poetic Thinking, and Reading Like a Historian, the Poetic Media Project recognizes that interpreting complex phenomena through various media is critical in today’s information-rich world. The project seeks to foster academic work related to the goals outlined above, to encourage the teaching of these skills in college classrooms, and to gather quantitative and qualitative data about the users of the platforms and tools we create.

Poetic Ways of Knowing
  •  Poetic thinking is a term refined by Amir Eshel, referring to the human aptitude to approach life and the worlds we inhabit poetically, that is in manners of writing, speaking, and artistic creation that are not governed by systematic reasoning. The study and promotion of poetic thinking considers how poetic works across media raise personal, communal, ethical, and political dilemmas.
  • Sam Wineburg defines historical thinking as the ability for students and citizens to “go beyond factual recall to apply information in a specific historical context,” so that “historical thinking is about cultivating habits of mind, ways of thinking that become habitual [to] think about when a source was produced, who wrote it, and for what purpose” (Wineburg 2001, 2012).
  • Semiotic Agency is a term used by Brian Johnsrud to refer to the ability of a text or representation to inspire and instruct interpretive and critical faculties in the audience. Agency is determined by the various actions taken by the audience because of their experience with the text or representation.
  • Critical media theorist Henry Jenkins discusses transmedia as telling stories across multiple platforms and formats using current digital technologies. Operating under the assumption that transmedia storytelling mimics daily, mediated life in the 21st century, it becomes a making it a constructivist pedagogical tool for academics, instructors, students, and citizens striving to construct narratives from multiple mediated sources.