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Research and Scholarly Work

10/20/16

Dan Rodricks | The Baltimore Sun Roughly Speaking Podcast

"Sun columnist Dan Rodricks and American culture commentator Sheri Parks talk about Wednesday night's third and final (and nasty) debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Sheri Parks is an associate dean at the University of Maryland, College Park and a regular contributor to Roughly Speaking. "

Listen to the complete podcast here.

9/13/16

The Baltimore City Paper named "BMORE Than the Story "Best Community Curation" in its 2016 "Best of Baltimore" issue. Curated by students from associate Professor of design Audra Buck-Coleman’s course on design in society and students from the Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts, the “BMORE Than The Story” exhibition at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum addressed the one-sided media portrayal and the realities of the west Baltimore students’ lives. 

The Baltimore City Paper writes:

"Baltimore’s museums generally feature exhibitions organized by professional curators, but in the aftermath of the uprising following the murder of Freddie Gray, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum opened up its exhibit space to students from Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts. The students curated a response to the ugly media narrative about their lives that the press put out in April 2015. Working with UMD students, the result was “BMORE Than the Story,” which highlighted stories from students about their experiences with surveillance, police brutality, and civic deprivation. The show was a powerful challenge to the carceral logics of their schools and neighborhoods that resonated far beyond the museum walls."

Read the complete article at the Baltimore City Paper website.

Image via the Baltimore City Paper

Congratulations to ARHU professors La Mar Jurelle Bruce, Julius B. Fleming Jr. and Christopher J. Bonner, who received fellowships for their research projects related to African-American literature, history and culture.

Bruce, Fleming and Bonner were part of an African-Americanist cluster hire, joining a community of scholars at the University of Maryland (UMD) that are at the forefront of the discussion on race and produce scholarship at the intersections of history, literature, gender studies and artistic expression. 

La Mar Jurelle Bruce, Assistant Professor in the Department of American Studies

La Marr Jurelle Bruce was awarded the 2016 Ford Foundation  Postdoctoral Fellowship, which is sponsored by the Ford Foundation and administered by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. He is one of only 21 scholars to receive the postdoctoral fellowship in this year’s rigorous nationwide competition.

Bruce’s scholarship focuses on “blackness and feeling—that is, the phenomenological, affective, and erotic textures of black life across the diaspora,” Bruce said. “I am especially interested in how feeling informs, inspires, infuses, and sometimes inhibits black expressive cultures,” he added. At UMD, he teaches courses in Africana and American performance, literature, visual art and popular culture.

The fellowship will fund Bruce for the 2016-17 academic year while he completes his first book, “How to Go Mad without Losing Your Mind: Madness, Blackness, and Radical Creativity.” The book is a study of black artists who mobilize “madness” within radical performance and literature. Proposing a theory of madness that addresses its floating signification—and traverses its phenomenological, clinical, sociocultural, and political dimensions—Bruce confronts “the mad” in the work of Charles Mingus, Nina Simone, Amiri Baraka, Ntozake Shange, Patricia J. Williams, Lauryn Hill and Dave Chappelle, among others.

“African American artists have deployed ‘madness’ as content, methodology, metaphor, form, aesthetic and existential posture in an enduring black radical tradition,” Bruce said. “By ‘going mad,’ these artists also expose and convey the violence, chaos, strangeness, wonder, paradox, and danger—in short, the phenomenological madness—that infuses modernity’s racial drama.”

Bruce will be hosted by the Center for Africana Studies and the Department of Music at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. During his time there, he will be mentored by Guthrie Ramsey, Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Term Professor of Music at the University of Pennsylvania.

The Ford Foundation Fellowship Program awards pre-doctoral, dissertation, and postdoctoral scholarships to scholars who promote diversity in the academy.

Julius Fleming Jr., Assistant Professor in the Department of English

Julius Fleming Jr. was awarded a post-doctoral residential research and teaching fellowship at the Carter G. Woodson Institute at the University of Virginia, where he will be completing his first book manuscript, “Technologies of Liberation: Performance and the Art of Black Political Thought.” In addition, he will begin his second book project, which examines the intersections of race, medicine and capital in black performance and literature—19th century to the present.

Fleming specializes in twentieth and twenty-first century African diasporic literatures and cultures, with particular interests in performance, visual culture, sound studies, philosophy and medicine, particularly how they intersect with race, gender and sexuality. He was inspired to pursue his field of research when he was an undergraduate student at Tougaloo College, a private, historically black college in Central Mississippi that served as a bastion for civil rights activism. 

The Carter G. Woodson Institute at the University of Virginia funds residencies for scholars who specialize in the study of Africa and the African diaspora. Fleming will be part of the post-doctoral program that offers a two-year research and teaching fellowship.

 Christopher Bonner, Assistant Professor in the Department of History

Christopher Bonner was a 2015-16 recipient of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the Library Company of Philadelphia. The fellowship has enabled him to work on his current book project, “The Price of Citizenship: Black Protest, American Law, and the Shaping of Society, 1827-1868,” which examines the lives of free Africans who were working to define citizenship and secure rights in the decades before the Civil War.

Bonner chose to pursue the NEH fellowship in Philadelphia, a city that is considered a center for African American politics before the American Civil War broke out in 1789.

In his book project, Bonner poses questions about how people can change their government and about what black freedom means in a slaveholding society. His ultimate goal, Bonner says, is to shed light on the contributions of black activists before the end of slavery and their role in the creation of the Fourteenth Amendment, which is considered the foundation for citizenship and rights for the modern United States.

“I've been drawn to this work as a way of exploring the long history of struggles for civil rights in the United States,” Bonner said. “I'm also interested in understanding how black Americans have related to and worked to transform the structures of American law and government.”

The NEH Post-Doctoral Fellowship supports scholarship related to United States history and the Atlantic world from the 17th through the 19th centuries. It provides a monthly stipend and access to conduct research in residence at the Library Company of Philadelphia.

About the College of Arts and Humanities

The College of Arts and Humanities has made serious investments in African American culture and history, hiring faculty clusters in African American literature and history, adding to the strong community of African Americanist scholars already spread across the campus’s many colleges. The university is also home to important research centers such as the Consortium on Race, Gender, and Ethnicity and the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora.

 Through interdisciplinary collaborations led by the College of Arts and Humanities, UMD is also expanding the breadth of research possibilities in the fields of African American history, literature and culture, and the digital humanities. A new project co-directed by the Arts and Humanities Center for Synergy and the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH)—“Synergies among Digital Humanities and African American History and Culture”—will utilize digital humanities to develop tools, methods and archives to address African American themed research questions.

4/28/16

WHAT: 

Future STEM Leaders is an event that will bring together national experts from academia, government and industry to discuss the future of graduate training in STEM fields (and beyond). The focus of this meeting, co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the University of Maryland, is on the changing demands of STEM research and careers, the most promising innovations in training that have emerged in leading programs around the country, and the challenges of scaling up these innovations to transform graduate education across institutions and disciplines.

AGENDA HIGHLIGHTS:
Future STEM Leaders will take place on Wednesday, May 4th, from 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C.

  • 9 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. Building the Perfect PhD: What is needed, and why?
  • 10:30 a.m. - noon State-of-the-Science: Innovators and innovations in STEM graduate training
  • Noon - 1:30 p.m. Lunch and showcase of initiatives and programs
  • 1:30 - 3 p.m. What are we Waiting for: Removing barriers to change
  • 3 - 4:30 p.m. Taking Action: Translating good ideas into policy and best practices
  • For more details on sessions and speakers as well as information on directions and parking, please visit our website futurestemleaders.com.

FEATURED PANELISTS:

Greg Ball, Dean, College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, University of Maryland

Mark Connolly, Associate Research Scientist & Principal Investigator, Wisconsin Center for Education Research

Bonnie Thornton Dill, Dean, College of Arts & Humanities, University of Maryland

Dean Evasius, Senior Advisor for Science/Head of Multidisciplinary Activities, MPS, National Science Foundation

Jessica Faupel-Badger, Director, NIGMS Postdoctoral Research Associate (PRAT) Program, NIH

Norberto Grzywacz, Dean, Graduate School, Georgetown University

Rebecca Haacker, Director of Advanced Study Program, National Center for Atmospheric Research

Wolfgang Losert, Interim Associate Dean for Research, College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences, University of Maryland

Aisha Morris, Program Director, RESESS Internship, UNAVCO

Thomas Rudin, Director, Board on Higher Education and Workforce (BHEW), National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

Dahlia Sokolov, Director, Subcommittee on Research & Technology, U.S. House Committee on Space, Science, and Technology

Richard Spinrad, Senior Scientist, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Richard Tankersley, Program Director, NSF Research Traineeship (NRT), National Science Foundation

Lois Trautvetter, Director, Higher Education Administration and Policy Program , Northwestern University

PARTICIPATING ORGANIZATIONS:

American Association for the Advancement of Science
American Association of Medical Colleges
American Educational Research Association
American Mathematical Society
American Psychological Association
Association of American Universities
Burroughs Wellcome Fund
Coalition for National Science Funding
Colorado State University
Computing Research Association
Council of Graduate Schools
Duke University
Elsevier
Georgetown University
George Washington University
Georgia Tech
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
U.S. House Science Committee
Iowa State University
Linguistic Society of America
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The National Academies
National Center for Atmospheric Research
National Institutes of Health
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
National Science Foundation
Northwestern University
The Ohio State University
Oregon State University
Penn State University
Society for Neuroscience
STEM Education Coalition
Syracuse University
Texas A&M University
UNAVCO
University Industry Demonstration Partnership
University of California, Berkeley
University of Connecticut
University of Georgia
University of Maryland
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
University of Oklahoma
University of Rochester
University of Southern Mississippi
University of Wisconsin
U.S. Department of Agriculture
U.S. Department of Transportation
Virginia Tech

MEDIA:

Media coverage of the event and all sessions is welcome. Please email Colin Phillips, director of the Maryland Language Science Center at the University of Maryland, at colin@umd.edu.

Twitter:

●       Future STEM Leaders: #futureSTEM

●       Maryland Language Science Center: @UMD_LSC

●       National Science Foundation: @NSF

●       University of Maryland: @UofMaryland

ABOUT THE NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION:
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 "to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…" NSF fulfills its mission mainly through grants awarded to fund specific research proposals from individuals or small groups of investigators to support research centers, instruments, and facilities that allow scientists, engineers, and students to work at the outermost frontiers of knowledge.

NSF's goals--discovery, learning, research infrastructure and stewardship--provide an integrated strategy to advance the frontiers of knowledge and cultivate a world-class, broadly inclusive science and engineering workforce. It aims to expand the scientific literacy of all citizens, build the nation's research capability through investments in advanced instrumentation and facilities, and support excellence in science and engineering research and education through a capable and responsive organization. NSF is "where discoveries begin."

ABOUT THE MARYLAND LANGUAGE SCIENCE CENTER:
Established in 2013, the University of Maryland’s Language Science Center (LSC) is the home of a university-wide initiative to advance language science. LSC aims to raise the profile of language as a critical research area, build connections between researchers, disciplines and institutions that support innovation in research and education, and to improve awareness and public understanding of language issues and the need for language-related policy decisions to be scientifically informed.

The Maryland Language Science Center connects expertise, ideas and creativity in fields ranging from social and biological sciences, computer science and engineering, to humanities, education, and clinical fields such as hearing science and speech pathology. Our research addresses broad questions connecting fundamental science to applications in education, technology, and health.

ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND:
The University of Maryland is the state's flagship university and one of the nation's preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship and innovation, the university is home to more than 37,000 students, 9,000 faculty and staff, and 250 academic programs. Its faculty includes three Nobel laureates, three Pulitzer Prize winners, 47 members of the national academies and scores of Fulbright scholars. The institution has a $1.8 billion operating budget, secures $500 million annually in external research funding and recently completed a $1 billion fundraising campaign. For more information about the University of Maryland, visit www.umd.edu.

 

4/14/16

By , WBALTV

BALTIMORE —A new exhibit at a museum downtown is giving students from a school in west Baltimore a chance to voice their feelings and opinions about last April's unrest.

Quotes from city officials taken from media outlets during last April's unrest are part of a new interactive exhibit opening at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum. Using a black light, visitors can see word substitutions that reflect the perspective of the young artists, like Lonnie Royster, who will be part of a live performance.

"What happened last April was about economic disenfranchisement and neglect and yes, a black, African-American boy child used the phrase economic disenfranchisement and neglect," Royster said.

"These are students who have never really had an opportunity to have a voice, and they've come together and, like, created this huge thing, and it's really powerful, and I want people to see it," graphic design student Ashley Brannock said.

In Bmore Than The Story students from Augusta Fells Savage High School in west Baltimore worked with graphic design students from the University of the Maryland College Park to express their feelings about the death of Freddie Gray and the riots.

Read more and watch video here

Written by Taylor Swaak, The Diamondback

Photo Courtesy of The Diamondback

Bergis Jules and Ed Summers developed a vision to efficiently amass millions of tweets and make them more accessible to the public after the social media explosion that followed Michael Brown's death in August 2014.

"The images and the videos were so powerful," said Jules, university and political papers archivist at the University of California, Riverside. "That got me thinking that there's something going on here, and we need to try and capture this as best as we can."

A year and a half later, The University of Maryland's Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities — in collaboration with UC Riverside and Washington University in St. Louis — announced Jan. 20 a $517,000 two-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for the "Documenting the Now: Supporting Scholarly Use and Preservation of Social Media Content" project.

Read more here

 

COLLEGE PARK, MD -- A two-year, $517,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will fund a project called “Documenting the Now: Supporting Scholarly Use and Preservation of Social Media Content.” Washington University in St. Louis, the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) at the University of Maryland and the University of California, Riverside, are collaborators on the project.

The project responds to the public’s use of social media for chronicling historically significant events as well as demand from scholars and archivists seeking a user-friendly means of collecting and preserving digital content.

As part of the project, the three institutions are developing DocNow, a cloud-ready, open-source application that will be used for collecting tweets and their associated metadata and Web content.

Twitter emerged as one of the most important channels of communication during the 2014 protests in Ferguson, Mo., when it served as a primary conduit for disseminating information. DocNow will be developed using tweets and Web content related to the events in Ferguson, resulting in a data set that can be used in research.

“The DocNow application will provide scholars with new ways of gathering and analyzing data from Twitter, which is a tremendous source of documentation on contemporary events,” said Chris Freeland, project co-principal investigator and associate university librarian at Washington University in St. Louis.

DocNow is among a growing number of applications that make social media datasets available for noncommercial, scholarly research. The app will be specifically designed to help authenticated users tap into Twitter streams to identify Web content that is of value for current and future research.

“We at MITH are honored to be partnering with Mellon, Washington University and the University of California to ensure that the documentary record around events such as the protests in Ferguson can be studied in an ethical, timely and cost-effective manner,” said Ed Summers co-principal investigator and technical lead on the project “I am specifically interested in the challenges of not only collecting and analyzing the data, but also packaging and archiving it for future use.”

Scholars on the project also seek to produce a white paper on ethical, copyright and access issues related to the collection of social media content.

Bergis Jules, co-principal investigator and community lead at the University of California, Riverside, hopes the DocNow project will be a catalyst for community building around the scholarly use and preservation of social media archives.

“Community building will be vitally important as we continue to develop standards and effective practices around the collection and access to this rich content, said Jules. “I’m excited The Mellon Foundation is supporting this project as it will be an important contribution to scholarship on social media archiving.”

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About the University of Maryland College Park

The University of Maryland is the state's flagship university and one of the nation's preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship and innovation, the university is home to more than 37,000 students, 9,000 faculty and staff, and 250 academic programs. Its faculty includes three Nobel laureates, two Pulitzer Prize winners, 49 members of the national academies and scores of Fulbright scholars. The institution has a $1.8 billion operating budget, secures $500 million annually in external research funding and recently completed a $1 billion fundraising campaign. For more information, visit www.umd.edu

About Washington University in St. Louis

Washington University in St. Louis was founded in 1853 as a non-denominational community of scholars and now ranks among the nation’s leaders in higher education. The university’s undergraduate, graduate and professional programs are highly regarded. Its libraries’ hold distinguished collections of rare books, manuscripts and that draw scholars from around the world. For more information about the university and its libraries, visit wustl.edu and libraries.wustl.edu.

About the University of California, Riverside

The University of California, Riverside is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion. A broadcast studio with fiber cable to the AT&T Hollywood hub is available for live or taped interviews. UCR also has ISDN for radio interviews. To learn more, call (951) UCR-NEWS.

Photos by Jamelle Bouie

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – A $225,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded to the College of Arts and Humanities at University of Maryland (UMD) and the Maryland Humanities Council will fund a series of public programs that are designed to explore the way citizens of Baltimore are thinking about the narratives that influence the life and identity of the city. Major partners will include the University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s Dresher Center for the Humanities, the Enoch Pratt Free Library and the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance

The initiative, Baltimore Stories: Narratives and the Life of an American City (Baltimore Stories), seeks to establish a model that utilizes humanities scholarship— literature, history, philosophy, communication, art and cultural studies—to produce print and digital materials that help frame and contextualize narratives of race in American cities. The project will also shine a spotlight on the ongoing, collaborative work being done in Baltimore neighborhoods by universities and non-profit organizations. 

“During the uprising, Baltimore residents had lively conversations about the stories that shape our perceptions of each other,” said Sheri Parks, co-project director of the initiative and associate dean for research and interdisciplinary programming in the College of Arts and Humanities at the University of Maryland. “We are elated to use this grant as a platform to continue these conversations.”

 The NEH announced yesterday $21.8 million in grants, including $3.6 million devoted to new “Humanities in the Public Square” grants that support community discussions on the relevance of the humanities to civic life.  

“We are honored to answer the call that NEH Chairman Adams issued earlier this year to use the humanities to ‘take up the grand challenges of our time,’” said Phoebe Stein, co-project director of the initiative and executive director of the Maryland Humanities Council. “The equity that needs to be created here in Baltimore, and across much of the nation, can begin with the humanities as they give us contexts for understanding and addressing this inequity and the narratives that undergird it. The humanities facilitate the conversations that can ultimately contribute to solutions.”

The idea for Baltimore Stories was born from UMD’s third annual Baltimore ThinkAThon, which was held April 30, 2015 in the midst of the Baltimore protests. Over 100 participants from the state’s major cultural institutions gathered to demonstrate the efficacy of humanities-based ideas and methods in the real world.  Many proposed projects centered on the way stories shaped the understanding of the protests, and narrative emerged as a central concern.

“Narrative or the collectives of stories we tell ourselves and each other is also a major focus of the humanities, so we hope to help citizens investigate and contextualize the past, present and future to uncover truths and move communities toward reconciliation,” said Parks.

ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND
The University of Maryland is the state's flagship university and one of the nation's preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship and innovation, the university is home to more than 37,000 students, 9,000 faculty and staff, and 250 academic programs. Its faculty includes three Nobel laureates, two Pulitzer Prize winners, 49 members of the national academies and scores of Fulbright scholars. The institution has a $1.8 billion operating budget, secures $500 million annually in external research funding and recently completed a $1 billion fundraising campaign. For more information, visit www.umd.edu.

ABOUT THE MARYLAND HUMANITIES COUNCIL
The Maryland Humanities Council is a statewide, educational nonprofit organization that creates and supports educational experiences in the humanities that inspire all Marylanders to embrace lifelong learning, exchange ideas openly, and enrich their communities. For more information, visit www.mdhc.org. The Maryland Humanities Council is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the State of Maryland, and the William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund, creator of the Baker Artist Awards.

ABOUT THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE HUMANITIES  
Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at: www.neh.gov.

12/6/15

By Sydney Tonic, The Diamondback

Photo Courtesy of Victoria Robinson

The arts and humanities college partnered with the Office of Diversity & Inclusion and the Office of International Affairs to foster a discussion about the ongoing refugee crisis in the country and what students at this university can do to help.

Sheri Parks, the director for the Center for Synergy and the associate dean for research and interdisciplinary programming in the arts and humanities college, organized the “Thinkathon,” hoping to implement a “think and do” model to involve students in the discussion.

About 15 students gathered for the workshop Friday morning in Stamp Student Union.

“We believe that, along with faculty and staff, students care about major issues of our time, such as the refugee crisis,” Parks said. “We have students here who have been refugees or are the children of refugees.”

Yasmine Taeb, a legislative representative for human rights and civil liberties at the Friends Committee on National Legislation, spoke about the crisis and its human impact at the event. She said the present crisis is devastating and more than 8 million refugees are internally displaced in Syria.

As part of the committee, Taeb lobbies and advocates about refugee-related issues with congressional offices in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. 

“Refugees coming to the U.S. are by far the most scrutinized community of entrance to the U.S.,” Taeb said. “We just don’t feel as though the U.S.’s response to the crisis has been adequate; their response has been quite tepid, at best.” 

Hiba Salih, program manager for youth and health at the International Rescue Committee in Baltimore, and Tyler Stoddard, its development coordinator, also came to talk about the work they do for refugees. Salih, a former refugee from Sudan, explained the difficulties of the life of a refugee coming to this country.

“The major challenges are the trauma that they have been through,” Salih said. “Having to adapt to a new country, new systems … they haven’t seen civilization.”

Read more here

Synergies among Digital Humanities and African American History and Culture(Synergies), co-directed by the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) and the Arts and Humanities Center for Synergy (Center for Synergy), will cultivate disciplinary transformation by bringing African Americanists together to develop the tools, methods, and archives needed to address their research questions in a digital humanities (DH) framework. The proposed training model and associated programming will grow and diversify the community of scholars pursuing DH; increase the DH field’s capacity to address questions within African American studies; strengthen the capacity of African Americanist scholars to create and work with digital and archival repositories of primary source materials that privilege understanding of African American experiences; and disseminate knowledge gained at the intersections of DH and African American labor, migration, and artistic expression.

Thematic Focus: Labor, Migration and Artistic Expression

The essential tensions between labor, migration, and artistic expression in the development of African American diasporic cultures in the United States form the rich core of the Synergies project. These themes represent some of the College of Arts and Humanities’ (the College) greatest strengths[1] and will bring together prominent and nationally-recognized faculty in African American history and cultural studies from departments throughout the University of Maryland. The work of Synergies will be undertaken in collaboration with The Center for the History of the New America (CHNA), housed in the History Department and supported by two colleges, which brings together scholars of the long immigration history of the United States; The David C. Driskell Center for the Study of Visual Art and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora (The Driskell Center), which provides a locus for some of the leading artists and art historians of African American art and is the largest academic center of African American art and archive collections in the country; and the George Meany Memorial AFL-CIO Archives, housed within University Libraries, which consist of approximately 40 million documents that serve as a primary repository of the history of American labor. The research of these two centers and the AFL-CIO Archives will serve as testbeds for Synergies projects.

Project Description

Synergies builds upon existing research and training mechanisms within the College and will develop new curricular initiatives and programming. Throughout the project we will disseminate information about the process, tools, methods, and collections developed, culminating in a national symposium to initiate a research network of African American scholars with digital interests and skills.

The Digital Humanities Incubator is a series of workshops and project consultations that organize the high-level training intended to acculturate scholars, students, and librarians to the use of DH tools and methods. For Synergies, we will develop DH Incubators that respond to the project themes and will bring together scholars from a diverse array of disciplines across UMD and from neighboring campuses. The first Synergies DH Incubator will involve 8 intensive workshop sessions over two semesters (Spring - Fall 2017), led by DH specialists and archivists from MITH and University Libraries. The sessions will provide a progressive arc of skill development relevant to digital work with our testbed collections, and will be interspersed with targeted readings on methodologies, “homework” assignments, and one-on-one meetings and coaching. The first year of the DH Incubator will culminate in a “pitch and proposal” process, and selected proposals will receive more extensive and focused project-specific technical support, advice for developing the project, seed grants to cover other research costs, and support for seeking further grant funding. In the second year of the DH Incubator (Spring - Fall 2018), a 5-session workshop series will use the selected seed projects as testbeds to provide further training, teaching participants about project design and management, and introducing information architecture, usability, and technology design. By the end of this two-year period, we expect the DH Incubator process to have engaged a large cross-section of African Americanists, both on campus and beyond, in the thoughtful production of new resources, new digital research methods, and new knowledge for the field.

To support Curricular Development, Synergies Postdoctoral Fellows will each design a two-semester First-Year Innovation Research Experience (FIRE) stream sequence, a course structure that provides inquiry-based experiences and mentorship for first-year students. Synergies FIRE sequences will engage students with research questions involving African American labor, migration, and artistic expression that are tractable to digital tools and methods. Students will pursue these questions through use of project testbed collections, including hands-on work at CHNA, the Driskell Center, and the Meany Archive. Synergies FIRE students may elect further study through either the Arts and Humanities Social Innovation Scholars (SIS) program - a College supported 3-semester curricular initiative that trains promising undergraduate scholars in the use of humanities-based strategies for activism - or the Foxworth Creative Enterprise Initiative, which provides support for faculty to design and teach a course that engages students in addressing an issue encountered by underserved, at risk, and/or historically underrepresented populations. The Synergies SIS course series will allow students to learn and apply DH skills in work with non-profit organizations to answer organizational questions informed by the broad themes of this proposal. The Foxworth course will give students a learning experience that combines DH methods with the study of African American history and culture. The Project Director will work with UMD faculty in African American history and cultural studies to develop new interdisciplinary undergraduate and graduate courses designed to include a DH component and hands-on practice. S/he will also establish and lead a summer curriculum transformation project to help faculty teaching African American studies classes build DH methods and tools into their courses.

The Center for Synergy will design and implement complementary Programming that will bring together research and technical experts with a broader public and will increase the accessibility and impact of both the project themes and methods of analysis. We will also design and stage the Synergies Research Seminar, an interdisciplinary reading group open to faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students focused on specialized topics that relate to the broader themes (2017) and nascent projects (2018) of the Synergies project. The Center for Synergy will also dedicate two of its WORLDWISE Dean’s Lecture Series, one each in 2017 and 2018, to probe the theoretical and pragmatic contexts of our work through presenting major speakers and related programming events for faculty and students. Finally, the Project Director will lead the planning of a 2-day national symposium at the project’s conclusion.

Conclusion

Synergies will bring together African Americanist scholars from across the College, campus, and region to re-imagine their research and scholarship through the tools, methods, and techniques of the digital humanities. The project will produce a new model for training scholars, as well as more diverse practitioners and content in the field of digital humanities. Through concerted dissemination efforts, Synergies successes and lessons learned will offer a model for replication and promise widespread benefits to the academy, to cultural heritage institutions, and to the public.

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[1] The graduate program in African American History is ranked 2nd nationally, and the African American Literary Studies graduate program of the English department is ranked 8th nationally (U.S. News and World Report, 2013), with particular strengths and renowned faculty in both African American and African Diaspora studies. The American Studies Department is ranked 3rd nationally (American Studies Association). 

 

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