new (and renewed) work in digital literary studies

This is just an early announcement about a session at January’s MLA convention. We now have a timeslot (8:30am on Friday, January 7th), so I thought I’d announce it as people begin to make travel plans!

ACH is sponsoring a highly interactive and forward-looking showcase of digital humanities research, teaching, and publication in MLA’s new “electronic roundtable” (read: poster session!) format. Be there or be square.

New (and Renewed) Work in Digital Literary Studies: An Electronic Roundtable

The Association for Computers and the Humanities (ACH) is pleased to sponsor an electronic roundtable and demo session featuring new and renewed work in media and digital literary studies. Projects, groups, and initiatives highlighted in this session build on the editorial and archival roots of humanities scholarship to offer new, explicitly methodological and interpretive contributions to the digital literary scene, or to intervene in established patterns of scholarly communication and pedagogical practice. Each presenter will offer a very brief introduction to his or her work, setting it in the context of digital humanities research and praxis, before we open the floor for simultaneous demos and casual conversations with attendees at eight computer stations:

Station 1: Kathleen Fitzpatrick (open peer review with MediaCommons and CommentPress);
Station 2: Laura Mandell and Andrew Stauffer (for NINES and 18th-Connect);
Station 3: Joseph Gilbert (representing four new literary projects at UVA Library’s Scholars’ Lab — on teaching prosody, analyzing collective biographies of women, sharing audio tapes of William Faulkner, and mining 18th-century texts for metaphor — with project directors Chip Tucker, Alison Booth, and (tentatively) Brad Pasanek in attendance);
Station 4: Doug Reside (the TILE project for linking texts and images);
Station 5: John Walsh (extensions to the Swinburne Project);
Station 6: Randall Cream (the Sapheos image-based collation project),
Station 7: Matthew Wilkens (on statistical measures of allegory in literary history); and
Station 8: William Pannapacker and Ernest Cole (using new media in the undergraduate classroom, with “Post-Conflict Sierra Leone”).

We’ll be posting extended abstracts for each of these projects on the ACH site later this semester.

day of digital humanities

Just a quick post to say that I participated again this year in the Day in the Life of the Digital Humanities “community publication project,” along with these fine folks. This is becoming an annual exercise in which digital humanities scholars and practitioners of all kinds document the ins and outs of a typical day.

My own blog posts and pictures are here, at the somewhat ominously named “Day of Bethany Nowviskie“. Some other folks from the Scholars’ Lab contributed, too: Kelly Johnston, Joe Gilbert, and Wayne Graham.

I’ve been peeking in on the RSS feeds, and am looking forward to reading day-in-the-life posts from many, many friends and not a few strangers all over the world. You can also get a snippet-y sense of the activity by watching the #dayofDH hashtag on Twitter.

works in progress at the Scholars’ Lab

Just a quick post to announce a new look, a revitalized blog, and lots of angle brackets at, a site where we’ll trace works in progress at the Scholars’ Lab in the University of Virginia Library. The Scholars’ Lab is the colloquial name of the library department I direct, “Digital Research and Scholarship,” and also the name of the open lab, classroom, common room, and collaborative workspaces we manage. We’ll keep up our real home page, but will be home to musings and project reports by faculty, staff, visiting scholars, and Grad Fellows affiliated with the SLab. It’s also a place where we’ll launch test versions of the software and websites we’re working on — so be sure to subscribe to our feed. And many thanks to Wayne Graham, head of Digital Research and Scholarship R&D, and Joe Gilbert, Head of the SLab (not “on the SLab”), for their leadership in this new venture!

Check out the site to see what’s going on with Omeka plugins (including Fedora and Solr), EAD, poetic prosody, web services for maps and GIS, text mining for metaphor, TEI on Rails, Xforms, Colonial-era social networks, and more. There’s also a section for “alumni projects,” that have graduated from incubation at the Scholar’s Lab, including one recently featured in the Chronicle.

institute for enabling geospatial scholarship

Last year, the UVA Scholars’ Lab hosted a local, semester-long faculty and grad student seminar on geospatial technologies in the humanities.  We used, as a jumping-off point, Martyn Jessop’s assessment of factors contributing to a surprising “inhibition” of the use of digitized maps and GIS among humanists. That GIS, an important tool for scholarly engagement with space and place across the disciplines, has been slow to penetrate the digital humanities — a population generally receptive to new practices and technologies — begs a discussion of issues at once historical and methodological, institutional and pragmatic. The seventh annual Scholarly Communication Institute, to be held at UVA Library in a couple of weeks, will take this issue up in a concentrated way, as we focus on spatial technologies and tools: the institutional, methodological, and interpretive aspects of GIS in the context of scholarly communication.

The “inhibition” question demands serious engagement by scholars, programmers, librarians, and advocates for shared data and transparent, flexible, open services. To be effective, this engagement must come at many levels simultaneously: we must work to build core infrastructure to support GIS and leverage the strengths of (primarily government and academic) data providers; we must carefully analyze past successes as well as failures in the digital humanities in order to move forward with more robustly-imagined scholarly projects; and we must interrogate both a toolset that has evolved to suit scientific inquiry (that is, positivist models of physical behavior and dense, detailed, precisely-defined data sets, generally synchronic) and our own inherited systems for interpreting the human record within a spatial field. Above all – because place and space, whether specifically geo-referenced or wholly conceptual, are common denominators in humanistic disciplines – we must make a concerted effort at supporting and understanding what it is that we do, when we “do GIS.”

Today, I’m proud to announce that the Scholars’ Lab has been funded by the NEH to host three tracks of an Institute for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities, on the theme of “Enabling Geospatial Scholarship.”

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