Literary Ghost Hunters
Ball State’s English department’s new literature-based academic journal, the Digital Literature Review, has taken students of various majors out of producing individual homework assignments on Blackboard and put them in an immersive opportunity. The course, ENG 400 and ENG 444, allowed 17 students to collaborate and create the inaugural issue of the journal, “Historical Hauntings and Modern Day Manifestations.”
The journals discuss the impact and symbolism that ghosts and hauntings have in culture through the analysis of literature and film. Recent films like “The Conjuring” and television shows like “American Horror Story” have sparked a great deal of debate for the journal. These mediums of terror tales are explored through articles published in the journal.
Compiling the journal is no easy task. The three teams of the Digital Literature Review – editorial, publicity and design – work collectively to put the collection together. Junior English major Jared Lynch is head of the design team for the journal and says his main role in this process is to keep “everything on track and organized.”
“We design the banners, the background, and we also design the style sheet so we have consistent fonts, consistent paragraph style margins — everything [the same] across the different media platforms.”
The content of the Digital Literature Review comes from internal and external sources. Along with the two outside submissions, seven of the 17 members of the DLR have published works included in the journal. The review team sent out a call for submissions to universities all over the country and although they only received four, they saw it as a victory.
“It’s actually pretty good considering we didn’t exist before and no one’s ever heard of the Digital Literature Review,” says Lynch.
Lynch says he has three main goals he hopes readers will get from this academic journal. Along with creating a new trend, he hopes the articles “provoke conversation” and “people pay attention and really enjoy the work that is presented.”
Above all, Lynch believes it’s important for people to get involved in this conversation. The ghost theme is still as popular and interesting as it was during Edgar Allan Poe’s era. Similar to how Poe’s works were analyzed to find a deeper meaning, Lynch believes people should think about literary works and what they mean.
“If it’s still current, I think that people will find that they have ideas to contribute and that they’ll look at it in a different way and see what it means in our society,’ he says.
Lynch thinks this course and creating the journal has changed his perspective. He says he didn’t know much about ghosts previous to the immersive learning course, and now notices ghosts everywhere.
“Well it’s not like physical ghosts obviously,” says Lynch, “I’m not like hallucinating. Ghosts take on different meanings like a memory of a person you haven’t thought of in a while, for instance.”
With the unveiling gala approaching on April 22 at 6 p.m. in the Schwartz Digital Complex, the students involved in the Digital Literature Review are scrambling to make their first piece the best it can be. The Digital Literature Review team took a trip this week to a National Conference for Undergraduate Research (NCUR) conference trying to promote the journal. They have been working on, as Lynch calls it, a “pretty copy-edited, pretty nice looking rough draft” to take to this conference, but the official release of the journal isn’t for another few weeks.
“Right now we are designing the journal … it’s just kind of a busy time for everyone,” he says.
The Digital Literature Review hopes its readers start conversation and get ideas flowing because ghost stories are another reason to ask why. As Lynch says, as long as people are asking why and people are finding answers, there’s still a conversation in which to engage.