Home >> Research >> Digital Humanities

Digital Humanities

David C. Driskell Center (Cole Field House)
Monday, May 16, 2016 - 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM

Half-day meeting for scholars to learn about the vast range of research materials available to them at UMD for the study of the African American experience.

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.”

###

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

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.

---------------------------------------------------------
[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). 

 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – A $1.25 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will fund research, education and training at the intersections of digital humanities and African American studies at the University of Maryland in an effort to prepare a diverse community of scholars and students whose work will both broaden the reach of the digital humanities in African American history and cultural studies and enrich humanities research with new methods, archives and tools.

The grant, Synergies among Digital Humanities and African American History and Culture: An integrated research and training model, awarded to the College of Arts and Humanities (ARHU) and co-directed by the Arts and Humanities Center for Synergy (Center for Synergy) and the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH), will support a faculty project director, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and staff in ARHU and the University Libraries. It also includes money to run workshops, to deliver public programming, to digitize materials from significant archival collections, to support faculty research and to integrate digital work into a number of innovative undergraduate curricular initiatives including UMD’s First-Year Innovation & Research Experience (FIRE) program, a new initiative to expose first-year undergraduates to rich research experiences, mentorship and social activities that are known to impact academic success.  

“Maryland’s project enhances the role of digital tools in African American studies as well as the contributions of the field to digital discourse while also making a commitment to widening the reach of the digital humanities both within academic communities and outside the walls of the university,” said Mariët Westermann, vice president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The College of Arts and Humanities has made serious investments in digital humanities and African American culture and history, hiring faculty clusters in both digital humanities and African American literature and history, adding to the strong community of digital humanist and African Americanist scholars already spread across the campus’s many colleges.

“This venture could not be more timely or important,” said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh. “It builds on our vital strengths in the humanities, increasing access to important source material on race and culture in America, while creating a new generation of technology-savvy researchers.” 

The thematic focus of the project, African American labor, migration and artistic expression, incorporates the broad intellectual interests shared by a large group of prominent scholars, students and staff on campus, and represents some of the campus’s greatest strengths. Specific research projects will be undertaken in collaboration with The Center for the History of the New America, which houses the Archive of Immigrant Voices; The David C. Driskell Center for the Study of Visual Art and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora with its collection of over 50,000 objects that chronicle the development and understanding of the study of African American visual culture; and the UMD libraries’ recently acquired George Meany Memorial AFL-CIO Archive, a preeminent research collection for the study of American labor history.

At Maryland, digital humanities as a recognized field can be traced back to the founding of MITH in 1999, which has grown to international acclaim due to its transformational research at the intersection of technology and humanistic inquiry. The project will apply MITH’s innovative digital humanities incubator model to introduce scholars, students and cultural heritage professionals to new modes of research through a series of workshops, tutorials and detailed consultations. Strong in traditional arts and humanities fields as well, the university is also home to the Center for Synergy, the new humanities center at Maryland, which will provide an interdisciplinary bridge between departments and centers and facilitate the public facing events, curricular initiatives and websites connected with the project.

“This ambitious project enables scholars in the region to leverage the remarkable resources we have on campus,” said Bonnie Thornton Dill, professor of Women’s Studies, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, and principal investigator of the Mellon grant. “To explore the histories of the African American population in the U.S., scholars will work with the rich and diverse data sets and archives found in these interdisciplinary centers.”

These resources together offer a new lens and framework for thinking and teaching about Black life in America, specifically investigating the way in which migration has shaped the history of Black people, as both forced and free laborers, and linking those experiences to visual and material culture.  

“Students and faculty researchers might investigate questions about labor activism among Caribbean Americans or explore visual representations of work as they examine the relationship of Black artists and the labor movement,” Ms. Thornton Dill said.

###

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.

ABOUT ANDREW W. MELLON FOUNDATION
Founded in 1969, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation endeavors to strengthen, promote, and, where necessary, defend the contributions of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse and democratic societies by supporting exemplary institutions of higher education and culture as they renew and provide access to an invaluable heritage of ambitious, path-breaking work. 

PHOTO CREDITS

Spotlight Image:

"Five generations on Smith's plantation, Beaufort, South Carolina"
Timothy O’Sullivan, 1862—Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Preston Sampson
Power and Purpose, 2008
Paper pulp painting
49.5 “ x 97
© 2013 Preston Sampson
 
500 Laborers from Barbados/Deck Scene, September 2, 1909,
Panama; NARA identification number 185-G-1128
 
Inset 1:

500 Laborers from Barbados/Deck Scene, September 2, 1909,
Panama; NARA identification number 185-G-1128
 
Inset 2:

Hunter, Clementine (1886-1988)
Wash Day, n.d.
Oil on canvas
15.375” x 19.5”
© 2013 Cane River Art Corporation
 
Inset 3:

Local 900 President Ed Gaskin speaking at big Balboa union meeting, May, 1952.
© University of Maryland, University Libraries
http://hdl.handle.net/1903.1/32406

 

3/9/15

 

By Jeremy Snow, The Diamondback

 

After 10 years of saving money, two years of planning and nine months of renovation, the Old Greenbelt Theatre is ready for showtime.

The more-than-75-year-old single-screen movie theater near Crescent Road in Greenbelt will reopen to the public as a nonprofit theater later this month. Caitlin McGrath, a university English professor who is now the theater’s executive director, said the theater could offer special events and screenings as well as internships for students.

Though it had long been underperforming and had been closed for the last nine months, McGrath said she thought that with enough support, the location could become a community staple.

“It felt like a really good fit where I could use my strengths as a film academic and connections in that world, and also with the community on this campus to breathe new life into the theater,” she said.

The theater will continue to screen mainstream movies at night, but it will now hold events, film series and special screenings for the first time, McGrath said. For example, she hopes to start by showing Oscar-nominated movies and other notable films from the nine months during which the theater was closed for renovation.

McGrath said she hopes the theater becomes a cinematic hub for the university, as students can easily reach it via the 130 Greenbelt Shuttle-UM route.

 

SQH room 1120
Tuesday, November 04, 2014 - 7:30 PM to 10:00 PM

November 4th : " The Wind Carpet"
"فرش باد"

11/27/13

by Porter Olsen, MITH

Out of the blue, an archivist gets a call from the husband of a famous scientist who has recently passed away. He wants to donate materials to the archives that can help people to understand and learn about her research. The archivist visits their home and is handed a cardboard box. Inside are not sheets of paper but a stack of floppy disks, CDs, Zip disks and a hard drive. What’s the archivist to do?

Researchers at the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) at the University of Maryland, and the School of Information and Library Science (SILS) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are investigating methods and developing tools for these sorts of situations.

A new white paper titled, “From Bitstreams to Heritage: Putting Digital Forensics into Practice in Collecting Institutions” examines the application of digital forensics methods to materials in collecting institutions – particularly libraries, archives and museums. It is a product of the BitCurator project and is written by Drs. Christopher A. Lee, Frances Carroll McColl Term Professor and research associate, Kam Woods of SILS;Matthew Kirschenbaum, associate director of MITH; and SILS doctoral student Alexandra Chassanoff.

To read more, please click here.

4/22/13

By Paul Voosen, The Chronicle of Higher Education

Sean Pue had an Urdu problem. An assistant professor of South Asian literature at Michigan State University, Mr. Pue was searching for a way to automate his analysis of classical Urdu's internal meter. As an adherent of the small but growing digital humanities movement, he had some coding proficiency, but not enough: Urdu poetry is not based on stress, but on contextual patterns of syllables. His program ran slow, and the problem proved to be, in computational argot, "combinatorially explosive"—the variables piled up, bogging it down.

While at his daughter's ballet class, Mr. Pue mentioned his difficulties to Tracy K. Teal, a microbial ecologist and postdoc at the university. The two had never seen each other on campus, but their girls, best friends, brought the families together. Ms. Teal began to see analogies between how the information in DNA causes proteins to form and the chain of transformations Mr. Pue used to extract Urdu's scansion. Perhaps, she offered, she could help?

The duo were soon in for a surprise, though. The central dogma of biology—that DNA makes RNA makes protein—had nothing on the ballads of Mirza Asadullah Khan. "As we discussed it further," Ms. Teal said, "we actually realized that Urdu poetry is a lot more complicated."

That revelation was one of many packed into a small, two-day meeting at the University of Maryland at College Park that brought together, for the first time, scholars engaged in the digital humanities with scientists from the data-heavy trenches of computational biology.

Sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Institutes of Health, among others, and held by the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities, the symposium, titled "Shared Horizons," sought to present the fields together as equals. In application, though, it offered lessons to digital humanists from biology, a field that has already gone through its own, sometimes painful, computational revolution.

Read more

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Digital Humanities