Providing resources and trai­ning in the practices and tools of the digital humanities

THE IDRH CORNER: DH and Philosophy Projects

Digtal Humanities and Philosophy: A Project-Based Introduction

Philosophy has always been a public endeavor. During antiquity in the time of Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle, philosophy (or the love of wisdom) was never meant, or less controversially, treated as a private enterprise. The father of western philosophy, Socrates, referred to himself as a sort of gadfly, buzzing around unsuspecting Athenians, challenging them to justify and provide reasons for holding the beliefs they did about justice, piety, knowledge, and the soul. Today, there is perhaps no more compelling companion to this public enterprise than those methods offered by the digital humanities.

For the first entry into KU’s DH Blog, we focus on three digital humanities projects in philosophy. There are a number of notable digital projects in philosophy that embody its public nature and mission:

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP)

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP) is perhaps best project to start this conversation. Initially, many digital projects began with the simple goal of sharing academic scholarship with other scholars. This is true of the SEP. The project is an online encyclopedia that serves as a database of philosophical articles that undergo the sort of rigorous vetting process one would find with an academic print journal. Although many of the entries are written by well-established philosophers, and are perhaps written with general philosophers in mind, the database itself is free to the public and can be accessed by anyone.

Since its creation in 1995, the database has accumulated nearly 1600 articles as of March 2018. The creators define the encyclopedia as a dynamic reference work. As a dynamic reference work, it is defined by four characteristics: (1) an article can be continuously revised following publication; (2) it curates comprehensive articles specific to philosophical subfields and topics; (3) in connection with (1) remote access is provided to authors so that they may easily revise their entries; and (4) quality is maintained by an Editorial Board; and (5) entries are made public and curated on a quarterly basis. All this allows the project to evolve and be “responsive to new research.”

The Internet Philosophy Ontology Project (InPhO)

As a response to the vastness of the SEP and to a general need to navigate in a way that is efficient and user-friendly, philosophers and programmers at the University of Indiana created a data-mining project: InPhO. The project operates by focusing on four sub-ontologies. Quickly, for non-philosophical and non-academic readers, ontology is the study of the nature of being or existence. Beyond this, ontology can also involve cataloging and categorizing things that exist along with their properties, creating ontologies. Some ontologies are more controversial or complex than others. For example, one controversy is one that persists between atheists and theists: whether God belongs in any ontological system. In science, there are realists and anti-realists who dispute whether the entities posited in scientific theories actually exist beyond their being posited within the theory. Note, there is a great deal of nuance that I am glossing over here, but I hope the general idea is clear. When creating any model of the world, some sort of ontological account is required to get it off the ground. How complex or simple it is may depend on the programmatic goals of the researcher.

Now, back to InPhO, the four sub-ontologies they focus on include: (1) Thinker; (2) Idea; (3) Document; and (4) Organization. The most important of these sub-ontologies is the Idea sub-ontology. According to the creators, ideas or topics within the SEP database can get fairly specific and broken down into sub-fields. In order to better deal with the breadth of the database, InPhO employs “automated statistical methods.” These methods are utilized to create visible models of possible relations between ideas curated in SEP. In order to ensure that their methods are turning out accurate relations, project managers confirm with the authors of SEP entries.  

Digital Cavendish

Not all digital projects concern themselves with making information databases easier to navigate. They can and are also about showing a different, perhaps less explored, side of the profession. Like all academic fields, philosophy has developed canon of what is taught in “history of philosophy” courses. With the creation of canons or preferred historical narratives, academic disciplines often risk subverting certain ideas, thinkers, and texts. This has not gone unnoticed by certain academic philosophers. Take, for example, KU’s own Dr. Marcy Lascano. Dr. Lascano recently taught a project-based course where students not only explore the ideas and interpretations of a lesser known philosophy such as Margaret Cavendish, but the course also included a transcribe-a-thon to all interested parties at KU and elsewhere. The transcribe-a-thon focused on Cavendish’s Philosophical and Physical Opinions (1663). It is as an effort to make widely available a text that lies outside of the traditional canon. The class also introduced students to digital humanities methods and tools based on minimal computing principles, such as the Ed./Jekyll platform for digital textual editions. Jekyll is a static website generator designed to make updating, maintaining, and sharing websites easier. Ed. is a theme for Jekyll specifically for developing easy-to-read digital editions that can enable recovery projects (such as the Cavendish project). As many humanists are not experienced in computing or programming methods, Ed. allows for simple digital editions that do not require complex programming.

IDRH Public Data for Social Justice Workshop

Mark your calendars for our March 2nd workshop focusing on data capturing methods and their potential for responding to issues of social justice. This event will provide a hands on exploration of digital methods for all participants. Panelists and audience members will also engage the implications these methods can have on responding to issues relating to ethics and social justice.


Interested parties may RSVP through by Feb 28th.

New Digital Humanities Reading and Praxis Groups, Spring 2020

IDRH is hosting a new Digital Humanities group—two groups really—spearheaded by Sylvia Fernández (Hall Center for the Humanities) and James Yeku (African and African-American Studies), and we’d like to invite anyone interested to join. These sessions are open to faculty, staff and students, or anyone else who may be interested.

The groups will meet 6 times this semester, with 3 meetings focused on DH dialogues and readings, and 3 focused on hands-on praxis and collaborations.

You don't have to attend all of the meetings, and drop-ins are welcome, but please RSVP to if you can so that we can (a) give you access to the readings ahead of time; (b) prepare appropriately for the praxis sessions; and (c) provide just the right amount of coffee.

DH Dialogues and Readings: Diversifying Digital Humanities
Watson 302, 3:00 - 4:30pm
Friday, Feb 21  |  Thursday, Mar 19  |   Friday, Apr 24

Readings this semester will include:

  • Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism, Safiya Noble (2018)
  • New Digital Worlds: Postcolonial Digital Humanities in Theory, Praxis, and Pedagogy, Roopika Risam (2018)
  • Bodies of Information: Intersectional Feminism and Digital Humanities, Elizabeth Losh and Jacqueline Wernimont, Eds. (2018)

DH Praxis and Collaborations
Watson 302, 9:00am – 11:00am
Monday, Feb 24  |  Monday, Mar 30  |  Monday, Apr 13

The Praxis sessions will be more open sessions where you can come work quietly on your project (like a writing group, but for digital projects); see a demo; learn new platforms; discuss your projects; share ideas.

Thank you to Sylvia and James for developing and organizing this initiative. Let us know if you have questions and we hope to see you there! Please RSVP to


IDRH is pleased to Co-Sponsor A Workshop Series on Medieval Manuscripts with The Kenneth Spencer Research Library

Dr. N. Kıvılcım Yavuz, Ann Hyde Postdoctoral Researcher at Kenneth Spencer Research Library, will be conducting a series of three workshops focusing on medieval manuscripts. The workshops explore the material nature of the medieval manuscript book while looking at current trends in manuscript studies. The aim of the workshops is to provide the participants the basic skills to examine a manuscript as well as an understanding of medieval book history and medieval book-making practices.

Each workshop will feature a one-hour lecture followed by an hour of hands-on work. All workshops will take place at Kenneth Spencer Research Library. Workshops are open to undergraduate and graduate students, staff and faculty. No previous experience in working with manuscripts is required. Spaces are limited and participants are asked to register separately for each workshop at

Sylvia Fernández to join the Hall Center for the Humanities, the Institute for Digital Research in the Humanities, and The Commons

We are thrilled to announce that Sylvia Fernández will be joining the IDRH community as part of her role as Public and Digital Humanities Postdoctoral Fellow at the Hall Center for the Humanities, starting in January 2020. Her work with IDRH will include coordinating the HASTAC Scholars program, helping develop DH-related programming on campus, and consulting and contributing to digital humanities projects at KU. In addition to her role with IDRH, she will work the The Commons, and develop her own original research projects. Welcome, Sylvia!

Sylvia Fernández is a proud transfronteriza, born and raised in the Mexico-United States Border (Cd. Juárez-El Paso). As a first-generation college student, she obtained a B.A. with a double major in Political Science and Spanish and a double minor in U.S.-Mexico Border Issues and Women's Studies. Fernández obtained an M.A. in Spanish (Literature and Linguistics) and a certificate in Women's Studies from New Mexico State University. In December 2019, she earned a Ph.D.from the Department of Hispanic Studies at the University of Houston and a Graduate Certificate in Women's, Gender and Sexualities Studies and Spanish as a Heritage Language. Her research interests include Latin American, U.S. Latina/o and Border Literatures, Intersectional and Transnational Feminisms, Border Studies, Archive Studies, and Digital Humanities. Her digital research includes: co-founder of Borderlands Archives Cartography, a member of Torn Apart / Separados, and team member and coordinator of the ongoing initiative of United Fronterasas well as other collaborative projects. Currently, she is working on a monograph and building a public and digital humanities project based on her dissertation titled, "Genealogía Transfronteriza: (Re)interpretaciones literarias de identidades femeninas en Cd. Juárez-El Paso".  

IDRH Meet and Greet

Join visiting scholars Heather Bamford (George Washington University) and Emily Francomano (Georgetown University) for coffee, pastries, and informal conversation about the Digital Humanities. This “coffee break” offers an excellent opportunity for you to mingle with the visiting speakers, fellow medievalists and early modernists, and DH colleagues to chat about issues ranging from the digital reproduction of medieval manuscripts to professionalization and DH.

The meet and greet will take place November 18th, 10am-12pm, in Watson Library's Digital Humanities Studio Room 302.

The Exquisite Corpse of Lawrence: a collaborative digital storytelling activity

IDRH is excited to participate in the Hall Center for the Humanities 2nd annual Haunting Humanities: Disciplines in the Dark, a free evening of immersive presentations featuring spooky stories and legends. A science fair for the humanities with a Halloween twist, Haunting Humanities ensures that individuals of all ages are able to explore the insights that the study of history, literature, language, and culture can bring to everyday life.
The IDRH booth will feature a collaborative digital storytelling activity inspired by the French surrealists. We will be hosting a public, digital Exquisite Corpse game in which participants contribute a phrase or sentence that will be assembled together into a single work. With prompts focusing on the haunted places of Lawrence, this activity will help us discover what lurks in the collective imagination of Lawrence, Kansas residents! Our booth will also provide examples of various digital storytelling platforms and highlight several local digital humanities projects.

Grant Deadlines

IDRH Seed Grants

The IDRH Digital Humanities Seed grants are intended to support KU faculty and academic staff with up to $15,000 in funding as they plan or pilot a collaborative digital humanities project, which will, with seed grant support, result in a more competitive subsequent external funding application. 
Proposals should be for the initial stages of a digital research project in the humanities, and should include a commitment to apply within a year for a specific external funding opportunity. 

Seed grants may be used to create pilot projects, develop ideas via a workshop, attend workshops, support project-related travel, hold a substantial planning or brainstorming session, or similar activities. For full guidelines and application forms see

IDRH Travel Grants

Digital Humanities Travel Grants provide KU faculty members, academic staff, and graduate students with up to $1,000 in financial support for domestic or international travel undertaken in order to: 1) conduct research for a digital humanities project, 2) present on digital humanities research at an academic conference, OR  3) participate in a digital humanities professional development and/or training initiative.

For full guidelines and application forms see

Deadline for both grants is: November 1st, 2019 at 11:59pm

Recovering Cavendish Transcribe-a-Thon, September 27

Recovering Cavendish Transcribe-A-Thon

Be a part of the creation of an open access, searchable, reader-friendly text of

Margaret Cavendish’s Philosophical and Physical Opinions (1663)! 

No experience necessary - simple transcription instructions are provided on the website!

Margaret Cavendish was a 17th century philosopher, who wrote numerous philosophical works, plays, poetry, and science fiction. While many of her works are available online in searchable editions, her important second edition of Philosophical and Physical Opinions has yet to be made available. The final text will be mounted in the Ed. Jekyll minimal editions platform for use by scholars, students, and the general public.

In person
Friday, September 27th, 12 noon - 5pm, Watson 302

For those of you in the KU and Lawrence community, we will be meeting in the Institute for Research for Digital Humanities DH Studio (Watson 302) to transcribe and talk about the project. Snacks will be available!

Anyone may participate online. The website will be open on September 25th and remain open till the transcription is complete. 

This project made possible by KU IDRH, KU Libraries, and the KU Philosophy Department.
For questions or comments, contact Marcy Lascano:


IDRH is pleased to announce that we will support student applications for the HASTAC Scholars Program for their 2019-2021 class.

The HASTAC Scholars Program gives undergraduate and graduate students an opportunity to develop their Digital Humanities interests and showcase their DH research and projects to a broader audience. Students can use the two year period to learn more about DH, develop a specific digital project, hone their technical skills, or pursue a project that intersects with their area of research and Digital Humanities. 

IDRH welcomes applications from students who want to develop their own DH research, take up a project suggested on the HASTAC Scholars page, or work on an IDRH related project at KU. Selected Scholars will be expected to meet milestones/criteria suggested by HASTAC, and offer a presentation or workshop on campus about their digital research. IDRH will offer selected Scholars a research fellowship of $300 per year and mentorship support. KU has supported 14 HASTAC Scholars since 2011, and we hope to build this community of students interested in digital scholarship.

There is a two-stage application process: First, apply for IDRH sponsorship by emailing the information required by the HASTAC Scholars application to by October 1, 2019. We use the same application required by HASTAC. Selected candidates must then submit their application to HASTAC by October 15, 2019.

If you have any questions about the program, or the project you want to propose, please contact Brian Rosenblum at


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RT @blros : Shout out to KU colleagues @sferna109 @james _yeku @TamezAD @tell _dave and to @gonzlaur for joining us for today's discussion of…

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