DH Event on campus Speaker Series

Dr. Gregory Rosenthal: Deploying Digital Technology to “Make Roanoke Queer Again”

When Dr. Gregory Rosenthal, Assistant Professor of Public History at Roanoke College, arrived in Roanoke in 2015, they wondered how they fit in with the distinct culture of Southwest Virginia. Transported from New York City, they embarked on a journey of public history research and community interaction through the Southwest Virginia LGBTQ+ History Project, a community-based history initiative committed to researching and telling the stories of LGBTQ+ individuals and organizations in the region. They founded this project with self-taught digital tools to engage queer audiences and encourage people to think about the queer past in new ways.

Photograph by Assistant Professor of History T.J. Tallie

Assembling a collection of gay newspapers, such as The Virginia Gayzette, and other artifacts relating to local LGBTQ+ history found tucked away in attics and forgotten in shoeboxes of local people, Rosenthal and the members of the Southwest Virginia LGBTQ+ History Project built a physical archive of historical materials that were not otherwise preserved in regional museums or libraries. The LGBTQ+ History Collection is housed at the Virginia Room in the Roanoke Public Library and available for public access. Some highlights of the collection are available online.

Through this research, a map of gay bars in downtown Roanoke from 1978 was found, and the queer bar crawls were born. In their talk, Rosenthal spoke about how during these bar crawls, the members of the Southwest Virginia LGBQ+ History Project and other history-loving bar-goers visit the sites of old gay bars, read the words of people who went to them when they existed, and listen to what they were like in their heyday. While the queer bar crawls do not occur online and have little to do with digital tools, they highlight the significance of the physical spaces of LGBTQ+ individuals.

One of the goals of the Southwest Virginia LGBTQ+ History Project is reclaiming historically queer spaces that are no longer queer, which involves doing the physical work that is at the heart of the project, like organizing the queer bar crawls and walking tours of downtown Roanoke. The advent of the internet in some ways destroyed queer spaces as LGBTQ+ people today meet and socialize via the internet rather than in gay bars or gay bookstores, which in the past created ways for queer people to find each other and engage in social experiences. Although it demolished queer spaces in the past, digital technology can be used to draw attention to and reclaim queer spaces. Through Audacity to record the voices of LGBTQ+ individuals telling their experiences and SoundCloud to embed these recordings into an online exhibit, Rosenthal created the exhibit “Coming Out: Gay Liberation in Roanoke, Virginia, 1966-1980,” which is an accessible and engaging mode of communicating the unedited, raw oral histories of gay liberation and queer history in Roanoke.

As these social experiences move online and gay culture becomes mainstreamed, are these physical spaces needed anymore? Rosenthal believes they are. It is still a struggle to be queer in public, and claiming these spaces encourages “coming out of the closet and into the streets.” Through the efforts of the Southwest Virginia LGBTQ+ History Project, a community of LGBTQ+ people forms both in physical space and online, which is the central goal of the project–aside from inspiring people to “Make Roanoke Queer Again.”


-Jenny Bagger, DH Undergraduate Fellow

This event was made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. It was co-sponsored by the Washington and Lee History Department. 

DH Event on campus Speaker Series

DH Speaker Series: Jeff Soyk

Join us for a talk by Jeff Soyk, an award-winning media artist. He will be speaking on “Interactive Documentary: Envisioning Story as a User Experience (UX).

Wednesday, March 7th, 2018
12:15 – 1:15 pm
Hillel 101
Register at

Interactive Documentary: Envisioning Story as a User Experience (UX)

Jeff Soyk is an award-winning media artist with experience in creative direction, UX design, animation, web design, and film/video. His credits include creative director and UI/UX designer on PBS Frontline’s Inheritance (2016 News & Documentary Emmy winner and Peabody-Facebook Award winner) as well as art director, UI/UX designer and architect on Hollow (2013 Peabody Award winner and News & Documentary Emmy nominee).

Soyk’s passion for meaningful stories and multiple mediums has led him to interactive documentary, as he recognizes the potential to create engaging experiences with a positive influence. He works as a creative director at MIT, is a freelance creative director/UI & UX designer, and is an MIT OpenDocLab fellow alum. He has a BFA in New Media Design from Rochester Institute of Technology and an MFA in Media Art from Emerson College.

This event is made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Dean of the College Cohort Grants (Interdisciplinary Multimedia Storytelling and Women in Poverty in Rural America). 
DH Event on campus Speaker Series

DH Speaker Series: Dr. Gregory Rosenthal

Visiting us from Roanoke College, Dr. Gregory Rosenthal, Assistant Professor of Public History, will give a public talk entitled “Digital History and Queer Voices” on Thursday, February 1st, as well as a pedagogy talk on Friday, February 2nd.

Public Talk:
Thursday, February 1, 2018
IQ Center (Science Addition 202A)

Pedagogy Talk:
Friday, February 2, 2018
IQ Center (Science Addition 202A)
Register here

Digital History and Queer Voices

Dr. Gregory Rosenthal
History Department
Roanoke College

In 2015, Dr. Gregory Rosenthal helped found the Southwest Virginia LGBTQ+ History Project, a community-based history initiative committed to telling the stories of LGBTQ+ individuals and organizations in our region. Since its inception, the History Project has used an array of digital tools to make queer history more widely accessible to diverse audiences and to place a spotlight on the rich queer history of this Appalachian region. Through community engagement, the History Project seeks to empower queer and trans individuals to tell their stories and take leadership roles in processes of research, interpretation, and historical storytelling. But digital tools have revealed themselves to be both an aid and a hindrance to this work. The internet has simultaneously brought LGBTQ+ peoples together in new and exciting ways while also arguably leading to the loss of physical queer spaces as well as engendering a divide between older and younger LGBTQ+ individuals. As we engage in queer historical research and interpretation in Southwest Virginia in the 2010s, how do we navigate the promises and pitfalls of the digital divide, and the limitations of digital technologies to truly tell our queer stories?

Pre-order Rosenthal’s book Beyond Hawai’i: Native Labor in the Pacific World, coming in May 2018, here.

This event is made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. It is co-sponsored by the Washington and Lee History Department.

Announcement DH Event on campus Speaker Series

Days of DH @ Winter Academy 2017

The 2017 Winter Academy is here! Check out the Days of DH events:

Valuing the Digital Humanities at a Liberal Arts Institution

Wednesday, December 13, 2017
12:15pm – 1:45pm
Hillel House 101
Please register here.

Viewed by some as a promising future for traditional humanities teaching and scholarship, the Digital Humanities (DH) is nevertheless difficult to define and often subject to harsh critique. In this presentation, Dr. Seán McCarthy of James Madison University sidesteps the field’s more controversial aspects and instead examines how a DH program might fit with the goals and values of a liberal arts institution. He will also brainstorm different strategies to formalize Washington and Lee’s already vibrant DH presence into a sustainable programmatic and curricular effort.

McCarthy is an assistant professor in the School of Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication at James Madison University, and his teaching and research are situated at the intersection of community engagement and digital literacy studies. He is particularly passionate about better understanding how writing, digital media, and interdisciplinary collaboration serve to build creative university-community partnerships. McCarthy currently serves as a university Entrepreneurship Faculty Fellow at JMU, and he also co-teaches an annual institute for faculty in digital humanities pedagogy. In 2017, he and collaborator Mollie Godfrey won the award for Best Community-University Project at the Conference on Community Writing for their work on “Celebrating Simms: The Story of the Lucy F. Simms School.”

DH Summer Research Panel

Thursday, December 14, 2017
12:00pm – 1:30pm
Hillel House 101
Please register here.

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 the Mellon Summer Digital Humanities Faculty Research awardees:

  • Clover Archer, Director of Staniar Gallery
  • Drew Hess, Associate Professor of Business Administration
  • Sarah Horowitz, Associate Professor of History
These events are made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. 
DH Event on campus Speaker Series

DH Speaker Series: Dr. Sarah Bond

Join us for a talk by Dr. Sarah Bond, Assistant Professor in Classics at the University of Iowa. She will be speaking on “Why We Need to Start Seeing the Classical World in Color.”

Monday, November 13, 2017
Northen Auditorium

Why We Need to Start Seeing the Classical World in Color

Sarah E. Bond
Department of Classics
University of Iowa

In an essay, Sarah Bond writes, “The equation of white marble with beauty is not an inherent truth of the universe; it’s a dangerous construct that continues to influence white supremacist ideas today.” Bond continues her exploration of color perceptions in the scope of the ancient world with a discussion of polychromy and the technology used to restore the colors of statues and other pieces of ancient Roman art. She prompts us to wonder: what is the relationship between color and our cultural values? Why is white marble considered the epitome of beauty? What influenced this perception, and how can we challenge it? How does this reflect on the status of ourselves? Bond’s talk will raise these questions about cultural values and explore what the absence of color really means.

Dr. Sarah Bond is an assistant professor in Classics at the University of Iowa. She is a digital humanist, who is also interested in late Roman history, epigraphy, late antique law, Roman topography, and the socio-legal experience of ancient marginal peoples. Bond earned her Ph.D. in History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her B.A. in Classics and History with a minor in Classical Archaeology from the University of Virginia. During the 2011-2012 academic year, she was a Mellon Junior Faculty Fellow in Classics and History at W&L.

This event is made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and a Dean of the College Cohort Grant. It is co-sponsored by the Washington and Lee History Department.

DH Event on campus Speaker Series

DH Speaker Series: Megan Hess

Join us for a talk by one of our own!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Hillel 101
Please register

Megan Hess is an Assistant Professor of Accounting at Washington and Lee University.

Hess will discuss her latest DH ethics research project exploring the relationship between social networks and ethical leadership.  We will also look at some examples of how social network concepts such as group cohesion, information diffusion, central connectors, and brokers can be used to enrich studies of literature and history.

This event is made possible by a Dean of the College Cohort Grant. 

Announcement Event on campus Speaker Series UVA Collaboration

Day of DH @ Fall Academy 2017

While it’s still a little scary to admit that school will be starting in a month, we’re excited about this year’s Day of DH! Join us for a morning of pedagogy and digital scholarship discussion from some of your favorite faculty members. We’re thrilled to have Amanda Visconti (Managing Director of Scholars’ Lab) joining us for the lunch time talk. And don’t forget, there’s the third annual Library/ITS mixer in the afternoon.

Sign up for these sessions and check out all the great offerings in Fall Academy event manager.

9:00-10:00am Breakfast and Mellon and You: Graduate Student Teaching Fellows
Interested in the latest updates on the Digital Humanities grant from Mellon, including pedagogical and research opportunities? Paul Youngman (Professor of German and Chair of the Digital Humanities Committee) explains! Curious about the Graduate Student Teaching Fellows and how you could leverage a UVA graduate student in your class? Hear from Caleb Dance (Assistant Professor of Classics), Suzanne Keen (Dean of the College, Professor of English), and Taylor Walle (Assistant Professor of English) on their experiences with teaching fellows, what worked, what didn’t, and what students and faculty learned.
10:15-11:45am Incentive Grant Winners: WRIT 100
Last year’s Mellon DH incentive grant winners focused on multi-modal composition in their WRIT 100 courses. This group faced unique challenges and opportunities in working with first-year students in a variety of topics. Hear about their experiences, with time to discuss ideas further. Speakers: Sydney Bufkin (Mellon Digital Humanities Fellow, Visiting Assistant Professor of English, Topic: Romantic Comedy), Genelle Gertz (Professor of English, Topic: Faith & Doubt), Sascha Golubuff (Professor of Anthropology, Topic: Terror & Violence), Wan-Chuan Kao (Assistant Professor of English, Topic: The Good Wife), and Kary Smout (Associate Professor of English, Topic: Whole New World).
12:00-1:30pm Digital Humanities Guest Speaker Amanda Visconti: Community Design Takes Time
Amanda Visconti avatar
As we experiment with virtual ways of connecting digital humanities practitioners, what kind of human effort must we invest? I’ll share two recent projects I’ve worked on to explore the (sometimes hidden) work of designing DH communities and supporting the very real humans who make up these groups. Infinite Ulysses is a participatory digital edition of James Joyce’s novel Ulysses. A variety of scholarly methods—design, coding, usertesting, blogging, and social science analysis—combined to try out a virtual space for conversations among readers from within and without the academy. The Digital Humanities Slack is an online forum for chatting about all aspects of DH. Over 1,500 people interested in DH from around the world are members, and anyone can join, regardless of experience or affiliation. I’ll use these projects to discuss what has and hasn’t worked for me in audience-nurturing DH projects, and how those experiences are shaping my part in the trajectory of the Scholars’ Lab.
4-5:30pm ITS and Library Mixer for Faculty and Staff
Attend the ITS & library reception for a fun and informative kick-off to the academic year. Meet the librarians and ITS staff and learn about our many resources and services. A wide variety of refreshments will be served. Eat, drink, and be merry with us! Hors d’oeuvres and tea will begin at 4:00. Beer and wine will be served from 4:30-5:30. This event will take place on the main level of Leyburn Library.
Event on campus Speaker Series

DH Speaker Series: Jeffrey Witt

Join us for the final DH Speaker of the 2016-2017 academic year. Jeffrey Witt, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Loyola University Maryland, will be speaking on “The Scholastic Commentaries and Texts Archive: Reconceiving the Medieval Corpus in a Linked Data World.”

Monday, May 8, 2017
Hillel 101
Lunch provided, please register.

photo of jeffrey witt
Jeffrey Witt is an assistant professor of philosophy at Loyola University Maryland. He is the founder, designer, and developer of the Scholastic Commentaries and Texts Archive and the LombardPress-Web publication system. He is working on several editions of previously unedited Latin texts, aiming to make them freely available and searchable on the web. He sits on the advisory board of the Digital Latin Library and is co-chair the IIIF Manuscript Community Group. In 2016, he was awarded a Visiting Research Fellowship at the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies at the University of Pennsylvania to develop TEI transcriptions of the Sentences commentary of William de Rothwell and to incorporate those transcriptions into the Scholastics Commentaries and Texts Archive. Jeffrey Witt completed his graduate work in the philosophy department at Boston College in the spring of 2012. His dissertation focused on issues of faith, reason, and theological knowledge in the late medieval Sentences commentaries. He is the co-editor of The Theology of John Mair (Brill 2015) and the co-author of a monograph on the 14th century philosopher and theologian Robert Holcot (Oxford University Press, 2016).

This program made possible by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Italian Studies, and Medieval and Renaissance Studies

DH Event on campus Speaker Series

DH Speaker Series: Alex Gil

Join us for a talk by Alex Gil, the Digital Scholarship Coordinator of the Humanities and History Division at Columbia University Libraries.

Monday March 13, 2017
Hillel 101
Lunch provided, please register

The Globe is Not a Circle: The New Life of Words and the Broken Scholarly Record

In this talk, Alex Gil follows the present and possible future of our scholarly production and its uneven flows around the world.Although “the scholarly record” as a concept does not translate well into other languages, and its outlines are difficult to define, its existence is not in question. At a time when our archives and libraries are in a period of transition to hybrid registers—both analog and digital—we see a shift in the divisions of labor and interpretive frameworks resulting from these changes in the production of this record. An opening for understanding these developments and design sensible practices can be found in the idea of an *infrastructural critique* advanced by Liu, Verhoebenand as a recasting of digital humanities as a hermeneutic praxis with material consequences. In particular, Gil will argue for a form of this infrastructural critique which he and others call minimal computing.

Alex Gil Alex Gil specializes in twentieth-century Caribbean literature and Digital Humanities, with an emphasis on textual studies. His recent research in Caribbean literature focuses on the works and legacy of Aimé Césaire, including work in Aimé Césaire: Poésie, théâtre, essais et discours published by Planète Libre in 2013. He has published in journals and collections of essays in Canada, France and the United States, while sustaining an open-access and robust online research presence. In 2010-2012 he was a fellow at the Scholars’ Lab and NINES at the University of Virginia. He is founder and vice chair of the Global Outlook::Digital Humanities initiative and the co-founder and co-director of the Group for Experimental Methods in the Humanities and the Studio@Butler at Columbia University. He serves as Co-editor for Small Axe: Archipelagos and Multilingual Editor for Digital Humanities Quarterly. Alex Gil is actively engaged in several digital humanities projects at Columbia and around the world, including Ed, a digital platform for minimal editions of literary texts; the Open Syllabus Project; the Translation Toolkit; and, In The Same Boats, a visualization of trans-atlantic intersections of black intellectuals in the 20th century.

Event on campus Speaker Series Summer Research

DH Speaker Series: Barton Myers on Civil War + DH

Join us for a lunch time talk from Prof. Barton Myers, Associate Professor of History. He’ll report on his summer research experience and share his work on DH methods in Civil War military history.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017
Hillel 101
Lunch provided, please register

Guerrilla Wars: Rethinking Civil War Military History Through the Digital Humanities

Most of the American Civil War’s practitioners of guerrilla warfare were not famous. They were unknowns, nameless and faceless to history. Forgotten. This Digital Humanities session reframes the American Civil War’s military history around these “other” Civil Warriors. Reevaluating Confederate military history from the perspective of the complex but critically important world of Confederate irregular soldiers, specifically the Confederate government’s authorized partisan rangers. Here we see a different war than the one we think we know. Not the great conventional battlefield war, but irregular conflicts, involving raiding “Thunderbolts,” deceptive “Gray Ghosts,” and vigilante outlaws, a collection of wars within a war that is absolutely essential to our study of America’s bloodiest armed conflict. In the session, Prof. Myers will be discussing the research that he and his W&L Mellon-funded, summer, research students conducted in the military history database and the implementation of that work through DH mapping technology.

This event is made possible by a Dean of the College Cohort Grant.