Digital Humanities Now will be taking a break until the end of January. On behalf of the DHNow staff, thank you for another great semester! To our generous volunteer editors-at-large, thank you for dedicating your time and expertise. Your participation makes DHNow possible. This semester’s editors-at-large included: Dan Howlett, Dana Meyer, Kris Stinson, Teresa Donoso, Sarah Fay, Jajwalya Karajgikar, Morgan Lemmer-Webber, Margherita Berti, R.J. Lambert, Jade Bruno, Emily Esten, Kristin Geiger-Rayca, Henry Ibekwe, Stephanie Grimes, and Monika Sharma. Be on the lookout for details on how to sign up for spring semester starting in January.
We hope you’ll join us again in the spring for more digital humanities news and scholarship. Until then, if you have an account, please feel free to keep yourself up to date by logging in and browsing All Content.
New year, fresh feeds. Please keep submitting feeds over the break, especially if you have your own digital humanities blog!
Best wishes for a warm and happy new year. We’ll see you in 2020!
From the ad:
CLIR is now accepting applications for 2020-2022 CLIR Postdoctoral Fellowships. The deadline for prospective fellows is January 10, 2020. Fellowship opportunities will be posted on this page and to CLIR+DLF Jobs. To be considered for the positions below, candidates must apply using CLIR’s online application system.
New hosts and position descriptions will be added to this list as they become available. Candidates’ applications will be forwarded to all host institutions looking to hire fellows with similar qualifications. Some host institutions may create fellowship positions after the application deadline has passed, but candidates will still be considered for those positions when their qualifications match hosts’ requirements.
From the report:
During my day job, I handle copyright at an academic library, so I was supremely lucky this year that my manager was able and willing to send me to the annual Ontario Library Association (OLA) Copyright Symposium in Toronto on November 22nd. This year’s one day conference was looking at copyright and social responsibility through the lens of reconciliation as they explored the intersection of Canada’s Copyright Law (with some US discussion making a brief appearance) and traditional Indigenous Knowledge. Canada is currently engaged in a heavy reconciliation process with our Indigenous population, and many areas of the library industry are working on figuring out what that means and how we can support these members of our communities. My Foundations of Library and Information Studies class has a week long discussion about the Truth and Reconciliation Report and ethics actually back at the tail end of October in which I talked about this exact issue because I’ve been interested in it since I learned about it at the University of Waterloo’s 2018 Open Access Day conference.
Bill Caraher has recently been considering the nature of ‘legacy data’ in archaeology (Caraher 2019) (with a commentary by Andrew Reinhard). Amongst other things, he suggests there has been a shift from paper-based archives designed with an emphasis on the future to digital archives which often seem more concerned with present utility. Coincidentally, Bill’s post landed just as I was pondering the nature of the relationship between digital archives and our use of data.
So do digital archives represent a paradigm shift from traditional archives and archival practice, or are they simply a technological development of them? Digital archives are commonly understood to be a means of storing, organising, maintaining, and making data accessible in digital format. Relative to traditional archives they are therefore not limited by physical space or its associated costs and so can make much more information available more easily, cheaply, and widely. But a consequence of this can be a kind of ‘storage mania’, in which data become easier to accumulate than to delete because of digitalisation, and where data are released from the limitations of time and space through their dematerialisation (Sluis 2017, 28). This is akin to David Berry’s “infinite archives” (2017, 107), who suggests that “One way of thinking about computational archives and new forms of abstraction they produce is the specific ways in which they manage the ‘derangement’ of knowledge through distance.” (Berry 2017, 119). At the same time, digital archives represent new technological material structures built on the performativity of the software which delivers large-scale processing of these apparently dematerialised data (Sluis 2017, 28).
There are perhaps three key areas where archives and digital data interact: the digital infrastructure itself, preservation practices within that infrastructure, and the effects of these on the digital data we subsequently use.
The Shakespeare and Company Project is based on the Sylvia Beach papers at Princeton University Library. Logbooks and lending library cards trace members’ engagement with Beach’s famous lending library in Paris. Members included literary luminaries Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, and Simone de Beauvoir, as well as students, businessmen, and French girls with English governesses. A significant part of the project data consists of events: memberships, renewals, reimbursements, borrowed books, purchased books, etc. Yet, due to the fragmentary and handwritten nature of these sources, the dates aren’t always easy to manage with code. Working on the project required managing imprecise data with precise code.
Let’s walk through how we tackled one aspect of this problem. The event_date_ranges method shown above aggregates all events for a library member into a timeline of known activity. The resulting list of date ranges is the basis for visualizing a member’s engagement with the library. This method loops through all the events for a member, sorted by date, and collects them into groups of date ranges. If an event starts within or up to one day after the current date range, it is included and the range is extended, if needed; if not, that range is closed and a new range is started. For Simone de Beauvoir, who was active in 1937 and 1940, the results look roughly like this:
[[1937-04-07), 1937-05-03)], [1940-07-25, 1940-12-31]]
You would probably expect a member’s borrowing activity to occur within the dates they were a member—but, due to missing logbooks and the oddities of human behavior, that’s not always the case.
The code has to handle one-day events, like buying a book or closing out an account, as well as longer-duration activities, like a membership or borrowing a book. In addition, because these are historical records that were kept by hand, and not all preserved, we have to handle a variety of unusual dates. There are date ranges with a start but no end, and in some cases, end dates with no start; the code here treats those as a single date.
From the ad:
The Research Software Developer works in the domains of the Digital Humanities and Research Data. As a shared position between the Center for Digital Humanities (CDH) and Princeton University Library (PUL), the developer will work with faculty, graduate students, undergraduates, and postdoctoral fellows across the disciplines to enhance Princeton’s research community and support data-driven research.
In both CDH and PUL, the developer will create, maintain, configure, adapt, and document source code to support data-driven research, establish best practices, and help develop innovative digital humanities projects in a collaborative environment that includes fellow CDH and PUL staff, academic researchers, and other relevant campus partners.
About the funding:
Greenhouse Studios, in partnership with the University of Connecticut School of Fine Arts, is pleased to announce two funded M.F.A. studentships in Digital Media & Design. The studentships will provide full tuition, health benefits, and a half-time graduate research assistantship with Greenhouse Studios | Scholarly Communications Design at UConn. Greenhouse Studios Graduate Assistants provide artistic, design, creative expression, and technical implementation assistance to Greenhouse Studios projects. Working in a dynamic, team environment alongside faculty, library, editor, and student colleagues, graduate assistants contribute to the production of collaborative multimedia research objects. Other responsibilities include supporting day-to-day operations of the Greenhouse Studios, its directors, and its collaborative workspace. This is an exciting opportunity for an aspiring artist or scholar to work in close collaboration with experts from a range of fields and to experiment with new modes of expression and communication. For more information, please email email@example.com with subject line “Graduate Studentship”.
From the resource:
Jupyter notebooks have seen enthusiastic adoption in the data science community, to an extent where they are increasingly replacing Microsoft Word as the default authoring environment for research. Within digital humanities literature, one can find references to Jupyter notebooks (split off from iPython, or interactive Python, notebooks in 2014) dating to 2015.
Jupyter Notebooks have also gained traction within digital humanities as a pedagogical tool. Multiple Programming Historian tutorials such as Text Mining in Python through the HTRC Feature Reader, and Extracting Illustrated Pages from Digital Libraries with Python, as well as other pedagogical materials for workshops, make reference to putting code in a Jupyter notebook or using Jupyter notebooks to guide learners while allowing them to freely remix and edit code. The notebook format is ideally suited for teaching, especially when students have different levels of technical proficiency and comfort with writing and editing code.
At Play the Past, we’ve had a long-standing interest in the intersection of history, games and education.
Many of our current and legacy contributor hail from the world of education, and you can read them on as varied topics as video games and educational theory, gamification vs. game-based learning, educational design and class-room pedagogy.
In the last decade, we’ve seen a slow but steady rise in classroom experiments with game-based learning – Play the Past contributors who are teachers have often reported on their own game-based learning trials and tribulations. Concurrently, a new field of academic research began to emerge, around the time of this blog’s founding in 2010, to reckon with the rich production of historical discourse that video and table-top games now offer. This field now goes under the name of “Historical Game Studies”.
Beyond isolated applications of game-based learning, we are now reaching a moment in time in which the fruits of this experimentation and research are beginning to show in official educational programs at our post-secondary institutions.
As editor of Play the Past, I participate in a number of communities dedicated to theoretical and applied research around historical game studies. This September, a member of the Facebook Group Historical Game Studies Network, PhD researcher Julien Bazile announced a new undergraduate history course being offered at the University of Sherbrooke, in Quebec, Canada, teaching both the history of video games and representations of history in video games. I messaged Julien to see if he and his course lead, Thierry Robert, would be interested in doing an interview.
Both Thierry and Julien generously accepted my offer. And so we are happy to report that the next three posts will present to you, dear Play the Past readers, the content of these interviews.
Part one, below, is the interview conducted with Thierry Robert, the main instructor and curriculum designer of HST 287 “History, video games and gamification”. The following two interviews will feature Julien Bazile, who is a PhD student at the University of Sherbrooke, and co-lecturer for the HST 287 course. We hope our readers will find the discussion as eye-opening and stimulating as we found it.
From the ad:
This is an opportunity to join the small team working on the ERC-funded ‘TEXTCOURT’ project. Court theatre was a core part of Chinese court and performance culture for centuries, yet its texts have never been fully studied; this project will build the first digital archive of court drama scripts and related foreign records.
Reporting to Professor Tian Yuan Tan, you will be responsible for helping to establish the project’s digital archive, organising a workshop, and co-editing the resulting book volume. You will also provide guidance to other members of the team. You will manage your own academic research and administrative activities, preparing and refining theories, adapting and developing research methodologies, and analysing data from a variety of sources. As well as contributing ideas for activities linked to the project and for future research projects and future funding applications, you will be a source of information and advice to other team members on theoretical, methodological, and technical aspects of digital humanities.
From the CFP:
Proposals are now being accepted for Keystone DH 2020. The Keystone DH annual conference will be held this year July 8-10, 2020 at Temple University in Philadelphia.
Proposals are welcome on any aspect of digital technologies and their application to the humanities and/or social sciences. We highly encourage projects that focus on the collaborative nature of research and teaching. Senior scholars should foreground the labor of students, librarians, and/or the community that sustained the project. We especially welcome proposals with representative and inclusive speaker involvement.
From the CFP:
How can libraries and archives best contribute to emerging critical discourses around algorithms, machine learning, and artificial intelligence? Recounting Algorithms is a two-day workshop, supported by the Council on Library and Information Resources and hosted by the University of Toronto Mississauga Library, that aims to enrich the intersections of critical algorithm studies and academic librarianship.
Efforts to historicize, culturally situate, and foreground algorithmic systems as manifestations of bias and power have flourished recently. Work in this area has contributed important insights into the often oppressive operational conditions of systems used to automate tasks such as hiring, criminal risk assessment, supply chain management, web page ranking, and surveillance. The robustness of this growing field of inquiry is demonstrated in the varied institutional backgrounds of those who have contributed to it—they include journalists, artists, advocates, and academic researchers from across the disciplinary spectrum.
Digital Tools as Critical Theory: Edu-Factory to Digital Humanities
“What once was the factory, is now the university.” This, among other hypotheses, served as a rallying cry and point of departure for the now defunct international Edu-factory Collective. Born online, networked in its organization, and relentless in its criticism of the university’s thorough neoliberalization, the collective’s work is now but a memory, archived on abandoned blogs and in a single edited volume, published in 2009, taken from the collective’s listserv. Featuring writing from major figures in critical university studies, the collective’s hypothesis was equally reliant upon critical theory as it was digital technologies.
I recall the collective’s work in this proposal for two reasons. First, to liken the university to the factory is to better define the prospective character of neoliberalism’s relationship to knowledge production. The claim is not that the university functions exactly as the factory did. It is rather a rhetorical maneuver meant to make exploitation manifest where knowledge is produced. Further, it is to argue that knowledge production, its commodification, and its technologies of dissemination play a specific role in conceptualizing resistance to neoliberal imperatives for education, namely: “to transform the field of tension” comprising our contemporary institutional state “into specific forms of resistance and the organization of escape routes” (1). Digital technologies were the substrate for more complex modes of relation for the collective, including, but not limited to, open-source unionism, the undercommons, and a concept of the global autonomous university.
The second reason I want to reanimate components of the collective’s central hypothesis is to place it in a new context: the rise and continued prominence of digital humanities. Digital Humanities’ rise and the Edu-factory’s fall are coeval. By 2013, the Edu-factory had all but disbanded; coincidently, DH was expanding and hotly debated. The political ideologies guiding both movements do not often overlap. Yet both movements see productive potential in the use and development of digital tools. Where the Edu-factory combined explicitly Marxist and anti-colonial ideologies in its fusion of digital tools and critical theory, DH’s political contours often favor intersectional approaches to computational methods. How the two interface, and further, why DH approaches are favored contemporarily, are questions that may lead to yet unseen prospects for reclaiming knowledge production writ large.
From the ad:
Barnard Library invites applications for an innovative and creative librarian or technologist to develop instructional programs and research consultation services that support the scholarship of faculty, researchers, and students at Barnard College. Reporting to the Director of Teaching, Learning and Digital Scholarship for the Library, the Digital Scholarship Librarian of the Digital Humanities Center will partner with the Faculty Director of the Digital Humanities Center and colleagues from the Milstein Centers for Teaching Learning to create dynamic programming that introduces and invites scholars to utilize emerging methods in the humanities, in both course curricula and independent research.
The Digital Scholarship Librarian will assist in creating a student-focused learning program for digital scholarship across the curriculum. They will be prepared to expand and publicize support for faculty and students who are planning to begin using or increase their use of digital tools and methods (e.g., web mapping, text analysis, digital exhibits, visualization, collective data gathering.)
From the resource:
I am working on reviews for two DH platforms—the international DH2020 conference, and the new Reviews in DH journal. Below, I’m sharing my notes on how to work through writing a review—questions to ask myself, things I want to make sure to include, reminders on how to pay attention to personal bias. These aren’t intended to be guidelines for other folks, so I’ve left out things that I know I will do without having it written down. These personal reminders are followed by some guidelines from the two platforms that I wanted to keep directly visible while reviewing. If you have similar questions, reminders, or notes you use when reviewing that you’d be willing to share, please let me know!
From the CFP:
The Canadian Society for Digital Humanities (http://csdh-schn.org/) invites scholars, practitioners, and graduate students to submit proposals for papers, panels, and digital demonstrations for its annual meeting, which will be held at the 2020 Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities, Western University, from May 31st to June 3rd, 2020 (https://www.congress2020.ca/). We encourage submissions on all topics relating to both theory and practice in the evolving field of the digital humanities. We are particularly interested in papers that address the Congress 2020 theme of “Bridging Divides: Confronting Colonialism and Anti-Black Racism.”
Editors’ Choice: The Peril and Promise of Historians as Data Creators – Perspective, Structure, and the Problem of Representation
[This is a working draft of a chapter in progress for an edited collection.]Data-Driven History
Digital historians are well-familiar with notion that the larger community of historians generally has been skeptical of and cautious about data-driven scholarship. The controversies surrounding Robert Fogel and Stanley Engerman’s 1974 work, Time on the Cross: the Economics of American Slavery continue to haunt computational work. Regularly, historians who are suspicious of digital methods inquire as to how contemporary digital work can avoid reproducing the interpretive missteps of the era of “cliometrics.” While Time on the Cross often stands in for a whole range of historical scholarship based on quantitative methods, it undoubtedly continues to be a focus point for conversation precisely because those quantitative methods were used to argue that people enslaved in the United States had willingly collaborated with the system of slavery to make it an efficient and productive economic institution. In doing so, Fogel and Engerman made arguments about the interior life and motivations of human beings based on the material conditions and outcomes of their circumstances. In effect, they mistook correlation for causation. The combination of quantitative methods and a history of wrenching human rights violations strikes a discordant tone that hinges on the reduction of human pain and suffering to columns and rows of numbers that can be processed and calculated with an algorithm.
No one pushed back more strongly against Fogel and Engerman’s conclusions than Herbert Gutman. No stranger to quantitative methods, Gutman revisited both the materials that the authors worked with and the conclusions that they drew from that data. He argued that though the system of slavery Fogel and Engerman examined might have seemed efficient, that efficiency was achieved through the pervasive presence and threat of violence rather than through voluntary cooperation or through an adoption of the enslaver’s worldview. An analysis of the economic systems surrounding slavery could not yield knowledge about the inner thoughts, feelings, and motivations of the enslaved as they performed their labor, regardless of how productive they were.
In the wake of the widespread reaction against cliometrics, historians generally have been private about their work with data—presenting only end products, narratives, and summaries, even when that work is data-driven, but not all that computationally sophisticated. Often a small part of a much larger interpretive process, many who do minor work with data never even note that they have a set of spreadsheets or a database that they used to organize and analyze their source materials. This tendency has worked to mask the role that data collection and analysis plays in contemporary historical scholarship.
Editors’ Choice: Digital Activism – Strategic, Inessential, and Inenarrable Alliances for an Ethical and Political Imperative
After my panel presentation at #4C2019 on “Critical Digital Archiving Against the Grain: Precarities, Negotiations, and Possibilities,” one of the attendees came up to me, appreciated my research area, and asked me enthusiastically, “Have you ever imagined how the platform for digital archive built by Non-Westerners would look like?” I just couldn’t answer this question the way he might have preferred. I replied, “You know what, I really dunno. I really cannot speak for unlocatable differences there within what we call Non-Westerners. I can’t speak even for myself actually, let alone for Non-Westerners.” The thing is the kind of homogeneity we incline to accept in the nouns like Non-Westerners backfires the role of activists we might want to assume for ourselves. These nouns should communicate only about alliances among Non-Westerners based on the experiences we share due to different forms of violence caused by colonialism, neocolonialism, and cultural imperialism. But these nouns should not be assumed with any kind of essential feature that ‘represent’ us all. Furthermore, almost all forms of structural violence are inflicted and justified based on identity constructions and assumed/forced essential features in each identity category (race, nationality, sexuality, gender, sex, color, caste, class etcetera). Therefore, if our resistance relies on the same essentialist epistemology and ontology, which is the tool of violence, we end up persisting the same tool of violence confirming that even if the violence is not right, the foundation of violence is. Identity politics is not a solution, but a dangerous solution-posturing perpetuation. To elaborate, I will discuss my doctoral research –on which my 4Cs presentation was –and one of my methodologies, community-based participatory research.Rethinking South Asia via Critical Digital A(na)rchiving
My doctoral research emerges out of the interstices and intersections of South Asian Studies, Postcolonialism, Feminism, and Critical Digital Humanities. My goal through this research is to work on de/reconstructing knowledge about South Asia from the discursive and/or the geographical location of Nepal and to show internal contradictions within the structure of identity categories. To do so, I am building, documenting, and theorizing an online, open-access digital archive of street photography in Nepal and it’s titled Rethinking South Asia via Critical Digital A(na)rchiving: Politics, Im/Possible Ethics, and Anti/Aesthetics. The purpose is to offer multidimensional, contingent, and contradictory narratives about Nepal and South Asia and to develop possible theories, methodologies, and methods for building post/de/anticolonial and feminist digital archives of Other(ed) worlds. And community-based participatory research is one of my methodologies.
From the resource:
Recogito is a software platform that facilitates annotation of text and images. Through both automatic annotation and manual annotation by users, the software links uploaded files to geographic data and facilitates the sharing and downloading of this data in various formats. The software is freely available for download through GitHub, and a version is also hosted online. In the online version, users have a private workspace as well as the ability to share documents among a group or publicly. Recogito was developed from 2013 to 2018 as part of the Pelagios network, a much wider project dedicated to creating gazetteers and tools for annotation, visualization, pedagogy, collaboration, and registering linked data.
From the CFP:
Public History Weekly will hold an International Public History PhD Workshop with the title “Public History in Digital Transformation” on July 2-4 2020. The venue of the workshop will be the Hotel Rigi-Kulm in Switzerland.
The Workshop will offer an international group of 12 to 14 students, who are working on or have just finished an outstanding research project in the domain of Public History, a opportunity to meet for a workshop in Switzerland and to present, discuss, evaluate and improve their projects.
The workshop will offer a small and direct setting. Aside the group of students there will be only a small group of other attendants: The keynote speakers, the organizing group and members of the Public History Weekly Editorial Board. The general public will be able to take part through Live Streamcasts of all presentations and discussions and can ask and comment through dedicated social media offers.