Fern’s Annotations on Sources

Annotated Bibliographies



Secondary Sources:

#1) Aveni, Anthony F. “February’s Holidays: Prediction, Purification, and Passionate Pursuit.” In The Book of the Year: A Brief History of Our Seasonal Holidays, 29–46. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Aveni is an anthropologist and astronomer who published this book on the history of popular American holidays. He traces the origin myths of Valentine’s day back to the typically cited stories of the Roman Festival and St. Valentine; however, he argues that the link between Geoffrey Chaucer’s poem (and English medieval romantic poet) about love birds and St. Valentine remains a mystery that is hard to uncover. Furthermore, he demonstrates how America’s consumer culture and romanticism period in the mid-19th century brought about a new face to the holiday in the United States. His audience for this book is the general public interested in learning more about American holidays. His tone is very casual and conversational, although still scholarly in that collates and presents a well-researched narrative on the history of Valentine’s day. This is a good beginner’s summary.

#2) Reames, Sherry L. Chaucer and the Cult of Saint Valentine by Henry Ansgar Kelly (Review). Vol. 10. Studies in the Age of Chaucer. The New Chaucer Society, 1988.

Reames seems to be a scholar who writes on English saints, and she wrote a book review on Asgar’s book about the romantic poet Geoffrey Chaucer and his link to the Cult of St. Valentine. She argues that Asgar, without saying it, is responding to an argument proposed by another scholar of the field Jack B. Oruch. I included this source because Asgar’s actual book seems relevant to me, but not so relevant that I would need to read the whole book (it’s out of print and I would have to ILL it). Reading a book review to get the gist of seemed good enough, so Reames review is less important to me than what Reames tells me about the content of the book.

#3) Lee, Ruth Webb. A History of Valentines. New York: The Studio Publications, Inc., 1952.

Lee’s book is to “paint a bird’s eye view” of different valentines’ styles and development over time both in European culture and later American culture. Her arguments most relevant to me is where she claims there is a connection between St. Valentine, the Roman festival, and modern day notions of St. Valentine’s Day, despite what the skeptics say. Her book is intended for academic audiences.

#4)*KEY SOURCE: Schmidt, Leigh Eric. “The Fashioning of a Modern Holiday: St. Valentine’s Day, 1840-1870.” Winterthur Portfolio 28, no. 4 (December 1993): 209–45. https://doi.org/10.1086/496627.

Schmidt is a religious historian and probably the most important scholar for my topic. He has written numerous books beyond the subject of Valentine’s Day, but his work certainly includes my niche topic. This article argues that the change of this holiday into a modern American holiday involves a long, complicated holiday that stems from the Roman Festival and myths of St. Valentine’s day through various folk customs, 19th century middle-class romantic notions, and consumer & market changes in the United States. These market changes, he says,also came with a pushback of the loss of authentic, genuine celebration for the sake of superficial commercialization.

#5) KEY SOURCE: Schmidt, Leigh Eric. “St. Valentine’s Day Greeting.” In Consumer Rites: The Buying & Selling of American Holidays, 38–104. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1995.

This source essentially argues the same as the above sources, but provides more details. The chapters are fairly similar.

Tertiary Sources (In Progress):

#1) Dyk, Natalie Van. “The Reconceptualization of Valentine’s Day in the United States: Valentine’s Day as a Phenomenon of Popular Culture.” Bridges: An Undergraduate Journal of Contemporary Connections 1, no. 1 (2013): 1–5.

Van Dyk is a undergraduate scholar at Wilfred Laurier University and argues that the American consumer culture, changing print culture, and mass-production era is what commercialized the holiday. Her source is mostly helpful because of her bibliography and overview of information. (SSR #1 on this).

#2) Lepore, Jill. “Wonder Woman’s Secret Past,” September 22, 2014. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/09/22/last-amazon.

To Read.


Secondary Sources:

#1 Kreil, Aymon. “The Price of Love: Valentine’s Day in Egypt and Its Enemies.” Arab Studies Journal 24, no. 2 (Fall 2016): 128–46.

This article was written by an anthropologist and scholar of Middle East Studies looking to understand the changing notions of “love” and “marriage” in Egyptian society. In order to do so, he interviews residents from Cairo to understand their views on Valentine’s day and uses the holiday as a case study for understanding various socio-historical and cultural changes that have taken place in the modern period of Egypt (1950s-early 2000s). He argues that Valentine’s Day is become more popular and common with the younger generation, who sees it as a way to build love, intimacy, and relationships at a time when marriage is becoming less common for various reasons: financials burdens, religious, etc. These are coming with a pushback from the older generations and religious leaders as well.

#2) Oruch, Jack B. “St. Valentine, Chaucer, and Spring in February.” Speculum 56, no. 3 (July 1981): 534–65. https://doi.org/10.2307/2847741.

Jack Oruch is a scholar of English specializing in Medieval and Early Modern English Literature, and I thought it was relevant to include this article because it is precisely the article that Henry Ansgar Kelly responds to in his book,  Chaucer and the Cult of St. Valentine (for which I annotated a book review). He argues that it is reasonably possible to assume the “Valentine” mentioned in Chaucer’s poem, a poem which helped to form the current understanding of Valentine’s Day as we celebrate it today, is talking about the patron St. Valentine. He initially argues that the claims seemed unfound, but then his own research from church documents across the 4th-15th century lead him to believe a connection is possible. (This article is on a technical debate on the origins of Valentine’s Day and the validity of certain claims.)

#3) Schmidt, Leigh Eric. “The Commercialization of the Calendar: American Holidays and the Culture of Consumption, 1870-1930.” The Journal of American History 78, no. 3 (1991): 887–916. https://doi.org/10.2307/2078795.

This scholar is the most famous leading expert in my field. While his other articles and books have addressed Valentine’s day more specifically, this article gives a more broader view of American Holidays and consumer culture’s impact on them. He argues that commercialization did not RID, but rather complicated the nature of religious/family values. He specifically looks at Mother’s Day to argue how it was invented in 1908 and then immediately used by florists to try to sell their flowers. Later, other holidays like Father’s Day were invented for a similar reason to sell to consumers. The article also explores the limits to commercialization, arguing that the process wasn’t as successful as tradespeople and shop-sellers tried to profit from various holidays and how the consumer culture came about, through trade journals, advertisements, show windows and greetings cards.

Tertiary Sources
(These sources are not scholarly, yet relevant and helpful):

#1) Arnie Seipel. “The Dark Origins Of Valentine’s Day.” NPR, February 13, 2011. https://www.npr.org/2011/02/14/133693152/the-dark-origins-of-valentines-day.

Arnie Seipel is a journalist at NPR, working for the “Washington Desk” as an editor. He mostly writes on political issues from the capitol, but this article argues that Valentine’s initially began with the Roman Festival Lupercalia, where men would run around drunk and beating women, who thought that would make them more fertile. The article is a bit sensationalist and leaves out many details I found in my scholarly sources. It goes on to say that Chaucer and Shakespeare picked up on the notions of Valentine’s Day and “romanticized” it in their works, from which greeting cards became popular. He uses this moment as a launching point into the commercialization of the holiday as it has evolved significantly into today.  It is written for an audience like us, educated lay people who read NPR as a source of reliable news. It was written the day before V-day in 2011 for obvious reasons.

#2) “The Parlement of Foules | Poem by Chaucer.” Encyclopedia Britannica. Accessed February 18, 2019. https://www.britannica.com/topic/The-Parlement-of-Foules.

This is a very short entry on a poem written by Chaucer, a very famous English medieval poet whose poem Parlement of Foules mentions birds, lovers, and Valentine. Important information for my project is that this entry explains how the 699 poem is one of the most famous in the English language, dealing with birds who gather to choose their mates on Valentine’s Day. The birds are symbolic, representing a different facet of English society, and the poem was meant to “satirize the tradition of courtly love.” The audience anyone interested in learning more about this poem, someone like me for this project.

Fern’s SSRs


1. Bibliographic Citation (MLA Style):

Dyk, Natalie Van. “The Reconceptualization of Valentine’s Day in the United States: Valentine’s Day as a Phenomenon of Popular Culture.” Bridges: An Undergraduate Journal of Contemporary Connections, vol. 1, no. 1, 2013.

*Note: This is an undergraduate journal, open access & reviewed by student peers, so Natalie Van Dyk is not a scholar but a student. I got confused between her and another professor; however, I still read this source because it had relevant information and a good bibliography of scholars to point me toward. 

2. Thesis Stated & Re-stated:

“Thus, the reconceptualization of Valentine’s Day in the United States in the 1840s demonstrates the extent to which an emergent consumer culture shaped a historical ritual, thereby creating a popular cultural phenomenon. The popularization of Valentine’s Day is illustrated through the power of advertising, the commodification of the valentine and the way Valentine’s Day has become a holiday celebrated by most of society” (1).

My own words: Van Dyk argues that Valentine’s Day was transformed from a historical tradition into a popular holiday in the United States due to changing trends in consumer culture, like advertising techniques, the invention of the “valentine” and its spread to the masses.

3. Structure:

After the introduction where she gives the variety of “origin legends” of Valentine’s Day (1-2), the author transitions to explaining how Valentine’s Day can be justified as “popular culture” (2). Then, the meat of her article begins, where she explains how it was “reconceptualized” into a popular holiday: power of advertising companies in the 1840s (2), “valentine” shifting mean from a person to an object (2), marketing expanded to all age groups, not just young men and women (3), increase in printing and appearance of romantic poems by a group of “valentines writers” (3), spread to the middle-class (3). This last reason has two parts: the middle-class merchants began to emulate Valentine’s gift exchange traditions that were only common in aristocratic English people & they also involved the Valentine’s writers that wrote for both sexes and all age groups (4).

4. Analysis:

  • Hook: N/A
    • Thesis (“I say”): Valentine’s Day became popularized through the change of consumer culture in the 1840s.
    • Critical conversation or debate (“they say”): N/A
    • Theoretical foundations (“they say”): She builds on some theory of how popular culture is defined.
    • Definitions of key terms. Popular culture: John Storey’s 1993 definition as “culture, which is well-favored or liked by many people” cited on page 1.
    • Historical context: The author is an undergraduate student, and she lays the historical ancient legendary origins of the Valentine’s Day before explaining her main argument: how Valentine’s Day became so popular. She says it happened in the 1840s, but presents the various historical origin stories without explaining or hinting at which one she thinks is most true or accurate.
    • Evidence: Most refers to other scholars, not primary sources.
    • Analysis: Historical analysis through use of secondary literature cited and quoted throughout her paper.
    • Conclusion: She has one paragraph that summarizes her thesis and argument at the end of the article.
  • Rhetorical strategies to Emulate:

#1) Defines key words like popular culture

#2) Flow from one paragraph to the next

Words like “Likewise,” “Furthermore,” & “Lastly” at the beginning of paragraphs that builds on content from previous paragraph (3). 

#3) Clear thesis/concluding statements

Concluding Paragraph: “Ultimately, the reconfiguration of Valentine’s Day in the 1840s in the United States is an early example of how an emergent consumer culture transformed a traditional holiday. In this regard, the reshaping of the popular ritual into a phenomenon of popular culture demonstrates a growing consumer culture’s power in affecting the methods of advertising companies. The consumer culture’s participation in the commodification of the valentine was demonstrated through their purchasing power, the expertise of Valentine’s Day writers, and the ultimate expansion of Valentine’s Day to reach all of society.” (4).


1. Bibliographic Citation (MLA Style):

Aveni, Anthony F. The Book of the Year: A Brief History of Our Seasonal Holidays. Oxford University Press, 2003.

*Note: I did not just cite the book section that I actually focused on for this SSR (Chapter 3: February’s Holidays: Prediction, Purification, and Passionate Pursuit) because I did use the rest of the book as breadcrumbs to lead me to other sources! However, I did find this scholar’s website (link: https://www.anthonyfaveni.com/ )

2. Thesis Stated & Re-stated:

Excerpt from the sections within the chapter on Valentine’s Day in particular:

“His is a day of many meanings, a rite transformed from lustful Lupercus to martyred St. Valentine, to cherubic Cupid, the love goddess’s roguish little boy archer whose gold-tipped arrows can make even the gods feel sexy. We have witnessed its migration from the realm of the pastoral, the religious, to the secular—from divine love to the inner sanctum of affectionate sentiment to the public world of the shopping mall” (45-46).

My own words:  Valentine’s Day in coming to its present form has undergoing various evolutions of meaning from an ancient Roman celebration to the links to St. Valentine and Cupid, all moving it from a sacred to a secular popular celebration in its form today.

3. Structure: The author speaks in a storytelling mode, addressing various concerns, histories, and questions surrounding the origins of Valentine’s Day. I think it may be helpful if I list then out (showing the moves he makes and in what order they flow): Beginning on page 39 going in order, introductory paragraph — Roman Lupercus Festival story — St. Valentine & his martyrdom — poets writing about love and birds — Geoffrey Chaucer’s poem and other poets (42) — Elizabethan English customs and other customs (42-43) — American consumer culture & commercialization of the holiday (43-45)—Conclusion.

4. Analysis:

  • Hook: With a question enticing the readers: “Why is it that the fourteenth of February causes us to think of love?” (39).
    • Critical conversation or debate (“they say”): At one point, the author writes in parenthesis how “classical scholars have reservations: about how the Roman holiday is connected to modern day St. Valentine’s Day (39).
    • Historical context: The entire text is establishing historical context and origins of various Valentine’s customs.
    • Evidence: The author embeds the original poetry verses that became common in association with Valentine’s day (Pgs. 42, 43, & 44-45).
    • Analysis: What kind of analysis is offered, where, and how?
    • Quotations, Paraphrase, Summary: He embeds them into his storytelling voice throughout the narration of the holiday’s history.
    • Conclusion: He ties it back into other February holidays discussed in the chapter (46).
  • Rhetorical strategies to Emulate:

#1) Storytelling Voice that Avoids Academic Jargon

Example: “Later someone spiced up the story…” (40)

#2) Rhetorical Questions to Entice Reader

Example: “All well and good, but who was St. Valentine, the celebrated saint of passionate pursuit?” (40)

#3) Includes original poetry that popularized modern conceptions of Valentine’s Day

Examples on pages 42-43 (Chaucer’s poem and other poems spread/sayings)


1. Bibliographic Citation (MLA Style):

Lee, Ruth Webb. A History of Valentines. Studio Publications in association with Crowell, 1952.

*Note: I have not read the entire book yet (nor am I sure it is necessary, although it is fascinating, it isn’t exactly entirely about the origin story of the HOLIDAY but rather the tradition of “valentines”).

2. Thesis Stated & Re-stated:

“The history of St. Valentine, “Valentinus,” and the origin of the custom of celebrating February 14 as St. Valentine’s Day has been nearly lost in antiquity, but it is possible to piece the legend together supported by a number of authenticated facts (3). . . So the ancient custom of observing the St. Valentine’s Day stems from the early Romans but over the centuries has become inbued with Anglo-Saxon sentiment (7).”

My own words: It is challenging to piece together the history of this holiday, but it seems to stem from a Roman holiday and become coated by English/Anglo culture over time.

3. Structure: The book is divided into two parts, the first part focusing on St. Valentine briefly and the original “valentines.” The date range is from roughly 1740 (excluding origin “myths”) through the Late Victorian Period. The second half of the book (part two) explores English modern period traveling toward American modern Valentine publications.

4. Analysis:

  • Hook: She begins with an image and an anecdote about St. Valentine and his first depiction ever (3-4).
    • Exposition: She brings in a wealth of information from other secondary scholars as well as images, reports, newspaper articles, etc. in trying to figure out the origin of Valentine art (poems, cards, love songs, etc).
    • Thesis (“I say”): The core idea is trying to trace the development of Valentine art (and not so much how it became popularized.)
    • Critical conversation or debate (“they say”): The literature review is on page 5, and she addresses the various interpretations, debates, and skeptics on the holiday.
    • Historical context: information about the history of the text or issues under consideration, or biographical information about the author.
    • Structure: The chapter titles are informative of the content and major theme of each chapter, which strings together chronologically mostly.
    • Evidence: She uses images and direct quotations throughout the entire book.
    • Analysis: (Scholarly analysis?)
  • Rhetorical strategies to Emulate:

#1) The use of Chapter Titles & Parts (Subsections and themed-off chapters)

#2) Chronological Order

#3) Inclusion of Various Images and Valentine Art (all throughout the book, first one on Page 4).

Source #4:

1. Bibliographic Citation (MLA Style):

Kreil, Aymon. “The Price of Love: Valentine’s Day in Egypt and Its Enemies.” Arab Studies Journal 24, no. 2 (Fall 2016): 128–46.

2. Thesis Stated & Re-stated:

The thesis is spread out in multiple places throughout the introduction and was harder to find than for my other sources. My Best attempt is:

“This study follows Eva Illouz’s analysis of romantic love as a phenomenon deeply linked to the emergence of a consumer culture emphasizing leisure and enjoyment, shaping imaginations of encounters at places like restaurants, movie theaters, or deserted beaches. For Illouz, a sense of privilege is hidden in romantic dreams, since these dreams are, for most people, difficult to realize. This romantic imagination parallels the urge to communicate feelings as a way to explore the self and attain happiness. .  . In order to discuss these issues, I describe Valentine’s Day in Egypt, its history, and how people celebrate it. Valentine’s Day focuses on imaginaries surrounding heterosexual bonds. “True love” designates either pre-conjugal passion or, on the contrary, the silent relationship that develops over tim after marriage. These contrary conceptions of love serve as a first axis of analysis. I then focus on the expressive love that Valentine’s Day promotes through its merchandising and in the context of the frequent assessment in Egypt that the event is a celebration of sweet talk” (131).

My own words:

This study builds off the work of Eva Illouz and her theory on romantic love. It argues that Valentine’s Day in Egypt has become a holiday that  has shaped Egyptian imaginations of true love, romance, and marriage.

3. Structure:

The author introduces Valentine’s Day with a movie anecdote about modern love in Egypt. He then generally describes notions of love and Valentine’s Day in Egypt. Following this, the article ensues for sections:

1) “Valentine’s Day, Egyptian Style”: This sections gives an overarching view of Valentine’s Day commercialization and arrival in Egypt, as well as religious, nationalist, anti-consumerist receptions and reactions to it. There has been pushback for it being a holiday affirming the passions and promoting desires.

2) “Sweet Talk Institutionalized” (135): It is day not associated much with religion, but most of the interviews of the this author showed that it is abut the affection, romance, and love that draws some Egyptians to celebrate it. The older generation is more skeptical.

3) “True Love and Impossible Love” (137): This section discusses the two separate strands of love running through Egyptian thought. 

4) Love & Status (139): On the tradition of marriage and its change with the arrival of love modernism and a holiday for middle-class and class mobility

5) “No Money, No Honey: The Economic Limits of Romanticism” (142): Finally the author concludes with a final section that discusses the way this holiday gets around the financial constraints marriages in Egypt can pose on the families and has opened new paths on what and how romantic love can be expressed.

4. Analysis:

  • Hook: An anecdote from the modern movie Soft Hands that shows modern notions of love & marriage post 1950.
    • Exposition: The author uses interviews with Egyptians and scholarly theory on modern notions of romantic love to bolster his claims.
    • Thesis (“I say”): Notions of love in Egypt (and generally) need to be historicized as they go through cultural changes, one such being observed in Egypt currently. He uses Valentine’s Day as a case study to show the intergenerational tensions on the concept of love and marriage, the older generations tending to be wary of marriage for romance and passion and the younger using it as an outlet for affection while struggling with the traditional forms and burdens of marriage.
    • Critical conversation or debate (“they say”): Literature review is in the introduction of the article, and he is responding to arguments not on Valentine’s Day, in particular, but rather changing notions of “love” (129-139). “They say” (scholars like Jennifer Cole and Lynn Thomas) that there is a dichotomy occurring between generations in the modern period on the notion of love in countries like Egypt and others in Africa, yet this needs to historicized more thoroughly (something this paper attempts).
    • Theoretical foundations (“they say”): Jennifer Cole & Lynn Thomas: colonial period brought conflict that created intergenerational divisions in thought in Africa; Eva Illouz: romantic love and consumer culture are deeply linked;
    • Definitions: Love modernism (129): linking love with the concept of progress and equality
    • Historical context: Aymon Kreil is an anthropologist specializing on the Middle East
    • Evidence: Interviews with people living in Cairo, Egypt between 2008-2010 (when he did his field work).
    • Analysis: He contextualizes and expounds on the history and comments as introduced throughout the article.
    • Quotations, Paraphrase, Summary: I thought providing two quick examples of how he does engages with other scholars and voices would be more helpful in this case than to explain it (show over tell):

“Criticism of Valentine’s Day draws on overlapping religious, nationalist,anti-consumerist, and moral arguments. Many Islamic scholars in the Middle East have issued fatwas condemning Valentine’s Day along the model of bin ‘Uthaymin’s fatwa, mentioned above.” (134)


“In this regard, romanticism and its correlate, the mastering of properways to express feelings with gentleness, are tools of distinction. This process is reminiscent of Pierre Bourdieu’s more general analysis of ways of talking as social classifiers of the people using them.” (140-141).

The author doesn’t always explicitly call out any scholars in the main body of his work, but the foundation he sets in the introduction of theories of notion of love are carried and embedded throughout.

  • Conclusion:

He doesn’t really have a conclusion section like he does an introductory section, but this sentence is what he concludes with:

“By connecting love to transnational imaginations, Valentine’s Day and its yearly institutionalization of sweet talk offers new paths to the experience and disciplining of intimate aspirations around romantic consumption.” (143).

5. Rhetorical strategies to Emulate:

#1) Clear-And-Easy-for-Anyone-to-Understand Language (Avoids Jargon)  

#2) Engages Scholarship & Theoretical Foundations Smoothly and Seamlessly

Examples: I gave some in the Analysis section and I also appreciate they way he relies and carries the theory of romantic love Eva Illouz throughout his work.

#3) His hook was enticing and so well befitting his topic. I would like to begin some of my own writing that way also, that is, with an anecdotal story from a movie or life, etc.

Source #5:

1. Bibliographic Citation (MLA Style):

Reames, Sherry L. Chaucer and the Cult of Saint Valentine by Henry Ansgar Kelly (Review). Vol. 10. Studies in the Age of Chaucer. The New Chaucer Society, 1988.

Note: I don’t have the book yet, so I thought I would just use this book review for now.

2. Thesis Stated & Re-stated:

“Henry Ansgar Kelly’s hypothesis, in a nutshell, is that Geoffrey Chaucer may have invented the custom of associating Saint Valentine’s Day with lovers and that the holiday he had in mind probably fell on May 3, not February 14. Unfortunately, Kelly has not found enough evidence to make a strong case for the second and more original half of this theory” (157).

My own words:

The evidence for the book’s thesis is two-fold, the second not as well supported. IT is that Valentine’s Day as a day for love was invented by the poet Chaucer,  and it probably wasn’t on Feb 14.

3. Structure:

The article is only a couple pages long, it gives a brief introduction and then walks us through all of the chapters of the book being reviewed, Chaucer and the Cult of St. Valentine. Each paragraph discusses and comments on the themes/arguments. She ends with some final observations about the book indexes.

4. Analysis:

  • Hook: She just gets right into without the fluff. No HOOK.  
    • Thesis (“I say”): The book is well written engaging with literary arguments, particularly that of Oruch, but the idea of the dates being wrong isn’t that well grounded in evidence.
    • Historical context: Sherry Reames is a professor of Medieval Studies and English.
    • Evidence: The argument is of course grounded in reference from the book itself, but she summarizes in her own words and avoids direct quotations. See example:

“If we can assume that Chaucer’s Valentine’s Day, when the birds choose their mates, is really May 3, then it becomes possible both to solve some of the astronomical puzzles in his Valentine poems (pp. 117-20) and, more imponant, to find a coherent meaning and purpose in his references to both dates” (159).

  • Analysis: There is individual analysis of each chapter pieces together chronological with the order of the book. For example, she explains how in Chapter 2 & 3, the author of the book undertakes a deep look at various facets of the season of spring in medieval times: how it was calculated, the equinox, spring and February weather, etc. She argues that with the “wealth” of information and “wide variety” of sources, that she critiques Ansgar’s (the author of the book) “narrow” choice to use this information only in responding to a scholarly debate because it is hard for the reader to engage deeply without having read the other scholar who Ansgar argues against, Jack Oruch (and his article on Spring and St. Valentine) (158).
    • Conclusion: She concludes with general comments on the book, the indexes, etc. She says that the book is more important to be seen for its “precision” in correcting “oversimplifications” about St. Valentine and Chaucer in literature (159). She also suggests translations of original text may have been helpful.

5. Rhetorical strategies to Emulate:

#1) I appreciate the general flow of this article. Each paragraph naturally reads well from one to the next.

#2) I love the first sentence! It is clear, and it does “hook” me without being a hook. Anecdotal starts are overrated, sometimes. Here’s a way to begin that I really liked without forcing a story of cliché quote at the beginning:

Example: “Henry Ansgar Kelly’s hypothesis, in a nutshell, is that Geoffrey Chaucer may have invented the custom of associating Saint Valentine’s Day withlovers and that the holiday he had in mind probably fell on May 3, not February 14.” (157)

#3) I really like her writing style because it is both scholarly but in a conversationalist manner. I felt like the author was speaking to me. I definitely want to emulate this. (I also just admire her speaking style that comes out in her writing).

Example: “What he does not quite say here is that the book is intended to challenge one competing theory in particular: that of Jack B. Oruch” (157).

Fern Takes a Deep Dive into Research

Hello Again World (But Most Likely No One Except Maybe Sundi, Suzanne, And That One Person Who Arrived Here Because You Have to Comment On A Classmate’s Post),

Last week, I talked about what it was like going through my first Design Thinking Workshop. This week we, as a class, began to take our dives into the meat of our digital research project. We refined and further elaborated on our initial project statements as well as drafted preliminary social media plans. Additionally, we sketched wireframes and workshopped our projects and wireframes with our peers. As the tone of the course became more serious with the fact that our research projects took center stage this week, I think my own seriousness also increased. I finally got “caught up” over the weekend with replying to comments on my website and going through all of the About Me posts (yep— that assignment from way long ago). I also just spent time getting more familiarized with the research in my own area of interest, Valentine’s Day, as well as becoming more familiarized with my peers’s project through reading all of their project proposals. It was a good week for me, getting into a flow or a rhythm of things. That’s something I know I have been trying to do since last week.

I’d like to step it up further this week. Some other things I have been intending to do: buy a binder where I collate and put all of my readings for the course. Have an additional binder where my research and project design materials go (this would be all my readings specifically related to Valentine’s Day and my Wireframe, etc.) Right now, they’re all sitting in a folder somewhere, a bit disorganized. I just have been meaning to go the store and haven’t made that trip yet. Furthermore, I really want to build in time to work on research and this course on either Thursday or Friday. The first half of the week is great, and then I usually don’t emerge into the conversation again until Saturday. That two-three day halt does some serious damage the steam I have going by Wednesday. I really think I need to keep “the pump” going after I have primed it (i.e. my brain and intellectual process) at least every other day. That means: MWF, Sat. & Sun. ideally. The Friday is kind of missing for me for now.

I learned that giving constructive criticism is a skill, and I was put to the test when we workshopped our project proposals in class. It was my personal goal to give good feedback, and I really had to think and focus— getting into the two projects I came across and being creative and honest about what I thought the projects’ strengths and limitations were. It was a rewarding exercise that made me more attentive and appreciative of anyone who gives feedback, and I think I am more inclined to be a better listener and recorder of any comments and advice I receive going forward (not that I wasn’t already…but even more so now).

This was also a bizarre week where I both got the gears set with trying to get access to the Davidson journals through a guest account & a strange twist where AJ & I may collaborate on a project. The latter is still unfolding, and the former was set up successfully! I’m all good to go and taking a deep dive into the research now.

My goals for the coming week:

  1. Immerse. Stay in the Conversation. Don’t let more than 48 hours slip by without having engaged in something class related.
  2. Buy binders and get organized.
  3. Meet with Sundi and/or Suzanne to discuss my research and where it’s led me.
  4. Figure out what’s going on with me & AJ’s still possible collaboration (which I may take on as additional to my Valentine’s Day project).

Until Next Time World,

(But Most Likely No One Except Maybe Sundi, Suzanne, And That One Person Who Arrived Here Because You Have to Comment On A Classmate’s Post)


Wireframe (Ikra)


Below is my ideal landing page. It is modeled off the Koya Bound website. The first thing readers will see is a giant moving image or video and I would like confetti to pop out. I kind of imagine a first “welcome” page also resembling the format this website does. (This would be the dream).

Then, readers can scroll down and go through a series of slides where essentially my researched “story” of the Valentine’s day is told (with graphics, images, and text, of course.) I would like a moving map on the right, as is in Koya Bound, but that may have to be supplanted by other images. The menu bar would be up to below the large welcoming image. I might use NeatLine here to create a timeline.


This is one of the website pages, where a calendar organized by year that can take readers back all the way to the legendary origins of St. Valentine’s Day (with St. Valentine apparently secretly marrying people in prisons?) through the present moment (of hyper-commercialized success of the holiday). I will only have select key years’ historical information (due to time constraints) but imagine I can add, if I continue to work on this project as my lifelong labor of love.
This webpage will take readers to a scroll through “portfolio” type section that has descriptions of the key characters in the story. I know of two currently: St. Valentine (obviously) and Geoffrey Chaucer (whose supposed poem popularized the notions of love on Valentine’s Day as we think of them today). There will be text descriptions with images of the characters (who will be hyperlinked to throughout my main story told on the home page in slides).
This page I imagine being dedicated to the question HOW DID WE GET HERE? (oops! Forgot to include “here” and going back to redo all my photo-cropping isn’t worth it in my cost-benefit analysis). By this, I mean how did it become such a commercial, billion-dollar industry almost? I doubt I will get to substantive research on this section, but I would nonetheless like to go ahead and build the page. The globe will have different countries marked on it to where the holiday has spread. Then, users can click on the dots to hear testimonials, interviews, etc. on how they celebrate the day there and their views on it. I will have an option where people can “submit their stories” from all over the world. Of course, this section will also have the broader history of its commercialization and subsequent commercialized globalization. I know of a couple countries where it is already existing: Pakistan, India, & Korea (thanks Sundi). I may include some quotes from people about these countries. I would like the globe to be 3D clickable.

My favorite page that I will probably never get to: THE FREE SHOP! This is kind of a “fun” place on the website where I would help someone celebrate Valentine’s Day each year. So, people could send me requests and I would select 1 (out of all the 100s I will receive ha!) to fulfill. I don’t know how this would work but ideally the project would be feasible. Say, someone sends me a request saying “I really want to surprise my grandmother with a giant cake. Can you drive it to The Pines Nursing Home for me, I have work that day.” I would agree to that (no costs other than the person must be excited and doing this out of their own joy!). I would also have a free shop where I can send people Valentine’s card I have drawn myself (for the fun of it). Things here are basically free products from my free shop.
And as a final treat, I have included just for the heck of it my first wireframe ever (of this project and in general), which I did for our class Design Thinking Workshop. As you can see, my new wireframe isn’t too far off design-wise, but it has narrowed down in content.

Project Proposal (Ikra)

St. Valentine’s Day: Origins and Evolution

Project Proposal


Problem: I am researching the origins and evolution of St. Valentine’s Day from a day about commemorating a Christian martyr to a globalizing celebration of some shared notion of “romantic love.” Valentine’s Day sacred origins go back to roughly the 5th century, and it has now evolved into a secularized holiday. As a history major at Davidson, I’m curious to know the historical development of a day commemorated for centuries and its coming to a such a massive commercialized status because in it is a fascinating tale applicable to all of our lives today. In that sense, this isn’t just a site for someone who wants to know the history of the Valentine’s Day, although it certainly is also that. In the evolution of St. Valentine’s Day, we have the tide of changing times, intellectual thought, values, and changing society. Valentine’s is a holiday consistent across the various periods of history, that bridges the past to the present, but also has embedded within it numerous changes over time. My project’s larger significance, then, is to use Valentine’s Day as a case study to tell us our own social and intellectual history.

For my sources & data, I will use mostly historical journals and other scholarly articles. I have already conducted preliminary research, through reading online articles from History.com about the history of Valentine’s Day and I have researched the library to see what books we have on it. I will soon check out from our library a 1952 book by Ruth Webb Lee entitled a History of Valentine’s.  I am going to use research librarians and our library databases to collect my information. I am familiar with how to do historical and general scholarly research because I was history major and wrote a senior thesis that required significant archival digging and researching. I am concerned about not having access to ILL, since I am not officially a Davidson student. For that, I am going to speak with our course professors and the library staff. (I may have a solution, but I will have to speak with the professor I work for who has a guest account for his research assistant to order from ILL).

Doing this project digitally presents its own fruits and challenges, some of which I have tried to delineate below.

Digital Aspect: A beautifully-crafted and well-researched digital display of the history of Valentine’s Day that I can share with friends and those who may be interested in learning how the centuries have shaped our society   Humanities Aspect: I think most people don’t care about looking into why we celebrate what we celebrate, and the meaning behind certain public norms. This is case for why history matters and what it can teach us about ourselves and about the world. Of course, it’s only a small contribution through the lens of one holiday that was initially a holy-day marking St. Valentine’s death. How did we get here, and why does it matter to us humans? I hope I can at least chip away a small part at this larger life question.   The Major One: I don’t know how to use digital platforms and digital humanities is completely new for me, so I will be learning a new language in a way and using new research tools with which I am quite unfamiliar. This will become very time-intensive in the sense that I will have to first learn how to use the tool before I can even begin to get my content on there. It will likely be challenging (not necessarily a “con” in negative sense).

Social Media Networking Plan

#1) TBD due to updated information on one of my sources. Reach out to scholar Eric Schmidt (contact info to be discovered).

#2) Dr. Wertheimer (history department at Davidson College) & my former history advisor

#3) Teacher Ali Gulestan (who collects research and data on holidays, language expert)

I can reach all of these people through email and phone, and I have the contact information for all.

Set of Steps to Generate Interest:

1. Ask family and friends how I should attract them to this.

2. Write a Davidsonian Article.

3. Create a Twitter Account for my digital project & tweet throughout the year.*

4. Create an Instagram and post archival documents and quotes from my research.*

*(The ones I will invest the most time and effort into.)

I think all of these will help amass a decent following in interested readers, especially perhaps Valentine’s Day lovers like me more interested in investigating its roots.

Some Sources:

Lee, Ruth Webb. 1952. A History of Valentines. New York: Studio Publications in association with Crowell. (Main Library Stacks: 741.6 L47h)

Johnson, Robert. The Psychology of Romantic Love.

Van Dyk, Natalie. “The Reconceptualization of Valentine’s Day in the
United States: Valentine’s Day as a Phenomenon of
Popular Culture.

Fern’s First Design Thinking Workshop (Fern)

Hello World (But Most Likely No One Except Maybe Sundi, Suzanne, And A Person Who Arrived Here Accidentally),

As I close out this week and begin the next one, I want to reflect on what it was like to do “design thinking” for the first time in class on Wednesday. I was a participant in my first Design Thinking Workshop. We’ve read a lot about Digital Humanities and the debates by now, learned about different designing tools and platforms, and are diving into our own digital research endeavors now. It struck how quantity was more important than quality for the workshop because I think this tendency comes almost a little to naturally to me and is almost my weakness. I can generate ideas rapid-fire style and I don’t quickly run out. Where I often miss out is sometimes my ideas aren’t the most well thought-out or practical. Depth isn’t my forté, but breadth is (is what I’m trying to say here). In that case, it seems that this exercise in “breadth” with coming up with as many ideas as I can to a given question or problem is almost like feeding the bad egg inside my system. I’m not sure what fruits it will harbor. I do get the point of the exercise: sometimes, when we think too much, we get so caught in having good or right ideas that we never give space to considering random, spontaneous, quick thought could actually be our “strike of a lightning bolt.” Now that I’ve kept all of my sticky notes from the Design Session (or most of them), I think what would be my step #2 is to go through and refine and comb them. We already did this partially during class, but I felt rushed and think sitting with my ideas more may be helpful. Perhaps, this will my own round two of the Design Thinking Workshop: Fern’s Design Mapping Workshop. I may sit down with all the sticky notes, my class notes, and an empty wall and map things out, like a true design thinker.

Going to my last process blog, I said I really wanted to figure out how to orient myself in the class space better & get into a rhythm. Well, the getting into rhythm became rather difficult because I became immersed in a work project for another commitment of mine and everything kind took a backseat for a week (besides doing the basics and going to class). However, I have become more intentional about my class space & note-taking. I think I’ve figured that out….and here’s to renewing my goal for getting into the rhythm of things, especially all the more timely because we are getting into the meat of our course: designing our digital research projects!

Until Next Time World,

(But Most Likely No One Except Maybe Sundi, Suzanne, And That Person Who Arrived Here Accidentally)


Fern is Koya Bound (Ikra)

Website Analysis From An Admirer

Website: Koya Bound

Who is/are the author(s) of the page? Craig Mod & Dan Rubin, two photographers who hiked the Kumano Kodo for eight days in Japan. Mod is also a writer and Rubin a designer. Many patrons supported the website, the long list of names listed at the bottom of the site.

Who is the intended audience? Fellows travelers, hikers, and those more interested in learning about the Kumano Kodo or treks in general. 

What kind of information is the site providing? It provides information on the days, sites, experience and details of walking the Kumano Kodo (a journeyer’s handbook of sorts, but more personalized). It is also embedded with some cultural/historical background and visual imagery of the trek.

Is the design of the site well suited for the chosen content, functions, and audience? That is, is it easy for the user to navigate, search, and find answers? How so, how not so? On a scale of 1 to 10, I would give the site a 7 because it does accomplish what it intended— to share the journey of the Kumano Kodo with readers. However, there is system of categorization or organization. An archive that allowed readers to search for specific things, such as if I wanted to sort by day and only read the last day or I wanted to only read about the historic sites or the bus trips. In that sense, there is navigation or searching to find answers. The site tells a long story of a travel, and it would be better to be accompanied with a menu bar that has some other options of how to process the same information.


Question: Does the site uphold Steve Krug’s principles of UX design? Which ones does it fulfill? Which ones does it depart from?

#1 Don’t Make Me Think (About the Design & Just Let Me Get into Your Content) : The website is super easy to scroll through with headings that tell us when we have switched days and a guided map on the side so we always no where we are geographically.
#2 Break Up Pages Into Clearly-Defined Areas:  While the site is only one “page,” the information is well-segmented with a visual hierarchy. Each day looks something like this:
A catchy title to describe this day..(SECOND LARGEST FONT SIZE)

And here I began to describe this day’s walk….. (Regular Font Size)
Mod & Rubin are consistent with technique throughout.

#3 It’s Obvious What’s Clickable (by the color and underlining)
#4 Paragraphs aren’t Too long and Scanning is Possible
#5 Doesn’t Have Much Clutter or Needless Words

#1 Home Page: Where are you? Although, the beginning page
#2 Billboard Design 101: This relates to #3, but it’s hard to search for specific things on this site (or rather not really an option unless I use CTRL +F). You have to “scroll through the journey,” and this is likely a very intentionally-designed choice for the form to mirror the content of journeying. For my site it would be important to have some place where information is categorized.
#3 Persistent Navigation/Menu Bar: There is no “menu” because there is only one long page; although, the persistent map on the side could serve as a persistent navigation in sense of a MAP literally as the NAVIGATION (as opposed to a menu bar).


How would you improve the presentation and/or design? This site is amazing, overall. I would use the map on the side & actually turn it into a menu bar where if I clicked on each city/village, I have sub-menu options to see “Artefacts,” “Historical Sites” & “Reflections.” I would also have a running menu bar at the top or on the left side that has some options like: Archive, About, Story. I would also add some background music, if possible. I may also include an oral narration/podcast of the story, so a reader could listen to the story as opposed to reading all of it. All of these suggestions along with some others such as a place that highlights significant moments or sites, are ways of having more options of the information in a more categorized, organized way that doesn’t LOSE the storytelling aspect but enhances it while keeping the story there as it is now.

What aspects of the site design or function would you like to apply to your own project and how? I would like to apply the form of storytelling or walking the reader through a journey to my project of holidays & holy-days, but with more pages. In my project, I would walk a person the story behind a given holiday. My site, I would ideally like, to be a combination of Bulger on Trial and Koya Bound together. The map on the side I want to retain but perhaps make it a calendar as opposed to a location-based map, if that’s possible. I also want to numerous images from documents, videos, and other artefacts related to my project that I come across during my research.

Preliminary Project Proposal, Ikra

My PPP (Prel. Proj. Prop.)

QUESTION: I am researching what holidays and holy-days are celebrated across religious and secular traditions/communities during the spring time  

WHY: because I want to know how the two map onto one another in terms of underlying values behind the holidays and causes for celebration/commemoration,  

SIGNIFICANCE: so that my users will better understand what we are really celebrating when the stores fill up with Valentine’s Day cards, for example, and be able to contrast that with contours of other holidays from alternative worldviews and traditions different from our own. 

POTENTIAL PRACTICAL APPLICATION: I hope my readers/users can be become better consumers of the commercial market around holidays and shift or become more confident in what they choose to celebrate and why. 

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