A Dance of Wheel on Wheel / Mechanical Rotation in Hart Crane’s The Bridge by Katie Lanning

Wheel to Wheel Thumbnail Image

COURSE: English 727 – Digital Humanities

MEDIUM: Graphic Essay; Video Essay

My original paper, written for a modern poetry class, concentrates on the changing relationship between nature and technology in Crane’s poem.

This relationship, I argued, emerges through Crane’s imagery of mechanical rotations (winch engines, hurdy-gurdys, train wheels, compass needles, axletrees, turnstiles, revolving doors, turbines, dynamos, etc.). I created this graphic essay, using Photoshop, Word, and InDesign, to perform the rotating motions so key to the poem itself. I chose to represent the pages of my paper on chipboard gears because it parallels my argument that the sections of The Bridge function as gears moving the poem along. Lazy-susan swivel bearings attached to each chipboard piece enhance their rotating motion and invite viewers to touch, move, and rotate each gear or arrange the gears to form their own version of the machine. I placed the first page and a half of my actual paper on the box to suggest that the gears inside, although they represent the gears of the poem, also represent the gears of my paper. To open the “paper” and take out its “pages” is effectively to open a machine and take apart its gears. Photocopies of pages of my copy of The Bridge divide each gear. Not only do these dividers bring the text of the poem into the “machinery” of the box, but these copies also contain my original notes and markings – the very beginnings of my paper.

This digital video, in PechaKucha format, is a re-imagining of my previous project, “A Dance of Wheel on Wheel.”

I used a combination of images and narration to explore the relationship between nature and technology, which Crane portrayed through images of rotation in his work. With this project, I was particularly interested in Crane’s shifting, cyclical attitude regarding this relationship.