DHi's Goals

Goals from Phase One, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Grant

  1. Developing scholars' understanding of digital research methods and tools

    Our invited speakers and workshops program and DHi conference participation has connected faculty nationally and internationally. We have developed and delivered workshops on digital research approaches and connecting undergraduates to digital humanities projects on our own campus and for other institutions (NY6 Liberal Arts Consortium, GLAC, DePauw University) Complete details of these events are available at http://www.dhinitiative.org/files/MellonReport2013Appendices.pdf

  2. Connecting scholars with related research interests

    In addition to providing funding for faculty attendance and presentations at off-campus conferences and workshops, DHi has funded collaboration meetings among faculty at different institutions, invited faculty/students/staff to conversations about Digital Humanities, participated in and led multicampus discussions about digital humanities and digital scholarship. We have been active in the NITLE network to connect faculty/staff across the liberal arts. Most recently we developed and co-hosted with Amy Cronin, a two day symposium on Digital Humanities in the Liberal Arts for the NY6 consortium. One outcome resulting from this event is a NY6 4Humanities Chapter. Christine Henseler at Union College and DHi Co-directors are leading this effort to develop joint invited speakers programs, reading groups and digital scholarship working groups among faculty and students across our institutions. In addition to these direct activities, we have also promoted connecting centers such as DHCommons; reHumanities; Humanist Discussion Group; and INKE.

  3. Promoting "Big Ideas" in digital humanities investigations

    We have worked with 15 faculty digital research project proposals and defined them to various development phases in the past three years. Three of these projects are also in the experimental technical infrastructure model we proposed (Fedora Commons IR/Islandora/Drupal.). We have one library collection of text encoded Civil War Letters (http://cwl.dhinitiative.org/), and two faculty digital research collections -- Omori's Comparative Japanese Film pilot (http://cjf.dhinitiative.org/) and O'Neill' s "Beloved Witness Archive" pilot (ingested) in our infrastructure model. A complete listing of faculty projects and relative phases in our development cycle are available here.

    "In addition to these practical outcomes, we have also held discussions and shared articles on the "big ideas" and topics in Digital Humanities over the past three years. Examples include: Harpold's analysis of New Media; MLA Guidelines for Evaluating Work in Digital Humanities and Digital Media and "What is digital humanities and what is it doing in English Departments;" NINES/NEH Summer Institutes Guidelines for Promotion and Tenure Committees in Judging Digital Work; and the foundational ACLS "Our Cultural Commonwealth." We also make every effort to introduce emerging methods and technologies. We have local installations of and have reviewed with faculty: ArcGIS, OpenStreet Map, VSim, Omeka, and Neatline (geoserver); gaming licenses for academic evaluation (Misadventures of Mr. P.B. Winterbottom, flOw, Alice: Madness Returns, and The Path); we have explored TEI, and Text Analysis tools (Voyant Tools, and PAIR); and reviewed the potential of platforms such as Scalar and digital academic publishing through the ANVIL Academic Project."

  4. Assisting faculty in securing funds for and managing research projects

    DHi's collection development team worked with Omori (New Directions Proposal in Fall 2011), O'Neill (NEH Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant in Fall 2012), and Nieves (NEH Summer Institute 2012 Application; NEH Collaborative Grant with Dr. Marla Jaksch 2010) in developing grant proposals. O'Neill is submitting an NEH Start-Up Grant Proposal September 2012 to further develop "The Beloved Witness Project: Agha Shahid Ali Archive." We are currently developing prototype designs and features to support anticipated grant proposals. In Spring 2013, Omori plans to submit a proposal for an NEH implementation grant to accomplish the second phase of development in her Comparative Japanese Film Archive. Doran Larson plans to submit an NEH Start-Up Grant in Fall 2013 to secure more funds in development of "The American Prison Writing Archive." DHi is a consultant on Grinnell's Digital Initiative NEH Foundations proposal.

    A few words about completed projects in the realm of digital scholarship ... in short, they are not. Completed that is. They are, by design, iterative, and continue to grow over time. One of the goals of digital scholarship is to create living breathing bodies of information that continue to be added to as audiences come to the work and add their own interpretations/ideas to the creation of new knowledge. The interactive and iterative nature of digital scholarship is both the beauty and the bane of our all of our projects. A recent CHE article outlines the issues we face in building, reviewing, and sustaining the digital scholarship goals we have adopted in DHi:

    How do you review an online resource like the Walt Whitman Archive, an immense, collaborative, multimedia resource that allows users to work with variant texts, aids for finding things, and audio and visual material?

    The short answer is that it's not as easy as picking up a book.

    Brett Bobley, director of the NEH's Office of Digital Humanities, put it like this in an e-mail to me: "In the past, an edition was judged almost entirely on the scholarship (rightly so). But in the digital realm, we also need to judge it on their digital infrastructure. Do they have useful metadata? A sustainability plan? Are they conforming with library/archive standards? Do they have an API [application programming interface] to enable others to repurpose the data or mash it up with other data? Etc. These are all important issues."

    Can't you just judge a digital edition on the merits of the scholarship alone?

    "Only looking at the scholarship is sort of like judging a new building strictly on aesthetics," Mr. Bobley said. "Yes, it's a gorgeous building, but if it isn't structurally sound it's going to fall down. Sometimes people don't want to look at the plumbing, but I'd argue that it is essential to the functioning of the building or to the digital scholarly project." So a good reviewer will come equipped to assess, say, the optimal-character-recognition software a digital-humanities project uses to create scans of texts."

    We would add that reviewers must also understand the advantages afforded by the dynamic nature of digital platforms and the aesthetics of projects moving to the next phase of development rather than reaching completion.

  5. Facilitating translation of research into curricula

    Course Descriptions

    We have already developed several courses that establish digital humanities pedagogy. Over the past three-years we have developed fifteen courses that include Departments and Programs in Africana Studies, Anthropology, Archaeology, Cinema and New Media Studies, History, Japanese Studies, and English and Creative Writing, to name but a few. Some of those courses include:

    1. Angel David Nieves & Janet T. Simons, "CNMS 100W/Introduction to Digital Humanities” (Fall 2012 & Spring 2014)
    This writing intensive course offers students an introduction to the concepts, tools, and methods of digital humanities through readings and various projects.

    2. Patricia O’Neill, “ENGL 317/Laws of Cool” (Spring 2013)
    This semester O’Neill is teaching a course in digital humanities which introduces
    students to the process of building a digital archive by studying Agha Shahid Ali’s poetry, reading letters and creating finding guides, learning about TEI and text analysis tools, and creating hypertext or other digital presentations of their scholarship.

    3. Nathan Goodale & Alissa Nauman, “ARCH 251: Archaeology of Hamilton's Founding” (Spring 2012)
    As an archaeological canvas, Hamilton College provides oral tradition and integrates historical documents. The course includes excavation of an archaeological site using GPS and Google Earth to recreate digital experiences of the history of the campus, several field trips to local historical societies and use of College archives.

    4. Nathan Goodale & Alissa Nauman, “ARCH 2012: Summer Field School in the Slocan Valley” (Summer 2012)
    This course provides a three- to four-week introduction to archaeological field techniques, including excavation, survey and mapping. Tools will include the use of new software and on-line resources in digital humanities. The course will be conducted in conjunction with faculty field research programs.

    5. Thomas Wilson, “HIST 309W/Asian Temples in a Virtual World” (Spring 2012)
    The course is an examination of Asian religious practices in ritual, bodily, and spatial contexts. Students build interactive websites and explore virtual recreations of historic and extant heritage sites.

    6. Angel David Nieves, “AMST 330S/Digital History and New Media: Theories and Praxis” (Spring 2014)
    The course will focus on the process of creating digital history and the impact of digital media technologies on the theory and practice of U.S. history and critical race theory, broadly defined.

    7. Angel David Nieves, “AFRST 304/e-Black Studies” (Spring 2010 & 2011)
    The term 'eBlack Studies' describes the ongoing application of current digital information technology towards the production, dissemination, and collection of historical knowledge critical to the discipline of Black Studies and to the overall black experience. We will chart the future of scholarship, teaching, and community work through the use of e-Black Studies. We will explore digital culture as it critically interrogates, interprets, defines, and documents the experiences of people of African descent. Applications such as Google, Facebook, MySpace, and Second Life will be examined. Students will be asked to build an e-product – either a blog, wiki, web page, or digital archive – as part of the applied aspects of the course.

    8. Angel David Nieves, “AFRST 381/Freedom” (Fall 2009)
    Asking someone to define the word freedom may elicit a response similar to the one
    given when people are asked to define race: “I can’t explain it, but I know what it represents.” Freedom is a contentiously debated word with multiple definitions that change over time and space. Freedom is shaped by factors as varied as religion, ethnicity, race, gender, sexuality and class. Although it is a concept whose definition seems forever fluid, depending on social location in the American imaginary, it is critical to the examination and understanding of the Africana experience. It is, therefore, the purpose
    of this seminar to examine and interrogate this shifting concept of freedom by examining various emancipation and liberation movements integral to the Africana experience.

    9. Kyoko Omori, “JPN 356/Introduction to Japanese Film” (Fall 2011 & 2013)
    This course traces the history of one of the world’s most innovative film industries. Since the early 20th century, Japanese filmmakers have experimented with and improved upon cinema; their work has been influential not only in Japan but throughout the world. From the drama of early silent movies to anime, the course covers some of the “greatest hits” of Japanese film, whether widely popular or critically acclaimed. This exploration of cinema in Japan will offer both a new perspective on cinema itself as well as an opportunity to view the genre’s development in a specific cultural context.

    10. “CNMS 125/Introduction to History & Theory of New Media” (Fall 2014)
    What makes new media “new”? How do new media compare with, transform or incorporate earlier media? This course examines the production, circulation, and reception of visual and sonic media, with emphasis on how consumers and artists shape the uses and values of media. It covers key issues raised by new media through close study of critical essays and creative texts. Examples of old and new media include the phonograph, radio, film, turntable, social networks, fantasy sports and gaming, podcast, MP3, AutoTune, hypertext literature and digital poetry.

    11. Doran Larson, “The American Prison Writer Project” (Fall 2013)
    The writing of the men and women inside the American prison system constitutes a kind of shadow canon to that of better-known literary artists. We will read broadly in 20th- century American prison writing, asking questions about the generic coherence, social and moral import, and historicity of prisoners' non-fiction, fiction and poetry. Authors will include Eldridge Cleaver, George Jackson, Assata Shakur, and Japanese and Chinese internees. Students will visit a writing class taught inside Attica Correctional Facility. Students will develop portions of the digital archive for The American Prison Writer Project.

    12. Vincent Odamtten, “ENG 255/Marrow of African-American Literature” (Fall 2010 & 2011)
    A critical survey of literatures from multiple genres concerned with conjuration, speculation, investigation, transgression or science fiction produced by African-American writers from the 19th century to the present. Includes works by such writers as Chesnutt, Sutton Griggs, W. E. B. Du Bois, Fisher, Chester Himes, Ernest Gaines, Octavia Butler, Walter Mosley, Steve Barnes, Jewelle Gomez, Samuel Delaney, Gayle Jones, Derrick Bell, Paula Woods, Tananarive Due and Nalo Hopkinson.

    13. Patricia O’Neill, “ENG 300/Women Filmmakers”
    The history of cinema takes on new dimensions when the focus is on women filmmakers. Their contributions begin with the earliest productions of the silent era; their influence ranges from narrative and documentary to experimental films; and their work raises awareness of the different struggles in women's lives around the world. By raising questions of genre, gender and cultural identity, this course will investigate alternative histories of cinema and develop new approaches to feminist film theory.

    14. Janet Simons, “EDU 250/Technology in Education: Issues and Opportunities” (Spring 2013)
    What is the difference between learning from technology and learning with technology? This course explores the role of technology in learning, and critically analyzes the cognitive, social, political, and logistical aspects of education technology in the K-12 public school setting. Students will research and develop a learning model incorporating technology in a proposal for a specific grade range in a public school system of the future.