MLA13 Digital Roundtable: “How I Got Started in Digital Humanities: A Roundtable of New DH Projects from DHCommons”

Today I received notice that the panel below has been accepted for MLA 2013 in Boston. I can't wait to host participants from last year's "Getting Started in Digital Humanities" preconvention workshop, who will share their early projects-in-progress with the convention. Here are the details:

Short description:

This digital roundtable aims to give insight into challenges and opportunities for new digital humanists. Rather than presenting polished projects, panelists will share their experiences as developing DH practitioners working through research and pedagogical obstacles. Each participant will present brief “lightning talks” and then discuss their projects in more detail at individual tables.

Full description:

This diverse digital roundtable will build on the “Getting Started in Digital Humanities with Help from DHCommons” pre-convention workshop at the 2012 Modern Language Convention in Seattle. Participants from that workshop will present the digital projects they began or developed there. Often digital humanities (DH) scholars wait to present their projects at conferences until they are well underway. The results of advanced projects are more likely to compel excitement than the hypotheses of nascent ones. However, this practice can alienate scholars unfamiliar with digital methodologies, for whom the advanced digital project can seem an unattainable edifice.

This roundtable, by contrast, aims to give uninitiated audience members insight into the challenges and opportunities of new digital projects and offers practical advice about planning and launching new DH projects. Panelists will share their experiences as developing DH practitioners working through research and pedagogical obstacles and solicit feedback on their developing projects.

Presiders: Ryan Cordell (Northeastern University) and Kate Singer (Mount Holyoke College) Presenters:

  1. "The Importance of Digital Video," Alexander Huang, The George Washington University Online digital video is being tapped as a research and pedagogic resource, marketing tool, and an art form with a symbiotic relationship with the stage. In fact, video is now the core of virtual environments, websites associated with theatre companies, and a small but rich array of scholarly digital archives. What are the digital video’s functions in DH projects? How can those functions be best facilitated in humanistic fields when the disciplinary dichotomy of boundary between text (printed or virtual) and other media is blurred by an increasing synergy between them? My short talk analyses the implications of digital video in current and future scholarly and pedagogic practices. While recent scholarship has begun to address literature's place in the new media and digital culture, it has not fully engaged the digital video archive’s impact on the field due in part to a continued interest in new textualities in 'the late age of print'.

  2. "The World Shakespeare Project," Sheila T. Cavanagh and Kevin Quarmby, Emory University The World Shakespeare Project (WSP; is intended as a model for twenty-first century higher education. The WSP is international, interdisciplinary, and socio-culturally varied in its approach. Combining the practical and pedagogical resources of its Atlanta- and London-based co-directors, and applying theoretical and practical research procedures, the WSP addresses the shifting nature of higher education through innovative technological experimentation. The WSP links electronically with Shakespearean faculty and students across the globe to create and sustain dialogues and educational opportunities in concert with student populations often excluded from such endeavors because of economic, cultural, or geographic limitation. The project is designed to create, evaluate, and disseminate a multi-faceted educational structure that can be adapted for use globally and across the disciplines.

  3. "Modernism Visualized," Matthew Schultz, Vassar College Modernism Visualized is a geospatial timeline that represents the convergence of literary, artistic, and musical production with cultural, political, and military history. The timeline takes into account Pan-European, Anglo-Irish, and Trans-Atlantic Literary Modernism from 1850-1939. The wide scope illustrates the ways in which developments in literature emerge from their immediate cultural contexts, and also how literary texts look beyond their present moment and medium, revising models inherited from the past and anticipating future forms of literary expression. Our goal is to build a comprehensive constellation of phenomena that will help Modernists understand how the convention-dismaying fiction of modernism was both authored as a response to the violent fragmentation of the world at war, and how this avant-garde aesthetic actually forged modernity.

  4. "RAP: Research on Authorship as (Cultural) Performance," Gert Buelens, Ghent University, Belgium This project aims to investigate how the concept of authorship developed in Anglo-American literature (in a fairly broad sense) from around 1530 until 1930 (see Our hypothesis is that, over time, a "weak" understanding of what it means to be an author has been more prevalent than an a "strong" one, i.e. it has been more common to be aware of the ways in which the creation of a work relies on the input of others (patrons, editors, publishers, translators, predecessors, fellow-writers, etc.) than it has been to emphasize the author’s individual, independent genius. Over the past two years we have begun to explore a possible quantitative approach to the question of how the concept of "the author(ess)" and "authorship" or even "authority" (at certain times) has been used, and what shifts can be observed over time. By determining the set of relevant lexical items mentioned above, we aim to identify a "language of authorship." Second, we intend to trace the evolution of concepts of authorship between 1530 and 1930 visually, revealing clusters of texts of a similar make-up across the entire range of our corpus.

  5. "The Modernist Letters Project: formalizing distributed and interdisciplinary knowledge networks," Gabriel Hankins, Clemson University A major research question faces distributed DH projects: how do we organize credit, objectives, and collective goals for new kinds of sustainable scholarly knowledge infrastructures? This brief presentation summarizes the relevant experiences of a number of recent distributed DH efforts in my field: the Modernist Journals Project at Brown, the new Modernist Versions Project, and my own work on the Modernist Letters Project.  While the field is relatively familiar with collaboration on a local scale, collaboration between multiple institutions and disciplines on digital projects is still relatively new.  This project summarizes what we know about cycles of project management, forms of collective credit in publication, and ways to motivate work in distributed humanities projects.  Of particular interest will be the pedagogical modules developed out of DH projects, allowing even non-DH "natives" to contribute to an on-going project at the graduate or even undergraduate level.

  6. "The Discoveries of the Americas Project," Lynn Ramey, Vanderbilt University The Discoveries of the Americas project aims to gather and develop resources for the research and teaching of pre-modern precursors to Christopher Columbus in global travel to the Americas.  The project has as a key aim the acknowledgement of cultures other than European that had ambitious programs of travel and exploration, without in any way diminishing the importance of European travel.  Many cultures have traces of archeological, literary, and historical (oral and written) evidence of travel and interaction with what was termed by Europeans as the New World. We aim to help visitors to our site imagine and virtually experience the world of the global Middle Ages—the period roughly from 1000-1500.

  7. "The Virtual Urban Process: Cibola, an Experiment in Real and Virtual Spaces," Malcolm Alan Compitello, University of Arizona This presentation reflects on what has transpired in Cibola, a virtual space developed by the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Arizona in the Second Life Virtual Reality platform. Cibola is designed as an intermodal space of social and pedagogical transaction. Its recreations of real cultural spaces in the Hispanic world serve as a laboratory to envision a space that makes use of Second Life’s expansive pedagogical potential. It offers a space in which students can have class in "real" cafes in the Hispanic world, some of which they may be studying. At the same time it provides a fruitful site of research that teaches students what the implications of intervening in spatial decision-making are and allows they to see what the consequences of those actions are on the built environment of Cibola.