Alex’s Blog

Monday, April 10th: Captioning The Map

While I was working on filling in my map last week, I realized that Storymap JS allows you to caption any videos or images that you add. I was playing around with how I wanted to caption them, and working through a ridiculous amount of styles and tones. I tried a high fantasy tone, a more pop science fiction tone, a tone somewhat closer to that of Game of Thrones, and nothing was really working for me. I eventually settled on two possible solutions, but I couldn’t decide for a long time whether I wanted to write the captions in my own voice, or in Junot Diaz’s.

On the one hand, I feel uncomfortable trying to appropriate Diaz’s style, given that it’s so intensely personal (I’ve never read anything that sounded even remotely like his voice) and, as with all writers, it’s formed largely through his personal culture and history. I don’t want to claim those things as my own. On the other though, given that much of the text in the map is culled from the book itself, Diaz’s writing style is all over it. To create a cohesive feel, his voice certainly has a place in the captions. Further, there’s definitely something valuable in doing style imitations. Attempting to write in Diaz’s style would help to understand just what sets it apart and what motivates it, giving me a better understanding of the author and the book that I’m studying.

In the end, I decided to perform an imitation of Diaz’s in the captions, without attempting to imitate his life. I didn’t attempt to appropriate his experiences or his personal history,┬ásimply commenting on the photos or images that I was adding to the map. Hopefully this way I can keep the map feeling cohesive while avoiding problematic appropriations of Diaz’s culture and history

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