Digital Scholarship Incubator


The University Libraries' Digital Scholarship Incubator (DSI) promoted student-led digital research and scholarship. Fellows received a stipend to support them in their research for the summer; one-on-one and group consultations with a range of University of Nebraska-Lincoln faculty and staff in the University Libraries and elsewhere; co-working space, hardware, and software; and other professional development opportunities, in addition to the cohort experience.

The Digital Scholarship Incubator was a competitive fellowship program that ran from 2014-2018. The Incubator was directed by Elizabeth Lorang and was supported financially and with faculty and staff time by the University Libraries and the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities.

2018 Fellows & Projects

Four students earned DSI Fellowships for Summer 2017: Marcus Barbosa, Sarita Garcia, Allice MillerMacPhee, and Cody Solesbee.

Defying Genre: Literatura testimonial in Latin America (1970-2017)

Marcus Barbosa (Ph.D. student, Spanish, Modern Languages & Literatures)

The aim of this project is a comparative analysis of the books that have been awarded with the prize Casa de las Américas in the category literatura testimonial from 1970 to 2017, in order to explore the roles of various contexts (social and political, such as the Cuban Revolution and the dictatorships in the South Cone) and of cultural institutions, such as Casa de las Américas, in the emergence of cultural production in Latin America during the last fifty years. At the same time, Barbosa also will study the construction of the genre literatura testimonial during the second half of the 20th century, in part by examining the vocabulary that helps to construct the genre. Overall, Barbosa aims to defy current conceptualizations of the genre literatura testimonial. He will develop strategies and methods for distant reading of the corpus and will develop a guide to digital scholarship in Spanish.

Borderlands Networks: Chinese Border Crossers in the Age of Exclusion

Sarita Garcia (M.A. student, History)

In Borderlands Networks: Chinese Border Crossers in the Age of Exclusion, Garcia's goal is to decentralize the geographic narrative of human smuggling through the U.S.-Mexico border during the Chinese Exclusion Act in the United States (1882-1943). Current scholarship on Chinese border crossers has mostly focused on Arizona, California, and the Pacific Coast. Using testimonies, trials, and deportation records from the National Archives in Washington DC, Garcia’s work explores the border-crossing routes along the U.S.-Mexico border, thus moving the conversation East by also including New Mexico, Texas, and the Gulf of Mexico. Her ultimate goal is to visualize the human-forged networks and activity between cities, states, and nations.

DREAMers in the Midwest: Space, Place and Culture in Social Movement Organizing

Alice MillerMacPhee (Ph.D. student, Sociology)

In DREAMers in the Midwest: Space, Place, and Culture in Social Movement Organizing, MillerMacPhee aims to collect and analyze materials produced by DREAMer social movement groups in Nebraksa, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri to better understand the influence of space, place, and culture on two important social movement concepts: framing and collective identity. MillerMacPhee's project will examine the relationship between framing and collective identity in DREAMer social movement groups' materials to answer three research questions: (1) how do social movements represent identity in the framing of their platforms and goal?; (2) how do social movements frame identity and goals in this ecological context?; and (3) what impacts the salience of identity in framing? This project will enhance understanding of the DREAMer social movement through its focus on organizing in the Midwest, a region often neglected in the broader DREAMer movement literature, and contribute to a broader understanding of how ecological context influences activist organizing.

Track Kindness: Using Technology to End Bullying

Cody Solesbee (Ph.D. student, Educational Psychology)

Track Kindness: Using Technology to End Bullying will utilize emerging technology to promote kindness and bravery in middle and high-school aged youth. Developed from the foundations of social and emotional learning (SEL), this project seeks to find new and innovative ways to teach youth about kindness, bravery, and empathy. Though many anti-bullying interventions and programs exist, they are often ineffective and unsustainable long-term. Often, this is the result of a downstream approach, where bullying behavior is targeted after a pattern has been established. This project, from a public health mindset, adopts an upstream approach to develop pro-social skills and create system-wide change. The goal of this project is to develop a space where youth can build awareness of their behavior, practice important SEL skills, receive feedback from adults, and track their progress over time. Through a social-ecological lens, this project will promote change by using modalities that youth are most familiar with.

2017 Fellows & Projects

Four students earned DSI Fellowships for Summer 2017: Erin Bertram, Grace Brown, Linda Garcia Merchant, and Alexis Swendener.

It’s Not a Lonely World : Gender, Genre, and Literary/Digital Exploration

Erin M. Bertram (Ph.D. candidate, Creative Writing Program, English)

Bertram will investigate "gray areas" surrounding both gender and genre. They will research and create a digital extension to their creative dissertation, a hybrid genre memoir that explores how their mother’s experience with breast cancer and their own non-binary gender identity call into question, in their own unique and sometimes overlapping ways, what it means to be, or not to be, a woman. Bertram's goal is to amplify readers' experience of their writing, via digital means, beyond the delineation that front and back book covers allow, ultimately nuancing understandings of illness, queerness, identity, privilege/marginalization, empathy, and gender.

High Penalties: Mapping Drug-Free Zones in Omaha

Grace Brown (M.A. student, History)

In 1984, President Ronald Reagan established Drug Free Zones nationally as a way to double or triple the sentences for drug dealers who were selling to minors. In urban areas, these zones tend to overlap, and cover large expanses of the city. For her project, Brown will map these drug free zones in Omaha, and examine the spatial politics of living within a drug free zone. What happens when your home is a drug free zone? What happens when your entire neighborhood is a drug free zone? She will also include arrest data from Omaha during this time that will allow her to analyze who was targeted for these increased penalties, and why. In an extremely segregated city like Omaha, these spatial politics are even more important to understand. Brown's research falls into a larger trend in history and the humanities of interrogating issues of mass incarceration, issues within the criminal justice system, and racialized selective enforcement of supposedly "colorblind" laws.

Chicana Diasporic: The Chicana Caucus of the NWPC. A Nomadic Journey of the Activist Exiled

Linda Garcia Merchant (Ph.D. student, English)

Garcia Merchant will develop a research hub, Chicana Diasporic: The Chicana Caucus of the NWPC. A Nomadic Journey of the Activist Exiled. The Chicana Caucus was a group of Chicana/Latina feminists, organized and active from 1973-1979 as a special interest caucus of a national political organization of second wave white feminists, the National Women’s Political Caucus (NWPC)—the political action arm of the second wave women’s movement of the 1960s and 70s. Presented in a museum collection format, Chicana Diasporic will include documents, photographs, film clips, and an introductory narrative that defines the Caucus’ history, structure and purpose, and their national impact on second wave feminism. Materials provided for Chicana Diasporic are the result of an eight-year recovery project, the Chicana Por Mi Raza Digital Memory Collective and will be the first scholarly product created from the digital repository.

Engaging in Public Sociology and Digital Scholarship: Sharing Research on Farm Families and Health

Alexis Swendener (Ph.D. candidate, Sociology)

Swendener will create and develop Engaging in Public Sociology and Digital Scholarship: Sharing Research on Farm Families and Health. The aim of this project is to distribute social scientific knowledge by creating a public website to share the results of a larger research project. The website will share findings from research utilizing both survey and interview data to examine how men and women on farms and ranches negotiate work and family roles with implications for health and relationship happiness. Exploring these areas among farm families helps clarify work- and family-related pathways to health and expand theoretical understandings and scholarship in these domains. In addition, several potential broader impacts serve as motivation for this project. This project focuses on broadening science communication to wider audiences and on highlighting research on understudied rural and farm populations, which is particularly relevant to Nebraskans and as a member of a public, land-grant institution. By sharing research on farm families and health, this project could help policy makers identify both sources of risk and resiliency in health among rural families.

2016 Fellows & Projects

Three students earned DSI Fellowships for Summer 2016: Kami Ahrens, Jonathan Cheng, Christy Hyman, and Gabrielle Kirilloff. Read more about their projects below and on their blog.

Making the Frontier Home: Stories from the Steamboat Bertrand

Kami Ahrens (M.A. student, Anthropology)

Making the Frontier Home: Stories from the Steamboat Bertrand seeks to understand gender roles and identity during the mid-nineteenth century on the frontier through the analysis and digitization of artifacts from the Steamboat Bertrand. In 1865, the Bertrand sank in the Missouri River en route to Fort Benton, where it remained until it was excavated in 1968. This project will utilize the collection’s textiles, ceramics, bottles, foodstuffs, and other domestic-related goods in order to better understand the culture of the frontier. The project will accumulate digital 3D models, created using photogrammetric techniques, and images, which will be organized into an interactive, online exhibit for researchers and the general public. Making the Frontier Home will produce both models and information that will form the foundation for a digital exhibit and will expand access to a unique collection. Ahrens' faculty adviser for the project is Professor Effie Athanassopoulos, from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Department of Anthropology.

"Passive Voice (consider revising)": The Broad Literary History of Pithy Style

Jonathan Cheng (Ph.D. student, English)

Passive voice is not a categorical error per se, but sentences containing a past participle plus an auxiliary verb tend to connote gauche stylistic form. Literary historians can sketch how individual authors or specific literary periods experimented with passive voice. They would, however, benefit from a broader social linguistic history to make sense of when and why this form inherits social value. This project aims to provide a computational analysis of passive voice and render its literary provenances. Running the statistical programming language R and the Stanford Dependency Parser (Natural Language Processing package) on a corpus of 3517 nineteenth century American and British novels, this project investigates this anxiety with assertive style. Cheng’s faculty adviser for the project is Professor Pete Capuano, from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Department of English.

The Oak of Jerusalem: Flight, Refuge, and Reconnaissance in the Great Dismal Swamp

Christy Hyman (Ph.D. student, History)

The Oak of Jerusalem: Flight, Refuge, and Reconnaissance in the Great Dismal Swamp highlights and analyzes the Great Dismal Swamp landscape with a view to uncovering enslaved canal laborers' intellectual networks, which developed as a result of the arduous labor they were forced to perform in antebellum northeastern North Carolina. Focusing on enslaved runaways' proximity to waterways and the natural environment within the Great Dismal Swamp, this inquiry will collect and analyze the landscape’s spatial dimensions. Data gathered from nineteenth-century North Carolina newspapers such as the Cape Fear Mercury, Carolina Observer, and Edenton Gazette will provide information on points of refuge and reconnaissance. Taking these physical properties of space together with the historical descriptions of enslaved runaway ads and cross-referencing this information with textual descriptions in the enslaved narratives written by Moses Grandy, Thomas H. Jones, Harriet Jacobs, and London Ferebee will expose a more complete reality of what was at stake for an enslaved person to run away. Hyman's work will contribute to the North Carolina Freedom Roads Underground Railroad trail development plan, and she presents on early stages of her work in June 2016 at New Bern, NC. Her faculty advisor for the project is Professor Kenneth Winkle from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Deptartment of History.

Imagined and Experienced Places: a Geographical Mapping of the Locations in Willa Cather’s Writing

Gabi Kirilloff (Ph.D. student, English)

The American novelist Willa Cather is an author whose works reflect a deep attachment to and interest in place. This project explores the relationships between Cather’s travels and her references to place in her correspondence and fiction by visually representing the differences between Cather’s actual travels and her reference to geographic places. By using text analysis tools and digital mapping software this project aims to create a series of interactive maps that allow students and scholars to visualize the places that Cather experienced and wrote about. This project seeks to create digital maps of the places Cather mentions in her twelve novels, the places she mentions in her letters, and the places she personally experienced first hand.

2015 Fellows & Projects

Three students earned DSI Fellowships for Summer 2015: Mikal Eckstrom, Joseba Moreno, and Eric Saxon.

Marginalized Tribes: Shared Experiences of Jews and Native Americans in the Dakotas, 1850-1935

Mikal Eckstrom (Ph.D. candidate, History)

Like many histories of the American West, federal records are riddled with bias about non-Native interactions with American Indians. Marginalized Tribes: Shared Experiences of Jews and Native Americans in the Dakotas, 1850-1935, intends to overcome these prejudices through computational analysis. By using the statistical package R+ and MALLET (Machine Learning for LanguagE ToolkiT) with both American Indian oral testimonies and journals of Jewish families, the project aims to discern gendered pressures unique to the Jewish and American Indian experiences during allotment in North and South Dakota. Eckstrom's faculty adviser for the project is Professor Margaret Jacobs, from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Department of History.

La nueva literatura en los manifiestos literarios [The New Literature in Literary Manifestos]

Joseba Moreno (Ph.D. student, Modern Literature & Languages)

La nueva literatura en los manifiestos literarios focuses on artistic manifestos of the Spanish literary avant-garde and offers an archive of these manifestos from the early twentieth century, as well as critical analysis of the manifesto as a genre. La nueva literatura includes digital images, transcriptions of the manifestos, and essays on the texts as well as the artistic movements they introduce. The project's goal is to serve as a pedagogical hub centered on Spanish literature from the first three decades of the twentieth century. It is a counterpart to Moreno's doctoral dissertation, which focuses on the study of literary manifestos from the avant-garde movements of this era. Moreno's adviser for the project is Professor Amanda Gailey, from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Department of English.

The Art of Jeff Randall

Eric Saxon (Candidate, Graduate Certificate Program in Digital Humanities)

The Art of Jeff Randall presents a digitized retrospective of Lincoln, NE outsider artist Jeffery Randall (1967-2012), gathering together works previously exhibited in museums and galleries, publicly unseen work, and personal ephemera produced in the artist's daily life. Adding new media techniques such as 3-D imaging to traditional and current art historical methodologies, the project uses the digital archive format to provide greater access to and analysis of the artist's work, and engages the scholarly conversations about outsider art specifically, and art history in general. Saxon's adviser for The Art of Jeff Randall is Professor Richard Graham, from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln University Libraries.

2014 Fellows & Projects

Four students participated in the 2014 Digital Scholarship Incubator program. The inaugural fellows helped shape the developing model of the Incubator, and their projects were important in making the case for future support. 2014 students were:

Musique Spirituelle

Rebecca Ankenbrand (M.A. student, Modern Literatures & Languages)

Musique Spirituelle is a bilingual (French/English) edition of French-Canadian nun Marie-Andrée Duplessis de Sainte-Hélène's 18th-century manuscript entitled "Musique Spirituelle."

The Geison Course of the Northeast Temple at Antiochia ad Cragum

Geraldine Dobos (M.A. student, Art History)

The Geison Course of the Northeast Temple at Antiochia ad Cragum, a 3D reconstruction, is a continuation of Dobos' research on the geison course of the temple, which is in southern Turkey. Her project explores the use of color coding in 3D visualizations as a means to symbolically represent the level of uncertainty for each block. A website with Dobos' work is forthcoming. Dobos has completed a story map tour of Antiocha ad Cragum.

Fanny Fern in the  New York Ledger

Kevin McMullen (Ph.D. student, English)

Fanny Fern in the New York Ledger explores one of the most successful periods in the career of Fanny Fern, who in the mid-nineteenth century became the highest-paid newspaper columnist in the United States, writing for the widest-circulated publication of its day. The project makes available full-text, TEI-encoded transcriptions of Fern's "Fresh Fern Leaves" columns, as well as high-resolution digital images of the complete Ledger issues.

Constructing Furniture City

Brian Sarnacki (Ph.D. candidate, History)

Constructing Furniture City examines how Grand Rapids, Michigan achieved industrial success as "Furniture City" during the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. Using traditional historical methods, statistics, and mapping, the project highlights Grand Rapids to reveal the alternate path many smaller cities chose to navigate this tumultuous period of American history.