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DH Project Update Research Projects Undergraduate Fellows

Mapping the Scottish Reformation: Transatlantic Adventures in the Digital Humanities

[Please enjoy this guest post by Michelle D. Brock, Associate Professor of History at Washington and Lee University. Professor Brock has been a fabulous supporter of DH at W&L through the years and we’re thrilled to see this project take off.]

In the spring of 2020 (before the world seemed to change overnight), I spent just over two wonderful months as a Digital Scholarship Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Edinburgh during my sabbatical from W&L. During this time, I pursued work on a project called Mapping the Scottish Reformation (MSR), directed by myself and Chris Langley of Newman University and featuring Mackenzie Brooks on our project team and Paul Youngman on our advisory board.

Mapping the Scottish Reformation (MSR) is a digital prosopography of ministers who served in the Church of Scotland between the Reformation Parliament of 1560 to the Revolution in 1689. By extracting data from thousands of pages of ecclesiastical court records held by the National Records of Scotland (NRS), Mapping the Scottish Reformation tracks clerical careers, showing where they were educated, how they moved between parishes, and their personal and disciplinary history. This early modern data drives a powerful mapping engine that will allow users to build their own searches to track clerical careers over time and space.

The need for such a project was born of the fact that, despite a few excellent academic studies of individual ministers written in recent years, we still know remarkably little about this massive and diverse group. Many questions remain unanswered: How many ministers were moving from one area of Scotland to another? What was the influence of key presbyteries—the regional governing bodies of the Scottish kirk—or universities in this process? What was the average period of tenure for a minister? As of now, there is no way to answer such questions comprehensively, efficiently, and accurately. The voluminous ecclesiastical court records that contain the most detail about the careers of the clergy are not indexed, cumbersome to search, and completely inaccessible to the public or scholars less familiar with the challenges of Scottish handwriting. The multi-volume print source with much of this biographical data on ministers, Hew Scott’s invaluable Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae, is not searchable across volumes and contains numerous errors and omissions. A new resource is thus necessary to both search and visualize clerical data, and we intend Mapping the Scottish Reformation to be that resource.

Our project began in earnest in 2017, when, thanks to funding from a W&L Mellon grant, Caroline Nowlin ’19 and Damien Hansford (a postgraduate at Newman University) began working with the Project Directors to pull initial data from the Fasti that could be used to test the feasibility of the project. Three years and a National Endowment for the Humanities HCRR grant later, we are in the pilot “proof of concept” phase of MSR, centered on gathering data on the clergy in the Synod of Lothian and Tweeddale—a large and complex region that includes modern day Edinburgh. As such, my time at IASH was spent almost exclusively going through the presbytery records from this synod region to collect data on ministers at all levels in their clerical careers. I have often referred to this as the “unsexy” part of our work—dealing with the nitty gritty of navigating often challenging and inconsistent records in order to gather the data that will power Mapping the Scottish Reformation. There was, of course, no better setting to do this work in than IASH, an institute in the heart of the very university where many of the ministers in the Synod of Lothian and Tweeddale were educated and near to the parishes where many of the most prominent of them served.

Throughout my fellowship period, two questions were at the forefront of my mind: Are there patterns, chronological or regional, that account for the great variance in ministerial lives and trajectories? Was any such thing as a “typical” clerical career at all? What Dr. Langley and I have learned over the previous months is that the answers to these questions are significantly more complicated than previously understood by both historians and the wider public.

As we discussed during a presentation given in January at the Centre for Data, Culture and Society, the clerical career path was far less standardized than scholars usually assume. The terminology generally applied by historians and drawn from Hew Scott’s work— of “admitting,” “instituting,” and “transferring” ministers — was one of a distinct profession. Unfortunately, by applying such terms to the early modern ministry, we may be transposing a system and language of formality that just wasn’t there or wasn’t yet fully developed. Thus, one of our central goals is to shed light on the complexity of clerical experiences and development of the ministerial profession by capturing messy data from manuscripts and turning it into something machine readable and suited to a database and visualization layer. In short, we hope to make the qualitative quantitative, and to do so in a way that can also serve as a supplementary finding aid to the rich church court records held at NRS.

To date, my co-Director and I have gone through approximately 3,000 pages of presbytery minutes and collected information on over 300 clerics across more than twenty categories using Google Sheets. Dr. Langley has begun the process of uploading this data to Wikidata and running initial queries using SPARQL to generate basic data-driven maps. The benefit of using Wikidata at this phase in our project is that it is a linked open data platform and is already used as a data repository for the Survey of Scottish Witchcraft, which captured information on most of the parishes and a number of the ministers in our project. We are deeply grateful to the University of Edinburgh’s “Wikimedian in Residence” Ewan McAndrew, who met with us early in my fellowship period to explore opportunities for using Wikidata, which is now a critical part of the technical infrastructure of our project. Thanks to a recently awarded grant from the Strathmartine Trust, in the coming months we hope to collaborate with an academic technologist to build our own Mapping the Scottish Reformation interface, driven by our entries in Wikidata.

Though I sadly had to cut my fellowship period two weeks short due to the COVID-19 crisis, I had a wonderful and productive two months as a Digital Scholarship Fellow at IASH, thanks in no small part to the general sabbatical support from Washington and Lee. In this time, Mapping the Scottish Reformation progressed by leaps and bounds, thanks to the generosity and support of the Scottish history and digital humanities communities at the University of Edinburgh, as well as our colleagues at NRS. Our talk at the Edinburgh’s Centre for Data, Culture and Society, which drew an audience not only of academics but also genealogists and local residents, was a real highlight, allowing us to make connections with a wide range of people interested in the history of Scotland, family history, the Reformation, and the digital humanities. These connections, and the ability to make access to data widely available, are more important than ever on both sides of the Atlantic, and I am looking forward to continuing this work at home in Virginia.

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Announcement DH Event on campus Speaker Series

Niall Atkinson and Team to Visit in March

We are excited to share the news that Niall Atkinson, associate professor of art history at the University of Chicago, will be visiting next week accompanied by his DH team member Carmen Caswell, Digital Humanities Research Liaison.

Professor Atkinson will deliver the Pamela H. Simpson Lecture in Art History on March 11 at 5 p.m. in Northen Auditorium.

In addition to the lecture, Atkinson and Caswell will visit classes and collaborate with members of the Florence As It Was team.

Learn more about their visit over at The Columns.

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Announcement Event on campus Pedagogy

Digital Pedagogy Discussion Series – Winter Edition

We’re back with another round of Digital Pedagogy lunches!

Are you curious about digital pedagogy methods but aren’t sure where to start? Do you enjoy hearing from colleagues about what’s worked in their classes? Do you need to eat lunch? 

To guide our conversation, we’ll use Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities: Concepts, Models, and Experiments by the Modern Language Association. This resource is organized by keywords – each one is a pedagogical concept with annotated artifacts of curricular material. A faculty volunteer has selected a keyword of their choice and will be facilitating the discussion. Lunch is on us! 

Here’s the plan: grab your lunch from the designated lunch location (let them know you’re with the DH Cohort) and head down to DH Workspace (Leyburn 218). We’ll eat, chat, and hopefully come away with new ideas for your classroom.  It would be great if you could let Mackenzie Brooks, DH Librarian, know that you’re coming.

Keyword: Praxis
Facilitator: Mackenzie Brooks, Library
Tuesday, February 4th, 2020
12pm-1pm
Lunch location: Marketplace

Keyword: Annotation
Facilitator: Caleb Dance, Classics
Monday, February 17th, 2020
12pm-1pm
Lunch location: Marketplace

Keyword: Archive
Facilitator: Ashley Lazevnick, Art History
Friday, March 6th, 2020
12pm-1pm
Lunch location: Marketplace

Categories
Announcement Event on campus Pedagogy

Digital Pedagogy Discussion Series

Are you curious about digital pedagogy methods but aren’t sure where to start? Do you enjoy hearing from colleagues about what’s worked in their classes? Do you need to eat lunch? 

The Digital Humanities Faculty Cohort is hosting a new discussion series on digital pedagogy! 

To guide our conversation, we’ll use Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities: Concepts, Models, and Experiments by the Modern Language Association. This resource is organized by keywords – each one is a pedagogical concept with annotated artifacts of curricular material. A faculty volunteer has selected a keyword of their choice and will be facilitating the discussion. Lunch is on us! 

Here’s the plan: grab your lunch from the designated lunch location (let them know you’re with the DH Cohort) and head down to DH Workspace (Leyburn 218). We’ll eat, chat, and hopefully come away with new ideas for your classroom.  It would be great if you could let Mackenzie Brooks, DH Librarian, know that you’re coming.

Keyword: Mapping
Facilitator: Melissa Vise, History
Tuesday, November 19th, 2019
11:45am-1pm
Lunch location: Cafe 77

Keyword: Failure
Facilitator: Sydney Bufkin, Library
Wednesday, December 4th, 2019
11:45am-1pm
Lunch location: Marketplace

Keyword: ?  Facilitator: you?  Let us know if you’d like to run a discussion in 2020!

Categories
Announcement DH Event off campus

CFP: Chesapeake Digital Humanities Consortium

The newly-formed Chesapeake Digital Humanities Consortium will be holding its first conference on February 21, 2020 at William and Mary. The Call for Proposals is now live! Learn more on the CDHC website. Proposals are due January 6th, 2020.

Catherine Knight Steele, Assistant Professor of Communication at the University of Maryland – College Park and Director of the Andrew W. Mellon funded African American Digital Humanities Initiative (AADHum), will be keynoting.

The Chesapeake Digital Humanities Consortium (CDHC) is an association of people and institutions committed to the cooperative development of teaching, learning, research, and community partnerships in the digital humanities. Because place and space shape collaboration, CDHC is focused on supporting digital humanities in the D.C, Virginia, and Maryland region.

CDHC has three guiding goals:

  • Identifying, developing, and communicating opportunities for members to pursue the digital humanities.
  • Building accessible, diverse, and equitable digital humanities communities.
  • Fostering sharing, collaboration, and innovation among people, places, and institutions.

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DH Event off campus Pedagogy UVA Collaboration

DH Pedagogy Roadshow

Crossposted to the scholarslab blog and Brandon Walsh’s blog.

[The following post was co-authored with Mackenzie Brooks, Digital Humanities Librarian at Washington and Lee University. It follows up on a previous post on digital pedagogy and the Praxis Program. So if you’re just joining us, you might start there first. The first section below offers Brandon’s thoughts on a sequence of collaborative events with W&L, and the second section offers Mackenzie’s thoughts on the same.]

Brandon’s Perspective

In my last post, I mentioned that the Scholars’ Lab piloted a unit on digital pedagogy for the Praxis Program this past year. Over the course of a few weeks, the students each drafted the materials they would need to deliver a low-tech workshop on a digital humanities method or concept relevant to their own interests. The unit gave the students the opportunity to explore their chosen topic in dialogue with one another as they felt their way through how they would go about teaching the material to a broader audience, and it also gave the program a chance to speak directly to each student’s own reasons for being in graduate school and for exploring digital humanities. I ended that last post on something of a cliffhanger – I had intended the unit on pedagogy to end there, with each student in possession of all the makings for a DH workshop of their own design. But the students wanted to go a step further – they wanted to actually use these materials and deliver these workshops. I wanted to honor this good energy, and I’ll use this monthly installment in the Scholars’ Lab year of blogging to write a quick note about how we did so.

At the same time that the Praxis Program was running, I was in contact with the digital humanities group at Washington and Lee University about an ongoing collaboration that brings UVA graduate students working in DH to W&L to deliver one-off workshops for undergraduate DH courses. For each of these visits, the students work with the relevant faculty member to design a workshop in line with both their own research interests and the course material. It’s a challenging program to coordinate logistically – for each of these visits, W&L’s DH Librarian Mackenzie Brooks and I have to align the schedules for faculty members and students while also making good matches between interests and course syllabi. In spirit, this collaboration seemed like it could be a good fit for the new set of workshops designed by the Praxis programs. But we were not quite sure how to make it work logistically. We didn’t have obvious course fits for some of the topics, and it’s difficult to coordinate a couple workshops a semester, let alone six.

So we decided on a slightly different approach. Rather than trying to spread the workshops out among six class visits, we consolidated them. As luck would have it, this spring semester Mackenzie and Sydney Bufkin, Visiting Assistant Professor of English and Mellon Digital Humanities Fellow at W&L, were co-teaching a small capstone course for W&L students minoring in Digital Culture and Information. As a part of the course, Mackenzie and Sydney were eager for their students to get broad exposure to a range of DH topics. Rather than coordinate six individual trips from UVA to W&L, Mackenzie and Sydney suggested bringing their W&L students to UVA. With this in mind, on two separate occasions, Mackenzie and Sydney brought a group of students to the Scholars’ Lab to take part in a series of workshop sessions by our Praxis students. Because these workshops fell under the purview of the workshop exchange component of W&L’s Mellon grant, we were able to pay the students a small honorarium to compensate the extra time required to prepare the workshops over and above what we would usually expect of Praxis participants. In conversations with our Praxis students I started calling the event the Praxis DH Roadshow.

We had a lot of conversation internally about how to handle invitations for these workshops. After all, while the Praxis students were eager to deliver their work and get feedback, they were still learning about the field. We worried that throwing the doors open to the general public would be unfair to these students who were, after all, teaching in public so as to learn. We wanted to construct a space that helped to mitigate these risks, so we settled on a partially open format, aiming for about fifteen participants total in each workshop. Besides the five participants from W&L, we also counted on about five participants from the Scholar’s Lab. For the remaining audience members, we selectively invited members of the UVA community: subject librarians who would be interested in the work being done by students in their departments, experienced and generous collaborators who we could count on to offer constructive feedback, and library colleagues who might simply be interested in learning about the method under discussion. We couldn’t invite everyone, but we hoped that these targeted invitations might give our students the chance to show off the work they were doing in the library in a supportive environment.

To my mind, the events were a success in many ways. The slate of workshops the students put together was broad and diverse:

  • Catherine Addington (Spanish) – Transcription and Digital Editions
  • Cho Jiang (Urban and Environmental Planning) – Sentiment Mapping
  • Emily Mellen (Music, Critical and Comparative Studies) – How to Cite and Work with Sound Sources in Writing
  • Eleanore Neumann (Art and Architectural History) – Digital Curation
  • Mathilda Shepard (Spanish) – Minimal Computing
  • Chris Whitehead (History) – Network Analysis w/ String

The lineup of topics was a tad scattershot to be sure, but the goal was never to cover the broad range of things possible in digital humanities. We engaged the graduate students where they were and had their interests set the agenda. To my mind, the workshops themselves were not really for the audience. They were a chance to offer the Praxis students a chance to teach with a safety net – an opportunity they don’t often have. It also gave the students a chance to watch each other teach – something that is even more rare. But I’m very pleased that we were able to turn this exercise for graduate students at UVA into something that could be of use to the group at W&L.

I’m so pleased that Praxis could become a supportive space for pedagogical growth this year, and I’m very thankful for everyone who made it possible. I’m especially grateful to the many library colleagues who attended and shared their constructive feedback with the students (with apologies if I miss anyone): Hanni Nabahe, Lauren Work, Abby Flanigan, Brandon Butler, Maggie Nunley, Regina Carter, Erin Pappas, Keith Weimer, and Sue Donovan. The events would not have been possible without the work of Mackenzie Brooks, Sydney Bufkin, Amanda Visconti, and Laura Miller. They were each instrumental in making sure that the events took the shape they did and that they proved productive for the students. And, of course, I am very proud of and grateful to the students for sharing their work with us.

Mackenzie’s Perspective

As one of the instructors of the capstone course that Brandon mentioned, I wanted to share my perspective on the workshop roadshow and its role in our course. At the Washington and Lee University Library, we are in our first year of offering a minor in Digital Culture and Information (DCI). Sydney Bufkin and I decided to design and co-teach the capstone course this year, before we had any declared minors, as a way to test out the structure and feasibility of an upper-level digital project-based course.

We embarked on this trial with two students, both of whom had some experience with DH projects, but not much coursework in DCI. Because it was such a small course, we were able to customize the schedule to fit the needs of the students and their projects. Katherine Dau ’19 was interested in building a web map to complement her honors thesis in art history and MaKayla Lorick ’19 wanted to design a digital exhibit to house an oral history project she began the previous summer. We quickly filled our 12-week schedule with the theoretical and technological grounding necessary for our students to meet their project goals. But we still wanted our students to get a sense of the breadth of DH work.

Moreover, I knew from previous experience with UVa graduate students that they could be a great model for our undergrads as they learned new digital modes of research. As part of our ongoing collaboration with Scholars’ Lab, I regularly bring in a UVa graduate student or two in my 100-level Data in the Humanities course to introduce a new methodology (text analysis or GIS for example) and share its use in their own research. It has been a great way for my students to see someone only a little bit older than they are engaged in scholarship and the kind of experimentation that often goes on at Scholars’ Lab. I try to schedule the visits when my students are beginning to form their research questions so that they can bounce ideas off the grad students and hear someone other than me engage with their ideas.

Therefore, I was delighted to find out that this year’s Praxis students had prepared workshops they wanted to deliver. Our small class size made for an easy field trip up to Charlottesville for two marathon workshop days. The visits fell in the latter half of the course, but I think they would have worked just as well in the earlier half when we were still surveying methods. Not only did we all learn a lot from each of the workshop leaders, but our students were (gently) forced to articulate their own work for a friendly and knowledgeable audience. By the sixth workshop, they were comfortable explaining Jekyll or the reasoning behind their project name. This is what I like best about our collaboration with Scholars’ Lab – it creates an opportunity for all the people involved to learn and grow in a welcoming, low-stakes space. The Praxis students even insisted on formal feedback from us, so we took class time to fill out an evaluation form and discuss the workshops. For us, this was just a continuation of an ongoing conversation about sharing your work. Both Katherine and MaKayla had been presenting their projects to various audiences throughout the term, but the workshops helped them see new possibilities for their own emerging pedagogical practice. Most capstones will involve some kind of public presentation, but this experience reminded us that there is room for sharing and reflecting on your work in incremental ways, not just at the end of a project.

Thank you to everyone who made this event possible!

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DH Event on campus Speaker Series

DH Speaker Series: Anne Leader

Portrait of Anne Leader

We’re happy to welcome Anne Leader to campus on January 16th, 2019 for a public talk on her DH project called “Digital Sepultuario.” Supported by the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (IATH) team at the University of Virginia, Dr. Leader’s project charts the locations, designs, and epitaphs of tombs made for Florentine families in sacred spaces across the city from about 1200 to about 1500, and then uses archival data to analyze social networks, patterns of patronage, and markers of status in the late Middle Ages and Early Modern period. The places people interred their forebearers said a lot about who they were and who they aspired to be. George Bent, our own Sidney Gause Childress Professor of Art, shared, “This project will be of great interest to those of us whose research and pedagogical interests revolve around burial rituals, concepts of the afterlife, commemorating the dead, and burnishing personal reputations. It will be geared to both students and faculty, and will address issues and challenges facing those of us engaged in Digital Humanities studies.” Dr. Leader will be joining Prof. Bent’s Italian Renaissance Art course as well.


Pray for Us: The Tombs of Santa Croce and Santa Maria Novella
Wednesday, January 16th, 2019
5pm
Northen Auditorium

Categories
Announcement Event on campus Pedagogy People Research Projects

Winter Academy 2018 — rescheduled!

[FYI this event has been rescheduled for January 16, 2019 from 12:15pm-1:15pm. Join us for the same great lineup! Please register on Event Manager.]

With a fresh snow and impending finals, it is certainly time to look toward Winter Academy offerings. The entire line-up looks great this year, but we invite you to join us for the following DH event:

Monday, December 10th, 2018
12:15-1:15pm
Hillel 101
Lunch provided

Digital Humanities Summer Research Panel
Curious about how “digital humanities”–whatever that means–can fit into your research? What it’s like to work collaboratively with undergraduates working on humanistic questions? What impact the research can have on your pedagogy? Then, you should hear from Mellon Summer Digital Humanities Faculty Research awardees and a Special Collections project.

Presenters: George Bent, Professor of Art History; Sydney Bufkin, Mellon Digital Humanities Fellow; Megan Hess, Assistant Professor of Accounting

Don’t forget to register at http://go.wlu.edu/winteracademy!


Looking to fill out the rest of your week? We recommend the following:

  • Leveraging Technology to Cultivate an Inclusive Classroom – Kelly Hogan and Viji Sathy (UNC Chapel Hill), Monday at 9:15-10:45pm
  • Imaging in the IQ Center – Dave Pfaff, Monday at 2:15pm
  • How is Technology Affecting Your Mojo? Finding Mindfulness – Marsha Mays-Bernard (JMU), Wednesday at 2:30-4pm
Categories
DH Event on campus Speaker Series

DH Speaker Series: Roopika Risam

We are beyond excited to welcome Dr. Roopika Risam to campus next week! Join us for her talk on September 20th, 2018 at 5pm in Northen Auditorium. Refreshments will be served.


Historicizing the College Color Line: Digital Humanities, Activism, and the Campus Climate

As our students renew demands for equity and justice on their campuses, how can digital humanities be engaged to address the college color line? Risam begins this talk by exploring the complicated relationship between digital humanities, public scholarship, and activism through her work on the Torn Apart/Separados team. She then considers how digital humanities can be used to assist activist-minded students in addressing pressing issues of race on our college campuses, based on her work at Salem State University. While Risam urges caution against quick conflation of digital humanities and activism, she argues that its methods can be effective tools for shedding light on histories of campus activism and supporting today’s student activists.

Roopika Risam is Assistant Professor of English, Faculty Fellow for Digital Library Initiatives, and Coordinator of the Digital Studies Graduate Certificate Program, and Coordinator of the Secondary English Education BA/M.Ed. Program at Salem State University. Risam is the author of New Digital Worlds: Postcolonial Digital Worlds in Theory, Praxis, and Pedagogy (Northwestern UP) and co-editor of The Digital Black Atlantic for the Debates in the Digital Humanities series (University of Minnesota Press). She is the director of the NEH and IMLS-funded Regional Comprehensive Digital Humanities Network and co-founder of Reanimate (http://reanimatepublishing.org), an intersectional feminist publishing collective. Her scholarship has appeared in Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, Digital Humanities Quarterly, Debates in the Digital Humanities, Popular Communications, South Asian Review, and College and Undergraduate Libraries, among others. Risam is also a recent recipient of the Massachusetts Library Association’s Civil Liberties Champion Award for her work promoting equity and justice in the digital cultural record. More information and her CV is available at http://roopikarisam.com.

Categories
Announcement DH Event on campus Incentive Grants Pedagogy Speaker Series

Day of DH at Fall Academy 2018

DH @ W&L is holding two Fall Academy sessions this year. Don’t forget to register and check out all the other amazing-looking sessions. Join us on Thursday, August 23rd, 2018 in Hillel 101 for the following:

10:45AM-11:45 AM Creating Open Course Websites
Course websites are a great way to increase access to your courses, share your teaching strategies and materials with colleagues, and organize information for your students. Creating a course website is also an opportunity to re-evaluate the structure of your class and imagine how a student will navigate the different parts of the course. Learn about the benefits of making course materials open and accessible to audiences beyond the university, hear how other people in DH are using course websites, and learn strategies for organizing your own course into an easy-to-navigate website.

Presenters: Sydney Bufkin, Mellon Digital Humanities Fellow; Mackenzie Brooks, University Library; Sarah Horowitz, History.

12:00 PM – 1:45 PM DH Incentive Grant Panel
Come learn about DH funding opportunities for research and the classroom. Hear from current grant holders how they incorporate DH tools and methods in their classrooms. Presenters include Paul Youngman, Chair of Digital Humanities; Ricardo Wilson, English; Shikha Silwal, Economics; Stephen Lind, Business Administration; Stephanie Sandberg, Theater.

Come learn about DH funding opportunities for research and the classroom. Hear from current grant holders how they incorporate DH tools and methods in their classrooms. Presenters include Paul Youngman, Chair of Digital Humanities; Ricardo Wilson, English; Shikha Silwal, Economics; Stephen Lind, Business Administration; Stephanie Sandberg, Theater.