Conference DH Event off campus Undergraduate Fellows

DH Fellows Attend 2018 UNRH Conference

“The potential for digital humanities is essentially boundless because there are no rigid definitions for such pursuits, and there is so much information to be observed, studied, digitized, and presented—not just academically speaking, but socially as well.”
–Colby Gilley ’20

In February, DH fellows Katherine Dau ’19 and Colby Gilley ’20 attended the Undergraduate Network for Research in the Humanities Conference at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. The conference, which is held annually and aimed at building a network for collaboration and providing a platform for peers to share projects, gave Dau and Gilley the opportunity to learn more about Digital Humanities.

Photo originally posted on the UNRH Twitter page

Dau and Gilley were able to present their project Florence As It Was to fellow undergraduate researchers, receive feedback on it, and explore the projects of other students interested in Digital Humanities. In particular, they were able to learn about ArcGIS, a geographic information system for working with maps and geographic data, and how useful it could be to their own digital reconstruction project of early modern Florence.

The keynote speaker was Dr. Jacob Heil, the College of Wooster’s Digital Scholarship Librarian and the Director of its Collaborative Research Environment (CoRE). According to Dau and Gilley, Dr. Heil emphasized the significance of the “betweenness” that comes to represent Digital Humanities. Because Florence As It Was incorporates various skills and disciplines, including website design, photogrammetry, 3D design methods, art history, architecture, history and religion, Dau and Gilley, like many other DH fellows, understand the importance of being able to maneuver between and transcend traditional academic boundaries.

Overall, Dau and Gilley highly recommend attending the UNRH Conference to students who are interested in learning more about Digital Humanities projects from around the world, sharing challenges and goals with a community of undergraduate researchers, and becoming a part of the next generation of scholars in Digital Humanities and academia.

This post was written using interviews with Katherine Dau ’19 and Colby Gilley ’20.

-Jenny Bagger, DH Undergraduate Fellow

Conference DH Event on campus

Report on UNRH Conference 2017

This year’s UNRH (Undergraduate Network for Research in the Humanities) Conference was hosted at W&L. For those who are not familiar with them, UNRH is a group of undergraduate students interested in learning about and experimenting with innovative research methods in the humanities. Two W&L students, Lenny Enkhbold (’17) and Lizzy Stanton (’17), were part of the founding group that started the conference in 2015. “Having worked on this project for over two years, it was very rewarding to have received so much support and being able to actually experience the results. I know Lizzy feels the same way as well,” Lenny said. “We listened to the feedback from last year and tried to make the adjustments on any category that the participants from last year thought we could improve on.”

The various sessions for this year’s conference were hosted in the new Center for Global Learning. Over the weekend of January 20-22, students from different colleges and universities across the country gathered to discuss their projects and to attend DH workshops.

Formal presentations began Saturday morning. (check out the full schedule here) During the morning session, four different groups presented the cool projects they have been working on.

In the first presentation, titled “Digitizing a Church,” two students from Lake Forest College told us about their four week endeavor of creating a virtual reality of a church near their campus. The most interesting aspect of their project was it’s interactive nature; you could simply click on the stained glass windows of the church and a pop-up window would detail their importance. The students demonstrated their belief that virtual realities can help change the education industry, by allowing students to really engage with the material in a digital representation and could even replace field trips in the future.

Students from the University of South Carolina presented their app called “Ward One,” which they created in a classroom setting. The students wanted to heighten awareness about Ward One, a historically African American community that has been destroyed by development. The app allows people to explore the community as it was and highlights historical monuments in the area. The students have received immense positive feedback from the city. During the presentation, a taped interview showed a woman who had lived in the neighborhood stating that the app made her feel like “finally someone cares.”

One group, who detailed their experience creating their online game titled “Chronicle of Swashbuckling Rubbish,” were asked why they created the project. In response, they replied, “We wanted to create something and so we did.” Although the two presenters are English and music education majors at Cornell College, they found a way to manifest their different skills into a digital project.

The afternoon consisted of round robin sessions, which I was unable to attend. But Lenny, a host contact for this year’s conference, said that the afternoon was a great way to wrap-up the day. “It was nice to change up the presentation style and keep everyone fresh rather than having two more hours of sit-down formal presentations,” he said. (see photos from this year’s conference here)

Lenny, Lizzy and the rest of the leadership team seemed really excited about their progress and are already seeking volunteer’s for next year’s conference. I thought the conference was a really awesome event that allowed students to present their work to a wider audience of their peers from different schools, majors, backgrounds, etc.

Check out all the tweets from the conference here:

Conference DH Undergraduate Fellows


The Icebreakers - the 2016 version of the annual band photo.
The Icebreakers – the 2016 version of the annual Bucknell band photo.

It’s been just over a week since I went to my first academic conference (!) and I’m ready to share my experience. I went to BUDSC 16 over the weekend of October 28 – 30th with Mackenzie and Brandon.

The Bucknell University Digital Scholarship Conference, is held at Bucknell University (duh) in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania every year. This year, Mackenzie and Brandon graciously inserted me into their presentation about writing in the context of digital scholarship and digital humanities. More on that later. Overall, the conference was an extremely interesting and enlightening experience. It was also a lot of fun and I’m thankful that my professors/supervisors are great people to go road tripping with. Besides the endless icebreakers and a wrong turn in Pennsylvania, there was a lot to take in during the days of the conference. Here’s a brief rundown of what I participated in during the conference:

  • Arrived on Friday night, too late for conference activities, so we got dinner and prepared for Saturday.
  • Saturday morning: I attended a panel about “Reframing Art History Through Digital Approaches.” To me, it was pretty classic DH work. The panel included presentations by Bucknell University Art History students who explored collections in the Packwood House museum in Lewisburg and used Omeka to archive the most interesting collections, and a presentation about digital tools and using them for pedagogy, specifically for art history and teaching resources for art history.
  • After a break, Mackenzie and I went to panel called “Re-Envisioning and Reclaiming History”. This one started off with a great exhibition of a project from Middlebury College. You can watch it for yourself at It was an incredible multimedia website with an animated movie, newspaper articles, photographs, and other archival data to present the history of the Collinwood School fire in 1908. I highly recommend you check it out, especially the video. The latter half of the presentation was about using digital scholarship in the humanities to engage various audiences outside of academic environments.
  • The conference picked up for me at lunch. Safiya U. Noble, a professor at UCLA, gave the keynote address about “Power, Privilege, and the Imperative to Act in the Digital Age.” Her talk had to do with how digital applications and technology can perpetuate negative stereotypes and serve to reinforce oppressive ideology and history. Professor Noble brought up Google’s search results, the human and environmental impacts of the latest iPhone, and the sustainability of a programmer’s code. Everything was thought-provoking and made a lot of sense to me. It wasn’t necessarily enjoyable to listen to, but it was definitely something that many people needed to hear.
  • Next, Brandon and I went to a workshop that introduced visualizing data on social media such as Instagram and Twitter using websites such as Netlytics and Socioviz. Good to know if I intend to do any data mining for a future project.
  • Our presentation! The other two presentations before ours were also about the role of “Digital Scholarship in Higher Education.” Brandon and Mackenzie discussed and presented the uses of writing as a digital humanities method. Writing for the digital humanities, such as for blogs or to communicate in public (much like how I’m doing now) is very different from writing for an academic setting. I spoke for a bit about my perspective on how DH writing and blogging are different from writing that I’ve done for essays and/or literary analyses in my classes. I also discussed my honors thesis and how I’ll be incorporating DH writing into the notion of a traditional thesis.
  • Cocktail hour – students and professors presented about their various projects with posters and Powerpoints over hors d’oeuvres. I had the pleasure of meeting students from Lafayette College and their professor, and their presentations. And that was it for Saturday.
  • Sunday morning was almost as eye-opening as Professor Noble’s keynote. The first presentation was a little different from the two after. Dr. Heil presented about the pedagogy of large-scale digital scholarship. The next two were more about using digital scholarship to break down borders (the theme of the conference) in ways that may not be obvious. Sandra Nelson discussed the inherent phallogocentricity of programming and coding languages, while Emily McGinn talked about the Western and English-dominated aspects of digital scholarship.

Overall, BUDSC 16 was a worthwhile trip and a great opportunity for me. I thought my part of the presentation would be a bigger part of it for me, but the rest of what I learned and observed was much more valuable than a few minutes of speaking time. There are a couple more conferences this year that I might have the pleasure of attending, and presenting at, and I’m looking forward to them.

Conference DH Event off campus

Apps, Maps, & Models: A New View

[Crossposted on my personal blog.]

Last Monday several of us here at WLUDH traveled down to Duke University for their symposium on Apps, Maps & Models: Digital Pedagogy in Art History, Archaeology & Visual Studies. I found the trip to be enlightening and invigorating. If you are interested in the event, you can find videos of the talks here and here as well as a storify of the Twitter action here. That the event was so well documented is a testimony to how well organized it was by the Wired! Lab.

Many speakers at the event considered how the tools they were using might relate to more “traditional” modes for carrying out their research. They considered and responded to tough questions with and about their work. Are digital methods for tracing the topography of a surface, for example, fundamentally different in kind from analog means of doing so? If so, are they meant to displace those old tools? Why should we spend the time to learn the new technologies? A related question that comes up at almost every digital humanities presentation (though not at any of these): can digital humanities methods show us anything that we do not already know?

Such questions can be particularly troubling when we are investing such time and energy on the work they directly critique, but we nonetheless need to have answers for them that demonstrate the value of digital humanities work, in and out of the classroom. Numerous well-known scholars have offered justifications of digital work in a variety of venues, and, to my mind, the symposium offered many answers of its own, in part by showcasing amazing work that spanned a variety of fields related to preservation, public humanities, and academic scholarship. Presenters were using digital technology to rebuild the past, using digital modeling to piece together the fragments of a ruined church that have since been incorporated into other structures. They were using these tools to engage the present, to draw the attention of museum patrons to overlooked artifacts. The work on display at the symposium struck me, at its core, as engaging with questions and values that cut across disciplines, digital or otherwise.

Most compelling to me, the symposium drew attention to how the tools we use to examine the objects of our study change our relationship to them. The presenters acknowledged that such an idea does hold dangers – after all, we want museum-goers to consider the objects in a collection, not just spend time perusing an iPad application meant to enrich them. But just as new tools offer new complications, changes in medium also offer changes in perspective. As was illustrated repeatedly at the symposium, drone photography, for all its deeply problematic political and personal valences, can offer you a new way of seeing the world, a new way of looking that is more comprehensive than the one we see from the ground. Even as we hold new methodologies and tools up to critique we can still consider how they might cause us to consider an object, a project, or a classroom differently.

Seeing from a different angle allows us to ask new questions and re-evaluate old ones, an idea that speaks directly to my experience at the symposium. I work at the intersections of digital humanities, literary studies, and sound studies. So my participation in the symposium was as something of an outsider, someone ready to learn about an adjacent and overlapping field but, ultimately, not a home discipline. Thinking through my work from an outsider perspective made me want to ask many questions of my own work. The presenters here were deeply engaged in preserving and increasing access to the cultural record. How might I do the same through text analysis or through my work with audio artifacts? What questions and goals are common to all academic disciplines? How might I more thoroughly engage students in public humanities work?

Obviously, the event left me with more questions than answers, but I think that is ultimately the sign of a successful symposium. I would encourage you to check out the videos of the conference, as this short note is necessarily reductive of such a productive event. The talks will offer you new thoughts on old questions and new ways of thinking about digital scholarship no matter your discipline.



Conference Event off campus Project Update

Members of W&L DH Working Group to present at Five College Consortium’s DH Panel

Two members of W&L’s Digital Humanities Working Group, Brandon Bucy and Alston Brake, will participate in the Five College Consortium’s Digital Humanities Panel to be held at Smith College, MA on June 18, 2013.  They will discuss the evolution of Digital Humanities at W&L and campus initiatives to support faculty and staff in this work.  The panel will focus on what it means to do Digital Humanities work in liberal arts colleges. Click here to see their presentation.