Neatline Workshop 2017

Most import link

DSG Omeka Sandbox site

Workshop Précis

Today we will explore Neatline, which is a platform for building spatial exhibits using items collected using the Omeka digital archive software. It’s possible to discuss Neatline without getting into the nitty-gritty details of Omeka, and for the most part that’s how we will address it, mostly because of time constraints. I will need to outline Omeka in broad strokes in order for certain aspects of Neatline to make sense, however, and I’ve also provided links below to resources that will help you learn more about Omeka. If you decide to pursue a project using Neatline, you will likely have to learn more about Omeka to do so.

The point of today’s workshop, however, is not really to teach you how to use a particular piece of software. Instead, my aim is to let you explore one way of making a map and begin thinking about how the activity of mapping differs, intellectually and pedagogically, from the study of maps.

Like other mapping platforms, Neatline has both affordances and limitations. Neatline is a wonderful platform for making, as Bethany Nowviskie writes,

hand-crafted, interactive stories as interpretive expressions of a single document or a whole archival or cultural heritage collection.

By contrast, Neatline is not a GIS or a platform for big spatial datasets; we can talk more about this distinction and how it might apply to your own research and teaching.

Workshop Schedule

Here’s an outline of how I hope this morning will go, but this will vary depending on both human and technical variables. At any stage, feel free to let me know whether we should slow down, speed up, define, redefine, and so forth. I’m just fine with detours, so long as they contribute to your projects and your teaching.

  1. What is Omeka? (9:15-9:30)
  2. Creating records in Neatline (9:30-10:00)
  3. Practice creating records (10:00-10:15)
  4. Timelines and waypoints (10:15-10:45)
  5. Improving your exhibits (10:45-11:00)
  6. Importing georectified historical maps into Neatline (11:00-11:30)

If needed and desired we can do more after lunch!

Omeka Resources

Neatline Tutorials

Model Neatline Exhibits

Omeka-Neatline Workshop 2016

Today we’ll be learning the following. I’ve outlined a rough schedule just below this paragraph, but it will vary depending on both human and technical variables. At any stage, feel free to let me know whether we should slow down, speed up, define, redefine, and so forth. I want to make sure you come away confident in your ability to use Omeka and (just as important!) to teach students to use Omeka. I’m just fine with detours, so long as they contribute to your projects and your teaching. Continue reading

Network Analysis Workshop

I regularly run workshops on humanities network analysis. For participants, I’ve compiled some starting instructions, sample data files, and suggested reading below.

Recommended Reading

Tools for Network Analysis

There are many options at various skill levels for humanists interested in network analysis. Here are just a few:

  • If you’re looking for an especially straightforward platform for basic network analyses, you might check out Palladio which adapts the platform designed for Stanford’s Mapping the Republic of Letters project for other scholars’ use. Martin Düring’s tutorial at the Programming Historian focuses on extracting network data from unstructured text and visualizing it in Palladio, and Miriam Posner’s “Getting Started with Palladio” introduces the tool’s network functionalities (along with much else).
  • You can also create basic network graphs using Fusion Tables.
  • If you are running Windows with Microsoft Excel installed, Node XL aims to make generating network graphs from an Excel spreadsheet as easy as creating a pie chart. Unfortunately Node XL is incompatible with Mac versions of Excel.
  • And of course, if you’re comfortable with programming languages there are plenty of methods for generating network graphs by hand. Taylor Arnold and Lauren Tilton write about using R for network analysis in Humanities Data in R and Lincoln Mullen has a growing resource in Digital History Methods in R, including an in-progress chapter on networks.

This Workshop: Gephi

For this workshop, we will be using Gephi, one of the most widely-used tools for network analysis and visualization. You will need to download and install the application before we can get started. If you find it runs slowly (or not at all) you might need to update Java on your system.

Workshop Data

Sample data can be found in this folder. You can download them all as a zip file or download files separately as we need them.

How Not to Teach Digital Humanities

The following is a talk I’ve revised over the past few years. It began with a post on “curricular incursion”, the ideas of which developed through a talk at DH2013 and two invited talks, one at the University of Michigan’s Institute for the Humanities in March 2014 and another at the Freedman Center for Digital Scholarship’s “Pedagogy and Practices” Colloquium at Case Western Reserve University in November 2014. I’ve embedded a video from the latter presentation at the bottom of the article. There is a more polished version of the article available in Debates in the Digital Humanities 2016.

“À l’ École,” Villemard (1910)

In late summer of 2010, I arrived on the campus of St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin. I was a newly-minted assistant professor, brimming with optimism, and the field with which I increasingly identified my work—this “digital humanities”—had just been declared “the first ‘next big thing’ in a long time” by William Pannapacker in his Chronicle of Higher Education column. “We are now realizing,” Pannapacker had written of the professors gathered at the Modern Language Association’s annual convention, “that resistance is futile.” So of course I immediately proposed a new “Introduction to Digital Humanities” course for upper-level undergraduates at St. Norbert. My syllabus was, perhaps, hastily constructed—patched together from “Intro to DH” syllabi in a Zotero group—but surely it would pass muster. They had hired me, after all; surely they were keen to see digital humanities in the curriculum. In any case, how could the curricular committee reject “the next big thing?” particularly when resistance was futile?

But reject it they did. They wrote back with concerns about the “student constituency” for the course, its overall theme, my expected learning outcomes, the projected enrollment, the course texts, and the balance between theoretical and practical instruction in the day-to-day operations of the class.

  1. What would be the student constituency for this course? It looks like it will be somewhat specialized and the several topics seems to suggest graduate student level work. Perhaps you could spell out the learning objectives and say more about the targeted students. There is a concern about the course having sufficient enrollment.
  2. The course itself could be fleshed out more. Is there an implied overall theme relating to digital technology other than “the impact of technology on humanities research and pedagogy”? Are there other texts and readings other than “A Companion to Digital Studies”? How much of the course will be “learning about” as distinct from “learning how to”?

My initial reaction was umbrage; I was certain my colleagues’ technological reticence was clouding their judgement. But upon further reflection—which came through developing, revising, and re-revising this course from their feedback, and learning from students who have taken each version of the course—I believe they were almost entirely right to reject that first proposal.

As a result of these experiences, I’ve been thinking more and more about the problem of “digital humanities qua digital humanities,” particularly amidst the accelerated growth of undergraduate classes that explicitly engage with digital humanities methods. In the first part of this talk, I want to outline three challenges I see hampering truly innovative digital pedagogy in humanities classrooms. To do so, I will draw on my experiences at two very different campuses—the first a small, relatively isolated liberal arts college and the second a medium-sized research university—as well as those of colleagues in a variety of institutions around the country.

As an opening gambit, I want to suggest that undergraduate students do not care about digital humanities. I want to suggest further that their disinterest is right and even salutary, because what I really mean is that undergrads do not care about DH qua DH. In addition, I don’t think most graduate students in literature, history, or other humanities fields come to graduate school primarily invested in becoming “digital humanists,” though there are of course exceptions. Continue reading

Boston DH Consortium Session #3 Breakout Group Notes

For breakout groups in the “Out-of-the-Box” DH Tools session at the Boston-Area DH Consortium Faculty Retreat (Fall 2013):


Oxygen/TEI BP





Creating a Historical Map with GIS

In the next few days I’ll be teaching a few workshops centered largely on teaching participants to georeference historical maps using ArcGIS. I’ll do this first at the Northeastern English Graduate Student Association’s 2013 Conference, /alt, and then at the Boston-Area Days of DH conference we’re hosting at the NULab March 18-19.

We’ll be learning a few things in this workshop:

  1. How to add base maps and other readily-importable data to ArcGIS
  2. How to plot events in ArcGIS using spreadsheet data
  3. How to georeference a historical map in ArcGIS

For that last goal, this step-by-step guide by Kelly Johnston should be your go-to reference. We’ll be following Kelly’s instructions almost to the letter, though we’ll be using different data.

We’ll be using these files for the lab. This tutorial, prepared for my graduate digital humanities class, walks through the same steps we’ll follow, in case you need to review a step here or later:

A few other worthwhile links:

  • The Spatial Humanities site is a useful clearinghouse of both spatial theory and praxis across a range of humanities fields. Kelly Johnston’s step-by-step above is only one of a growing collection of such resources on the Spatial site.
  • The David Rumsey Historical Map Collection. If you want a historical map with which to practice—or, frankly, for your research, this is an excellent first stop. In short, it’s many thousands of historical maps, provided for free. In order to download high-resolution versions of the maps, you must create a (free) account and log in.
  • Neatline is an incredibly robust Omeka plugin that allows you to create spatial exhibits of your collected materials. Check out some of the demos—it’s really phenomenal stuff. We won’t have time to go over Neatline, but one could, for instance, make use of a map georeferenced in ArcGIS as a base map for a Neatline exhibit.
  • Hypercities is another important spatial humanities platform that makes use of Google Earth and allows users to build “deep maps” of spatial data, historical maps, images, video, and text. Check out some of their collections to see what Hypercities can do. The collections around Los Angeles, Berlin, and Rome are particularly robust.

Finally, two spatial nonsequitors:

My Technologies of Text Class Visits the Printing Office of Edes & Gill

I’m cross-posting this from the course’s website.

This past Monday Technologies of Text took the train to the North End to visit The Printing Office of Edes & Gill, a colonial print shop adjacent to the Old North Church. The proprietor and master printer, Gary Gregory, was—quite simply—fantastic. When we arrived he closed the shop and gave us a special demo of his English Commons Press. Most incredibly, he even allowed the students (and me!) to operate the press, inking the type and pulling the lever to print the Boston edition of the Declaration of Independence. Afterwards he gave us the three copies our class printed. I cannot more highly recommend Edes & Gill for local college classes interested in the history of print. Christina’s and Zach’s posts about the trip are well worth reading.

While we were there I shot some (admittedly poor) pictures and one (better) video of our experience. Lots of students were taking pictures as well, and I hope to add some of their pictures soon. For now, however, I’ve embedded a slideshow of my pictures and the video below.

Useful Resources for the Academic Job Market

Later today I’ll join a workshop for graduate students in Northeastern University’s English Graduate Program who are making (or considering) a run on the job market. As a recent survivor of the market I hope I can offer some insight into its quirks and vicissitudes. To that end—and with the help of several colleagues on Twitter—I’ve compiled a list of useful articles for students embarking on the academic job search.

  • Brian Croxall’s “Preparing Now for Next Year’s Job Market” is pitched as a help for students preparing over the summer. Even with summer now gone, however, the post provides a useful summary of most materials students will need for academic job applications.
  • Thanks to Travis Foster for pointing my attention to William H. Wandless’ practical, detailed, and insightful posts about the job application process: “The Academic Job Market: English Search Advice” Part I, Part II, and Part III.
  • Continue reading

Introduction to DH @ SILCS

Introduction to the Digital Humanities

Dr. Ryan Cordell, June 12, 2012


I. What is DH? (2:00pm-2:45pm)

Before today’s session you all read the following articles:

As a class, we’ll use these articles (and our discussion) to do the following:

  1. Collaborate on a basic, working definition of “digital humanities”;
  2. List the various kinds of methodologies that comprise the DH field;
  3. Identify the common priorities, concerns, and/or values of DH practitioners;

At the end of this crowdsourcing session, I will present some of my answers to these same questions. You can view my slides here.


II. Not Reading C19 Novels: Research (2:45-3:30)

The idea for this workshop was stolen from my colleague Paul Fyfe of Florida State University. He describes his version of the assignment in “How Not to Read a Victorian Novel,” Journal of Victorian Culture 16, no. 1 (April 2011). Here’s how Paul introduces the assignment for his students: Continue reading