A Dropped Egg and Flannel Cake

November 17, 2010

By Jessica Becker, Director of Public Programs, Wisconsin Humanities Council

In other words, a larruping breakfast. More specifically, a poached egg and pancake. Delicious!

photo by Jessica Becker

I’ve been futzing around on the Dictionary of American Regional English Website to increase my knowledge of colloquial sayings. Why? To make interesting party conversation, of course.

You can start by taking the quiz of synonyms. The first one is pretty easy, just to get you feeling confident, but don’t allow yourself to be honeyfuggled.

A colleague forwarded a New York Times article to me about the latest humanities frontier. Powerful technologies and vast stores of digitized materials are allowing for completely new ways of understanding languages, history, and the arts. The author argues that because these projects are digital, searches and contributions can be done remotely, making for a more global humanities community and replacing the traditional stereotype of the humanities professor, working alone in an archive composing a philosophical treatise or historical opus. Very cool.

It is no surprise that Google awarded $1 million to people doing digital humanities research last summer. The Humanities seem elusive when referred to as such. But I think we all, to some degree, care about and concern ourselves with finding meaning in life. Historians, linguists, anthropologists, scholars of religion or philosophy, they are interested in comparing the different meanings, different ways of experiencing things, different ways of seeing the world. With new technological tools that can map the evolution of language from databases of correspondences between early writers or that can animate the stories within a medieval tapestry, I might have a chance to engage with the information on some level. And while I joke about improving my social chit-chat, I truly believe that exposure to interesting nuggets of information makes my life more interesting, rich, and fulfilling.

So I’ve book-marked the DARE site (a project that has received WHC grant awards) and will check back for the word of the month. And I seriously considered making eggs and pancakes for dinner. In the end, leftovers won out.