Vanessa Holden is an Assistant Professor of History at Michigan State University. Her work focuses on African American women and American slave rebellion and resistance. Holden is working on a book-length manuscript that explores the role of community in the Southampton Rebellion (Nat Turner's Rebellion.) Her work on gender, community, and resistance in the American South has led to an interest in studying sexuality during antebellum slavery.
Holden's presentation for the 2014 Nebraska Forum on Digital Humanities is titled "Tumbling Towards Scholarly Community: A Report on the Queering Slavery Working Group."
The Queering Slavery Working Group (#QSWG) was formed to discuss issues related to reading, researching and writing histories of intimacy, sex, and sexuality during the period of Atlantic slavery. The group's co-organizers Vanessa Holden and Jessica Johnson facilitate a hybrid digital humanities community that brings scholars of slavery together around the question, "What would it mean to Queer Slavery?" The co-organizers operate live feeds and manage group communications using Google Groups, forms, and other digital tools. Holden's presentation will focus on her and Johnson's work with the social media platform Tumblr. Using Tumblr, Holden and Johnson access images of slavery collected in long-established digital archives, modify them using digital imaging platforms like Fotor and Picasa, and add #hashtags that make use of contemporary queer vocabulary. The goal is for remixed images to prompt conversations around ways same-gender desire and intimate violence appeared in non-text sources in a forceful assertion of queer ubiquity in the archive.
Holden and Johnson chose to work in Tumblr because of the platform's collaborative potential. Embedded in Tumblr is social practice akin to strategies enslaved and free people of African descent employed in community formation, politics, and resistance. Delighting in this similarity, the co-organizers curate a visual culture that is playful and provocative, productive and reproductive. Holden will discuss the role intentionality plays in #QSWG's praxis, including its use of digital tools to collaborate with each other and build a broader community. She will also elaborate on how using Tumblr initiated her into the practice of digital scholarship, doing digital history, and how it is reshaping her notion of authorship and collaboration within the field of history.
Matthew L. Jockers
Matthew L. Jockers is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Faculty Fellow in the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities, and Director of the new Nebraska Literary Lab. He oversees UNL's post-baccalaureate Certificate in Digital Humanities, and he serves as the faculty advisor for the minor in Digital Humanities. Prior to UNL, Jockers was a Lecturer and Academic Technology Specialist in the Department of English at Stanford where he co-founded the Stanford Literary Lab with Franco Moretti. Jockers's research is focused on computational approaches to the study of literature, especially large collections of literature. He has written articles on computational text analysis, authorship attribution, Irish and Irish-American literature, and he has co-authored several successful amicus briefs defending the fair and transformative use of digital text. His work has been profiled in the academic and main stream press including features in the New York Times, Nature, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Nautilus, Wired, New Scientist, Smithsonian, NBC News and many others.
In "Text Mining and its Enemies; or, How Authors Guild Got it Wrong and Fair Use Got Defined Fairly," Jockers will summarize key arguments for why large scale digitization and text mining represent a fair and transformative use of copyrighted books. He'll highlight several arguments from the "Brief of Digital Humanities and Law Scholars as Amici Curiae" that he coauthored with Matthew Sag and Jason Schultz, and he'll then discuss Judge Chin's landmark summary judgement in favor of text mining (November 14, 2013) and the status of the Authors Guild's appeal of that decision (December 30, 2013).
Mills Kelly is a Professor in the Department of History and Art History and an Associate Director of the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media. In 2009 he served as Associate Dean for Enrollment Development in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and from 2010-13 was the director of the Global Affairs program. Most recently he is the author of Teaching History in the Digital Age (2013). In 2005, he received the Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia, the state's highest award for faculty excellence. That same year he received George Mason University's Teaching Excellence award.
In "Exploring, Remixing, Analyzing: Teaching History with Digital Media," Kelly will address the question: How have changes in the ways that students use digital media changed the ways the humanities can and should be taught? He will discuss new ways to think about a very old subject—how best to teach students about the past. How can we use digital media to release student creativity in their historical studies? How can we help them learn to make sense of millions of sources? What skills do they (and we) need to prosper as historians in the digital age?
Ruth Mostern is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts at the University of California, Merced. At UC Merced she is the Chair of the Interdisciplinary Humanities Graduate Group, and the Co-Director of the Spatial Analysis and Research Center (SpARC). She is a member of the steering committee of the international Collaborative for Historical Information and Analysis (CHIA). Her book, Dividing the Realm in Order to Govern: The Spatial Organization of the Song State (960-1276 CE), was published in 2011.
Mostern's presentation for the Forum is titled "The Rise of the Large Scale and the Future of the Humanities."
Many new fields and methods in the study of the past depend upon the ability to move fluidly among multiple temporal and spatial scales of reference. World historians scrutinize the circulation and interaction of people, things, and ideas at the global scale; sometimes reconstructing how commodities have moved around the world, other times identifying the presence of the world in very small places. Big historians use narrative techniques to tell stories about astronomy, geology and evolution as well as human activity; environmental historians integrate analyses of particular famines or fires into the long record of soil degradation and climate change. Increasingly, practitioners of these fields recognize that digital methods—including GIS, linked data, and interactive timelines—allow them to see catastrophic events embedded in imperceptible processes, and individual places in global geographies. In this talk Mostern will discuss theory and method for digital history at the large scale, with reference to her own research and other projects.
Kyle Roberts (Williams College, BA '95; University of Pennsylvania, MA, PhD '07) is Assistant Professor of Public History and New Media in the History Department at Loyola University. He teaches courses on public history, digital humanities, religion, and North America and the Atlantic World in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. As a postdoctoral fellow at Queen Mary, University of London from 2009-2011, he worked with a team of researchers, archivists, and technical advisors to create Dissenting Academies Online: Virtual Library System, an innovative reconstruction of the holdings and borrowings of the leading English dissenting academies. He is the Director of the Jesuit Libraries Project and the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project.
Roberts' presentation for the Forum is titled "Remediating the Library: The Jesuit Libraries and Provenance Project."
Within a few years of the founding of St Ignatius College in 1870, an unidentified librarian made an extensive shelf-list catalogue of the library's holdings. The c.1878 catalogue lists approximately 5100 titles, encompassing over 8000 volumes that reflect the Jesuit order of knowledge at the time. A long forgotten analog source, Loyola's first catalog is now not only providing a remarkably generative site for teaching digital history to undergraduate and graduate students, but also providing a space for making students authors of digital scholarship.
In the fall 2013 semester, sixteen graduate students in digital humanities, history, and public history reconstructed the holdings data of that catalogue in a virtual library system. The project has not only afforded the opportunity to get students to ask important questions about the relationships between sources and data in historical scholarship, but also to offer some answers about nineteenth-century American Catholic urban history, culture, and identity. In spring 2014, interested students continued their work through data clean up, visualization, and interpretation.
As with any successful research project, new avenues for scholarship always emerge. One of the most surprising revelations from the digital reconstruction was the number of original books surviving in the university libraries' collections today. On their title pages, flyleaves, and inside covers, these books contain a treasure trove of information about their ownership and use not recorded in other sources. The Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project uses the social media image-sharing site Flickr to create a visual archive and to foster a participatory community interested in the history of Jesuit-held books through commenting and tagging functions.
In his talk, Roberts will reflect on the lessons learned from these projects both in terms of what they have to tell us about doing history today but also the new modes of interpreting and presenting scholarship to the broader audiences that are connected to our histories.
Benjamin Schmidt is an assistant professor of history at Northeastern University and core faculty at the NuLab for Texts, Maps, and Networks. His research interests are in the digital humanities and the intellectual and cultural history of the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries. His first project, "Paying Attention," describes how new ways of measuring attention in early 20th century psychology found unexpected uses in teaching, advertising, and media. His digital humanities research focuses particularly on integrating humanistic reading with techniques of text mining and visualization applied to large historical datasets. His recent work is in topic modeling, visualization of historic data, and thematic mapping. More details are available at benschmidt.org.
He has a Ph.D. and M.A. in history from Princeton University, and an A.B. in Social Studies from Harvard University. Prior to coming to Northeastern, he was the graduate fellow at the Cultural Observatory @Harvard, in Harvard University's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
Schmidt's presentation is titled "Visualizing Systems and Imagining Individuals in Historical Data Narratives."
Data that is itself a historical artifact provides a valuable space to think through the opportunities and challenges for data analysis in the humanities. From the 1850s to the present, ships' logs have been collected as structured data by state and international actors; though these sources have primarily been digitized and analyzed by scientists, they hold great potential value for humanities scholars as well.
Digital humanities methods are uniquely well suited to exploring the tensions between historical data and the ways that it was collected. Using visualization, machine learning, and mapping, Schmidt will argue that large-scale data sources like these demand specifically structural narrative histories.
Amanda Visconti is a Ph.D. candidate in the University of Maryland Department of English who has worked in a number of roles at MITH (the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities) since 2009; she also holds an M.S.I. in digital humanities HCI from the University of Michigan School of Information. A digital humanist, professional web developer, and textual scholar, Amanda's research focuses on making the humanities more public and participatory, especially through more usable key forms such as digital editions and archives. Her dissertation explores theories about scholarly digital editions, especially of complex Modernisms and other strange texts, putting written theory into practice by blogging the critical process of designing, coding, and user-testing actual digital editions. She regularly writes about her academic research at LiteratureGeek.com and is on Twitter @Literature_Geek.
Visconti's presentation is titled "What if we build a digital edition and everyone shows up? Public Humanities, Participatory Design, and Infinite Ulysses."
Infinite Ulysses pursues a speculative experiment: what if we build an edition and everyone shows up and adds their annotations (interpretations, questions, contextualizations) to the text? Combining an unusually complex text (James Joyce's Ulysses) with an approach imagining thousands of site users and annotations allows for the exploration of questions from overlapping fields:
- Textual studies: How can we create digital archives and editions that are not just public, but invite and assist participation from both trained academics and the lay person in our love for the nuances of a text's materiality, history, and meaning?
- Information science: How can we borrow successful social mechanics from existing online communities (e.g. upvoting, tagging) to create reading and research experiences that adeptly handle not only issues of contextual annotation quantity but also quality?
- Literary studies: What happens to complex texts—especially those purposefully authored to be hypertextual, chaotic, and encyclopedic—under heavy and thorough annotation and conversation?
Her talk will cover her past research on DH interface usability, current critical design considerations, and planned usability work for the site. She will also open a meta-discussion around how the methodologies of her project—blogging, open-source coding, design, documentation, and user testing—form a humanities dissertation.