DH Forum 2018 Abstracts

8th Annual University of Kansas Digital Humanities Forum

4-6 October 2018
Lawrence, Kansas

Keynote Speakers

Lauren Klein, Associate Professor, Georgia Tech
Rasheedah Phillips, Esq., Community Legal Services of Philadelphia

Abstracts for the Forum are made searchable through the IDRH Finding Aid.

Call for Proposals

Digital scholarship happens at the convergence of a range of disciplines, technologies, and communities. Digital Frontiers is an annual conference that seeks to explore, celebrate, question, and disrupt these intersections in order to advance an inclusive dialog that spans boundaries and highlights unlikely connections in the field of Digital Humanities. In 2018, the Digital Frontiers community is joining forces with the Digital Humanities Forum held annually at University of Kansas’s Institute for Digital Research in the Humanities (IDRH). These two dynamic communities unite to celebrate digital scholarship as a diverse and growing field of humanist inquiry.

The theme for the 2018 Digital Frontiers/IDRH Conference is Finding Community in Digital Humanities. When the diversity of disciplines, technologies, and communities involved in DH converge, we are often confronted with novel and/or previously uninvestigated approaches to the field. How do these aspects overlap? Where do they diverge? Each community brings its own voice and perspective, often urging us to interrogate the assumptions hidden within our own work. This conference’s theme asks participants to examine these intersections and bring us into dialogue with one another. Aside from disciplinary and research communities in the Digital Humanities, we also frame communities as those of lived experiences: international communities, marginalized communities and communities of resistance, classroom communities, digital communities, and others.

The Digital Frontiers Program Committee invites proposals for the 2018 conference (October 4-5). The planning committee practices intentional inclusion and encourages submissions from researchers, students, librarians archivists, genealogists, historians, information and technology professionals, and scientists. We welcome perspectives from all individuals and are interested in fostering a dialog of critical, self-reflexive DH invested in different vectors of identity and encourage research produced by or concerning vulnerable and marginalized communities, historically or contemporaneously. In keeping with our focus on communities, we encourage submissions on DH praxis grounded in and accountable to the needs and ethics of local communities.

Conference content may include:

  • Fully Constituted Panels
  • Individual Scholarly Papers or Presentations (Note: early stage research, project updates, and single-institution “case studies” should be submitted as posters)
  • Hands-On Workshops
  • Posters or Infographics

Proposals will be double-blind peer reviewed, with final decisions made by the Program Committee. The Program Committee will be favorably disposed toward content that addresses the work, needs, or other aspects of:

  • Disciplinary and research communities in the digital humanities and collaboration among, between, and across scholarly communities: #altac and hybrid careers in DH, DH in Cultural Memory and GLAM institutions, Digital Humanities applications in the social sciences and humanities.
  • Digital Communities in praxis: digital pedagogies, socio-technical infrastructures for sustaining digital scholarship, digital scholarship in city- or region-focused studies in the U.S. Southwest and Midwest.
  • Marginalized communities and communities of resistance: social justice in digital communities, disability studies in DH, digital race studies, queer DH, antifascist DH, postcolonial digital humanities, digital feminisms, digital indigenous studies.
  • International communities: postcolonial DH, research in languages other than English and from non-Euro American contexts, digital scholarship in city- or region-focused studies in the global south.
  • Classroom communities: STEAM/Art + Science Intersections, DH in Music/Musicology, Digital Methods in Arts Education, Open Educational Resources (DH+OER), Higher Ed and Net Neutrality

Keynote Presentations

Data Feminism: Community, Allyship, and Action in the Digital Humanities

Lauren Klein, Georgia Tech

What is the role of the digital humanities in the charged political climate of 2018, and how can digital humanists ally themselves with the activists, organizers, and others who are working to support those most threatened by it? This talk will take up these questions in relation to the field as a whole, and to one project in particular—Data Feminism—a way of thinking about data, both in DH projects and in everyday life, that is informed by the past several decades of feminist activism and critical thought. The Data Feminism project, developed in collaboration with Catherine D’Ignazio (Emerson College), shows how a feminist approach to data science can help to expose how power and privilege currently operate in data work, and can suggest

additional design principles that help work towards justice. Placing Data Feminism among other public-facing digital projects, both in DH and beyond, this talk will argue that digital humanists can contribute in concrete and meaningful ways to a technically and historically-informed resistance.

Communal, Quantum and Afrofutures: Time & Memory Mapping in Marginalized Communities

Rasheedah Phillips, Esq.

The presentation considers the relationship between long-term decision making, public policy, and its impact on the future(s) of marginalized individuals, communities, and cities, as well as the ways in which rapid gentrification and eminent domain condenses time in communities. The presentation will highlight “Community Futures Lab,” the author’s socially engaged artistic response to the redevelopment, which afrofuturism as a critical methodology to enact a generative process of collective envisioning and co-creation of futures for the Sharswood community, and the preservation of that community’s cultural history and memory.


Bulge Lab: An Alternate Reality Game about Body Image, Masculinity, and Viruses

Michael DeAnda, Illinois Institute of Technology

Paper Presentations

Collaborative Intelligence: Building a Community of Practice in Digital Scholarship at a Liberal Arts College

Lyndsay Bratton, Digital Scholarship and Visual Resources Librarian Catherine Benoît, Professor of Anthropology
Phillip Barnes, Associate Professor of Biology
Sufia Uddin, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Connecticut College

One of the strengths of small liberal arts colleges is the potential for rich faculty-student collaborative research at the undergraduate level. Digital scholarship affords LACs significant opportunities to leverage these collaborations, developing students’ research and technology skill sets through experiential learning, and reaching new and broader audiences through online publishing.

Our new joint program between the Library and the Office of the Dean of Faculty is rapidly building a strong community of practice in digital scholarship where previously there was none. Each year, the program brings three faculty members together with staff from across the library’s departments, including research librarians, archivists, instructional technologists, and programmers. The program supports projects that promote faculty-student collaboration across the lifecycle of a digital research project through course assignments, independent studies, and summer research assistantships.

The inaugural cohort’s projects span the humanities, social sciences, and life sciences. Through discovering the affordances of digital scholarship together, these faculty are finding surprising and inspiring points of overlap in their pedagogy and research interests. In this talk, the three faculty fellows and the digital scholarship librarian leading the program will present strategies for building an inclusive community of innovators–a relatively resource-limited community relying upon the notion of building collaborative intelligence among faculty, students, and staff through doing digital scholarship together. From crowdsourcing testimonies on the AIDS epidemic and the aftermath of destructive hurricanes in St. Martin to exploring the intersections of environmental science and the ethical and ritual practices of the peoples of the Sundarbans Mangroves, each fellow’s project intersects with the themes of the conference, including marginalized communities, indigenous studies, and the ethical concerns of publishing related multimedia online.

Best of Both Worlds: Combining 360 Video and Augmented Reality for Understanding and Creating Narrative

Gordon Carlson, Matt Clarke, Nicholas Caporussom Alex Perez (Undergraduate Researcher), Chris Jacobs (Graduate Researcher), Ella Ding (Graduate Researcher)
Fort Hays State University

Great emphasis has been given to technological features of 360 video, but less attention has been dedicated to content. Nevertheless, an increasing community of professional and amateur content producers are investigating how to fully realize the potential of 360 video. At the same time, immersive virtual reality experiences are being developed that use computer generated imagery to tell stories, play games, and educate.

This project leaps past the limitations of each format and develops a new platform for combining the best aspects of 360 videos and virtual reality experiences. Narratives are an important aspect of the human experience and the process of exploring and constructing them are integral to any humanities project. The platform developed here allows for new ways to construct and share those narratives as well as to interrogate them by leveraging digital tools drawn from performance arts, videogames, and multimedia production. Virtual and augmented experiences ranging in technical complexity and practical application including tours of physical spaces, exotic dances, intercultural celebrations, and mental wellness are demonstrated. It is funded, in part, by one of the universities in Kansas to integrate undergraduate researchers into substantial projects and is a strong example of interdisciplinary studies across communication, information, and technical disciplines. The presentation will cover:

The underlying research principles and goals of the project
Existing technologies leveraged in the project
New and innovative systems and software created by the research team
Examples of the VR and 360 video combinations
Plans for future impact of the work across the digital humanities community

Sunny Side Up: How GLAM Wiki Saved My Bacon

Samantha Dodd, C.A., Special Collections Archivist, University of Texas at Arlington Libraries

Hosting a Wikipedia edit-a-thon is daunting, especially when you have no experience or knowledge of how to interact on the world’s fifth most visited website. The key to finding success in developing a Wikipedia program is through finding a community of users already on Wikipedia. The GLAM-Wiki initiative is one such community. GLAM-Wiki “helps cultural institutions share their resources with the world through collaborative projects with experienced Wikipedia editors.” Members of the community are welcoming and eager to help. Through the GLAM-Wiki initiative, I have been able to connect with several wikipedians from around the country. These experienced editors have assisted with everything from editing tips and tricks, to advice on programming and outreach. Members of the project continue to provide support, resources, and guidance.

Projects like Wikipedia + Libraries Better Together strive to bring together libraries and Wikipedia to expand access to authoritative information. Wikipedia is an opportunity to develop research workshops, information literacy sessions, editing events and tutorials. The GLAM community is one entry point into the wiki-verse, and a tremendous resource for anyone looking to engage in digital scholarship.

Building Supportive Communities: Methods and Perspectives on Promoting Inclusivity, Intersectionality, and Interdisciplinarity in the Digital Humanities

Jessica Elam, Rockhurst University Sarah Evans, Molloy College
Edwin Lohmeyer, University of Central Florida
Joshua Jackson, North Carolina State University

This panel’s central theme is support in the digital humanities: how do we build and maintain open, inclusive, and supportive communities for our students, underrepresented groups, a broad range of interdisciplinary practices, and fellow scholars. The panel chair opens with a presentation on three years of participant observation in cultivating diverse, inclusive communities in the university makerspace. She demonstrates successful methods in providing access to and literacies with emerging digital technologies through digital pedagogies involving experimentation, free play, and hands-on learning.

The next panelist discusses ways to foster inclusive communities for women in the game design industry, based on her ethnographic research in hosting a women-only game design group. Her work is one step in a broader effort to create safe spaces for marginalized populations to engage with the digital humanities at large.

The third panelist examines the intersection among critical making methodologies and aesthetic strategies inherent to traditions of the avant-garde. Through recent demonstrations of physical computing projects, sculptural assemblage, and glitch, he argues for an interdisciplinary framework within the digital humanities and art communities that works toward social and political intervention via critical media practices.

The final panelist demonstrates the power of resilience within a digital humanities community through an auto-ethnographic, phenomenological study of a mistaken reply-all to a department listserv. He shows how the immediacy of digital platforms, the essence of mimetics, and a supportive community of peers came together to implement a rapid, creative solution to defuse a potentially divisive situation.

Endangered Species Act documentation of wildlife migration in a Geographic Information System

Lee Fulton, Buffalo Field Campaign
Mike Mease, Buffalo Field Campaign
Stephany Seay, Buffalo Field Campaign
Jesse Crocker, Buffalo Field Campaign

Exploring Aesthetic Communities with Text Mining and Data Visualization: The Program Era Project and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop

Nicholas Kelly, University of Iowa

How can Digital Humanities methods be used to explore the history of and artistic output of aesthetic communities and creative institutions like the Iowa Writers’ Workshop? The Program Era Project is an initiative at the University of Iowa working to create an online, public database of information on the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, its writers, and their works. The database combines University of Iowa archival records with data visualization tools and literary quantitative analysis methods. “Exploring Aesthetic Communities with Text Mining and Data Visualization” will document how the Program Era Project team has combined its text mining tools with a corpus of more than 1000 works written by prominent Workshop-affiliated writers, an in-copyright corpus made available only through a non-consumptive research collaboration with the HathiTrust Research Center. “Exploring Aesthetic Communities” will demonstrate how, through this collaboration, the Program Era Project team can combine the exploratory power of distant reading methods with its expansive database of institutional information gathered on the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. The database allows users to compare and rank formal features of authors and works in the PEP corpus. Users can track geographic representational trends in an author’s work and compare it to biographical information about that author. Users can also examine corpus-level trends in Iowa Writers’ Workshop writing. “Exploring Aesthetic Communities” will conclude looking forward to the Program Era Project web presence, a public-facing research tool that will make Program Era Project data accessible to scholars, students, and literary history enthusiasts alike.

From VHS to MP4: Improving Access to 40 Years of Literary Recordings

Liz King, Texas State University Wade Martin, Texas State University

Digital Community Engagement at a Regional University

Katherine Knowles, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Dr. Jessica DeSpain, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Dr. Kristine Hildebrandt, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Dr. Jill Anderson, Southern Illinois University Edwardsvill

At a regional, masters-comprehensive university located in a county characteristic of the rust belt’s declining industries and falling populations, significant creativity is needed for a digital humanities center to develop innovative projects that engage a variety of communities while attempting to combat the digital divide. The panel will begin with a brief overview of the center’s projects and methods that foster collaboration and creation of local and international communities through digital humanities programming. Center faculty will then provide specific examples of community-focused initiatives.

One collaborative effort is Conversation Toward a Brighter Future 2.0, involving partnerships with a public humanities center and local schools, which aims to mitigate intergenerational conflict by studying concepts of aging alongside social and cultural narratives on these topics and by creating digital storytelling projects about personal and local experiences. The Digital Community Engagement Pathway directly recruits underserved students to take their education outside the walls of the classroom by partnering with community organizations to address major social problems through digital humanities methods. The Manang Languages  and Nepal Earthquakes projects highlight the unique challenges of international community engagement and how technology obstacles can reshape the meaning of community collaboration.

When working with any community, we provide training and facilitate program activities in a way that gives participants agency and, by extension, greater ownership over projects they create. We will conclude by examining how these projects provide people opportunities to use digital humanities methods to ensure their voices are heard regarding issues that directly affect their communities.

Forms of Equivalence: Bertillonnage and the History of Information Management

Alison Langmead, University of Pittsburgh
Josh Ellenbogen, University of Pittsburgh

Late in the nineteenth-century, the French civil servant and anthropologist, Alphonse Bertillon, developed a system of criminal identification that sought to classify human beings on individual standardized cards, each containing a consistent set of biometric measurements and observations. This process, which came to be known as “Bertillonnage,” disassembled the visual forms of the human body into pieces of data that the police could then use to individuate, and thus identify, a single human body out of millions. In our paper, we investigate Bertillonnage as an information system that exemplified the most sophisticated approaches to organizing and retrieving data at the turn of the twentieth century. In addition, we demonstrate that the techniques it implemented—which turned on a functional equivalence between the operations of information systems and the human mind—made thinkable a number of subsequent practices well-known to the history of information management. We argue that the physical infrastructure of Bertillonnage served as a set of grubby material practices that exercised a form of technological inertia over later information architectures. Without suggesting a direct, causal relationship, we note that certain of the imperatives and strategies that governed the history of modern digital computing, which scholars have long asserted grew out of the nineteenth-century culture of information, also structured core features of Bertillonnage. Since Bertillonnage is almost always discussed within the framework of the humanities and the history of photography, treating this system in relation to the history of information sciences occasions an overlap between two normally distinct scholarly spheres. This work arose from a collaboration between a digital humanities practitioner whose research agenda focuses on the history of the information sciences and a colleague who focuses on the history of photography and the history of scientific representation.

Finding Connection in Ancient Syria

Peggy Lindner, University of Houston
Kristina Neumann, University of Houston

Voices of Resilience

Shane Lynch, University of Kansas
Guillermina Pena-Sandoval, University of Kansas
Rain Charger, University of Kansas
Tweesna Rose Mills, University of Kansas

Digital Humanities is communication through the condition of modern existence and at the University of  Kansas we are striving for a multidisciplinary approach to illustrate the experiences of people. This panel consist of four graduate students who are engaging in bringing voices to marginalized communities. Guillermina Pena-Sandoval will describe her research into the Mesoamerican culture of the Nahua peoples and digital storytelling. Ms. Pena-Sandoval inquiry includes the roles of women and the influences of goddesses in Nahualismo religious practices. Rain Charger will be analyzing how podcasts can be a tool for Indigenous tribal community dialogue, culture revitalization, historical contextualization, and Indigenous futurities. Shane Lynch will present his research into Indigenous philosophies and the utilization of technology to create a new experience from traditional storytelling. Mr. Lynch’s work is based on the O’odham and Yuman peoples of the Gila River Indian Community (Arizona) creation stories and the continuation of culture by adapting to new media such as storyboards, story mapping, and video games. Tweesna Rose Mills is an Indigenous activist from Washington who will be discussing Indigenous activism that has occurred during her lifetime. Ms. Mills has  been involved in activism all throughout her life and is presenting a story map of events and video of activism that she has been involved with. All of these projects hope to create dialogue and understanding, thus creating a community of voices that all peoples may participate in.

Indigenous Computational Bodies and Settler-Colonial Violence

Joshua Miner, University of Kansas

The making-visible onscreen of women’s experiences has been a central concern of Indigenous digital media. Likewise, recent Indigenous rights movements have called attention to how the cultural disjuncture of women’s bodies and environment perpetuates settler-colonial violence. Where these two energies meet, an array of activist media reaffirms that relationship—Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers’ short video “Bloodland” (2011), the first #MMIW crowdmaps (2013), and the #AmINext photo campaign (2014) among them. Taking hold of digital platforms that facilitate new modes of expression, Indigenous game designers and artists have used animation to explore the computational relation between digital bodies and places, articulating the processes of Indigenous women’s embodied sovereignty.

Lived Experience: Using Digital Oral Histories to Teach Compassionate Care

Antoinette Moore, M.D., Resident, Hawaii Island Family Medicine Residency Program, Hilo Medical Center
Spencer D. C. Keralis, Ph.D., Executive Director, Digital Frontiers

Remaking Space: A Geo-spatial Visualization of the Irwinville Farms Community

Erin O’Quinn, North Carolina State University

During the Great Depression, the Irwinville Farms Project was a poster project for a government program established to help young farmers in the U.S. Specifically, families with limited income in Irwin and surrounding counties in Georgia were given the opportunity to run, and eventually own, their own farms. The Irwinville community, my hometown, possesses a rich amount of archival material from this program, including photographs, newspaper clippings, and oral history interviews.

In Fall 2017, I used Esri Story Maps to create an online mapped version of the community titled “The Farms Were Their Own.” Visitors may click on map points to hear spatially contextualized oral histories, view photographs and read select newspaper articles. By overlaying archival materials over a mapped version of the Irwinville Farms Project, I hoped to preserve community memories and also ask questions of the intersections among digital heritage, cultural memory and social injustice. For example, multiple community residents remembered being called derogatory names for accepting government help. Having residents pinpoint where they remember offensive comments being said (the schoolyard, a spot on the street, etc) demonstrates the critical role that mapping can play in the construction of knowledge (i.e. concretely identifying social injustices of the period). Through asking contributors to pinpoint spaces of injustice, they may remake these spaces in a way that potentially offers closure or some other meaningful experience. Their mediated representation could also generate deeper understanding for an outside audience, sparking empathy for a problematic part of the community’s past. Overall, such a project might offer insight for creating future virtual projects that preserve community history while also illuminating social justice issues in spatially aware ways.

Digital Humanities and the Performing Arts: A Collaboration

Stephen Ramsay, University of Nebraska, Lincoln Susan Weisner, University of Maryland
Brian Pytlik-Zillig, University of Nebraska-Lincoln / CDRH Rommie Stalnaker, independent schol

This panel considers the ongoing collaboration between digital humanities and performing arts scholars and practitioners known as Schrifttanz Zwei (SZ). As digital technologies support this multi-disciplinary project combining archival research, dance choreography, music composition, animation creation, and video projection, this panel presents how we access and move through the digital and analog spaces in which we each work. Included in the panel will be a brief, painless, movement experience that will allow attendees to explore the embodied knowledge inherent in our project.

SZ began when two performing artists who conduct DH research using Dance (Wiesner and Stalnaker) attended a presentation on music and animation by Stephen Ramsay and Brian Pytlik Zillig at DH2016. Realizing that Pytlik Zillig and Ramsay had crossed boundaries into the non-verbal world of the arts, Wiesner and Stalnaker shared their desire to work with Ramsay and Pytlik Zillig, and the new team proceeded to reconstruct/ reimagine a 1927 dance score created by Irmgard Bartenieff (1900-1981). Hoping to challenge our disciplinary approaches while giving voice to individual creativity, SZ enables all team members to acknowledge creative practice within a research framework. SZ is admittedly an interdisciplinary artistic collaboration, yet we believe it is in productive dialog with digital humanities more generally, and indeed, grows out of this work. We hope this panel + movement experience will provoke discussion and perhaps inspire others to find ways to access other “outlier” disciplines through collaborative activities.

Dipping Vats and Goat Roping: Voices from Small Places

Linda Reynolds, M.S., C.A., Director, East Texas Research Center, Stephen F. Austin State University
Perky Beisel, Ph.D., Stephen F. Austin State University
Kelley Snowden, Ph.D., University of Texas, Tyler
Initiated in 2014, The Voices from Small Places project combines four different methodologies to document and preserve community history, each of which may be customized to meet the needs of the community and to best tell its story. These methods include: photovoice (a method including both photography and journaling in response to guiding questions), oral history, a historic resources survey, and finally, the development of a digital community collection. The Voices from Small Places approach to the documentation of community history is unique for two reasons. First, it focuses on the community rather than individuals or researchers’ goals. Second, the methods used in the Voices from Small Places approach are customizable to each participating community, giving them control over how their narrative is presented and what is available through the digital community collection. In summary, the Voices from Small Places approach ultimately returns the control of the historical and cultural narrative to participating communities, giving them the opportunity to tell their own story, unfettered by academic interpretation leaving a lasting legacy for future generations. This panel discussion will present an overview of the Voices from Small Places project, the methods used, and problems encountered in the field.

Revising the Textbook(s): Open Access, Open Pedagogy, Open Communities

Philip Rusche, UNLV

Digital approaches to humanities have helped researchers re-examine and re-articulate our pedagogical goals and classroom practices, especially in higher education. As our world becomes immersed in the digital, educators in the humanities must take opportunities to rethink our learning environments and reshape our learning communities by breaking down the walls of traditional classrooms.

Humanities programs have often taken a laissez-faire approach to course development within a major. Even when multiple courses have similar goals or programmatic concerns, they are too often designed individually and inconsistently. Each course develops its own curriculum, selects a textbook, and contributes to the major in isolation and without understanding a larger shared content, potentially missing out on integrative and innovative curricular opportunities that can help students develop as writers, readers, thinkers, and makers in a more coherent way.

This presentation describes the development of a community-built and community-authored textbook at UNLV that will serve the needs of multiple faculty, staff and students within, and potentially outside of, the English major. Using a Domain of One’s Own initiative as an initial platform, we are revising and integrating several disparate collections of online materials into a flexible and comprehensive open-access digital resource. Modules from this resource will serve multiple courses, allowing for students and faculty to create connections between courses leading to a more programmatic and coherent layout for the major. This new, digital textbook can then serve as an extensible framework for future development of the major and as a model for other departments.

Feminist Use of Digital Humanities: Grad Student Approaches and Perspectives

An Sasala, Mariah Crystal, Elene Cloete, Charlesia McKinney, Sierra Watt, University of Kansas

This panel showcases graduate student, feminist digital humanities projects. Panelists will present their project, highlighting their specifically feminist uses of DH tools/approaches. The panel will open to conversation, comments, and questions from the audience.

Elene Cloete will discuss her digital humanities project: an online platform gathering together youth voices on the topics of community art engagement and social justice movements.

Mariah Crystal will discuss her digital humanities project, which is an online forum highlighting women’s stories. Specifically, Mariah’s work interrogates connections between women’s narratives during times of conflict and gender-based violence today.

Charlesia McKinney will discuss her work which theorizes Instagram as both a living archive of fat folk activism, visibility, and culture, and a platform for the cultivation of counterpublic rhetorics. Charlesia argues that, by analyzing fat positive spaces on Instagram, we can observe the ways fat folks and, other socially disempowered groups, create space for themselves in response to being excluded from popular public spaces.

An Sasala will discuss their integration of DH “flash projects” into Intro to Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies course. An will overview their “history of sexuality archive exploration” project and reflect on changes and further use of this project in the feminist classroom.

Sierra Watt will discuss her research into intertribal politics and native sovereignty. She argues that, for disparate tribes across the United States, online platforms allow for intertribal community and the dissemination of counter-narratives for contemporary indigenous social movements in real time—increasing sustainability and solidarity.

Overcoming the Curse of Knowledge with Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration: Applying User Experience Approaches to Digital Humanities

Margaret Terrill, Southern Methodist University
Jonathan McMichael, Southern Methodist University
Rafia Mirza, Southern Methodist University

Community building in digital humanities (DH) is an undertaking which presents well-documented challenges. Inclusion and collaboration have been held as an ideal, as evidenced in Marin Dacos’ “Manifesto for the Digital Humanities,” which calls for “a community of practice that is solidary, open, welcoming and freely accessible” (Dacos 2011). But in reality, digital humanities, by the nature of the tools it utilizes and the online world it inhabits, has a very specific language and culture which can be difficult to break into. We believe that this disconnect between desiring inclusion and creating an environment conducive to it is fundamentally a user experience problem.

User experience (UX) is focused on building human-centered systems designed to maximize understanding. As a team which included both members with UX knowledge and members with DH knowledge, we were able to work together to implement design thinking to better translate the valuable expertise of longtime digital scholars into a framework that scaffolds instruction to allow students and researchers at SMU to enter the DH community.

This team will describe our methods, which utilized test cases, empathy mapping, and rapid prototyping to create an ecosystem of guides that provided several entry points for students and faculty at various stages in their personal research. In this way, we applied UX approaches to DH problems. We believe that this human-centered approach to expanding digital scholarship is the only way to enable the DH community to truly evolve with the ideas of its participants and rise to its academic potential.

Digitally Reviving a Numismatic Collection: Pedagogy and Scholarship

Chad Uhl, University of Kansas
Philip Stinson, University of Kansas

In the past decade, several digital projects aimed at digitizing, mapping, linking, and studying material culture from the ancient world have sprung up. Many of these can be viewed at The Digital Classicist Wiki, but several of primary interest to this project are noted below. All of these projects seek to broaden the community of digital scholarship and launch collections material culture into the realm of open-access. The collection at our university holds a large number of ancient coins (~800) with dates ranging from the 6th c. BCE to 7th c. CE. Several other undergraduates and I have started documenting these coins and creating a database of their numismatic data. We are currently creating a robust site for the collection, through which scholars, students, and the general public can easily access the data. These coins have never been properly studied by numismatists or classicists, so opening the collection to a wider audience will benefit the entire scholarly community. Further, it will promote its original pedagogical purposes. The database will be accompanied by interactive visualizations of the collection, which can be used to query the numismatic data. The insights produced by querying a representative collection of ancient coins can be used in all Classics courses with the added benefit of having the real objects available for physical study.

WWI Immigrant Poetry: A Digital Humanities Project

Lorie Vanchena, University of Kansas
Ashley Yoder, Undergraduate Research Assistant, University of Kansas
Drew Crist (BS May 2017), former Undergraduate Research Assistant, University of Kansas

The WWI Immigrant Poetry Project creates a digital repository of poems that serve not only as commentary on World War I and the immigrant experience but also as representations of ethnic identity. Poetry written or published by German immigrants in the United States in response to the war sheds light on the complexity of German ethnic identity in the early 20th century. In 1910, Germans constituted the largest and most established ethnic group in the U.S. The outbreak of war in Europe in 1914 and the subsequent entry of the U.S. into the conflict had a significant impact on the German American community, however: anti-German sentiment made members of this ethnic group a target of often virulent nativism. Not surprisingly, we find poems that German immigrants wrote (in German and English) that constitute a range of attitudes toward the war, from support of the U.S. to strong identification with the European homeland.

A community of undergraduates has been involved with every aspect of this project. These students have developed digital expertise, including encoding poems in XML, transforming XML files into HTML for our website, and adding JavaScript elements to HTML files. One student (a May 2017 graduate) created our schema, XSL, CSS, and the project website.

This recent graduate and a student currently working on the project will join me in presenting the WWI Immigrant Poetry Project. We will demonstrate the website and also discuss what our initial data analysis has revealed about WWI poetry and German ethnic identity. 

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