This week in Refracting Digital Humanities: Critical Race, Gender, and Queer Theories as [Digital Humanities] Methods, the nine participants have been thinking through the cultural and historical significance of bathrooms. Even though it sounds like a joke, bathrooms have revealed themselves to be extremely fruitful sites for cultural analysis; using digital methods, we have been exploring the ways in which bathrooms are gendered and raced in particular ways. We started by simply looking around different bathrooms – men’s vs. women’s, older buildings vs. newer ones, accessibility, etc. – and taking lots of pictures to document our findings. After lots of discussion, we each came up with a small plan for reinventing one aspect of the modern American bathroom to better suit the needs of different groups of people. We then moved on to how the space of a bathroom sounds. We asked ourselves: how would a woman’s bathroom potentially produce a different set of sounds than a men’s room? How do design differences change how one interacts with a space and thus produce different sounds? And above all, what noises are ubiquitous to the space of the modern bathroom, and how are they produced? We recorded some sounds, uploaded them, edited them, and compiled them to create narratives of sound, only to deconstruct them and remake them into physical, tactile signals using Makey Makeys. We finally tackled some code in order to work in the physical realm of an Arduino, and learned how to make our own circuits with blinking LED lights!

On Thursday, we decided to try and combine some of what we have discussed and learned into a synthesized process-project on bathrooms. After doing some research, the class decided to focus on one of the older buildings on campus as a space with layered histories. Morrill Hall, built in 1898, became the focus of our bathroom obsession. This wordpress is where we are compiling our research process, the things we find interesting, archival information, and anything we have made in conjunction with this project. Enjoy!

Bryn J Gravitt
Gwendolyn Shaw
Heidi Dodson
Jarah Moesch
Katherine Morrissey
Kayla H Larkin
Manuel Ostos
Toniesha Taylor
Vinamarata Kaur


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