Return to the Material

3rd Annual University of Kansas Digital Humanities Forum
12-14 September 2014
Lawrence, Kansas

Recently digital humanities discussions have returned to a focus on the material in many senses. Bethany Nowviskie’s talk at MLA 2013—“Resistance in the Materials” —explored various facets of the material aspects of digital humanities, including the role of craft and collaboration, the “increasing casualization of academic labor," and the emergence of digital-to-physical technologies. We will explore these and related topics in this year's conference with the theme "Return to the Material."

The three-day Forum features the following events:

Thursday, September 12 & Friday, September 13

WORKSHOPS: A set of in-depth, hands on workshops on digital humanities tools and topics.

Friday, September 13

THATCamp Kansas 2013: An “unconference” for technologists and humanists, with conversations about topics defined on-site by the participants.

Saturday, September 14

RETURN TO THE MATERIAL: A one-day program of panels and poster sessions showcasing digital humanities projects and research.

Keynote Speakers

Whitney Trettien

PhD Candidate, Duke University, English

"Short-Circuiting the Hardware of History"
Colin Allen

Colin Allen

Provost Professor of Cognitive Science and History & Philosophy of Science; Director, Cognitive Science Program, Indiana University, Bloomington

"Linking big data to fine analysis: the challenge of textual methods in the digital humanities"
Jentery Sayers

Jentery Sayers

University of Victoria, Assistant Professor, English; Director, Maker Lab in the Humanities

"Fabrications, or How to Lie with Computer Vision"

Workshops (Thursday & Friday)

Matthew Jockers, University of Nebraska | Assistant Professor, English

Introduction to Text Analysis and Topic Modeling with R will provide an introduction to computational text analysis and topic modeling in R. The course will cover basic text processing, data ingestion, data preparation, and topic modeling. The main computing environment for the course will be R. While no programming experience is required, students must have basic computer skills, must be familiar with their computer’s file system, and must be comfortable entering commands in a command line environment.

(IMPORTANT: It is critical that you arrive on time to every session and be ready to roll with RStudio installed and running. The workshop will begin on schedule, and if you miss the first few minutes you’ll be lost.)

See the Introduction to Text Analysis workshop website for software requirements, class materials, readings and schedule.

Jentery Sayers, University of Victoria | Assistant Professor, English | Director, Maker Lab in the Humanities

As practitioners like Cheryl Ball, Sharon Daniel, Virginia Kuhn, and Tara McPherson have demonstrated, scholarly communications have much to gain from composing with --- and not just about --- new media. But, at least in the humanities, the appropriate platforms for such media-rich scholarship are few and far between. In response to that lack, this three-hour workshop (intended for beginners without any specialized knowledge in web-based communications) introduces participants to Scalar: a free, open source authoring and publishing platform designed to make composing long-form, web-based scholarship easier for a broad range of scholars invested in communicating with and through new media. Scalar enables users to assemble content from multiple sources and juxtapose them with their own writing in a variety of ways, with minimal technical expertise required. During the workshop, participants will create their own Scalar "books" and then experiment with the affordances and particulars of the platform (with, of course, instructions and guidance from the workshop facilitator). They will also be able to access their books after the workshop, which is largely intended to introduce them to the potential uses of Scalar for both individual and collaborative projects (including online exhibits, dynamic essays, co-authored volumes, and experimental writing). To access and compose with Scalar, participants are encouraged to bring wifi-enabled laptops to the workshop. They are also invited to bring their project ideas, however preliminary those ideas may be. No new software needs to be downloaded prior to the workshop, and the only required application is a web browser, ideally Firefox, Chrome, or Safari. Prior to the workshop, participants are encouraged to visit the Scalar website in order to get a sense of Scalar's features, in addition to the Maker Lab for some research on using the platform for scholarly communication (in general) and online exhibits (in particular). Participants can also visit Scalar ANVC and Scalar NEH-Vectors to peruse public Scalar projects.

Colin Allen, Indiana University, Bloomington | Provost Professor of Cognitive Science and History & Philosophy of Science | Director, Cognitive Science Program

Computer scientists and computational linguists have developed a number of modeling techniques for extracting potentially significant relationships among terms in text corpora. While the production of graphs, tag clouds, and other ways of displaying relationships among terms with such models is relatively straightforward, the interpretation and comparison of different models and different texts is much less well understood, and will require serious comparative analysis and sustained attention from content experts. In this workshop you will gain firsthand experience with the Word Similarity Visualization application designed to support such explorations and analyses of multiple models on desktop and laptop computers. The workshop will also include an interactive demonstration of the server-side tools build for data analysis or much larger corpora by the InPhO project in collaboration with the HathiTrust Research Center. During the workshop we will illustrate some different techniques used by the InPhO project to help analyze similarities and differences among different corpora, including some exploratory research in cross-language comparisons.

No previous understanding of the models or the methods will be assumed. For the Word Similarity portion of the program it is recommended but not required to pre-install the application by following the instructions provided for Word 2 Word, although it may be installed during the session if preferred.

Alex Gil, Columbia University | Digital Scholarship Coordinator

JuxtaCommons is an online platform used by scholars and editors to prepare and collate different versions of a given work. In this workshop we will learn how to upload, edit and collate texts in JuxtaCommons. We will explore all the different functionality of the platform from beginner's to advanced. We will also discuss some of the 'unusual' uses of Juxta in the scholarly process and the classroom as well as its limitations. If you have texts you would like to collate, bring the files (as .txt, or even as .docx) on a USB key. As part of the workshop we will prepare a mini edition of selected texts.

Requirement: Set up a personal account at JuxtaCommons before coming to the workshop.

Whitney Trettien, Duke University | Ph.D. Candidate, English

Whatever your home discipline is – whether literature or history, music or anthropology – a critical engagement with sound and listening can enhance your teaching and research. During this workshop, we’ll explore several digital tools and resources for sonifying your scholarship.

First, we’ll explore innovative ways to incorporate sonic content and audio production into the classroom using free tools like Soundcloud, Audioboo, and Audacity. Second, we’ll gain experience analysing sound using the Sonic Visualiser, an open source program for examining the waveform and spectrogram of digital audio files. We’ll also get a sneak peek at ARLO, a new digital archival tool for visualizing, classifying and extracting prosodic features from audio archives, currently in development with the HiPSTAS (High Performance Sound Technologies for Access and Scholarship) project. Finally, stepping beyond digital tools, we’ll consider several examples of sonically-enhanced, non-traditional forms of scholarship, from soundscapes to the interactive use of Arduino microcontrollers.

Throughout, this workshop will address questions about copyright in teaching, researching and publishing with sound. We will also be sharing resources for finding and licensing sonic content.

Participants are asked to bring a laptop and, if possible, headphones. Experience with audio is not necessary.


Audioboo [updated 2020: Audiboo is no longer available]


Sonic Visualiser