The first meeting of the DH working group was a great success! We met on October 30th for a spooktacular Halloween edition of the working group, shared coffee and cookies, and discussed DH at UO. Our guest speakers, Dr. Lisa Wolverton (History, shown below with Heidi), Dr. Tara Fickle (English), and Dr. Naomi Zack (Philosophy), shared their original projects and sparked conversations about possible future DH collaborations.
Mark your calendars for our next meeting, in which we will hear from Dr. Massimo Lollini and Dr. David Wacks (both from Romance Languages) and continue the discussion: Friday, Nov. 20th, 2-4 p.m., location to be announced. Please invite your colleagues, graduate students, and friends, and, if you have a project you would like to present at future meetings, contact Matt Hannah at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Dr. Lisa Wolverton and Dr. Heidi Kaufman brainstorming a new DH project)
Reading texts in philosophy, literature, or history, I always notice the relationships. These relationships form the background of the text, often constituting the plot of a novel or the historical conditions under which a philosophical or historical work was written. For many scholars, these relationships are significant in themselves, and we look for ways to distill them from the print material. With network software, we now can.
Because I just offered a workshop on Palladio for the Honors College, I thought I’d review this valuable tool for basic social network analysis. Designed by a team at Stanford University, Palladio offers analysts an easy-to-use option for network visualization, and I have often relied on it to build networks for my dissertation project. Network analysis has become an important aspect of DH, as scholars have begun to think about cultural production and historical contexts in terms of relationality or connections between independent points called nodes. Although other programs such as R, Gephi, or Node XL allow for more robust network analysis, Palladio provides a stable platform on which to visualize basic graphs while also offering other tools for analysis at the same site.
For this week’s DH Monday Edition, we introduce a new feature: our first guest blogger! We plan to continue periodically inviting submissions from members of the UO community for posts regarding DH. If you would like to submit a post, contact Matthew Hannah at email@example.com.
Our first guest blogger is Molly Hover. She is an undergraduate in the School of Journalism and Communication, focusing on advertising. She is currently taking Dr. Helen Southworth’s “Introduction to Digital Humanities” class in the Robert D. Clark Honors College, so we’ve invited her to post about her thoughts on DH at UO.
By Molly Hover
I told myself I knew digital tools via the technology I used, and I understood the humanities so Digital Humanities (DH) would be fairly straightforward. I was right and wrong. When I started my DH class, HC 434: Introduction to Digital Humanities, through the Clark Honors College this fall, I didn’t fully understand how complicated and rewarding the study of this field would be. It is, like I thought, straightforward in the sense that the humanities are housed on digital platforms. I got that part. What I didn’t think about was how technology could expand the varying concentrations in the humanities exponentially by using the web—and all the knowledge and tools available with it—to aid scholars and researchers on their quest to find, visualize, and/or publish new knowledge.
Some of these concentrations include literary analysis, interactions with data (such as the Twitter usage of a favorite celebrity or author) graphing and mapping historically or socially relevant information (Digital Harlem), or a new way to conceptualize schoolwork (Lacuna Stories). What these sites have in common is that they are, as Professor Helen Southworth describes, “scholarly productions.”
As a journalism student with a concentration in advertising, I’m fairly comfortable interacting with digital platforms, but, before my DH class this term, I had not considered the possibilities of working with data—even historical data—to make new connections. As a student, DH is a valuable resource, and, as a future curator of media, it’s an asset and a connection to culture and history. In fact, this DH blog is about curation in much the same way many DH sites are. Common features of DH sites are embedded blogs and comment boxes which enable users to interact with others at the same time they are interacting with and analyzing data. Read MoreThe DH Monday Edition
For today’s review, we thought we’d turn to a fun, easy-to-use digital tool that works well for classroom projects and scholarship alike. Developed by a Canadian team led by Stéfan Sinclair (McGill University) and Geoffrey Rockwell (University of Alberta), Voyant Tools enables users to visualize and study the frequency of words used in a given text. Reformatting a text to a list of the most frequently used words provides a useful and easy method of textual analysis.
Have you ever wanted to analyze the frequency and placement of words in a large text but did not have time to methodically read? Have you ever wondered what William Wordsworth meant by “nature” in his sonnets or whether sixteenth-century women writers used the word “nature” differently from their male counterparts? Or, perhaps you are interested in understanding the context in which a philosopher like Immanuel Kant theorized nature? Questions such as these demand careful attention to the textual and contextual appearance of a word over time, and readers must spend inordinate amounts of time finding, marking, and comparing these words in a large text.
For many years, the field of Digital Humanities has grown in prominence in American universities. Although there are no PhD programs in DH yet offered in the United States (that this author is aware of) new programs are being developed all the time to supplement the undergraduate minors and majors and graduate certificates and master’s degrees that have already cropped up. New opportunities are becoming available to those with DH experience and to those who work in DH. So, for today’s Monday edition, we want to draw attention to a few great examples of these new developments, which have come to our attention in the last week. We’ve divided these opportunities into two segments, for those interested in postgraduate work both outside and inside the academy.Read MoreThe DH Monday Edition
One of the biggest challenges in Digital Humanities analysis lies in supplementing tried-and-true tools such as close reading with other forms of analysis. Certainly, many scholars have heard of Franco Moretti’s famous “distant reading,” and this concept has come to serve as a kind of mysterious villain working in the shadows against close reading, seeking its elimination from the pursuit of humanistic inquiry and analysis.
But what is this “distant reading” and why does it matter? Although the term “distant” as used by Moretti is meant to offer a bookend to a range of literary and cultural analytic tools, with close reading occupying the other end of a spectrum, the term has become somewhat divorced from this context. This is why Matthew Jockers’ 2013 book on the subject, entitled Macroanalysis: Digital Methods and Literary History offers such an important contribution to the DH field.Read MoreThe Thursday Review
Hope you had a restful weekend. For our Monday Edition this week, we wanted to discuss an EXTRAORDINARY upcoming DH opportunity taking place here on the UO campus October 30th, 2-4 p.m. in McKenzie 375. The theme of this event: “Scared No More”!
Does the prospect of “writing code” terrify you? Do you experience feelings of horror at the prospect of a computing workshop? Do you wish you had somewhere to go to discuss DH more informally–someplace where code writers fear to tread? Read MoreThe DH Monday Edition
For today’s review, I wanted to direct your attention to an amazingly useful resource for keeping up with recent developments in the DH field. Miriam Posner’s blog explores various DH topics relevant to classroom assignments and research projects. Posner coordinates UCLA’s Digital Humanities Program.
Posner’s blog delves into DH with aplomb, exciting interest in the field with a fun lighthearted tone. For example, Posner writes about the essential items she includes in her conference travel bag. Other posts are more academic. She describes some of her unique DH classes, suggesting possibilities for innovative course topics in digital humanities and media studies.