The Institute for Digital Research in the Humanities is pleased to sponsor KU graduate and undergraduate students as participants in the HASTAC Scholar’s program.
“HASTAC Scholars report on the work happening on their campuses and in their region to an international audience….The HASTAC Scholars also orchestrate a regular discussion on the HASTAC web site. Open to all, these expansive forums initiate rich insights and deep exchanges on timely issues related to digital media and learning and the digital humanities more broadly.”
Chad Uhl (Computer Science, Classical Antiquity)
As a current double major in Classical Antiquity and Computer Science, I am actively searching for ways in which to combine the two fields; the most obvious of them being Digital Humanities. Starting my first Latin class, I quickly became interested in how a computer might learn such an inflected language and how that process would differ from my own. This led me to a research project on exploring the ways computers can learn languages through translation. Google does a statistical analysis of pre-translated texts for most of its translation work, and as any language scholar will tell you, it is wrong more than half the time. I would theorize that this is due to the lack of importance placed on situational context, emotion, and nuance. I highly doubt that any of these are included in their translation algorithms. Aside from language processing however, data visualization is of key interest. I had the chance last spring to speak with Professor David Frederick from the University of Arkansas about his work with game design within Classical scholarship. He showed me his key program which allowed for the user to experience a specific home in Pompeii. Though the graphics may have been somewhat rudimentary in comparison to popular games like Assassin’s Creed, this tool could be used for real research and education. These are only examples of what I am interested in and will hopefully provide a window into my other interests.
Mike Van Esler (Film and Media Studies)
I am currently finishing up the primary research for my dissertation and will begin the actual writing in Fall 2015. My project is focused on the social practices and needs facilitated and met by private filesharing communities online; I employ Raymond Williams’ concepts of dominant, residual, and emergent to both cultural practices and technological use in attempting to answer my research questions. I am also currently finishing up a book chapter that looks at the rhetoric used by the film industry and government officials in response to the Sony hack and how these techniques are used to suture Hollywood into discussions of national security. Another major interest of mine is how (digital) piracy or unauthorized filesharing can facilitate the formation of (counter)publics, particularly in the developing world, a project I think I would like to pursue as a HASTAC Scholar. Along those lines, I believe my interests align with those of HASTAC due to the emphasis placed on the sharing of information, approaches, and culture, often through emergent technologies and modes of distribution.
Isaac Bell (English)
Isaac Bell spent twelve years working in the field of online journalism, first as a web producers with the Lawrence Journal-World’s innovative news website and then as the Digital Executive Producer at KMBC Channel 9 in Kansas City. During his career, Isaac became fascinated with the processes of creating and distributing digital content, as well as the ways in which online audiences made use of this content. He returned to the University of Kansas to study digital rhetoric and online storytelling as a Master’s student in the Department of English. He is currently in his second year in the program.
Aaron Taveras (Geography)
I’m a graduate student in the Geography Department at the University of Kansas, where I’m studying design cartography in general, and also how maps affect our perceptions of the environment and each other. These interests stem from my passion for art and design and the powerful impact it can have on influencing our ideas. This interest in map design roots back to a single moment when I realized that I enjoy making visual things. About three years ago I came across geography and cartography as an undergraduate, and not too long after I realized that cartography is far more than a science for depicting the world, it is also a form of art. One of my mentors once told me that people trust maps because they’re technical and authoritative, but unless the map is beautiful and tells a story, no one is likely to care. This has stuck with me, and I believe that good, beautiful, and convincing map design can illuminate aspects of our world that otherwise would remain neglected. Therefore, my wanting to work with HASTAC relates to my interest in collaborating with others in order help us better understand our environment (physical and cultural). Cartography and education are in no way solitary fields, and I would like to participate in understanding how mapping is being used, discussed, and taught within the humanities.
Avery Dame (American Studies)
I’m currently a Master’s Candidate in American Studies at the University of Kansas. My interests include queer representation in media, online communities, and comics studies. My thesis is a critical reading of how the five best-connected trans male vloggers manage being both public trans figures and private individuals. I also currently serve as assistant editor of the journal American Studies.
Natalie Pennington (Communication Studies)
I’m a doctoral student at the University of Kansas in the department of Communication Studies. My research is focused on interpersonal communication through social media sites. From how we manage our impressions online, to how we seek out social support from our networks, if its about how we communicate through Facebook, I’m interested!
Kenton Rambsy (English)
Kenton Rambsy is a graduate student in Literature and Theory at the University of Kansas. His research interests include self-education and political thought in African American autobiographical and fiction narratives. He is the Project Digital Initiative Coordinator and Blog Editor for the Project on the History of Black Writing (HBW) at the University of Kansas (Lawrence).