Evan Young’s project is a digital, critical engagement of Laguna Pueblo author Leslie Marmon Silko’s 1991 novel Almanac of the Dead. Initially conceived to become a senior honors thesis in English, the project bases its intellectual framework off of numerous works by Indigenous authors and scholars whose concepts Evan perceives to echo throughout Silko’s novel. Notable inspiration comes from Daniel Heath Justice’s book Why Indigenous Literatures Matter, which explores Indigenous understandings of kinship networks as extending to other-than-human beings. Evan also draws from much of Silko’s own fiction and nonfiction writing in which she implicates the reader within the story through sensory evocation and embedding multimedia in the form of images. Recognizing that Almanac of the Dead is often emotionally and physically overwhelming for readers (it weighs in at around 763 pages in small font), Evan designed his project to have the primary function of a “seeing instrument” in the hopes of providing readers with an interactive intellectual tool to aid in the recognition of interrelational branches of meaning rooted within the novel’s story-scapes. In addition to considering characters’ empathetic abilities to imagine more-than-human familial relations alongside notions of fluid Indigenous adaptability and survivance (Gerald Vizenor’s term), Evan’s project examines the reiterations and re-articulations of the imagined “ancient almanac” that features heavily in the novel. Evan analyzes ways in which the fictional almanac’s stories and cultural knowledge adapt, translating and transforming across space-time and across physical, virtual, and digital boundaries of medium. Evan’s project is largely based in Twine, “an open-source tool for telling interactive, nonlinear stories.”
Evan Young is a fourth-year undergraduate student at Amherst College on track to fulfill requirements for the Five College Native American and Indigenous Studies Certificate. A double major in English and French, Evan first gravitated to digital humanities after recognizing the potential to foster accessible, interactive, collaborative, and engaging spaces within digital mediums. He hopes to trace his interests in ecological and Indigenous rights activism, literature, translation and adaptation, and DH to more creative junctions as he continues his personal and intellectual research. His involvement in DH currently focuses on exploring the ways in which digital tools such as Kumu and Twine can be adapted as decolonial teaching instruments which reflect Indigenous conceptions of space and time as folding and spiraling, and of creation as a dynamic interrelational web. Before coming to Amherst, he lived in Boulder, Colorado.