DCI DH Event on campus Undergraduate Fellows

Capstone Presentations and DCI Celebrations

Join us on April 2nd for capstone presentations from the students in DCI 393. Over the course of the semester they have worked to develop their own projects, which also include digital tools that are integrated into and essential to presenting their work. Katherine Dau ’19 will be presenting her project titled “The Atlantic Current” and MaKayla Lorick ‘19 will be presenting about “The Black General.”

We will also be coming together to celebrate the (almost complete) first school year of the DCI minor! If you are a DCI minor, taking any DCI classes, or are interested in learning more about DCI and the types of projects completed through DCI classes, we would love to have you come join us. We will have snacks!

DCI 393 Presentations and DCI Minor Celebration
Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019
Digital Humanities Workspace (Leyburn Library Level 2)

DH Event on campus

Recapping the Women and Technology Forum

The Rewriting the Code: Women and Technology initiative held a forum on March 1-2 at Washington and Lee University to bring together speakers from a variety of disciplines to talk about how their work intersects with technology. The six women spoke on everything from how technology can be used to tell stories to addressing the wage gap to the role technology has played in promoting social justice. Throughout the two days, many W&L students, faculty, and staff dropped in to hear from the speakers.

Chelsea Barabas delivers the keynote address at the Rewriting the Code: Women and Technology Forum
Photo Credit: Shelby Mack

The forum began with a keynote speech by Chelsea Barabas in the evening of March 1. Chelsea’s keynote, which was titled “Dodging Silver Bullets: Understanding the Role of Technology in Social Change,” covered some of the research she has done investigating algorithms purportedly created to help increase equality in the tech industry. She also discussed the pervasiveness of the idea that tech is meritocratic and therefore any disparity between the number of tech-focused workers of different genders or ethnicities is simply due to ability rather than bias. The keynote was well-attended by both W&L students and faculty and staff who stopped by Northen Auditorium to hear her speak. If you missed Chelsea’s keynote, you can watch the livestream or read more about her visit here.

Day two began with a welcome breakfast, allowing speakers, students, faculty, and staff to mingle together while enjoying a healthy breakfast. The day truly began a short while later, with the first panel titled “Technology and Social Justice.” The speakers on this panel included Chelsea Barabas, Sydney Boles, and Stephanie Stelter, and it was moderated by W&L accounting professor Megan Hess. The three speakers discussed topics including how their work fosters social change, the role of technology in creating that change, tech skills they feel would be useful for the audience to know, and ways that people can promote social justice even if their current job does not directly lead to social change.

The next panel, “Making History,” included Logan Jaffe, Stephanie Stillo, and Diana Williams. This one was moderated by W&L history professor Molly Michelmore and included conversations on how each speakers’ work engages with history, the current state of history in our culture today, and the ways technology can be used to connect people to history.

The two panels were followed by a networking lunch, during which students were able to sit and eat lunch with a speaker. This allowed smaller groups of students to have more intimate discussions with the speaker they were sitting with. Some W&L faculty and staff also joined in for the lunch, which helped to create discussions that covered a diverse range of topics.

After the lunch, attendees got to hear from all six speakers as they discussed “The Best Career Advice I’ve Ever Gotten.” The panel was moderated by Kellie Harra, Post-Baccalaureate Fellow in Digital Humanities at W&L. The speakers covered everything from the best career advice they had received (or wished they had received) to addressing the wage gap in the workplace to activities they do in their free time that help with relaxation to overcoming the intimidation of learning and using technology. The audience was especially involved during this panel, asking questions throughout.

The day finished off with a panel on “Technology and Storytelling” which involved Sydney Boles, Logan Jaffe, Stephanie Stelter, Stephanie Stillo, and Diana Williams, with W&L professor Toni Locy, from journalism and mass communications, as the moderator. During this panel, the speakers talked about who they consider their audience to be and how they make that decision, the process that leads to stories being told, and the hardest stories they’ve had to tell. Throughout these conversations, the use of technology was discussed in relation to the types of stories being told.

The forum came to a close on Sunday morning, March 3, with some of the speakers, plus a few students, faculty, and staff members attending a breakfast at Niko’s Grille in Lexington. This allowed for one final opportunity to review the discussions from the previous two days and learn more from the speakers about their life experiences.

Throughout the three days of the forum, students were actively involved in the conversations, frequently asking questions of the speakers. The synergy of the speakers also worked to create a fun yet serious atmosphere, where learning and reflection could take place. We are especially grateful for the willingness of the speakers to join us and for helping to make the forum an exceptional event.

Report on Rewriting the Code by Annie Echols ’21

Rewriting the Code is made possible by support from: Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Class of 1963 Lecture Fund, University Lectures Fund, Digital Humanities Cohort, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Dean of the College, Dean of the Williams School, Department of History, Department of Computer Science, Department of Journalism and Mass Communications, and University Library.

– Kellie Harra ’18, Digital Humanities Post-Baccalaureate Fellow


Illuminating Technology’s Blind Spots: Report on the Women and Technology Keynote Address

“Dodging Silver Bullets: Understanding the Role of Technology in Social Change” with Chelsea Barabas

Chelsea Barabas gave the keynote address (live stream available here) of the Rewriting the Code: Women and Technology Forum on Friday, March 1. The Forum focused on exploring careers in technology, humanities, social change, communications, and the arts. It took place on Saturday, March 2 and included several panel discussions, such as Technology and Social Justice, Making History, The Best Career Advice I’ve Ever Gotten, and Technology and Storytelling.

In her keynote address, Barabas, a research scientist at MIT, spoke about the social implications of technology and how technology can be used to make the world a better place.

Striving to understand the role of technology in social change, Barabas discussed technology’s diversity problem. The prevailing theory for the “pale and male” look of the homogeneous technology workforce is that there are not enough diverse workers with the required skills to be hired. However, research shows that the “unemployment rate for Black and Native American engineering graduates double that of their peers” and “women make up 39% of the science and engineering graduates with only 15% employed in a STEM career, a rate that is half that of their male peers.” Because these diverse potential hires have the required skills but are still not getting the tech jobs, this homogeneous workforce is not due to a lack of skills issue.

Chelsea Barabas Keynote Address
Chelsea Barabas giving the Rewriting the Code: Women and Technology Keynote Address on March 1
Photo Credit: Jenny Bagger ’19

In response, algorithmic recruitment platforms popped up and attempted to solve these hiring, recruitment, and retention issues by creating a comprehensive database of coders, building an algorithm on top of that database that provided hiring recommendations and functioned as a search engine for recruiters, and serving as a solution to the information processing problem of recruiting and hiring predominantly white males. These platforms seemingly allowed firms to more efficiently and more accurately find talent where they were not already looking.

However, these algorithms posed many questions, which Barabas raised: How are these algorithms developed? What ends up fueling these recommendations? How do we create a measuring stick to evaluate talent? Who ended up visible and invisible under this algorithmic gaze?

Most of the time, the factors that were the most relevant to this algorithm were the same as those the recruiters previously used when scoping out new talent. These factors include candidates’ universities attended and professional pedigrees. By reflecting the decisions recruiters made in the past, this technology is simply a reinforcement of the old practices but behind this “veneer of scientific objectivity and neutrality,” as Chelsea put it. Often, people view technology as objective tools that are free of people’s biases, but in reality, this is not the case. Maintaining this view in error increases the risk of obscuring the discriminatory practices of society’s past behind this mask of scientific objectivity.

“AI is like a child. It absorbs the default assumptions about how the world works, unless we teach it otherwise.”

Chelsea Barabas

Therefore, we must teach it otherwise. The perceived objectivity of technology creates the risk of legitimizing the biases of those who program it. Because technology inherits the blind spots of those who create it, we must expand the diversity of its creators. This means cultivating a heterogeneous workforce and embracing the necessity of diverse programmers.

“There are no silver bullet solutions to these social problems. If a technology solution seems too good to be true, it probably is. If people on your team are trying to build something and can’t see the holes in it, then your team probably isn’t diverse enough.”

Chelsea Barabas

Babaras concluded the Keynote Address with this dose of reality and call to action. Technology can provide solutions to social problems, but finding and selecting a diverse team of coders to create this technology is a social problem within itself that technology has proven unable to fix.

Barbaras’ Keynote Address kickstarted an enriching weekend of women discussing, learning from each other, and sharing their own experiences with the intersection of technology and the humanities.

-Jenny Bagger ’19, DH Undergraduate Fellow

Chelsea Barabas’ visit was sponsored by the Class of 1963 Fund.

DH Event on campus Speaker Series

DH Speaker Series: Gabriel Dance

We are excited to welcome Gabriel Dance back to campus in a few weeks! You may remember Dance from his visit in 2015. This time, Dance will visit classes and give a talk on Monday, February 25th. Join us for his talk on two stories: The Follower Factory and Your Apps Know Where You Were Last Night, and They’re Not Keeping It Secret.

Monday, February 25, 2019
4:30 PM

Finding Fake Followers and Watching the Watchers: New Approaches to Investigative Journalism

Dance is a journalist and editor working at the cutting edge of news. Based in New York City, Dance is currently deputy investigations editor at The New York Times. Previously, he was a managing editor at The Marshall Project, a non-profit investigative journalism startup focusing on crime and punishment in the United States. He was also the interactive editor for The Guardian and worked on a team of journalists with whom he won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for coverage of widespread secret surveillance by the National Security Agency. His work has also won two Emmy awards for New Approaches to News and Documentary, an Alfred L. DuPont award, a World Press Photo award, and several others.

This event is co-sponsored by the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications and the Digital Humanities Cohort.

DH People Project Update

Seeing W&L from a New Position

For eight months I’ve held a new title, no longer “Student” at Washington and Lee but now “Digital Humanities Post-Baccalaureate Fellow” in the W&L Library. In this position, I’ve contributed to the development of a new initiative called Rewriting the Code: Women and Technology, aided in the promotion of W&L’s new Digital Culture and Information (DCI) minor, and explored the university’s decision to adopt coeducation in the mid-1980s.

Rewriting the Code is a cross-departmental, collaborative effort which aims to inspire women at W&L to pursue majors, careers, and interests at the intersection of technology and the humanities. We started with two fall workshops, one covering HTML/CSS and the other on Python. After receiving double the number of applicants (60!) as spots available, we decided to host a second round of these workshops during the beginning of winter term. Coming up, we will be hosting a forum that includes a keynote presentation on March 1 and panel discussions on various topics, plus a mentoring lunch, on March 2. I have spent a significant portion of my work time aiding in the planning and execution of these events.

My work for DCI has primarily involved encouraging students, through the use of social media, to sign up for DCI classes. The goal is to have some of these students declare the minor after trying out the classes. In both the fall and winter terms, we have seen most DCI classes nearly full or at maximum capacity (and a couple with long waitlists, too!). It is exciting to see the enthusiasm students, and especially the underclassmen, have for DCI classes and the valuable skills they get to learn.

Researching the coeducation decision has allowed me to explore the vast holdings of W&L’s Special Collections. I have learned that it is very easy to begin skimming through documents in a folder, realize it is unlikely I will find any information related to coeducation within those documents, but be so intrigued by what I’m reading that I continue looking through it anyway. Nonetheless, the (re)discoveries that are made related to coeducation as I search through our collections is exciting for me and the other staff members who work in Special Collections. Although this project still has considerably more work to be completed before my one-year appointment comes to an end, before I leave I expect to have a website created with digital facsimiles of a variety of different types of documents related to coeducation and the experience of women at W&L more generally.

So, what is a post-baccalaureate fellowship? These types of positions are typically open to graduating seniors or recent graduates (those who graduated within the past one to three years) and are relatively short in duration (one or two years). Post-baccalaureate fellowships provide a great transition for students and recent grads because they offer the opportunity to gain hands-on work experience as well as mentorship from colleagues. For myself in particular, I believe that this position has been able to provide me with valuable experience as I transition from college life to the working world. Although I worked over the summers while in college, I didn’t have the “traditional” W&L internships, especially before my senior year. Instead, during the summer of 2017, I helped my mother remodel our house and equestrian property before selling it later that year. In my spare time, I worked for the government, visiting farms in the area to talk to farmers and collect data about their crops and livestock. While I felt that I had a productive summer in my own way, the feedback I received in interviews during my senior year was often along the lines of, “It seems like you are capable of accomplishing many things, but we don’t have enough solid examples of your ability.” This position allows me to demonstrate my skills through the projects I’m completing. While I did have a work study position as a student, I have considerably more responsibility now, aiding in the planning, organizing, and promotion of our various events and other projects on campus. Unlike with my work study position, I am able to be a part of these projects from start to finish.

Further, this type of position also benefits current students who get to participate in the events that are occurring through my work. For example, Rewriting the Code is a brand new initiative this year, yet over 60 women will have been impacted in some way through the workshops we held. Even more will benefit once we hold the forum in March. The coeducation project is also involving students to research issues important to them. Currently, a student is aiding in the development of a background story and oral histories on Asians, Asian-Americans, and exchange students (with a focus on women) to add to our collective knowledge about the impact of coeducation.

I also have discovered this fellowship to be an easier transition to life after college, as I’m already in a place where I am comfortable. Although at times it feels strange being an employee at W&L while still having friends who are students, much of the culture that I became accustomed to as a student is the same. This has made it easier to focus on my work tasks without being concerned about adjusting to a new company culture.

Although I have yet to decide where my path will take me after this fellowship ends, I feel confident in the skills I’ve gained and demonstrated through my position. I’m also excited about the impact of my work, in particular with the Rewriting the Code initiative. In the future, I hope to see more opportunities for other students to have experiences similar to mine.

– Kellie Harra ’18, Digital Humanities Post-Baccalaureate Fellow

DH Event on campus Project Update Research Projects Speaker Series

Report on “Pray for Us: The Tombs of Santa Croce and Santa Maria Novella”

In her public talk on January 16, 2019, Dr. Anne Leader discussed her DH project Digital Sepoltuario, which will offer students, scholars and the general public an online resource for the study of commemorative culture and medieval and renaissance Florence. Supported by the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (IATH) team at the University of Virginia, Digital Sepoltuario will chart 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.

While the project is not yet complete, it will include transcriptions, translations, photographs and analysis of fragile manuscripts, like registers that kept track of where different people were buried and records that indicate which tombs have been moved or destroyed. These documents demonstrate that tombs were frequently recycled from one family to another when lineages died out or when the family could no longer afford it. Because these records sometimes lost track of the owners of some tombs or the decorations faded away or disintegrated over time, there remains some uncertainty about some tombs’ owners that makes it impossible for historians to figure out now.

From these documents, scholars like Leader gain insight into why people chose certain tombs or churches as their final resting places. The tombstones are imbedded in the floors of churches in Florence, carpeting the churches with stone slabs that mark people’s final resting places and serving as reminders of everyone’s ultimate death. People would look down at the floor and contemplate what lay beneath the beautiful paintings and frescoes on the tombstones and within the churches, encouraging them to prepare for the final judgment and consider: am I ready for what’s to come?

By examining these records and incorporating them in a DH project, scholars can begin to answer questions about Florentines’ burial practices and ultimately about Florentines’ lives. Leader is interested in questions such as: How did Florentines decide on their final resting places, and how did they decide on the tombstones’ designs? So far, Leader noted that most people chose to be buried in their own parishes and close to their homes. However, she finds it interesting that increasing numbers of citizens requested burial elsewhere. This trend transformed the topography of Florence, causing tension within churches that relied on money from burying their dead and enriching some parishes while impoverishing others. Burial placement was one of the most important decisions Florentines would make, so considering why people wanted to be buried elsewhere and understanding the  implications these decisions had on social status help scholars today decipher how early modern Europeans thought about burial and death. Digital Sepoltuario will make all of this possible.

This event was sponsored by Washington and Lee University’s Art History Department, the Digital Humanities Cohort and the Digital Humanities Mellon Grant.

-Jenny Bagger ’19, DH Undergraduate Fellow

DH Event on campus Project Update Research Projects

DH Research Talk with Stephen P. McCormick

DH Research Talk with Stephen P. McCormick
Wednesday, February 6th, 2019
12:15 PM – 1:15 PM
IQ Center
Lunch is provided. Please register here!

Join Stephen P. McCormick to learn more about his Huon d’Auvergne project and his work with DH students!

McCormick will speak on his research and work with the digital and facsimile edition of Huon d’Auvergne, a pre-modern Franco-Italian epic. Linking institutions and disciplines, the Huon d’Auvergne Digital Archive is a collaborative scholarly project that presents for the first time to a modern reading audience the Franco-Italian Huon d’Auvergne romance epic.

This talk is sponsored by the Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program and the Digital Humanities Cohort.

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
Northen Auditorium

DH Undergraduate Fellows

DH Project Spotlight Series: Huon d’Auvergne

[Enjoy this first installment of the DH Project Spotlight Series, a series of posts on the DH @ W&L blog that investigate Digital Humanities projects from a student perspective.]

Ulyssess Aldrovandi, Serpentum, et Draconum Historiae (Bolognia, 1640)

My exploration of the many interesting DH projects starts with the Huon d’Auvergne Digital Archive. Led by Steve McCormick, Associate Professor of French and Italian at Washington and Lee University, the project makes Huon d’Auvergne, a Franco-Italian epic that is obscure even within the field of medieval studies, accessible after hundreds of years. The epic, which exists today thanks to four remaining manuscripts, details the story of its hero as he fights a fire-breathing dragon and is sent to Hell by the King in one of the first scenes to cite and imitate Dante’s “Inferno.” The four manuscripts that remain indicate that Huon d’Auvergne was so popular that it was translated into different dialects, allowing a new tradition of the embellished story to form.

The Huon d’Auvergne Digital Archive project has three phases, incorporating all four versions of the epic. Phase One, which is complete, included editing the text and making the manuscripts available on the website. Phase Two, which is currently in progress, involves bringing high-resolution images to the digital archive. The Huon d’Auvergne team partners with the libraries in Italy that house these manuscripts, which give the team the rights to put these images on the website. DH Fellow Megan Doherty ’19, who works on this project, said that this process requires a lot of trial and error with the coding work. Doherty remarked figuring out how to code on her own with the help of McCormick and the DH Program. Phase Three will involve editing more manuscripts, bringing in some of the texts that elaborate on Huon d’Auvergne.

Currently, Doherty helps McCormick bring high-resolution scans of the four existing manuscripts to the project, working with the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF), and creating a server on which to put these images, using Mirador, an image browser. As a result, Huon d’Auvergne will be available for anyone to read with the additional benefit of seeing the text illuminated through illustrations.

According to McCormick, within medieval studies, a book isn’t just a book and an epic isn’t just an epic. Therefore, it remains important to think about how the story is transmitted to a larger audience and on what material or platform the story is read because this changes how the story is understood. The versions of Huon d’Auvergne, which were intended to be read on animal skin, are not all exactly alike, so providing the images from each of the existing manuscripts on the Huon d’Auvergne website gives this project additional context that each print version alone does not. Doherty cites this accessibility as a reason why DH is so useful and significant to interpreting and presenting the epic to a larger group of people, aside from making for a fun project on which to work and with which to engage.

So many of the things we talk about in classrooms are much more conceptual, but to be able to actually see the manuscripts and work with them while doing the reading is helpful and enlightening.” -Megan Doherty ’19

McCormick finds the project exciting because he collaborates with two other co-principal investigators, Dr. Leslie Zarker Morgan from Loyola University and Dr. Shira Schwam-Baird from the University of North Florida and because the project was awarded funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, which is difficult to get and a prestigious indicator of the project’s merit. Former DH Fellow Abdur Khan ’17 worked on the Huon d’Auvergne Digital Archive while he was a student at W&L. Now, Khan attends Loyola University Chicago and studies Digital Humanities, providing an example of how DH brings people from different levels together and inspires further engagement with the discipline, embodying the spirit of DH. DH work not only takes something as obscure as Italian epic and makes it accessible to a larger group of people, but it also exhibits the collaborative work of scholars, students and faculty, differentiating it from traditional scholarship.

“I get to work with great students like Megan, and I get to bring them what I find exciting about medieval epics and help them get something out of the work as well.” -Steve McCormick

Encouraged by her work with Huon d’Auvergne and the DH Program, Doherty is pursuing a French Honors Thesis working with medieval manuscripts, hoping to incorporate a DH component. Specifically, she looks at LGBTQ+ representation during the Middle Ages by examining patterns in the text, reading theory that has been published on how to study same-sex relationships before the language for it was inherited in the 19th century, and considering how people spoke about same-sex relationships without this accepted language to describe it. Doherty is also interested in the illumination aspect of the manuscripts, including the medieval art presented on their pages.

Doherty was awarded the Mellon grant to work as a Summer Student Researcher with McCormick on the project and the website, putting coordinates on the pictures and mapping them out to create an interactive experience with the text, including pop-ups filled with small bits of information. Additionally, Doherty has the unique opportunity to help McCormick publish an article about the project, which is an exciting accomplishment for an undergraduate student. The publication will document their process, detailing how they deploy technology skills in the context of the manuscripts and why the Huon d’Auvergne Digital Archive is an important project.

“A big takeaway from DH is for us to realize that we’re in a moment of enormous change in history in which we must move from print to digital, and it’s urgent. Every artifact we have needs to be encoded in programs and represented digitally.”  -Megan Doherty ’19

By extension, Doherty recommends that students take DH classes here at W&L because the skills and topics covered in these classes could help students realize that there are so many different aspects to the projects and literature with which they traditionally work. In essence, DH is applicable to nearly everything, and it expands learning in the classroom beyond what we normally consider.

This post was written using interviews with Professor McCormick and Megan Doherty ’19.

-Jenny Bagger, DH Undergraduate Fellow

DH Event on campus Speaker Series Undergraduate Fellows

Dr. Roopika Risam: Calling Attention to Activism through Digital Humanities

During her talk on Thursday, September 20th, Dr. Roopika Risam, Assistant Professor of English, Faculty Fellow for Digital Library Initiatives, and Coordinator of the Digital Studies Graduate Certificate Program at Salem State University, posed the question: what are the rights and responsibilities of humanities scholars in the 21st century?

While Risam draws an important distinction between digital humanities and activism, she argues that digital humanities methods can be effective tools for calling attention to campus activism in the past and supporting student activists on today’s college campuses. The Torn Apart/Separados project, which she created with seven other scholars in one week in June 2018,  served as a reaction to Donald Trump’s immigration policy and the family separation crisis and as a means to think about how to respond or intervene. Using data from documents that were previously obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, the project displays a series of data visualizations that represent the landscape of ICE detention in the United States, showing that recent immigration policy impacts many places throughout the country, not just on the Mexico-United States border.

The reluctance amongst academics to tackle divisive issues or political work sparks the perplexing question: can one be both an activist and an academic? Risam claims that not tackling political issues in one’s work is a privilege, and Digital Humanities makes activism possible, offering hope for reappropriating knowledge production. For instance, the Torn Apart/Separados project is not an activist project, but it puts data into the hands of people who can make a difference. Instead of suggesting what consumers of this knowledge should do with it, the project recognizes the limitations of its own knowledge and simply aims to publish and display data. According to Risam, we should be excited about what is made possible by Digital Humanities methods yet remain wary about the utopian world they create.

Some of the most important work Digital Humanities does, according to Risam, is exert power over the means of producing knowledge. Specifically, Risam teaches her students at Salem State University how to conduct archival research, builds their soft and technical skills, and encourages them to think about the history of activism within their community: Salem State University and the city of Salem, Massachusetts. The students were overwhelmingly drawn to digital histories of activism, exploring records and archives of student organizations from the 60s, 70s and 80s to find out all they could about student activism on their campus. Ultimately, Risam and her students developed Digital Salem, a digital presentation of their research findings, that encourages students to engage with these issues in their lives and with contemporary political issues. The students feel validated when they are participating in activism, Risam stated.

So, what are the rights and responsibilities of humanities scholars in the 21st century? According to Risam, campus climate and student interests may require expanded responsibilities that academics previously did not consider their own, and Digital Humanities may be able to assist students in these activist endeavors.

-Jenny Bagger ’19, DH Undergraduate Fellow