Augmenting free-form annotations with digital metadata for close reading of poetry
Many people, literary critics in particular, practice close reading, making annotations by hand while performing a detailed analysis of a text. Current digital tools for literary criticism,however, have many limitations with respect to annotation. In this work, we present an ethnographic study of 14 professional literary critics performing free-form annotations in the context of literary criticism, and a subsequent tool, MetaTation, for enhancing the close reading process, based on our findings. Our study revealed a set of cognitive processes supported through free-form annotation that have not previously been discussed in this context. We derived design guidelines for digital tools which augment active reading and annotation. The resulting system, MetaTation, uses an interactive pen-and-paper system with a peripheral display to provide analytic support while minimizing interference to the cognitive processes that guide the work flow. Through turning paper-based annotations into implicit queries, MetaTation provides well-organized and relevant supplemental information in a just-in-time manner.