The Digital Humanities Seminar, co-sponsored by the Hall Center for the Humanities, provides a forum for sharing and discussion of new digitally-enabled humanities research efforts, with a specific focus on what digital humanities tools and practices can do for a range of humanistic research.
Seminars are open to all graduate students, faculty and staff of the University of Kansas and their guests. Sign-up to receive e-mail updates for individual seminars.
For more information and a list of upcoming talks, view the HCH Seminar Schedule.
A list of all seminars, 2011-present are below with abstracts and recordings for those which have them. A playlist with all DH Seminar recordings is available on the IDRH Youtube and searchable by title, author, date, and subject terms with the IDRH Finding Aid.
“West Africa Historical GIS: Mapping Pre-Colonial Africa during the Abolition of the Slave Trade”
Henry Lovejoy Assistant Professor, History - University of Colorado – Boulder
Monday, February 15, 2021
Labeled a crime against humanity by the United Nations in 2011, the slave trade and its enduring legacy of bondage unfortunately continue to shape modern society through racism, discrimination and unconscious bias. Without knowing the individual stories of those who were silenced—where they came from, where they were taken—this part of our history of race and racism in the Americas remains a generalized story of mass atrocity, lacking details about the individuals as human beings. While historians have amassed data for 12.5 million people involved in the transatlantic trade between 1500 and 1867, we have not been able to piece together enforced population movements from specific places inland to slave ships at the coast. However, with new skills in GIScience, spatial statistics and computing, historians can calculate probabilities of inland African origins—that is, fill in the cartographic void for the pre-colonial period—leading to a new direction: the application of spatial statistical modelling to African Diaspora History. “West Africa Historical GIS, 1807-1867” requires generating new spatial data and building a new system to reconstruct the relationship between political dynamics within Africa to visualize large-scale, enforced internal and external migrations. This open-source platform will give voice back to enslaved African migrations by synthesizing knowledge into mappable layers for pre-colonial places, instances of inland conflict, slave routes, digitized primary sources, historical imagery and slave ship departures, which can all be plotted onto maps along a temporal scale.
“Living in Digitality: What Houses of the Past Can Tell Us About Our Smart Home Future”
Heather Suzanne Woods, Assistant Professor, Communication Studies - Kansas State University
Monday, March 15, 2021
Although we may think of smart homes as futuristic, they are predated by several eras of domestic innovations. This talk offers a socio-technical “long history” of wireless, networked, and connected homes. Tracing smart home antecedents across decades, Woods suggests that we should understand smart homes as a complex, evolving, and highly contextual cultural imaginary made material through architecture, infrastructure, and discourse.
"The Physicality of the Analog"
Corey Maley, Associate Professor, Philosophy - University of Kansas
Wednesday, April 14, 2021
There is a difference between the analog and the digital. But what exactly is that difference, and why does it matter? In this talk, I will look to the history of computation and outline an account of analog representation. Whereas digital representation abstracts away from the physical, analog representation takes advantage of the physical. I will mention some areas in science where this distinction matters for how we think about the mind and the brain
“Challenges and Approaches to Manuscript Description for TEI-based Digital Editions”
Kaylen Dwyer, IDRH Digital Media Specialist - University of Kansas
Monday, April 19, 2021
Monday, September 14, 2020
Khirsten L. Scott and Louis M. Maraj, English (University of Pittsburgh)
Monday, October 12, 2020
Dave Tell, Communication Studies
Monday, November 16, 2020
Laura Mielke and Rachel Linnea Brown, English
How does one create a digital edition of a literary text that represents a little-studied genre? And what special difficulties does such an edition pose when it combines print and manuscript forms? In this presentation, we will reflect on our work to create a dynamic, TEI-compliant XML edition of two interrelated plays: the 1859 published version of John Brougham’s Columbus, El Filibustero!! and his postbellum revision, Columbus Reconstructed (c. 1865). Working on this project has reinforced for us that the burlesque genre, which combines features of the drama, verse drama, and musical, requires a somewhat creative approach to applying a range of TEI tags. Such TEI ingenuity has both deepened our appreciation for Brougham’s formal features and prompted us to reflect on TEI’s possibilities and limits for bringing Brougham’s texts to (digital) life. Further, we have also negotiated working across print and manuscript forms, as the postbellum revision of Brougham’s burlesque exists only as a heavily inscribed promptbook made from an interleaved copy of the printed edition. We look forward to sharing our stories of creative editing and to welcoming audience thoughts about future directions for the project.
Monday, December 14, 2020
Allison Muri, English - University of Saskatchewan
Wednesday, January 22, 2020
Marcy Lascano, Professor, Department of Philosophy
Philosophy has been slow to recover the voices of women philosophers of the 17th century. Often when women are included in our narratives, they serve as commentators or foils for their “canonical” male counterparts. In this presentation, I will discuss a digital humanities project that will attempt to re-imagine the history of philosophy in the 17th century by starting with the works and concerns of Margaret Cavendish and tracing the narrative forward. I will discuss some of the expected outcomes of the project and ways in which it will change our conceptions of the period. In addition, I will discuss some of the preparation for implementing the project. This included a class with two DH components: (1) a “transcribathon” to produce a searchable open access version of one of Cavendish’s major works (Philosophical and Physical Opinions, 1663), and a class project to develop parts of the overall recovery project. Finally, I hope to get some feedback and suggestions from participants about how to move the project forward and maker space community.
Monday, February 17, 2020
James Yeku, Assistant Professor, African and African-American Studies
This talk examines the state of the digital humanities in Nigeria, focusing on digital cultural records that deprivilege the usual and continued Anglocentrism of the field. Through an engagement with the archive in Nigeria, my goal is to describe what it means to do DH in a Nigerian context in which institutional and organizational resources are almost absent and prohibit the fullest expression of digital research in the humanities. By using Digital Nollywood, my aim is to explore the interventions of an online digital repository that responds to the precariousness of the archive in the Nigerian context. Digital Nollywood as a digital project that uses Omeka-built online repository is invested in the preservation and exhibition of Nollywood film posters and other similar cultural heritage. The historical documentation of these visual cultural forms adds to the huge scholarship on Nollywood, while also serving to preserve cultural records that may otherwise be lost forever because of a state-based ahistorical disposition in Nigeria. The goal of Digital Nollywood is the reconstruction of the history of Nollywood through a significant aspect of its production that is rarely discussed in the scholarly community on postcolonial cultural productions.
Monday, September 16, 2019
Phil Stinson, Associate Professor, Department of Classics; Curator, Wilcox Classical Museum
Printing and assembling small-scale 3D-replicas of ancient Roman building elements offers an alternative to on-site rebuilding measures known as anastylosis (“erect again”) commonly used around the Mediterranean since the nineteenth century. Well-known examples of traditional anastylosis include the Arch of Titus in Rome (AD 81, restored in the 1820s), or the Library of Celsus at Ephesus (AD 114, partially rebuilt in the 1970s). Less intrusive than anastylosis, the processes of 3D-printing are also more repeatable and more empirically testable than those of anastylosis. Case studies for this presentation come from the archaeological sites of Sardis and Aphrodisias in western Asia Minor, modern Turkey. This talk also reviews some of the challenges involved in taking on a 3D-printing project for making precise replicas of objects, big or small, and related topics such as methods for 3D data capture and modeling leading up to printing (digital photogrammetry vs. light scanning), best practices, and what it is like as an academic to join the international do-it-yourself 3D-printing and maker space community.
Wednesday, October 16
Janet Chávez Santiago, Zapotec Talking Dictionary of Teotitlán Del Valle, Haverford College
Teotitlan del Valle is a Zapotec community located in the central Valley of Oaxaca state. The population ascends to 5,638 inhabitants from which around 3,658 inhabitants speak Zapotec, monolinguals and bilinguals (Zapotec-Spanish), while the rest of the inhabitants are Spanish monolinguals and passive Zapotec speakers. The large variety of the Zapotec language makes each variant very specific in its vocabulary, how it is learned, its study development and the vitality of the language itself. In the particular case of my variant it has been acquired orally as parents and grandparents pass the language to children as they speak it in daily life. Little work to create literature or pedagogical material has been done and we still lack of an standardized orthography.
In seeking to contribute with the creation of new alternatives to learn Zapotec and, at the same time to document the language in a way that it can be useful to the community and also reachable for those living outside the town and outsiders in general, in 2013 with the support of professor Brook Danielle Lillehaugen (Haverford College), we create the Teotitlan del Valle Zapotec Dictionary. The Zapotec Talking Dictionary has had various positive impacts, like creating a link between the speaker and the digital space in their own language, it also is an open source that actively includes native speakers and gives them credit for their contribution, so then the project itself becomes part of the community and their own benefit.
In the process of creating and working with the Talking Dictionary for my Zapotec variant I have found very helpful the ethical collaboration between the academics involved and the community of speakers, as well as see the digital space as a friendly and reachable tool for such I welcome multiple types of participants to a talk story session to share their experiences and reflect on and discuss the importance of thinking how our academic projects can contribute and support the conservation of the culture, language, history of minority communities.
Monday, November 18
Emily C. Francomano and Heather Bamford, Spanish and Portuguese, Georgetown, and Romance, German University, and Slavic Languages and Literature, George Washington University
The presence of digital reproductions of medieval manuscripts online has revolutionized medieval studies by making texts and artifacts accessible to scholars. However, and despite the myriad reproductions now available online, medieval manuscripts remain physically and intellectually inscrutable for non-specialists, often little more than pretty pictures from the distant past that can be viewed on a screen. Similarly, the landscape of digital editions of medieval works is dominated by traditional critical editions that anticipate the needs of experts, despite the fact that teacher-scholars do indeed desire to use digital editions in their classrooms (Franzini et. al.). Our project seeks to turn digitized manuscripts into readable and teachable resources, presented in an intentionally fun, beautiful, and immersive form. A digital environment that is visual, oral, and dynamic as well as textual can make complex and multilayered medieval works accessible and teachable without simplifying them. In this talk we will survey the landscape of Digital-Medieval Manuscript culture in our field of medieval Iberian literature and culture in light of the five terms (likeness, tangibility, presence, time, and intention(s)) we outlined in our 2018 article, adding what we have come to think of as an essential sixth category: accessibility. Then we will present our digital edition in progress and discuss how we envision making medieval manuscript culture accessible to audiences beyond experts.
Monday, December 16
Patricia Manning, Department of Spanish and Portuguese
Moving Toward Mapping Points of Contact Between Booksellers, Printers and Artists in Early Modern Madrid” outlines the early stages of a project that locates bookshops, printers’ workshops and artists’ studios on seventeenth-century maps of Madrid. The written paper focuses on the multiple sources of information available about the location of booksellers’ businesses and maker space community.
Tuesday, January 29, 2019
Dave Tell, Communication Studies
The Emmett Till Memory Project is a collaborative, public, digital humanities project designed to create an electronic commemorative infrastructure for the key sites of Till's murder. The talk will address the origin, vision, accomplishments, and setbacks of the project to date.
Monday, February 18, 2019
Germaine Halegoua, Film & Media Studies
When read as digital placemaking practices, selfies become salient to producers and audiences as political expressions of one’s place in the world. This paper re-examines the selfie as a means for producing place-identity and spatial habitus and argues that thinking about selfies as placemaking practices inform the productive and potentially empowering nature of this photographic practice. What type of emplacement and place attachment is produced through selfies? What geopolitical work do selfies do? How do selfies circulate meanings of place through the presence and presentation of bodies? This paper analyzes a case study in which the visual culture and placemaking practices of selfies are represented and critiqued. Through textual and discourse analysis of the images and public criticism faced by Korean nationals who post “foreign travel selfies” in Western cities, I examine the vernacular creativity, representations of place, and tensions that emerge regarding expressions of the “spatial self” online.
Tuesday, April 2, 2019
Paloma Vargas Montes, Escuela de Humanidades y Educación, Tecnológico de Monterrey
For a year and a half, a group of 15 scholars affiliated to the Tecnológico de Monterrey have been working on the curriculum for an online Master on digital humanities which will be available on September 2019. The MHD will offer two lines of work and research: Cultural heritage and Digital Culture. The university has a long tradition in online education and a solid presence in South America. It is expected that the MHD will impact strongly in other countries, besides Mexico, like Peru, Colombia and Ecuador. This talk will present the process of creation of this program as a case study which exemplifies the challenges and opportunity areas of building DH scholarship in Latin America.
Monday, April 15, 2019
Keon Pettiway, Communication, Eastern Michigan University
This presentation compares two public, digital humanities projects focused on civil rights public address that demonstrate what Kim Gallon, in her 2016 essay "Making a Case for Black Digital Humanities," refers to as "technology of recovery" projects. The Virtual Martin Luther King, Jr. Project (vMLK) recreates MLK's 1960 "A Creative Protest" speech given at White Rock Baptist Church in Durham, North Carolina. vMLK recovers the historical and rhetorical significance of the speech and Southern community where it was delivered. Similarly, the Global Martin Luther King, Jr. Project (GMLK) provides a digital experience of MLK's 1957 "Birth of a New Nation" speech given at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. GMLK recovers the historical and rhetorical impact of the speech and international struggle of civil rights and African liberation movements. In doing so, this presentation illustrates how digital humanities projects might also engage critical race design studies to recover and "restore the humanity of black people lost and stolen through systemic global racialization."
Monday, September 17, 2018
Dot Porter, Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies, Kislak Center for Special Collections, University of Pennsylvania
As the digitization of manuscripts becomes more and more widespread, and as we develop new methods for digitizing manuscripts in compelling ways and making use of these digital objects, we as a scholarly community have had to come up with various methods for communicating about these objects. We use relatively straightforward terms, such as surrogate, facsimile, and avatar, as well as more complex analogies. In the last chapter of 2008’s Printing the Middle Ages, “Coda; The Ghost in the Machine; Digital Avatars of Medieval Manuscripts,” Sian Echard talks of “the ominous implications of the phrase ‘the ghost in the machine’” in the consideration of modern reception, particularly digital reception, of medieval manuscripts. Beginning with the concept of mind-body dualism, described as “the ghost in the machine” by 20th century philosopher Gilbert Ryle, my talk will consider the appropriation of a variety of terms and analogies from philosophy, literature, and popular culture, and how we might use them to help us think about digitized medieval manuscripts and their uses.
Monday, October 29, 2018
Ani Kokobobo, Slavic Languages and Literatures
With its expansive military troop movements, foreign invasions across the European continent, civilian evacuations, cities that are razed to the ground and reconstituted, borders that move at every turn, and a cast of characters so large that Soviet director, Fedor Bondarchuk, needed to recruit the Red Army as extras during his 1966-67 film adaptation, Tolstoy’s War and Peace can be said to possess gargantuan human and geographic scope. What is interesting, however, is how these two dimensions interact and shape each other. The military campaigns and historical movements from the Napoleonic campaigns in 1805 and 1812 are already well-documented. At the same time, there is another geographical dimension to the narrative that Tolstoy constructs through his fictional characters and their travels.
Although we can readily interpret and discuss the novel’s geography as readers of the text, in a work of the size of War and Peace, where details can often grow overwhelming, digital mapping can help visualize space and movement in productive ways. In a graduate seminar on War and Peace in Fall 2016, I worked with graduate students to perform simple but extensive digital mapping of the novel through StoryMapJS. We mapped several major and minor characters from the novel, including Pierre Bezukhov, Andrei Bolkonsky, Marya Bolkonskaya, Nikolai Rostov, Natasha Rostova, Helene Kuragina, and others.
Monday, November 19, 2018
James R. Miller (School of Engineering - Electrical Engineering and Computer Science) and Robert Hickerson (Spencer Museum of Art)
An exploratory project launched in Spring 2017 through the Integrated Arts Research Initiative (IARI) at the Spencer Museum of Art has led our ongoing collaboration in directions neither of us originally envisioned. In this presentation, we will discuss what storytelling means within our respective disciplines and how our visions of storytelling led to our initial project. We will demonstrate and discuss this initial project “Art and Artists through Time and Space,” an interactive tool driven by the Spencer Museum’s database, and how it facilitates storytelling using objects in the Spencer’s collection. We will then discuss some of the surprising outcomes of this work, such as how the research of Museum staff has benefited from complex database queries enabled by the interface we developed. Additionally, we will show a very preliminary version of a new 3D museum visualization capability. Finally, we will comment a bit more personally on how this collaboration has contributed to our professional growth.
Wednesday, December 5, 2018
Jonathan P. Lamb, English
This paper will argue that computational methods, like critical theory before them, can reform but must not abandon the philological heart of humanistic inquiry. Philology, which James Turner defines as "the multifaceted study of texts, languages, and the phenomenon of language itself," acts as both method and field in Shakespeare studies and in the humanities broadly. Even when unconcerned with language per se, scholars have drawn from the well of philological method: comparing instances of a form or phrase, situating texts in cultural and material environs, and formulating interpretive claims about texts. The late 20th-century turn to theory changed the key of philology but not the tune. The early 21st century, in turn, saw a return to philologically-driven study, now richly informed by the discourse of theory and aware of a broader range of social and material questions. Enter digital methods, regarded as suspect by some and savior by others. Working with two familiar archives-Shakespeare's language and the vocabulary of printed books-I will show how digital methods can and should extend longstanding philological practices, and I will exhort practitioners of quantitative inquiry to maintain the autocritique that has been the hallmark of theory.
Monday, January 29, 2018
Dhanashree Thorat, IDRH, University of Kansas
In the last several years, initiatives like #transformDH, #pocodh and GO:DH, have sought to open the field of digital humanities to scholarship on issues of race, gender, sexuality, disability, class, and nation as they intersect with the digital. This talk examines the productive potential of a postcolonial lens in studying and building digital spaces and technologies. I will focus particularly on the politics of (digital) knowledge production in and about the Global South and marginalized populations, as it pertains to archives, infrastructures, and access. In situating myself at the intersection of postcolonial studies and digital humanities, I investigate how DH can be more than inclusive and diverse so that it can foster transformative, resistant, and anti-racist scholarship.
Monday, February 19, 2018
Bonnie Lynn-Sherow, Department of History, and Executive Director of the Chapman Center for Rural Studies, Kansas State University
Founded in 2008 as an undergraduate history research lab investigating rural life, the Chapman Center for Rural Studies embarked on a voyage of virtual discovery in 2009 with an NEH Digital Humanities Planning grant in 2009. This launched a steep learning curve in the Center that recently culminated in a 2018 NEH grant for Humanities outreach to small museums and historical societies. In 2017, the CCRS was promoted from a departmental initiative to a college wide interdisciplinary center of excellence. We have now come full circle, from beginners to mentors. For us, Digital Humanities is the big tent containing individual disciplinary rooms: of skilled technicians, creative practitioners/critics and end users. We are unashamed end-users; neither creating nor influencing the tools we employ. We are consumers and facilitators of digital tools selected to meet our primary mission of undergraduate education through engagement. I will review our decade long experiment with different digital tools, students' use and response to those tools, and the outcomes, some successful, others less so, of our experiences. Understanding what makes historians distinctive in their use of digital methods , separating digital history from digital humanities, separating history from digital history, is our ongoing conversation.
Wednesday, April 4, 2018
Nina Vyatkina, Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, University of Kansas
Learner corpora are digital databases of texts produced by second language (L2) learners that are used in second language acquisition and language teaching research. Since their emergence in the 1990s, learner corpora have been providing researchers with rich samples of learner language produced in real-life contexts that could be analyzed with various automated tools and served for testing research hypotheses and complementing findings from experimental research. In my talk, I will present KANDEL - the Kansas Developmental Learner corpus - an open access collection of L2 German writing samples produced by several cohorts of KU learners over four semesters of instructed language study. I will describe how this corpus was collected, annotated, and analyzed in order to investigate learner linguistic development from beginning to intermediate L2 proficiency levels. KANDEL is unique due to its longitudinal nature, data collected at dense intervals, and annotations for multiple language, learner, and task variables. I will also discuss best annotation practices that can be applied not only to learner corpora but also to any custom-made textual databases collected for any Digital Humanities or Social Sciences purposes.
Monday, April 16, 2018
Professor Maryemma Graham, with Arnab Chakraborty and Christopher Peace, Department of English, University of Kansas
The seminar will consider some of the causes and implications of the digital divide. Rather than give a laundry list of problems, it will present an example of how the Project on the History of Black Writing has addressed them through the creation of the Black Book Interactive Project (BBIP). The seminar will introduce participants to BBIP, its goals and objectives, and include a hands-on activity. BBIP was first funded in 2015 as a start-up grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities, Office of Digital Humanities and will enter its second phase in July, 2018.
Monday, September 18, 2017
J. Stephen Downie, HathiTrust Research Center
The HathiTrust Digital Library (HTDL) contains some 15.8 million volumes (over 5.5 billion pages). Unfortunately, roughly 10 million HTDL volumes are under copyright restrictions and cannot be shared with users. To overcome this problem, the HathiTrust Research Center (HTRC) is creating a set of "non-consumptive research" services to make these closed materials more open and thus more useful to scholars. This talk introduces such non-consumptives services as "Data Capsules," "Extracted Features" and the "Bookworm + HathiTrust" tool. Each HTRC service is designed to open new points of access to otherwise closed data while still respecting all copyright limitations. Examples of real-world Digital Humanities research projects and services that have been using the HTRC data and resources will be highlighted. Future research ideas, building on recent grant-funded projects, will also be discussed.
Friday, October 6, 2017
Anupam Basu, Department of English, Washington University of St. Louis
Monday, November 20, 2017
Professor Lorie Vanchena (presenting on behalf of Lorie Vanchena and Andrew Crist)
Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, University of Kansas
Wednesday, December 6
Whitney Sperrazza, Postdoctoral Researcher, Hall Center for the Humanities, University of Kansas
Can digital text analysis provide a way to mark, make legible, or trace the effort of absenting sexual violence in early modern drama? In addressing this question, this presentation will explore the connections between topic modeling, archival absence, and feminist digital critique. Scenes of sexual violence in early modern drama often occur offstage, and the violence is then coded within or absent from the play's language. How do current text mining tools, which purport to measure semantic presence, account for such violence? This presentation will consider how topic modeling can be used to trace absence rather than presence and will offer alternative possibilities for approaching our digital tools and modes of analysis.
Wednesday, January 25
Musa Wakhungu Olaka, KU Libraries
Voices of children who survived the 1994 genocide in Rwanda have to a great extent been muted, ignored, and excluded from discourse as if these children are invisible and do not exist. However, children were never spared from atrocities that were committed and one of the major killing fields was Gitarama Prefecture. In late 1999 and early 2000, IBUKA, the umbrella organization that advocates for the welfare of survivors of the 1994 Rwanda genocide collected close to 1000 testimonies of children from Gitarama Prefecture who survived the genocide. To-date, this is the most comprehensive collection of testimonies of child survivors of that genocide yet the collection had remained inaccessible. Very sparse analysis of experiences of children during the genocide in Rwanda genocide has been undertaken. This presentation is about a project being undertaken by Musa Wakhungu Olaka to explore and analyze experiences of these children in space and time across the various administrative levels of Gitarama Prefecture.
Monday, February 20
Christy Hyman, University of Nebraska
For enslaved people surviving during the period before the Civil War the southern landscape was shaped by political, social, and geographical boundaries and obstacles to freedom that are almost unimaginable to modern observers. “Reconstructing Moses Grandy’s World” exposes the human costs associated with running away from enslavement like distance, navigational literacy, access to resources of shelter. This talk explores how geospatial digital humanities tools change and enrich our understanding of the history.
Wednesday, March 15
Brian Rosenblum, KU Libraries & Phil Stinson, Dept. of Classics
In this seminar Brian Rosenblum and Phil Stinson will discuss the role(s) of Digital Humanities centers, along with current trends in digital humanities practices and ongoing challenges and debates within the field and here at KU. We will then lead a discussion about the current state of DH infrastructure and practice at KU.
Monday, April 17
Kristin Huffman Lanzoni, Duke University
Visualizing Venice, an interdisciplinary, cross-cultural collaboration of scholars, architects, and visual-media analysts involves the study of Venice’s urban fabric and its monuments using digital technologies. The most recent project, A Portrait of Venice: Jacopo de’ Barbari’s View of 1500, an exhibition to open at Duke University’s Nasher Museum of Art in September, will be the focus of the talk. The exhibition, curated by Huffman Lanzoni, will bring to life the Early Modern city of Venice through the display of a number of thematically coordinated digital engagements alongside the first state print from the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. The mural-sized woodblock print, published in Venice in 1500, was instantly recognized as a groundbreaking marvel as well as an extraordinary work of art. Combining traditional art historical research with visualization technologies has resulted in new insights into this important historical document and opened up possibilities for further study.
Kathryn A. Rhine, Associate Professor, Anthropology, University of Kansas
In this seminar, I describe a new curriculum initiative I am proposing in collaboration with the SLLC and over 30 faculty members across KU. This project will provide undergraduates an interdisciplinary perspective onto novel developments in global health and medicine, particularly as these initiatives unfold in virtual spaces. Students will consider questions such as: (1) In what ways are these new assemblages of knowledge embedded in local and global contexts? (2) How is the language used to describe health and development enmeshed in particular cultural values and structures of power? (3) How might these digital innovations reveal particular ways of knowing, seeing, and experiencing disease, community, and social change? (4) And, how are social inequalities being reproduced in and through these domains? We intend to analyze these concerns through an array of methodologies, with an emphasis on the interdependent relationships between theory, method, critical practice, and social justice. The centerpiece of this initiative will be an experiential learning course that uses the Work Group for Community Health and Development’s Community Tool Box as a virtual laboratory for students to address linguistic, cultural, and structural barriers to health promotion and social change.
Philip Sapirstein, Assistant Professor, Department of Art and Art History, University of Nebraska, Lincoln
The study of the ancient world is currently undergoing a revolution. Many scholars are moving away from traditional approaches for recording artifacts, architecture, and landscapes, instead embracing a new array of highly accurate and realistic 3D methods for capturing, modeling, and representing the material remains from the distant past. In this talk, I will describe the impact of these recent transformations in archaeological recording, especially as they relate to my research on ancient Greek sculpture and architecture. First, I will describe the 3D modeling of a richly decorated temple at Corfu using a powerful yet affordable laser-scanner as well as another project at Olympia based on a very new approach-photogrammetry-to generate detailed 3D models of a large site. Next, I’ll discuss some of the potential trade-offs in shifting from traditional methods like hand-drawing to less intuitive, high-tech digital recording and explain why 3D should nonetheless be seen as the way of the future for art historians, archaeologists, architects, preservationists, and the many others whose research interacts with complex real-world objects and spaces. Finally, I will consider the new possibilities for analysis and publication of 3D data which would be difficult to imagine in the flat world of the printed page.
Jessica DeSpain, Associate Professor, Department of English Language and Literature; Co-Director of IRIS Center, Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville
Although the digital humanities has become increasingly important for scholarship, it is still rarely practiced in the undergraduate classroom. Professors fear they don’t have the knowledge to instruct their students in the use of digital tools, that it will consume valuable time, or that digital assignments will distract from critical thinking and writing. Dr. Jessica DeSpain, an associate professor at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, who has recently co-edited a collection of essays about using the digital humanities in the nineteenth-century American literature classroom, will discuss how to introduce digital scholarship to undergraduates to enhance traditional methods like close reading. DeSpain has spent nine years training undergraduates to work on digital humanities projects, integrating DH methods into her classes, and developing a minor in the digital humanities and social sciences. She will discuss best practices for introducing DH into a variety of learning environments and share her most successful assignments.
Joshua Miner, Assistant Professor, Film and Media Studies, University of Kansas
This seminar explores Native/First Nations digital games and other procedural media that operate as critical responses to mainstream game mechanics and neocolonial environmental policy. As a cultural medium whose systems are embedded with dominant ethics of interaction, mainstream videogames tend to reflect Eurowestern social and ecological values. Observing critical games’ ability to pose alternative values through gameplay, Dr. Joshua Miner will discuss how Native/First Nations designers develop game mechanics that express Indigenous protocols for environmental stewardship. At a time when Indigenous lands and waters are continually threatened by corporate energy development, Native digital games generate epistemological conflicts that disrupt settler society’s instrumentalization of environment, positioning players to experience alternate systems of interaction. Games such as *Mawisowin* (2012), *Spirits of Spring* (2014), *Never Alone (Kisima Inŋitchuŋa)* (2014), and *Invaders* (2015) express Indigenous ecological protocols and construe digital gamespace as a valuable symbolic site for political occupation.
Miriam Posner, Coordinator, Digital Humanities Program University of California, Los Angeles
Between 1936 and 1967, Walter Freeman, a prominent neurologist, lobotomized as many as 3,500 Americans. Freeman was also an obsessive photographer, taking patients’ photographs before their operations and tracking them down years — even decades — later. In this presentation, Miriam Posner details her efforts to understand why Freeman was so devoted to this practice, using computer-assisted image-mining and -analysis techniques to show how these images fit into the larger visual culture of 20th-century psychiatry.
Perry Alexander, AT&T Foundation Distinguished Professor, EECS Department, Director, Information and Telecommunication Technology Center, University of Kansas
Big data as a driver for research has enormous potential. So much so that we increasingly see interactions and collaborations among computer scientists and researchers across academic disciplines. Computers never tire, they quickly perform increasingly novel tasks, and their work is repeatable and precise. However, the promise of big data depends on the origins and workflows associated with data. We must trust our data. In today’s research environment we must trust our data with ever decreasing control of its acquisition, processing, and storage. This talk will focus on establishing trust in remote systems and their data. I will define what trust means in an information processing environment and describe operations necessary for trust. With those principles, I will describe protocols for establishing trust. Finally, I will discuss research ongoing in ITTC to establish trust in cloud-based computing environments.
Andrew Lison, Post-doctoral Fellow, Hall Center for the Humanities, University of Kansas
Over the past 25 years, we have grown accustomed to thinking of the digital as a universal medium, capable of incorporating text, images, and sounds, and even translating between them. Yet there is another aspect of digital media that is often overlooked: the process by which discrete information becomes fixed, rather than rendered interchangeable. As scholars such as Shawn James Rosenheim have noted, these two concepts have in fact been intertwined since at least the Second World War, when Claude Shannon’s work on developing unbreakable communications systems gave rise to his seminal papers theorizing both information and encryption mathematically. Shannon’s information theory has been extensively discussed in the humanities as the rise of the personal computer has transformed our cultural landscape, but his work on cryptography has received far less attention in such contexts, and this despite the latter concept’s subsequent periodic emergence—as with the current controversy between the FBI and Apple Inc. over decrypting the contents of one of the San Bernardino shooters’ phones—as an issue of significant social, political, and intellectual import. Looking at today’s encryption controversies in light of those that arose at the beginning of the multimedia era some 25 years ago, however, can help us understand both the paradox and the promise of digital media.
Jennifer Guiliano, Assistant Professor, Department of History, Indiana-Purdue University Indianapolis
Recovering the Past through Digital History explores the ways in which historians have been exploring digital tools for both research and teaching. Seeking to define how the definition of what constitutes “digital history” might challenge historical methodology and how we might begin constructing a future of scholarship built upon values of collaboration and open source, public scholarship, this presentation will explore two current projects, “O Say Can You See”: the Early Washington, D.C. Law and Family Project (OSCYS) and Transforming the Afro-Caribbean World. OSCYS explores multi-generational black and white family networks in early Washington, D.C., by collecting, digitizing, making accessible, and analyzing over 4,000 case files from the D.C. court from 1808 to 1815, records of Md. courts, and related documents about these families. Uncovering the web of litigants, jurists, legal actors, and participants in this community, and by placing these family networks in the foreground of our interpretive framework of slavery and national formation, OSCYS offers new methods for historians to uncover fragmentary histories of oppressed peoples. The Transforming the Afro-Caribbean World (TAW) project brings together scholars of the Panama Canal, Afro-Caribbean history, and experts in the digital humanities, data modeling, and visualization to facilitate a large-scale effort to explore Afro-Caribbean labor, migration, and the Panama Canal.
Monday, August 31
Laura Mielke, English, and Marty Baldwin, English
In this presentation, a faculty member and a graduate student from the English Department will recount their experience of beginning to work on a traditional (i.e. print) edition of a nineteenth-century text only to realize the necessity of transporting the project into the digital environment. In the process of discussing the specific, bizarre historical and materials contexts for their particular project, the presenters will reflect on: the sources of reluctance to work in DH; the process of identifying and acquiring necessary DH skills and tools; the discovery of DH support networks; the problems that arise in the conversion of a print editorial project to a digital one; and most important, the impact of DH scholarship on collaboration between graduate students and faculty. This presentation is aimed to spur conversation about how scholars who are hesitant to enter the DH world might do so for practical reasons–and happily survive.
Monday, September 21
Pamella Lach, KU Libraries
Incorporating digital humanities into the classroom, while rewarding, can be difficult and messy—for instructors and students alike. In this talk, Lach will share her experiences experimenting with DH in the classroom. She will discuss a range of attempts along a pedagogic spectrum, from undergraduate blogging about digital objects to graduate students implementing self-designed digital projects. Her talk will address some of the challenges of adopting a digital approach in the classroom, and gesture towards some best practices. This talk is especially geared to those curious about or interested in integrating DH into their teaching.
Monday, October 19
Heather Richards-Rissetto, Anthropology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Archaeological projects increasingly acquire and create 3D data of objects, buildings, and even landscapes; however, it is still a challenge to make these data accessible for researchers and cultural heritage managers and link these models to geo-referenced data sets for visualization and analysis. To address this issue, the MayaArch3D Project s working to develop a 3D WebGIS-called QueryArch3D-to allow 3D models and GIS- to “talk to each other” for studies of architecture and landscapes-in this case, the eighth-century Maya kingdom of Copan, Honduras. In this talk, I will discuss how we are using 3D WebGIS to develop new visibility methods to explore the visibility or inter-visibility of monuments and buildings to or from common pathways that inhabitants of different social quarters may have taken while moving through the city of Copan. I will also present on an affiliated project--MayaCityBuilder--recently begun at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln that is using procedural modeling, rapid proto-typing of 3D models from a set of rules, to allow for the efficient and low-cost creation of alternative ancient Maya landscapes in order to foster discourse, analysis, and interpretations.
Monday, November 16
Lori Emerson, English, Media Archaeology Lab, University of Colorado, Boulder
Nearly all digital media labs are conceived of as places for experimental research using the most up-to-date, cutting-edge tools available. However, the Media Archaeology Lab (MAL) is a place for hands-on, cross-disciplinary experimental research and teaching using still-functioning but obsolete tools, software, hardware, platforms from the past. What the MAL does best is that it provides direct access to defining moments in the history of computing and digital literature. The MAL is also a kind of thinking device in that providing access to the utterly unique, material specificity of these computers, their interfaces, platforms, and software makes it possible to defamiliarize or make visible for critique contemporary, invisible interfaces and platforms. It’s an approach to media of the present via media of the past that aligns the lab with the vibrant field of “media archaeology.” In her talk, Lori Emerson will discuss the history and philosophy of the Media Archaeology Lab along with how her current research projects - “Other Networks” and “The Lab Book: Situated Practices in Media Studies - are part-and-parcel of the lab.
Wednesday, January 28
Sara Gregg, History and Rhonda Houser, Libraries
This presentation will trace the process of discovery and exploration of a set of historical maps chronicling the process of land distribution in the United States, as well as the future stages of research on the history of the U. S. Homestead Acts. A set of investigations of historical maps demonstrates the potential to create an entirely new environmental understanding of the effect of federal land law on the landscape of the American West by employing new technology and formerly unmined cartographic and statistical materials. During the introduction to this project the researchers will reflect upon the challenges and opportunities posed by collaborative research, as well as the power of the spatial humanities to transform our understanding of land policy.
Wednesday, February 25
David Fredrick, Classical Studies, University of Arkansas
This talk outlines the use of the Unity game engine for classical studies research and teaching, using three examples. The first is a development of Unity as a lecture presentation platform (3D Powerpoint), using an analysis of the distribution and meaning of representations of Hermaphroditus in Pompeian houses. The second and third review the development of game-based online courses in classical mythology and Roman civilization—what is working and what is not, and the value of building this curriculum with in-house student developers, despite the risks.
Wednesday, March 25
Élika Ortega, IDRH
Part of the interinstitutional collaborative project Hispanic Legacies in Electronic Literature, in this presentation Élika Ortega proposes a juxtaposition between Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges’ imagined figures of infinity such as The Library of Babel, The Aleph, and The Book of Sand and contemporary examples of Electronic Literature (E-Lit) that analogously and literally enact endlessness in reading and writing. Media figures of infinity (as Ortega terms the conceptual and structural strategies used by writers to create infinites) underscore the tensions between the life span of artworks, the machines and code that materialize them, and the people reading them. Furthermore, the spatial-temporal dimensions of infinite E-Lit works put into question the role of readers and archivists dealing with literary works whose end will not be seen but are likely to stop working or become obsolete and inaccessible.
Wednesday, April 22
Matthew Wilkens, English, Notre Dame
Computational methods allow literary scholars to test their claims against a much larger and more diverse body of texts than would otherwise be possible. Recent examples include work on the evolution of poetic diction in the nineteenth century, on comparative social networks in American and Asian modernism, and on urban space in several centuries of British fiction. But there has been very little such research on contemporary literature, where problems of scale are most acute. This talk presents new computational work on neoliberalism and the literary geography of the twentieth century. To shed light on the extent to which fiction today is shaped by the logic of late capitalism, it assesses the relationship between the century’s significant changes in economic output and the shifting distribution of geographic attention in 10,000 American novels published between 1880 and 1990, finding a surprising – and growing – degree of geographic conservatism in postwar US fiction. This result calls into question the widespread critical assumption that neoliberal ideology demands an increasingly close alignment between market functions and aesthetic production.
Wednesday, August 27
Amanda Gailey, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, English
This talk will discuss how the field of literary studies should preserve the scholarly and pedagogical value of close reading even as the digital humanities and the culture at large increasingly prioritize big data. I will discuss some of the blind spots in big data approaches to literature in order to show the continued importance of smaller-scale digital studies, drawing on examples from The Walt Whitman Archive, The Tar Baby and the Tomahawk, and Scholarly Editing, which I use in my research and teaching. I will also talk about how coursework on digital editing can be very effective in teaching students to be careful readers and writers.
Monday, September 29
Matt Menzenski, Slavic Languages & Literatures
The digitization and curation of large bodies of text has inspired and encouraged new methods of research into language and literature, but only into those languages for which such corpora have been established. What sort of strategies are available to a researcher wishing to apply these research methods to a language which is not yet represented in a digitized collection? Is construction of a text corpus a feasible task for a researcher more interested in human languages than in programming languages? This talk provides a case study of the creation of a small text corpus for Tohono O’odham (an endangered language of the Southwest), the use of that corpus to investigate questions about the way that verbs are used in narratives, and more broadly, the sometimes unexpected ways in which the development of a text corpus can influence the research process.
Wednesday, October 22
Mark Reaney, Department of Theatre
For almost 20 years, KU has been a world leader in the field of digitally mediated theatre production. Starting in 1995 KU’s University Theatre has mounted a series of ever-increasingly complex productions in which real-time computer-generated graphics or “Virtual Reality” has been used as the scenic medium. In this talk, Prof. Mark Reaney will discuss the underpinning artistic philosophy behind this body of work and present an overview of the 9 VR/Theatre productions mounted at KU.
Wednesday, November 19
Christopher Cantwell, University of Missouri-Kansas City, History
Crispin Williams, KU East Asian Studies
Germaine Halegoua, KU Film and Media Studies
As the incorporation of geocoded information into text, images and video on social media platforms continues to grow, so do the norms, practices, and meanings that surround these digital-physical traces. Public officials, urban planners, technology developers, and researchers have begun to gather and analyze geo-tagged photos and videos, status updates, and location-announcements in order make claims about the use and design of public space, urban infrastructure, mobility patterns, local sentiment, and experiences of place. These efforts raise many questions about the use of location-based social media and the representation and documentation of physical mobility and physical presence online. This presentation will present the concept of the “spatial self” as a lens through which to read and understand how people harness location-based technologies in order to represent themselves through social media. Building on previous studies and theories of online and offline identity and self-presentation, critical and feminist geography, and presentations of place on social media, this presentation will illustrate how and why location-based information produced on platforms like Foursquare, Facebook, and Instagram should be reconsidered and re-conceptualized by researchers as performative rather than precise.
Ted Underwood, University of Illinois
The term “digital humanities” tends to stage contemporary developments in the humanities as a confrontation, not with specific ideas or disciplines, but with digital technology itself. That’s part of the logic of the term’s success, but for good or ill, this talk will aim at a narrower, socially concrete topic. I’m interested, not in the web or in computers as such, but in the human beings who study computer science. To the extent that humanists discuss CS at all, we tend to imagine it as a narrowly instrumental discourse. And there’s some truth to that: a large part of what I want to do is show off some neat tricks computer scientists have invented that turn out to be useful for the humanities (and especially for literary history). I’ll focus on topic modeling (which casts new light on the history of humanistic disciplines), and on supervised learning algorithms (which provide an interestingly flexible way to approach the history of genre). But I also want to suggest that the conversation between computer scientists and humanists needn’t be purely instrumental, or fully contained in “tools” that we borrow from CS. In some ways computer science is a surprisingly flexible hermeneutic discourse, and humanists may have more in common with it than we imagine.
Paul Fishwick, UT- Dallas, Computer Science
Can the connections between the humanities and computer science include arts and humanities informing computer science? We are familiar with the idea that computer science results in technologies, and that these are then used as tools by artists and humanists. Going in the other direction is also possible, where deep concepts in computing are covered through cultural artifacts. We will include practical examples of this approach, including al Jazari’s water clock. These examples create new possibilities for humanist-computer science collaborations, and they also suggest that computer science can be viewed as empirically-driven rather than existing purely as an “artificial science.”
Matt Cohen, UT-Austin, English
This talk is about methodology in the humanities. It begins with a discussion of the most basic practice of humanities research: note-taking. Annotations, marginalia, all of the methods of sifting, highlighting, and gathering: these are the substrate of our larger claims and discoveries. Such is the case even when we are working with “big data,” topic modeling, natural language processing, and other automated techniques for what Franco Moretti has called “distant reading.” The talk then reflects on the claims for methodology in and as what is being called the digital humanities. These observations emerge at the junction of two occasions. The first is a project to digitize the poet Walt Whitman’s annotations and marginalia, his personal metadata on his reading. This NEH-funded project is at the end of its first phase, and will be published later this year for free access at the Walt Whitman Archive. The second spur is the active conversation about the digital humanities as a methodological crucible or fountain; both the tenor and the content of that conversation are occasions for considering the status of method in the humanities.
Jonathan Lamb, English
This talk will explore the issues that arise when material objects are converted into digital form. Although such questions have received much attention from a throng of scholars, librarians, and computer scientists, I wish to address them from the perspective of a ‘domain scientist’ of literary and textual culture—a user perspective, as it were. Taking as my subject the Early English Books Online (EEBO) database, along with EEBO’s newish Text Creation Partnership (TCP) full-text tool, I will argue that book digitization makes possible (and necessary) a material-digital dialectic. Such a dialectic, which privileges neither material nor digital artifacts but allows a researcher to jump like a spark between the two poles, becomes especially visible and productive when studying books from the early modern period (1500-1700). Each domain (i.e., the digital and material) offers medium-specific forms of resistance and friction, and each therefore provokes new insight with respect to the other. The talk will feature a multitude of examples and only light theorization, no prior knowledge of EEBO or EEBO-TCP is required.
Natalie Houston, University of Houston
The digitization of nineteenth-century texts offers us the opportunity of asking new research questions that could transform our historical understanding of Victorian culture. My research explores how we can use computational tools with large sets of digitized texts to gain a broader sociological understanding of poetry’s circulation, consumption, and function within Victorian culture.
All printed texts simultaneously convey meaning through both linguistic and graphic signs. Printed poems, for instance, are typically framed by the white space created by line endings, creating a distinctive visual signal of the genre on the printed page. In Victorian books of poetry, rhymed lines were frequently indented the same distance from the left margin to visually indicate the poem’s form and structure. Rhyme is thus simultaneously a linguistic, poetic, and graphic feature of many Victorian books. Most scholarly digital archives recognize the value of this graphical meaning and provide users with page images as well as OCR text, but most tools for large-scale computational analysis focus only on the linguistic content of texts.
In this talk, I will discuss how the visual aspects of printed texts contribute to their cultural significance; how computational analysis can facilitate the identification of unique or representative items, historical trends, and comparisons not accessible to the human eye across large document collections; and present some initial research findings from the current development of VisualPage, a prototype software application for the large-scale identification and analysis of the graphical elements of digitized printed books.
Lisa Rhody, University of Maryland
For the past 20 years, the story of ekphrasis—poetry to, for, and about the visual arts—has been told as a long-standing, gendered contest between rival media, fraught with political, cultural, and religious anxieties. Although skeptical of the necessity of gendered rivalry as a principle of ekphrastic creation, literary scholars have struggled to present a compelling alternative model that sufficiently accounts for the genre’s representational complexity.
This talk begins by asking if computational methods might offer new insights into the canon and tradition of ekphrasic poetry and suggests how topic modeling—one form of computational text analysis—might begin to refocus the aperture of our critical lens on the genre’s conventions.
Oriented toward the non-expert, this presentation will assume no prior knowledge of topic modeling or social network analysis. I will provide a gentle introduction that builds toward an understanding of the potential uses for topic modeling and network analysis as a means for exploring large collections of poetic texts.
Poetic collections, dense and rich with figurative language, require revising how we as humanists interpret topic modeling results. Therefore, this presentation will also address how changes in interpretation affect the questions we might ask and the assumptions we can make about “topics” generated by latent Dirichlet allocation (LDA)—one type of topic modeling algorithm.
Rhody is Research Assistant Professor of History in the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. She is an editor for the Journal of Digital Humanities and project manager for the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ (IMLS) signature conference WebWise. In 2012, she was the recipient of a Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) Winnemore Dissertation Fellowship. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Digital Humanities and ProfHacker, and she is co-author with Wendy Hui Kyong Chun of a forthcoming article in Differences, “Working the Digital Humanities: Uncovering Shadows between the Dark and the Light.”
Ben Rosenthal, Visual Art
Benjamin Rosenthal’s work centers around the strategies of how we perform—the systems of control we set in place, and the ways we negotiate our psychological, tangible, and virtual positions. Benjamin will talk about the trajectory of his creative work and his current ongoing research in both digital and non-digital forms. He will address how he, as an artist, engages with the nature of the digital landscape—negotiating the boundaries between physical and mediated experience.
Benjamin received his B.F.A. in Art (Electronic and Time-Based Media) from Carnegie Mellon University in 2006 and his M.F.A. in Art Studio from the University of California, Davis in 2011. While his formal training is primarily in film/video and related forms, his practice extends into performance, animation, web-based interactive work, installation, drawing, and sound.
Elijah Meeks, Digital Humanities Specialist, Stanford University
Network analysis in the sciences and social sciences typically focuses on citation, social, communication, logical, and neurological networks, and a broad set of methods and research has developed along those lines. However, network analysis in the humanities has grown in visibility and popularity recently and focuses instead on similar but distinct forms that have their own methodological concerns. The role of evidence and agency, for instance, distinguish them from traditional, big data and API driven research on telecommunications and social networking services. This talk will focus on four distinct humanities network types: Genealogical networks of British cultural elites and their families, correspondence networks from the Republic of Letters, transportation networks of Imperial Rome, and Bureaucratic networks from medieval China. The application and adaptation of established network analysis methods will be demonstrated, along with an exploration of methodological problems and techniques for addressing them in humanities network analysis.
Brian Pytlik Zillig, Center for Digital Research in the Humanities, University of Nebraska
“Interoperability, and what comes after.” Digital texts encoded in TEI format can, in theory, be gathered into large text corpora for text analysis. With the growing number of digital text collections, it ought to be possible to combine and search across them for patterns that would be simply impossible to discern without the aid of computing. Regrettably, text collections typically employ their own markup schemes, incompatible with others, that reflect editorial intentions and purposes related to the goals of that specific project. While those purposes are no doubt clear and sensible to their respective editors, the resulting structural differences among collections constitute deep and problematic gaps in what might otherwise represent interoperability. Nevertheless, should it be achieved even for the limited purpose of text analysis, interoperability is a goal worth pursuing. But beyond that end, what do we imagine might follow? What new things can be done once we have large corpora of interoperable texts?
This talk is about finding beauty in what we would normally describe as mundane experience and then finding a way to make art from it. Since my expertise is in working with sound and music the focus of the talk will be on the phenomena of sound and audio. "I will argue that in our everyday lives we are literally surrounded by interesting things, beautiful things, and even profound things. But that we mostly ignore the enriching possibilities inherent in engaging with these "objects". Beauty can be found anywhere but in order to 'see' it or 'hear' it we need to be receptive. This talk will examine the Buddhist notion of the Senses and then identify means by which we can create gateways to the experience of beauty in everyday experience. The particular focus will be on how to use digital processes which extend, alter, or confound our senses to "elevate" the mundane.
Amy Earhart, English, Texas A&M
This paper examines the state of the current digital humanities canon, provides a historical overview of the decline of early digitally recovered texts, literature designed to expand the literary canon, and offers suggestions for ways that the field might work toward expansion of the digital canon. My research shows that a subfield of early literary digitization work, mostly projects unassociated with humanities computing/digital humanities, sought to negate early canon bias found within print and envisaged digital literary scholarship as a tool to reinsert women, queers, and people of color into the canon. The DIY sites built during this period were labors of love and allowed scholars to self publish materials found buried in difficult to access library archives or dusty journal editions. The early wave of small recovery projects has slowed and, even more troubling, the extant digital projects have begun to disappear. If we lose a large volume of texts from the expanded canon we will be returning to a new critical canon that is incompatible with current understandings of literature. In addition, the turn to increased standardization (TEI) and big data troubles our efforts at small-scale recovery project, as DIY scholars, outside the DH community, have difficulty gaining access to required technical skills for small projects, leading to a decline in small-scale digital recovery projects. The poor literary data sets impact digital humanities efforts to experiment with visualization and data mining techniques. If Matt Kirschenbaum is correct and preservation is not a technical problem but a social problem, then it follows that the digital humanities community should be able to address the lack of diversity in the digital canon by attention to acquisition and preservation of particular types of texts. We need a renewed effort in digitizing texts that occurs in tandem with experimental approaches in data mining, visualization and geospatial representations. This paper offers several possible ways of addressing this troubling problem.
Mark Sample, English, George Mason University
Players and scholars alike have characterized videogames as fantasies about unlimited power. In this talk I explore how some videogames have rejected the core mechanic of “leveling up”—in which the player’s character grows increasingly more powerful—and have instead emphasized the vulnerability of the game’s protagonist. Such games test the limits of playing the powerless and the doomed in videogames, allowing us to explore the outer edges of our empathy and our imagination.
Phil Stinson, Classics, University of Kansas
Chris Weaver, School of Computer Science, University of Oklahoma
Research is a complex process of exploration and analysis that encompasses observation, collection, interpretation, discourse, and collaboration. That the digital humanities community aims to marry human and computational capabilities puts it squarely in the vanguard of emerging methodologies. As a growing methodological subdiscipline of the information sciences, visual analytics seeks to facilitate the research process by augmenting innate human visual and cognitive capabilities with interactive computational tools. The commonalities and potential for exchange between the digital humanities and visual analytics is conspicuous.
Useful but specialized applications of visual analysis now exist in numerous domains that tackle complex, voluminous information sources; well-represented domains include intelligence analysis, emergency response, business logistics, finance, and epidemiology. However, there is of yet little support for an open-ended, user-driven process of broad and deep digital engagement in which data processing, graphical depiction, and human interaction adapt to evolving research needs and goals, particularly in examinations of idiosyncrasy. In this talk, Chris Weaver will offer a vision of humanities scholarship infused with highly interactive, visual, computational facilities for interpretation and discourse. He will also present concrete progress on developing methods, techniques, and tools in support of that vision.
David Birnbaum, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, University of Pittsburgh
Medieval Slavic miscellanies are a type of free-form encyclopedia, compilations of texts of various genres from various sources. Compilation in medieval literary culture was as much a creative act as the authoring of entirely new texts, and the producers of new manuscripts were free to draw on all available sources, creating compilations whose originality was not constrained by any attempt to reproduce earlier compilations literally or faithfully. The variation that occurs in miscellany manuscripts is nonetheless surprisingly constrained; it is almost unheard of for two miscellanies to correspond perfectly in their contents, but there are nonetheless frequent partial correspondences that cannot be explained by genre, subject matter, or any other organizing principle, and that are inconsistent with a hypothesis that scribes compiled manuscripts without explicit constraint–even if that is what they thought they were doing. This presentation describes some of the patterns of agreement that emerge from comparing the structure of miscellany manuscripts, leading to a conclusion that despite the scribe’s complete freedom to choose his texts, the contents of miscellany manuscripts were nonetheless severely constrained by the tradition, and in specific ways.
Peter Grund, Department of English
In my presentation, I will report on my ongoing collaborative project (with Margo Burns and Matti Peikola) on the recorders that took down the some 1,000 documents from the Salem witch trials. Our goal is to produce an online tool that identifies as many of the approximately 250 recorders as possible, and provides bibliographical data as well as data on their scribal practices. At the same time, the plan is to make the tool available to other researchers to use in the charting of handwriting and scribes in other historical contexts. The talk outlines the principles of the work, demonstrates the preliminary setup of the tool, and discusses some of the future avenues for the project. Among other things, I show how collaborative research is crucial in a project of this kind, and how the electronic format of this scribal tool allows us to approach age-old questions not only about the Salem trials but also about writing practices, scribal copying, and literacy.
Patrick Flor, Department of English and Department of Computer Science
In recently published research in Digital Literary Studies (DLS), more and more projects are moving beyond the well-established model in which the computer is used to obtain descriptive statistics about textual parameters (such as sentence lengths and token frequencies), which the researcher then interprets to mean something about the text’s literary style, subject, or authorship. Researchers are beginning to explore tools and resources from computational linguistics such as part-of-speech taggers, semantic role labelers, topic modelers, and deeply tagged texts/corpora, which allow them to ask new kinds of questions about literary texts.
In this seminar, I will explore the nature and extent of this incipient change in DLS through, appropriately, a diachronic analysis of a corpus of research paper abstracts. I will then describe my own literary research with such computational resources, which is primarily concerned with software tool creation and adaptation for literary interpretational usage. Among other things, I hope to show: that this trend in the field can be broadly characterized as an increasing involvement of the computer in the interpretational aspects of literary research; that this involvement is proceeding (naturally) first via lexical and sentential semantics; and that a possible next step is software tools that extract limited semantic models as they proceed through a text, and make classification and processing decisions based on these models and their correspondence with latter parts of the text.
Stephen Ramsay, English, University of Nebraska, Lincoln
Does digital humanities represent an attempt to “scientize” humanistic inquiry? Some would welcome such a move, and much work in digital humanities is closely aligned with practices and methodologies usually associated with the sciences. This talk places digital humanities within the context of a broader history involving the rise of the social sciences in the twentieth century, and suggests ways that we can think about computation and computational work without abandoning methodologies unique to humanistic study.
Margaret Pearce, Geography
Indigenous place names delineate political territories, establish ancestral ties, locate and interrelate knowledges about environmental resources, demarcate travel routes and conditions, reenact transformer tales, encode climate change and climate adaptation strategies, and track the movement of communities during seasonal cycles. They are themselves manifestations of traditional cartographies, stored in the landscape and animated through engagements with that landscape. Maps are perceived to be necessary devices for the representation of these names, yet any translation of Indigenous to Western cartographies is challenging, and the maps that result from place name remappings often inadequate in their expression of the meanings and functions of the names. This dilemma is now strongly felt in the current explosion of interest in the digital mapping and dissemination of Indigenous place names, now newly urgent from the time pressures of language loss and climate change, inspired into action through the technological capabilities of digital dissemination.
This presentation explores the methodological and design challenges inherent to cartographic translations of place name landscapes through the example of my collaboration with the Penobscot Nation Cultural & Historic Preservation Department to map the Wabanaki place names of Penobscot territory. I will focus on how and why we are combining both manual and digital mapping tools in our collaboration, whether as mode of inquiry or means of visual expression.
Jeff Rydberg-Cox, English, UMKC
This paper will describe ongoing work to study the use of social network diagrams as a tool to explore the language of Greek tragedy. In this project, we are constructing social networks for each surviving Greek Tragedy by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. These diagrams are augmented with linguistic data associated with each character in the plays, thereby allowing users to more easily access and understand complex linguistic data associated with each of these characters. For background, see: RYDBERG-COX, J. “[Social Networks and the Language of Greek Tragedy.](http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/summary?doi=10.1.1.461.8816)”. Journal of the Chicago Colloquium on Digital Humanities and Computer Science, North America, 1, Jul. 2011.
Nina Vyatkina, Germanic Languages and Literature
I will report on an ongoing project that aims to annotate, analyze, and make publicly available a digital longitudinal corpus of writing samples collected from American learners of German at dense time intervals over several semesters. I will show how Digital Humanities tools allow me to effectively access, explore, and represent linguistic data. The focal corpus (a large electronic collection of texts) is developmental, or diachronic, i.e. it represents slices of learner language (German as a Foreign Language) use collected over time. I will begin my presentation by describing how I collected and organized this corpus to enable its subsequent annotation and exploration with digital tools. Next, I will show how some of these tools allowed me to create visual multidimensional text profiles and to find and analyze patterns in learner linguistic development. In particular, I will demonstrate how analytical constructs such as linguistic categories and temporal relationships can be graphically represented for both research and dissemination purposes by “positioning, shape, color, size, and typography” (Stone, 2009). I will conclude by arguing that digital analysis and visualization tools are universally suited for any textual explorations.