Monday, October 8, 2012
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Sunday, September 16, 2012
"Our houses are protected by the good Lord and a gun
And you might meet 'em both if you show up here not welcome son
Our necks are burnt, our roads are dirt and our trucks ain't clean
We won't take a dime if we ain't earned it
When it comes to weight brother we pull our own
If it's our backwoods way of livin' you're concerned with
You can leave us alone
We got a fightin' side a mile wide but we pray for peace
'Cause it's mostly us that end up servin' overseas
If it was up to me I'd love to see this country run
Like it used to be, oughta be, just like it's done
Out here, way out here" -- Josh Thompson
Sunday, September 9, 2012
I’m part of the pecha kucha roundtable on “the Spatial Turn” at least in part because I attended an Arc-GIS course with Ryan Cordell at DHSI in 2011. My goal in that course was to learn enough about Arc-GIS to try out using it to work with documents associated with a set of European itineraries from 1862. Previously, I had worked with a technical liaison from our campus’s Library and Information Services to map some information associated with a woman’s journal from the 1870s. I presented preliminary results from that work at Harvard a few years ago, and I’ll be talking about that project again as part of a series on Digital Humanities for the undergraduate honors program at the University of Kansas in spring 2013.
My interest in mapping the sources of raw cotton in the U.S. South and their destinations for processing in New England in 1840 and 1850 arises from efforts to further contextualize one of those itineraries. My presentation at NEASA will focus on work in progress as I explore effects of the U.S. Civil War on the cotton industry in New England for a paper I will present at a conference sponsored by the Massachusetts Historical Society in spring 2013.
One of the account books among the primary sources we are researching in the Wheaton College Digital History Project documents the operation of a mill that produced cotton batting in Norton, Massachusetts, in the late 1840s. This account book documents the geographical sources of the raw cotton used in the mill, including Apalachicola, Florida, as well as New Orleans. It also refers to the broker from whom the raw cotton was purchased, William J. King of Providence, Rhode Island, who traded on the New York exchange.
The cotton industry shifted in Norton in the 1840s as the wealth of the Wheaton family was transferred from one generation to the next. I am interested in exploring ways in which this microhistorical set of events at the level of family and town might open up questions at the state and national level during a significant period in the economic and political development of the nation.
At the most basic level, mapping of the cotton production has shown correlations with the expansion of slavery for the decades preceding the U.S. Civil War. And last year, Frederick Law Olmstead’s 1861 map of “The Cotton Kingdom” was featured in historian Susan Schulten’s contribution to the “Disunion” blog in the New York Times. Might there be scholarly benefit in examining geospatial information about the sources and destinations of raw and processed cotton at a more granular level?
Friday, August 31, 2012
Digital archives and text mining perhaps offer a new way into the record that may allow us to discover many more (and many previously unknown) histories of reprinting. Histories of reprinting can also be thought of histories of popularity—and thus are useful windows into the priorities of the period. I've worked with a colleague in computer science to begin automatically uncovering new histories of reprinting in the Library of Congress' Chronicling America collection. The results of this text mining look something like this:
Thursday, August 30, 2012
Daniel and I had never before attempted to use the tools that we employed in this project. We were offered assistance by a close friend who has a degree in urban planning and a deep familiarity with ArcGIS. Together, we were able to experiment with ArcGIS. Unsure of what we would discover along the way, we hoped to be able to offer a critique of both traditional scholarly readings as well as the methodologies for data visualization that are becoming increasingly popular in this field. We wanted to turn our lack of knowledge of these tools and our limited data sample into an advantage, hoping that we might be able to offer some insight that more seasoned DH-ers lack. Though our results are still preliminary, what we have found so far is that from an outsider’s perspective, there seems to be an advantage in using data analysis on small samples where close reading is also possible. In Wilkin’s project, for example, references to locations outside the U.S. are construed as evidence of global awareness; close reading of similar passages reveals them to largely concern immigrant origins as they pertain to Euro-American population composition. The initial purpose of our project (and an ongoing aspect) involves generating new spatial tools that allow a comparison between U.S. expansion in literary texts and the types of infrastructural expansion that allowed its real counterpart. Our most valuable conclusion thus far, however, is that spatial tools are only as good as the theory behind them—without knowing the right questions to ask, the answers are not forthcoming.
We're looking forward to discussing our project with you in October!
My presentation is on the spatial relationships of Baltimore's early c19 merchants. Here's an image (from space!) that shows the point of origin for ships that entered Baltimore's ports from March - May 1792.
|Points of Origin for Baltimore Entrances, 1792|
This representation, and others, will help me discuss the trade networks Baltimore's merchants relied on to conduct business. What sorts of questions do you think I can ask and (hopefully) answer with data that looks like this? How is this more or less helpful than a simple list of ports? What does it mean to the historian, or humanist more generally, that he or she can generate a representation like this in only a few hours?
I look forward to responding to your comments and feedback here and at the upcoming conference. Can't wait to be back in Providence!
Thursday, August 23, 2012
All I Need to Know About Birtherism I Learned from the “Feejee Mermaid”: Audience Reception and Interrogating Truth Claims in Communications Revolutions
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
African Passages, Lowcountry Adaptations: Transforming Charleston’s Public History Landscape through a Digital Exhibition Project
Acknowledging and effectively interpreting Charleston’s full history to the public is long overdue, but cultural institutions, historic sites, and tour guides face major challenges for accomplishing this task. For example, the physical presence of historic mansions of elite whites often dominate current Lowcountry historic landscapes and guide narratives, while complex social histories of African American labor and struggle within these spaces or on surrounding former rice fields can be more difficult for visitors to conceptualize. In addition, efforts to build new physical exhibitions and museum structures to address these underrepresented histories often become constrained by limited budgets in the current economy. In this context, mobile applications and online exhibitions can engage multimedia archival materials and scholarly research to help users effectively visualize and connect with more diverse social histories, within a fuller range of the Lowcountry’s historic structures and landscapes. They can also accomplish this at minimal costs and impacts on the current physical environments and communities living within these spaces. Through African Passages, Lowcountry Adaptations, the Lowcountry Digital Library will specifically introduce a cohesive online narrative platform for presenting digital projects connected to the history of colonial and antebellum slavery in this region (such as online tours of specific spaces where enslaved people lived and work in the Lowcountry, or images of artifacts they used). Our goal is for this online exhibition to promote greater understanding and appreciation for this region’s complex, multicultural histories to a range of user audiences, including visitors, locals, scholars and educators, as well as tour guides.
Mary Battle, PhD Candidate
Assistant Digital Curator
Lowcountry Digital Library
College of Charleston
Monday, August 6, 2012
Excavating Before 1970
One of the challenges or research in the digital age is locating and accessing texts written prior to 1970 that are not commonly used. Archives are increasingly adding to online digital documents in an effort to preserve the most valuable primary source materials. In the process, manuscripts are privileged over less snazzy (and more lengthy) old books. For my own research on theatre and dance histories these old books contain a plethora of information about play productions and period perspectives. Generally speaking, books between 1890 and 1970 get lost in the catalogue since many collections began to digitize new acquisitions around 1970. Accessing these materials is still a challenge of the digital age, and when I am able to find a volume (such as Robert Albion's History of the New York Port), it can be easier to purchase online than to acquire through library or archival sources.
My own project "Tracing Ira Aldridge, " lies at the other end of the spectrum. Through a digital tool called MixD I am attempting to construct through mapping and photo references the performance journeys of 19th century actors. Even as I invest in data collection and sorting for realizing the visual display of graphics and information, I wonder what the accessibility of this material will be for those who want to access this tool outside of the digital world.
Anita Gonzalez, Professor
State University of New York at New Paltz
Friday, August 3, 2012
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Our panel is less formal and purely academic than most of the ones here (perhaps all of them). It involves the weird lives as professors we lead, semi-public, sometimes unconventional, and often (or even almost always) misinterpreted.
There are far bigger issues facing the professoriate--finding a good job, decreasing tenure rates, racial and gender discrimination, and changing workload expectations. But our perceived place in American culture have an impact on almost all of those issues and so by extension, being misread is important.
Part of the reason for this consistent misreading is the partially public lives we have as professors--we spend 6 to 12 hours a week performing teaching and another 3 to 6 in office hours. But the rest of the work we do is often private or straddles the line between public and private, and often done, in fact, in odd hours and wherever we want. That means male professors can sometimes help with child care, and many of us can do our errands at odd hours, though not without questions.
No one likes a pity party about how hard a professor's life is, and we do have more autonomy and better working conditions than many professions. But without a better understanding of what professors do, those outside the profession will continue to misread us.
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Monday, July 23, 2012
Saturday, July 21, 2012
Thursday, July 12, 2012
Sunday, July 8, 2012
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
The Digital Approach and the Globalization of Art Historical Discourses. A Case Study: Jackson Pollock in Postwar Europe
My own contribution to Artl@s considers the diffusion of American art in postwar Western Europe. Thanks to the generous support of the Vice President of Research at Purdue University, I was able to bring together a multidisciplinary team that includes two of my colleagues Christopher Miller, a geoinformatics expert in charge of the Purdue GIS Library, and Sorin A. Matei, a digital humanity specialist creator of Visible Past, a georeferenced online content management. The project focuses on exhibitions that took place between 1945 and 1970 and that featured works by American Abstract Expressionist and American Pop artists. The results of this research will be featured on an interactive web application that will allow users to view the maps, zoom in on them, select artists or artworks, scroll through dates, and even create their own maps. It will thus be a great tool for scholars, students, and museums professionals, who will be able to use it as a starting point for their own investigations.
At the 2012 NEASA Conference, I will take the reception of Jackson Pollock in postwar Europe as a case study. I will describe the process of transforming the analog information available on this artist into relational database, which is then used to generate dynamic maps and statistics. I hope to demonstrate how those maps and charts not only summarize and visualize information, but also how they expose new information that allow me to challenge the official story of postwar American art.
By Catherine Dossin
Monday, July 2, 2012
I am still working to verify my hypotheses about the kinds of printing networks that would have permitted the woodblocks used to create these images to migrate between the different urban hubs of antebellum printing (I have determined that the images are not merely copies of each other). As I do so, it would be very helpful to know if others involved in this year’s conference are addressing similar issues through different materials and how they are approaching them. I would be interested to hear about other projects that attempt to trace the provenance of shared printed matter and then to leverage this information into an argument about the literary or ideological content of texts.
The second question I would like to pose here involves how digital archives are making different kinds of scholarship possible. As my paper will detail, this project would not have been possible without both expansive online research into the visual culture of Atlantic slave revolt (which rendered the recycling alluded to above visible to me) and more traditional archival research (which confirmed it). Likewise, digital remediation will make it infinitely easier for me to communicate my findings at our conference and in the classroom. At the same time, it would be naïve to regard such remediations as substantially different from the ones that take place between the different texts I mention. If the tools of digital literary studies have become sophisticated enough to generate new readings of old texts, how can they also help us to view our own scholarly and pedagogical practices in new lights?
Friday, June 29, 2012
It seems to me that almost everything at a racetrack is a reaction to the disorder seemingly naturally attached to sports, gambling, and class--the track to contain horses, the racing form to make sense of a confusing array of factors that are supposed to help the gambler choose her horse, and the seating designed to separate classes (even as they inevitably mix). The above photo shows how Saratoga adds fashion requirements to its clubhouse seating.
This could be taken as a type of bigger metaphor for our culture at large (which is the larger argument I'm trying to make). I'm working through sources in architecture, psychology, and sociology in order to help my argument.