Florence As It Was

Project Lead:

George Bent, Sidney Gause Childress Professor of Art and Art History


Miles Bent ’17
Sonia Brozak ’17
Sam Joseph ’19
Aidan Valente ’19
Katherine Dau ’19
Colby Gilley ’19
Dave Pfaff, IQ Center Coordinator
Mackenzie Brooks, Assistant Professor and Digital Humanities Librarian

Project URL: http://florenceasitwas.wlu.edu/

Project Description:

Florence As It Was is a digital reconstruction of the city that allows you to review, inspect, tour, and visit the streets, palaces, churches, shops, and offices that formed the fabric of one of Europe’s most vibrant cities. Here you will find images, people, payments, relationships, literary references, contemporary descriptions, and sometimes even music related to the individual structures that shaped a Florentine’s daily experience in 1492 – a year marked by monumental changes in the city and throughout Europe as a whole. See where one would go in order to see all the Florentine paintings by Giotto or Masaccio or Leonardo da Vinci, where Cosimo de’Medici spent much of his time, or where members of guilds and confraternities met. Visit the monastery ornamented by Fra Angelico, the sculpture courtyard filled with Donatello’s statues, or the neighborhood street Madonnas that people saw daily. Search for names, places, dates, and events, and see how links and connections can be made in unexpected ways.

Art on the Walls


Visualizing Partisan Rangers During the American Civil War

Project Lead:

Barton Myers, Associate Professor of History


Jeff Barry, Associate University Librarian
Hannah Austin ’17
John Crum ’17
Zachary Howard ’17
Alex Kirven ’17

Project URL: Forthcoming

Project Description:

In April 1862, the Confederate Congress, desperate to deal with mounting manpower shortages and the problem of controlling remote, unprotected areas of its 750,000+ square miles of territory, adopted an official military policy to promote and control the use of guerrilla warfare and petite guerre. Their experimental military policy, part of a national strategy to win independence, created an authorized service of partisan rangers, men tasked with intelligence gathering, resource procurement, raiding warfare, and harassing the enemy behind-the-lines of regular armies. Like the Continental Congress during the American Revolution, Confederates were facing the most powerful military force in the world, and their experimentation on the edges of military convention led to many different technologies and schemes.

Indeed, the Confederate experience with experimenting in guerrilla warfare is a pivotal moment in American military history. The U.S. government’s reaction to Confederate guerrilla warfare spawned the Union Army’s own General Orders No. 100 in 1863, also known as Francis Lieber’s Code, which recognized sanctioned partisans as legitimate but struggled to define the many types of wartime irregular forces. The code would eventually become one of the seminal documents at the base of the international system of laws of war to the present day. Yet, for all of the writing on the American Civil War, the study of Civil War guerrillas remains in its infancy.

Among the most well-known of these sanctioned irregulars was John Singleton Mosby, who organized and led the 43rd Battalion of Virginia Cavalry also known as Mosby’s Partisan Rangers. This hardened combat unit so dominated Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudon, and Prince William counties in northern Virginia from 1863 through 1865 that it became known as “Mosby’s Confederacy.” This ongoing digital humanities project on the partisan rangers and the military policy that sanctioned their activities includes the development of a comprehensive list of sanctioned Confederate Partisan Ranger units, digital mapping related to the recruitment of these units, and the creation of the first comprehensive social, political, and military history of Confederate Partisan Rangers. Through the use of digitized Civil War source materials, including compiled military service records and official records from the war, the study demonstrates the geographic extent of the Confederacy’s use of authorized petite guerre during the conflict.

If the Pulitzer-prize winning southern author Robert Penn Warren is correct, and the American Civil War is the seminal event of our history, then the military failure of the Confederacy and the many experiments that came with it remain some of the most important military defeats for Americans to study and understand. In the end, this digital humanities project will illuminate another dark corner of America’s bloodiest conflict.

Mellon Summer Research Grant, Summer 2016 (Digital Humanities, History in the Public Sphere)

Methodology: CartoDB, mapping, and public history

Mapping the Literary Railway

Project Lead:

Paul Youngman, Professor of German


Student contributors:
Gabrielle Tremo, Research Assistant (2014)
Ulemj Enkhbold (Lenny), Research Assistant (2015, 2016)
Elizabeth J. Stanton, Research Assistant (2015)
Ben Fleenor, Research Assistant (2016)

Advisory Board:
Jeff Barry, Associate University Librarian
Mackenzie Brooks, Digital Humanities Librarian
Alston Cobourn, Digital Scholarship Librarian

Project URL: http://literaryrailway.academic.wlu.edu/

Project Description:

The goal of “Mapping the Literary Railway” (MLR) is to demonstrate the idea that visualization is interpretation. To this end, we have taken the traditional humanities research conducted by Professor Youngman for his monograph Black Devil and Iron Angel: The Railway in 19th-Century German Literature (Washington, DC: Catholic UP 2005) and applied spatial humanities techniques to his conclusions.


Attended Institute for Liberal Arts Digital Scholarship, July 2015
Washington and Lee University press coverage


Youngman, Paul, et al. “Visualizing the Railway Space in Fontane’s Effi Briest.” TRANSIT 10, no. 2 (2016).

Methodology: mapping, Neatline, and Omeka

Interdisciplinary 203: You Say You Want a Revolution- An Introduction to Digital Humanities

Sara Sprenkle, Associate Professor of Computer Science, and Paul YoungmanAssociate Professor of German, taught this project-based course, which introduced non-STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) majors to the use of digital technologies in humanities research and research presentation. The course was predicated on the fact that the digital turn the world has taken in the last several decades has drastically changed the nature of knowledge production and distribution. To call this turn a revolution is not an exaggeration. The class involved “talking” and “doing;” it integrated lectures on digital humanities (DH) and computer science with demonstrations of fully developed DH projects by guest speakers culminating in thrice-weekly lab sessions. At the beginning of the term, the lab sessions gave students hands-on experience with new tools and techniques but later evolved into inquiry-based, student-designed group projects in DH. 

Students in this course produced two projects:

German 311: Kulturkarte

In Fall 2013, German 311(Advanced German I), taught by Associate Professor Paul Youngman, mapped the German culture over time.  The class was divided into groups of students who then selected a specific era of German history and used written analysis and mapping functionalities in their Kulturkarte project:

1. Explanation of the ideals of the era
2. Background of a historical figure (philosopher, scientist, etc.) or statesman
3. Description of an important historical event
4. Background of a writer, artist and musician
5. Analysis of two works of art (music, painting, sculpture, novel, drama, or architecture)

1. First flowering of German literature (1100-1400)
2. Renaissance and Reformation (1350-1600)
3. Baroque (1600-1700)
4. Enlightenment (1720-1790)
5. Sturm und Drang (1767-1785)
6. The Classic Era (1786-1805)
7. Romanticism (1797-1830)
8. Young Germany (1815-1848)
9. Biedermeier (1815-1848)
10. Realism (1840 – 1900)
11. Naturalism (1880-1900)
12. Kafka and his era (1900-1924)

English 320: Shakespearean Drama/English 386: Supervised Study in Great Britain

In Winter 2014, Professor Holly Pickett will incorporate a new research assignment, Mapping Early Modern London Theater, into English 320, Shakespearean Genres. This project will allow students to research and visualize the locations of early modern London theatres, as well as sites associated with Shakespeare’s life in London, and any references to London sites in the plays on the course syllabus. The project will allow students to enrich their own understandings of the “place of the stage” in early modern London and to create walking itineraries of London theater-related locations to be used by students in English 386, Supervised Study in Great Britain: Shakespeare in Performance, during Spring 2014.

Students in the Spring Term Abroad course, English 386, will complete the project that they or their peers began the previous term by adding to each entry on the map a photograph of that location in May 2014, taken on location during their walking tour of that area. In this way, the map will mark not only the vestiges of Shakespeare’s London still visible today, but will also mark the erasure or effacement of that past over time. The passage of time and the locations of theatrically significant sites will become only more palpable and relevant by using the map to guide several physical walks through London.

English 292: Representing Queen Elizabeth


This course, taught by Professor Hank Dobin in Winter 2014, focused on the figure of Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) and the ways in which she has been represented in literature and film.  Students read works written during her lifetime that address her, or that directly or obliquely represent her, by authors such as Shakespeare and Spenser.  However, the majority of the course examined works about the public and private Elizabeth since her death; those works include dramas, poems, fiction, operas, films (starring actors such as Helen Mirren and Bette Davis), children’s books, etc.  The course work consisted of  a collective project to research and collect such representations, to organize the data and write commentaries, and to construct a Digital Timeline—employing exciting, new tools of the digital humanities—as both a learning exercise and a resource for interested students and scholars.   More than 100 entries describe and analyze individual representations from 1545 until 2014; in addition, almost 100 entries on a second band of the Digital Timeline provide critical contextual information about British history, theater history, and film history.  The project is ongoing and now open to the public.


History 180: Paris in the 19th Century

This course (Fall 2013), taught by Professor Sarah Horowitz, investigates the political and cultural history of Paris in the nineteenth century.  We will discuss the appeal of Paris in both the nineteenth and twenty-first centuries, as well as how Paris became the political and cultural capital of Europe in the period after the French Revolution.  Topics to be covered include immigration, political unrest, the rebuilding of the city under Napoleon III, urban spectatorship, consumer culture, and the birth of the avant-garde. 

As a first-year seminar, this course is also intended to introduce students to the study of history.  We will discuss what history is, how we can make claims about the past, the role of subjectivity in shaping historical narratives and how historians use sources.  This seminar will also help students understand the demands of college-level writing through discussions of the writing process, peer editing and revisions.

Students will participate in a digital humanities based project that utilizes mapping functionality.  Each student posts on the class map once during the term based on the course readings.  Students write about two locations: one that appears in the readings and one that is thematically linked to the readings but with contemporary relevance.  The goals of the assignment are to give students practice writing about individual readings and to give them a sense of the geography of 19th century and present-day Paris.

English 355: British Fiction Since 1900

Mapping London Novels: Literary Allusions locates passages from a diverse array of London fictional works on the city map.  Whether a reader hopes to trace Clarissa Dalloway’s walk to buy flowers for her party, to find where the anarchists set off a bomb that explodes time itself in Conrad’s The Secret Agent, or simply wants to see how many different writers have remarked on Regent’s Park, the project reveals a literary London that shimmers on the surface of actual London.  As students read more contemporary works, the neighborhoods marked by pins and passages expanded out of Westminster all the way to Zadie Smith’s Willesden, in NW.  In creating the map, students learned the resonances of London locales, marked the shifting characters of its neighborhoods, and visualized fictional worlds as they overlayed the real one.  This course was taught by Dean Suzanne Keen during Fall 2013.

Stonewall Jackson Cemetery website

Project Lead:

Carol Hansen Karsch, Data & Statistical Support Specialist, University Library


Emily Crawford ’14

Project URL: http://library2.wlu.edu/SJCemetery/

Project Description:

The W&L University Library has created a searchable website for the local Stonewall Jackson Cemetery. The census of the tombstones was spearheaded by Rockbridge County resident, Tom Kastner, who also provided photos of the graves. Recognizing the value of the project, the University Library offered to design, develop and host a searchable website so the information and photos would be available to anyone interested in learning more about the people who are buried there. The site includes information on: dates of birth, death, the war in which a veteran served, spouse, children, occupation and location within the cemetery. Carol Hansen Karsch, the library’s Data & Statistical Support Specialist, created the website, and supervised Emily Crawford, a W&L classics major, who undertook the massive job of resizing the photos for the web. It is anticipated that the census, approximately 60 percent complete, will be up to date within two years.

Methodology: archives and mapping