Exploring Kindred Britain

By now, it should be clear that one of the core pieces of Digital Humanities is collaboration. The vast majority of DH projects could not have been built without multiple contributors, usually from different disciplines. Unfortunately, many DH project websites feature a single, somewhat neutral voice in their prose. Kindred Britain provides space for multiple types of contributors to analyze and explain their work. These multiple perspectives provide a richer understanding of the project.

For blog post #5, please read the section that has been assigned to you below, then describe the way it influenced your understanding of the project. What insights do the authors provide that you wouldn’t have noticed by just exploring the site on your own? Did these essays change the way you view about your own role in the course project? Think back to your earlier blog post where you explored the King’s College London network. Now that you’re further into the course (relatively) and we’ve heard from Prof. Eastwood, has your thinking about social networks changed? What did you learn from him that helped you interpret this social network? Take a look at the Statistics page. Which graph would you like to be able to replicate with the Pound/Carter project data?

Emily
Brandon
Kim

Project Charter

DH 101 2015: Project Charter Draft

Emily Cook, Kimi Kennedy, Brandon Howes

 

Goal: Create a timeline of Tom Carter’s contacts during his time as editor of Shenandoah and interpret their influence on Shenandoah.

 

Objectives:

  • Make a DH project using the letters between Tom Carter and Ezra Pound, and old copies of Shenandoah.
  • Each group member fully learns how to use whatever technology we choose to help us accomplish this goal.
  • Actively learn from the process and have a positive attitude about what we are learning
  • Create a deliverable that will be useful to the W&L community in the future
  • Defining and completing a specific, feasible goal
  • Completing all assigned blog posts

 

Communication:

  • Maintain a Googledoc to manage responsibilities
  • Clearly delegate equal tasks to each group member
  • Speak up and share ideas; or communicate about which tasks you are interested in
  • When in doubt, ask a group member first then the Professors
  • Speak up if you can’t complete something or are having a hard time

 

Accountability

  • Do the work you are assigned to do
  • Have a weekly to-do list with agreed-upon responsibilities and tasks

 

Differences of Opinion

  • Respect other peoples’ opinions
  • Realize that other people will have different opinions than you
  • Majority rules
  • Appeal to authority if everyone disagrees

 

Skills

  • Learn new technical skills
  • Learn project management skills and stick to the charter
  • Public writing skills

 

Blog Post #3: Reacting to Scholars’ Lab

On Thursday April 30, our class traveled from Lexington up to the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. We toured the Scholars’ Lab there and met with several people to discuss digital humanities and our final project.

I enjoyed my experience at the Scholars’ Lab at UVA for several reasons. First, I was able to learn more about digital humanities by listening to different scholars talk about their research and how they are able to incorporate DH. I also learrned that the role of research questions in DH is super important. At this point we have refrained from learning about the tools available in DH to analyze and manipulate physical items, so the entire project is being driven by the choosing a research question. Our friends from the Scholars’ Lab also emphasized the importance of making sure to discriminate among the many areas of interest and narow down a project to a feasible number of good research questions.

The second reason that I enjoyed our field trip to the Scholars’ Lab was that I feel that we received valuable input about the direction for our final project. We were able to brainstorm together about our project, including the materials we have, some potential research questions, and possible audiences. I was most surprised that our primary audience should be ourselves, or at the very least that we should be our own starting point.

And the thing that I found most exciting about my experience at the Scholars’ Lab was how excited everyone from UVA was about the materials in our collection. Over and over again they reminded us how lucky we were to be able to have these materials, especially the personal letters between Ezra Pound and Thomas Carter. To actually have other people excited about your project and looking forward to what you will create, gives the whole process a new sense of purpose and motivation.

To be honest, I am still not sure within DH what is and what is not feasible given that we only have three weeks to complete our project. Knowing our own constraints is certainly important and hopefully over the next few days we will be able to nail down realistic boundaries for our project.

Blog Post 3

Our trip to Scholars’ Lab at UVA definitely helped me form a clearer picture of what we are trying to accomplish in this class. It was especially helpful in getting us to think about the specifics of what we want to do for out project. The people at Scholars’ Lab gave us different ideas to think about and made it clear that we need to pick one idea and focus on that. Also that we cannot answer everything we would like to answer. We could focus on Ezra Pound and his relationships with editors of literary magazines or the probability of his alleged insanity. Or we could focus on his relationship with Tom Carter, or use the letters to look at life at W&L in the 1950s.

The trip also gave us things to think about that we might not have necessarily thought of ourselves, such as our intended audience. A project we created for W&L students would very different from a project we intended for a broader academic audience. This is something that could fundamentally change the project we decide to create, but it was not something I gave too much thought to before our visit to Scholars’ Lab.

The scope of our project is constrained by the time we have in the course, which is just four weeks (one of which is already over). The visit to Scholars’ Lab also helped out think about what is feasible and what is not based on the time constraints we are working under. For example, we realized that we probably could not digitize every letter exchanged between Ezra Pound and Tom Carter or interpret every letter in our project. The more feasible way to incorporate these letters and other materials (like Shenandoah) into our project is to think of a research question and use selected letters and materials we have to answer it.

This highlights the importance of research questions in digital humanities, especially with projects like the one we are creating in this course. A research questions is what will drive this project, and that is probably the case with most digital humanities projects. The research question helps narrow the scope of a project, which could easily become overwhelming with the amount of possibilities digital humanities provides. Instead of just a document or report, a digital humanities project can incorporate all different sorts of materials and link to other pages and projects and so a research question narrows the project to answering a certain question and makes it more comprehensible. This is true for our project and other digital humanities projects.

Blog Post #3

I thought the most interesting part of our visit to UVA was meeting people who are professionals in the digital humanities field, and seeing the place they work in. I was also surprised by how multi-faceted and cross-curricular their approach to their work was, and how much each scholar knew about so may different subjects. Meeting the UVA scholars made it much clearer to me that digital humanities is just as much humanities as it is digital. The scholars were trained in various individual academic areas (History, English, Design, etc.) and were clearly extremely competent with technology, but also had excellent insights about the academic side of our project.

 

I also found it very useful to go through the potential possibilities for our project. The method that we used really helped me visualize and organize my thoughts about the project, and the scholars’ input was really interesting. The experience showed me that having input from people with a wide variety of academic training is invaluable, which also made me further realize how important it is to be educated in many different academic areas. Being able to speak as an expert in one particular area is important, as proven by the amount of expert-level insight each person in the Scholars’ Lab had to offer. However, being able to have an informed conversation about information outside of your academic field is also incredibly important.

 

Brainstorming in the Scholars’ Lab also made me realize how important it is to define the scope of a project before you start. In a short hour-long session, we came up with many different possible route that the project could take, but it could take months or years to fully explore each option. Digital Humanities incorporates so many different technical and academic subjects that it allows scholars to process and investigate information in many different ways. When working on a project, people must clearly define how they are going to process the information that they have, and set an ultimate goal for the project before they even start. Otherwise, you could go down many different rabbit holes and ultimately accomplish nothing. Especially in a four-week course, we need to carefully define our ultimate goal. Research questions will help us define our ultimate goal, because it will serve as the thesis for the entire project. Once we decide on our research question, we really should not deviate from the question during this course.

Blog Post #2: Exploring Scholarly Social Networks

SarahFine

Dr. Sarah Fine is a lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at King’s College London. Dr. Fine’s research interests are political philosophy, ethics, and the history of political and social philosophy with a specialization in migration and citizenship. She is also interested in theories of justice, the ethics of political violence, democratic theory, nationalism and patriotism, sovereignty, race, ethnicity, feminism, and gender.

Dr. Fine received her undergraduate degree from the University of Cambridge, and she received her Masters of Philosophy and Doctorate of Philosophy from the University of Oxford. She joined the Department of Philosophy at King’s College London in 2012.

Dr. Fine’s research profile lists 10 publications since 2010 with four of those still in preparation. Her dissertation, Immigration and the Right to Exclude, will soon be published from the Oxford University Press. The publication critically examines the standard view that nations have a moral right to limit immigration. Dr. Fine is also co-editing a book with Dr. Lea Ypi called Migration in Political Theory which too will soon be published from the Oxford University Press.

In addition to understanding Dr. Fine’s research profile, we can also examine her network graph to identify any social network within her field of study. While the network graph provides a visual means for displaying data and identifying connections, we are responsible for interpreting that data and analyzing those connections.

Dr. Fine’s network graph on the research portal contains only 16 nodes. Of these 16, 15 fall under the category of Research Options (the remaining one is her Research Group-Philosophy). Selecting the node that represents a particular book chapter or journal article written by Dr. Fine reveals more information and allows us to see the other external connections.

For instance, selecting the node Migration in Political Theory brings up a specific network graph just for this work. We see that the Publishers node is filled by the Oxford University Press, while Sarah Fine is a Researcher and Lea Ypi is an External Person. But this brings up an interesting question because we know that Dr. Fine and Dr. Ypi are co-editors of Migration in Political Theory. So why does the network graph assign one as the Researcher and the other as an External Person?

The only other person that Dr. Fine has collaborated with according to her original network graph is Andrea Sangiovanni. Dr. Sangiovanni is also part of the Department of Philosophy at King’s. Dr. Fine and Dr. Sangiovanni collaborated on writing a chapter for The Routledge Handbook of Global Ethics entitled “Immigration”.

Dr. Fine’s network graph also shows that she has written multiple journal articles for the same journal. For example she wrote both “Freedom of Association is Not the Answer” and “Avery Kolers, Land, Conflict, and Justice: A Political Theory of Territory” for the journal called Ethics.

 

Blog Post 2

Professor Laura Gowing, a professor in the history department of King’s College in London, specializes in early modern British history. She joined the history department of King’s College in 2002. Professor Gowing is particularly interested in women and gender in England, history of sex and sexuality, history of crime, history of London, and women’s work in early modern England. She uses primarily legal records to study these areas of English history. Her book Common Bodies: Women, Touch and Power in Seventeenth-century England won her the Joan Kelly Memorial Prize given by the American Historical Association.

Her research profile shows that she has published four works since 2009 and sixteen since 2000. All of these works pertain to her scholarly interests of gender and sexuality in early modern Britain.

On her scholarly network, Professor Gowing has forty-nine nodes but only thirty-one show up initially. The thirty-one nodes that show up first are the latest content added to the network, and the other nodes can be seen by clicking “show more.” Most of the nodes are the sixteen published writings included on her research profile and other works she has contributed to, but the occasional person is also included.

Professor Gowing's network

Gowing has her works Introduction and Love, Friendship and Faith in Europe separated as different nodes, but upon closer inspection, these belong to the same work by Professor Gowing. The same two people are even connected to both nodes: Miri Rubin and Michael Hunter. Both are also connected to the node called “history.” Why separate out the introduction from the work it comes from when the nodes connected to it are the same as those of the entire article? Yet, only the introduction is connected to the publisher Palgrave Macmillan’s node, but surely the entire work was published by the same company, so why is only the introduction connected to them? Perhaps the introduction was published separately? If not, this shows a possible error in the network.

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Blog Post #2

Dr. Dionysios Stathakopoulos is a Professor of Byzantine Studies at King’s College in London. He works in the Centre for Hellenic Studies, which is the same department that Professor Charlotte Roueche. He only started working at Kings College in 2005, so his network of research is more limited than Professor Roueche’s. Upon reviewing the network of his research, I found that it shows connections between Dr. Stathakopoulos and people he has collaborated with both within King’s College and outside scholars, journals and books to which he has contributed, research projects he has worked on, and different institutions at which he has studied and worked. I also continually came upon the term “research group” (Dr. Stathakopoulos is a member of the Centre for Late Antique and Medieval Studies Research Group). According to the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, A research group is defined as:

 

“a formally recognised grouping of established researchers with an agreed-upon Leader, who share common and complimentary research interests and who have similar needs with respect to research infrastructure. They would be able to share technical support staff and research equipment, may submit joint applications for postdoctoral fellows, share some research support staff, etc. They will normally be people who work on research projects that fall under an identifiable research theme or set of themes who occasionally collaborate on common research projects; and who co-supervise research students.”

 

Dr. Stathakopoulos’s network graph has 81 nodes. His research interests include wealth, poverty, and social stratification within the Byzantine Empire. He currently has 11 research students and staff, and worked with Dr. Charlotte Roueche on a research project called “Register Medicorum medil aevi” in 2010. I find it interesting that it does not show the connections between other King’s College professors, and the node that says King’s College. I also find it interesting how many different institutions at which he worked on his research project “Damned in Hell in Cretan Frescoes”. While this visual graph does not show every single connection that this researcher has with institutions, people, and projects, it is certainly a helpful visual that enhances the viewer’s understanding of this researcher’s work.

Blog Post #1

My understanding of the digital humanities field is that it is relatively undefined as of yet. Scholars in the field are still in the process of defining exactly what digital humanities is, and how society can use it and benefit from it. They seem to have been exceedingly successful in beginning to do so thus far. An integral part of the field of DH is curating and preserving physical objects by digitizing them. This will be very powerful to future and current generations because digitizing physical objects not only preserves them for many years, but also makes the knowledge that they contain more widely accessible. As Dr. Schnapp explains, the “laboratory” for digital humanities is in the library. The reasoning behind this sentiment is that a huge component of digital humanities involves physical books and papers.

Many academics are extremely skeptical of digitizing works that are so highly revered, as they believe that it removes the human element. However, Schnapps explains that most digital humanists do not discount the value of touching and holding the physical objects and books. However, digitizing these works re-arranges the physical works so that they are more accessible. Many scholars are unable to travel to the hundreds and thousands of libraries across the world that preserve physical writing, and many physical writings are not in the protective hands of librarians like the ones at W&L. Digitizing academic works also allows for collaboration. In previous times, people could only get input from people who they were in personal contact with, which is why many academics chose to work alone. However, using email, twitter, blogs like this one, and many other collaborative tools, people are much more able to collaborate their ideas. Furthermore, while DH allows us to quickly organize and make sense of massive amounts of data, human opinions, analysis, and interpretations continue to be crucial to all academics. Computers can organize data, but they are incapable of interpreting it unless a human programs it to do so.

Digital humanities open up many possibilities in the academic world. However, it also presents incredible possibilities for people who are outside the realm of academia. The disciplines within the humanities are so frequently studied because they are for the most part very interesting to a wide variety of people. This is why people choose to watch movies and read books about history, learn other languages, and go to museums. However, very few people are likely to pick up an academic literary work or journal that is outside of their discipline or line of work. Digital humanities make different academic works more accessible to non-academics. While some people think that digital humanities will ruin the humanities, digital humanities is actually saving the humanities for the most part by generating funds, publicity, and accessibility.

DH Post 1

My initial understanding of digital humanities was that no one really has a straightforward definition for what it is, but most people who speak on it (like Meeks, Croxall, and Schnapp) have an idea of what it can accomplish. “Digital humanities” seems to me to encompass all attempts to bring the disciplines considered “humanities,” like history, literature, philosophy, etc., into the digital age. Most of these disciplines deal with items and ideas from all different time periods, from historical letters and novels to ancient philosophical ideas, and digital humanities creates a new way of looking at and understanding these.

Schnapp and Croxall both touch on how digital humanities has opened avenues of communication within the disciplines of humanities and how this has, like Schnapp says, broken down partitions between strictly scholarly discussions from those that are not. This is something Meeks also mentioned with his discussion of “fan culture.” Now, people who are academics (with a masters degree or Ph.D.) and people who are not can both contribute to scholarly discussions about the humanities using digital avenues.

Schnapp also makes the point that digital humanities is not trying to replace the physical with the virtual. My understanding of this is that digital humanities simply tries to provide another way of looking at and interpreting the physical (such as letters and historical artifacts like the letters between Ezra Pound and Thomas Carter that we are using in class for our projects) in a digital way. This could be simply digitizing physical documents or using software to create a visual representation relating to a discipline in the humanities (like the project Croxall discussed where his students made a visual representation of the frequency that Hemingway used certain words in his writing).

Digital humanities can impact areas outside of scholarship as well. A good example of this is the demonstration from our class on Monday. We took data that Facebook collected from our personal accounts (like our friend lists and mutual friend lists) and plugged it into a program that created a visual representation of the network of relationships between our friends and ourselves. This information was not academic, being generated from our personal Facebook accounts, and was really only relevant to our Facebook friends and us. Still, the activity shows how skills and methods used in digital humanities can apply to areas outside of scholarship and can be applied to daily life as well.