Middlebury DLA Summer Institute 2019: Workshop on Videographic Criticism

Interested in exploring scholarship in sound and image? Want to explore new possibilities for conducting analysis and conveying arguments in a multimedia form about multimedia objects of study? Middlebury’s NEH-funded Advanced Institute in Videographic Criticism returns again, this time as the DLA Summer Institute, a tuition-based workshop organized by Middlebury College faculty members Jason Mittell and Chris Keathley, with guest mentor Catherine Grant, Professor of Digital Media and Screen Studies at Birkbeck, University of London. For two weeks, you can spend all of your hours in beautiful Vermont, learning how to make video essays and participating in a robust community of practice fondly known as “video camp.”

The DLA Summer Institute 2019 focused on videographic criticism is open to any participant with a terminal degree (PhD preferred) or currently in a graduate program of study. Participants are not expected to have experience producing videos as the workshop is aimed at exploring the new format and stimulating new ideas. The workshop will strive to create a community of practice among participants, as well as connecting participants to a broader community of videographic critics and scholars.

Please see the DLA Summer Institute 2019 website for details on timing, cost, and participation. Applications are due February 1. Please contact Jason Mittell with any questions, and spread the word!

Digital Methodologies for Art Historians

Sarah Laursen and students discover how digital technologies can enrich art history.

Middlebury art historian and museum curator Sarah Laursen and her students in the Fall 2018 course Digital Methodologies for Art Historians: Ancient Chinese Gold (HARC 355) created an ArcGIS Storymap to share their discoveries. Impressive work, both in form and content, full of exploration and ideas about how digital technologies can create pathways to productive public scholarship.

Here is the link to their findings from the course.

Fall 2018 DLA Review

Vermont Life magazine. Photo: Jon Olender.

It was an action-packed fall at the DLA. Our Digital Fluencies Series continued to introduce more intensive investigations of “digital fluency and critical engagement”—a key direction in Middlebury’s strategic plan. The Davis Educational Foundation-funded Digital Pedagogy Zoom Sessions brought faculty together with guest speakers in a “Hollywood Squares” style videoconference format for presentations and discussion. The Behind the Scenes series featured conversations about digital research by Middlebury faculty as well as work by visiting scholars. Our three DLA Fellows met monthly to exchange ideas about their developing digital research projects. And faculty participating in the Davis grant met to explore different approaches to and examples of new modes of digital pedagogy at Middlebury. Meanwhile, we were able to provide microgrants to support a number of exciting digital projects that are either starting up or continuing to advance toward completion.

Digital Fluencies Series

To continue to deepen the Envisioning Middlebury concept of digital fluency as a goal for students, faculty, and staff at Middlebury, we met four times this fall to focus on different implications of digital technologies for liberal arts critical thinking. In September, we explored Johanna Drucker’s intriguing concept of Speculative Computing. In October, Digital Projects and Archives Librarian Patrick Wallace helped us think about The Technology & Ethics of Social Media & Web Harvesting. In November, Dean of the Library Mike Roy led a rich discussion of Digital Publishing, Problems & Possibilities. And in December, Amy Collier shared her work on Misinformation & Bots/Sockpuppets.

Davis Digital Pedagogy Zoom Sessions

In September, our Zoom session featured (Some Ideas About) How to Teach Digital Humanities with Ryan Cordell of Northeastern University. Using his now-classic essay on “How Not To Teach the Digital Humanities,” Ryan emphasized how his courses focus on hands-on experiential learning that also delves deeply into topics in literary studies.

In October, Lauren Tilton of the University of Richmond helped us think more about public scholarly work with students out in the world at The Digital Public Humanities, Giving New Arguments & New Ways to Argue.

In November, at Using An Editorial Pedagogy to Peer Review Students’ Multimodal Texts, Cheryl Ball of Wayne State University led a marvelous conversation about teaching writing by having students themselves design their own learning goals and criteria.

Behind the Scenes

In October, a group of scholars from France and Brazil joined Middlebury faculty and staff for the kickoff symposium of the Atlantic World Forum, a new collaborative project directed by Michael Kramer that supports international scholarly collaboration through the creation of an annual digital roundtable on specific topics in transatlantic cultural history. The symposium, Creating Digital Scholarly Dialogues About Atlantic World Cultural Histories, provided a veritable feast of scholarship and set the stage for what the DLA hopes will be a transformative global digital humanities project that connects faculty and students at Middlebury to an international network of scholars for deep inquiry into Atlantic World history through digital collaboration and multimedia essay development. The project brings together primary sources with historiographic debate and will offer a model of how to connect traditional historical inquiry to experience-based learning for students. With participation from faculty and students at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies and the Schools Abroad, the Atlantic World Forum will also provide a model of how to translate and disseminate knowledge for teaching and learning globally.

In November, Carol Stabile of the University of Oregon joined us to share information about her developing collaborative project, Reanimate, An Intersectional Feminist Digital Publishing Collective.

Later that same month, Norton Owen, the Director of Preservation at Jacob’s Pillow, shared the Jacob’s Pillow Interactive website through the Movement Matters See Michael Kramer’s DLA blog post about the event, Dancing In and Out of the Digital Archive.

November continued to keep us busy. Middlebury Arabic professor Dima Ayoub gave us an update on her DLA-funded digital analysis of the paratextual components of Arabic-to-English literary translations. Glossing the Glossary, Digital Approaches to Paratexts and Power in Arabic Literature explored the promising collaborations Dima has undertaken with Data Services Library Ryan Clement as well as two students, Mari Odoy ’20 and Will O’Neal ’20, who wrote about their summer experience conducting research with Dima in Two Students Take a Digital Humanities Approach to Arabic Literature. Bringing together close and distant reading tactics through data-driven text mining, Dima’s project brings digital humanities to bear on translation studies, but also makes clear that translation studies has important concepts and ideas for digital humanities. We even posed the intriguing hypothesis: are “distant readings” of literature done computationally themselves a new form of the paratext?

In December, the digital liberal arts got scientific. We also, simultaneously, got animated. At Animating Biology, A Collaboration Between A Biologist & the Middlebury Animation Studio, Animation Studio student Michelle Lehman and Animation Studio Director Daniel Houghton were joined by Heinz-Given Professor of the Pre-medical Sciences Grace Spatafora to discuss the collaborative animation work Michelle completed for Grace’s research on Streptococcus mutans, one of over 600 bacterial species in the human oral cavity. Most fascinatingly, Dr. Spatafora explained how Michelle’s thoughtful, scientifically accurate animations made her consider new aspects of her research. It was a reminder that the arts, technology (the Animation Studio uses the Blender application among other sophisticated digital tools), and science can be mutually enriching in revelatory ways. Animating science caused Michelle, herself a neuroscience major, to think in new ways about her animation and artistic work. Just as crucially, the questions raised by accurately visualizing Streptococcus mutans caused Grace to ask new questions about her scientific research.

In this way, interdisciplinary exchanges enabled by the digital liberal arts are not only about finding new ways of communicating scientific findings to a broader public (a noble goal in of itself); they can also lead to unexpected discoveries in the research itself. Animation become not just a fun “bell and whistle” added to the serious work of scientific research, but rather a contribution to the research. Similarly, the questions raised by the collaborative goal of visualizing Streptococcus mutans contributed to new skills and concepts in Michelle’s animation work. The animation enhanced the science; the science enhanced the animation. This suggested to us that when they talk to each other digitally, the sciences, the arts, and the humanities have the potential to yield new knowledge.

As a final note, we were also delighted to be joined by a large number of students at our last Behind the Scenes, and heard from them about ways to facilitate more student involvement in the DLA.

DLA Fellows & Davis Grant Faculty Lunches

Our three 2018-19 DLA Fellows—Brigitte Humbert, Natalie Eppelsheimer, and Will Nash—met monthly to share developing digital research over lunch. New research strategies and questions emerged from the mix of conceptual conversation and practical problem solving. Plus the sandwiches from Otter Creek Bakery were delicious.

Meanwhile, faculty participating in our Davis Grant focused on digital curricular innovation in student thesis work and courses in four departments—History, American Studies, Film and Media Cultures, and Sociology—continued to meet to discuss teaching ideas. Louisa Stein’s Theories of Spectatorship found students exploring the boundaries between print and digital culture by creating a printed ‘zine that they bound together into a book and then digitized; ironically, many of the printed ‘zine pages students created were printed out from the Internet, thus reminding us that the boundaries between print and online mediation are less rigid than we think, with modes of spectatorship crucial to their intermediality. Kathy Morse and Michael Newbury, meanwhile, worked with the DLA and Davis Family Library’s Special Collections division to digitize the full run of Vermont Life magazine and share it for the public through the Internet Archive; students then spent the fall exploring how to analyze the magazine and its history digitally.

Overall, it was a busy, rewarding time at the DLA, and we look forward eagerly to winter and spring 2019 events, culminating in a planned DLA Symposium in the spring of 2019.


Dancing In and Out of the Digital Archive

It’s the opposite of the tree falling in the forest: if a performance is happening in a digital archive and someone is there to access and watch it, is the performance really over?

Norton Owen, Director of Preservation, Jacob’s Pillow.

In his Middlebury College visit as part of the Dance Department’s Movement Matters series, Jacob’s Pillow Director of Preservation Norton Owen brought us to this question. Sharing the remarkable collection of digitized material in Jacob’s Pillow Interactive, curated online using a customized WordPress platform, Owen let us take in examples from the archive such as a 1936 film of Jacob’s Pillow founder Ted Shawn’s company, Men Dancers, performing Finale From the New World. With Antonín Dvořák’s composition, performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra and resynchronized in 2011 by Daniel Callahan, the piece took on an immediacy even as it simultaneously appeared in black and white, from another era. Owen pointed out that we view it differently now, when norms of sexuality both in and beyond dance world have changed radically. Do we see the same thing, even, that audiences saw when the film was made? The digital medium gives access not only to the historical artifact, but also to these epistemological and phenomenological questions. It’s a joy to watch in of itself; it’s full of information about the past; the digital curation, however, also makes it a new performance, at once in the flow of time and leaping out of it.

This was even more the case with another example Owens offered, Carmen de Lavallade performing As I Remember It in 2014, in which the dancer, now an older woman, performs in mirror-like reflections to herself in film footage of an earlier performance, Portrait of Billie (John Butler’s 1960 piece). We see, by way of our own computer screens, a video of a dancer dancing in front of a video of a dance, each performance and viewing experience layered across time in some sense in an infinite regress into the past, but also just as much in an infinite progress into the future.

Carmen de Lavallade, As I Remember It, Baryshnikov Arts Center, 18 February 2015. Photo: Stephanie Berger.

Change and continuity, time ago and time now and time to come: the digital archive of performance does funny things. Most of all it deepens what we might mean by the term “access” when it comes to history, and particularly history of performance. Jacob’s Pillow Interactive is of course about a place—a kind of “dance utopia” as Norton Owen playfully called it at one point. But the digital archive also becomes something else: a floating, asynchronous festival of synchronized movement, one filled with Themes and Essays, Dance Playlists, and even a Guess section in which you can test your dance knowledge.

It is ebullient and fun, but also serious business, time travel of a sort, an orbit of glimmering views. It takes one to a portable, almost celestial palace of choreography that offers not only access to a trove of dance history, but also entrée into what it means to experience dance itself, performed in media res, across temporalities and spaces of movement that have been encapsulated—and then unleashed into the connected universe.

Software Carpentry @ Middlebury, 2019

By Ryan Clement, Data Services Librarian, Middlebury College

On January 17-18, 2019, Middlebury is hosting a Software Carpentry workshop for faculty, staff, and students. This workshop is co-sponsored by the Middlebury Library, the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Research (CTLR), the Digital Liberal Arts Initiative (DLA), and the Director of the Sciences.

The Carpentries are a fiscally sponsored project of Community Initiatives. They teach skills that are immediately useful for researchers, using lessons and datasets that allow you to quickly apply what you have learned to your own work. I’m really excited about using the Software Carpentry curriculum here to help our faculty, staff, and students become more efficient in their research.

This workshop is discipline agnostic. The curriculum will include:

  • Shell scripting in the bash shell (using the command line)
  • Version control with git and GitHub
  • Data manipulation, analysis, and visualization with R/RStudio

The target audience is learners who have little to no prior computational experience, and the instructors will put a priority on creating a friendly environment to empower researchers and enable data-driven discovery. Even those with some experience will benefit, as the goal is to teach not only how to do analyses, but how to manage the process to make it as automated and reproducible as possible. For instance, after attending this workshop you will be able to:

  • Write a loop that applies one or more commands separately to each file in a set of files
  • Share your code and make it easy to cite
  • Read tabular data from a file into R and perform operations on it
  • Manage files and projects in RStudio
  • Use ggplot2 and R to create publication-quality graphics

Space is limited and it will likely fill quickly. This workshop is free of charge, and lunch and coffee breaks will be provided. Here is a registration link: http://go.middlebury.edu/swc2019-registration/, and the workshop webpage http://go.middlebury.edu/swc2019 for more information.

Questions? Send email to Ryan Clement, rclement@middlebury.edu.

We hope to see you at the workshop!

2018 Digital Library Federation Forum

By Ryan Clement, Leanne Galletly, and Wendy Shook

Anasuya Sengupta speaking at a podium
Anasuya Sengupta keynote by clirdlf is licensed under CC-BY-NC

This past October, three librarians (Ryan Clement, Data Services Librarian; Leanne Galletly, User Experience & Digital Scholarship Librarian; Wendy Shook, Science Data Librarian) travelled to the Digital Library Federation (DLF) Forum in Henderson, NV. The Middlebury Library has been a member institution of the DLF for years, and Midd Librarians regularly travel to DLF’s annual Forum each fall. This conference is a model of what inclusive, practitioner-focused, and innovative library conferences can be.

While you can find slide decks, notes, and other materials from the Forum in DLF’s Open Science Framework repository, and recordings of the opening and closing plenary sessions on the Forum website, we wanted to share some of the sessions and takeaways that seemed most interesting to us.

The day before the conference started, Wendy and Ryan attended the inaugural Learn@DLF day, a pre-conference that was entirely workshops. A workshop on the DLF Project Manager’s Toolkit introduced some new tools and strategies for managing projects, though most of the attendees were working on projects a much greater scale than we do here at Middlebury. An afternoon workshop on Digital Mapping Ecosystems with Andy Rutkowski introduced some techniques for bringing together the power of Mapbox and Carto to create great online maps, but then took us beyond this to make our own interactive interfaces for our maps using Javascript and the Mapbox API. There was good discussion of the balance between easy to use, but proprietary products (like Carto and Mapbox), and teaching students to write (or at least edit) code and work with open source tools. The former will obviously help us get results faster, but the latter will teach the students important digital literacies they will benefit from for far longer.

A session on minimal computing included a discussion of the development of Wax, a framework and set of tools that allow users to create useful and preservable digital archives without a database. Alex Gil and Mariel Nyröp from Columbia University showed examples of projects developed using Wax include Style Revolution and the Barbara Curtis Adachi Bunraku Collection and discussed using Wax to work with students developing digital archives. Wax uses the Jekyll engine to quickly create static, low-maintenance sites without the overhead of platforms like WordPress or Omeka.

There were a number of sessions discussing copyright, access, and usage rights, and how these affect the ability of libraries and scholars to do digital scholarship. In a session on RightsStatements.org, Maggie Dickson, Lisa Gregory,  and Brian Dietz discussed the need for though of us creating digital works, and digitizing analog works, to make sure we are being clear in the statements we provide to users on their rights to re-use our cultural heritage works. On the flipside, a talk about the legal literacies needed for text/data mining highlighted University of British Columbia’s useful webpage on “What am I NOT allowed to do with electronic resources?” – often library electronic resources have licenses that are hidden from users, but by bringing them into the open we can help users understand what they can and can’t do with these resources. Brandon Butler, from UVA, also discussed the importance of not only knowing users’ rights under the law, but also negotiating our licenses and contracts so that they don’t actively take away these rights.

A session on Student Centered Digital Scholarship was presented by a group from Bucknell. They host an eight-week summer program for undergraduate students who use digital methods to complete a research project. Students receive a $3k stipend to cover living costs. Each week they learn different tools that they might use in their research or analysis, this brings students together and gives them the opportunity to learn tools that they may use in the future. Process over product is a mantra of the program, and the panelists brought up that students often don’t understand this at first. The other learning goals are to build a community of practice and to develop research, writing, and speaking skill. Bucknell, Gettysburg, and Lafayette each have summer DS programming and students at the end of the summer all the students gather to present their work at a conference. The curriculum used by Bucknell was developed by Gettysburg College and is available to reuse under Creative Commons.

A session focused on preserving unusual forms of digital scholarship, including diverse projects such as video games, mixed media presentation, and performance art. These formats become dated quickly and work, particularly student work, no matter how interesting, is quickly lost or becomes inaccessible. Tallie Casucci spoke about a popular student-created video game. Only partial code remains, and one of the only enduring records being a video walkthrough on YouTube created by a video game fan. The speakers urged preservation staff to refrain from calling these projects “legacy”, implying that they were no longer wanted, rather call them “past” project, and to acknowledge that even though a student-created project is ‘past,’ it still has long term worth. When creating project plans, consider post-project needs as well, including roles, responsibilities, contingencies and sustainability plans. Specialized projects need to be revisited or re-evaluated every two to three years, to evaluate if they are remain “live” or if it time to preserve the underlying components which may include code, video, audio, and any physical components which in turn need to be preserved.

A session on teaching and tactics for working with students on digital scholarship projects began with a presentation by Maggie Hubbard on a supporting a class project using anti-semitic tweets as primary source material for a project. She spoke of the challenges of finding the material herself, given the absolute depravity of anti-semitic Twitter. She also said, though, that it was an effective project, as it helped students who had been studying historical anti-semitism and propaganda a powerful chance to connect what they had been learning to our current landscape. Another presenter in this session, Megan Martinsen from Georgetown University, gave us her “10 Practical Tips for Executing Collaborative Models” – these tips, while familiar to some, are great reminders of things we need to make sure we are doing as we look to collaborate across departments, workgroups, and institutions. Ryan’s favorite tip is shown below.

Tip 7: show up at events
From Making “Good on Paper” Work IRL: 10 Practical Tips for Executing Collaborative Models of Digital Scholarship Services by Megan Martinsen

This simple message a strong one: digital scholarship and digital libraries take time, money, and labor from many contributors. They require committed communities of practice to support and sustain them; these grow out of our commitment to encourage each other, to listen, and to engage with the work others are doing. In short, our goals are to show up, communicate, and collaborate.

Atlantic World Forum Symposium Report

Symposium Report: Some Preliminary Reflections on Reconceptualizing Cultural Histories of the Atlantic World, Digitally and Interculturally

After our veritable feast of Atlantic World history scholarship, as well as our productive opening conversation and many informal discussions, where do we stand? Here are some initial (“sketchy,” as it were) reflections.

  • How do we contribute new frameworks and conceptual approaches to Atlantic World, trans-oceanic, transnational, and global history?

Flows, Circulations, Hubs, Displacements, Reconfigurations, and…Portals? 

With both the Transatlantic Cultures platform and the Atlantic World Forum, we return repeatedly to the question of conceptualizing the Atlantic World as a place of flows and circulations. To be sure, we do not wish to erase the power wielded by centers over peripheries, the continued legacies of various imperialisms, but we also want to become more aware of how those dynamics played out in less predictable ways in the empirical record of the Atlantic World. To do so, cultural history, broadly conceived, is productive because cultural forms and interactions offer spaces and practices of potent if decentralized processes of making—and especially of remaking.

Indeed, building on a comment by Anaïs Flétchet, I too noticed that this remaking often appeared when one of our presenters tracked the movement of Atlantic World participants through various displacements, movements, and relocations. It is often distance, whether forced or voluntary or some combination of the two, which helps to create place-based cultural, institutional, economic, and political formations. We see this when Gilberto Gil (as Anaïs studies) or Alan Lomax (as I study) resettled in what Marcos names as a “hub” (rather than a center) of the Atlantic World: London. We hear it in listening to the stories of how the Old Klezmorim become new—and then, in a way, old again—in Jean-Sébastien Noël‘s research. It appears when we glimpse the people of St. Kitts transferring some, but not all, aspects of the West African significance of one plant (Dracaena) onto another one (Cordyline) that seems similar in look, but in fact arrived in St. Kitts from Tahiti thanks to the British Empire, as Michael Sheridan studies. It becomes manifest too, even in disguised costumes, in the appropriations of Shakespeare in the Masque rituals of Mardi Gras on the island of Carriacou, as Dan Brayton studies. We notice the importance of displacement and relocation in the move to Liberia by Middlebury graduate and Rutland, Vermont, native Martin Freeman, as Will Hart describes it. We see it, as Michele Greet teaches us, in the ways in which the very definition of modernist Latin American visual art is shaped by the experiences of Latin American artists and their networks of dealers, salons, socializing, and more across the Atlantic in Paris (another hub to be sure). It emerges again, as Gabriela Pellegrino shows, in the commercial publishing practices of W.M. Martin and his Book of Knowledge as assembled and reassembled in various permutations around the Pan-American world. We grasp the significance of institutional re-situation (almost translation) in the use of Pan-American cultural exchange to try to shape US public opinion, as Richard Cándida Smith investigates. The importance of displacement, reconfiguration, and distance appears again in the Methodist photographs taken by missionaries and assembled, in frustratingly disorganized form, into albums back at the main offices of the Methodist church, as Didier Aubert shows us. And it is present, as Daniel Silva is analyzing, in the story of fitness culture as a way of inculcating, at an almost invisible yet also profoundly corporeal level, a national, normative sense of what it means to be “Brazilian.” Here it is partly the distance between the ideologies and the bodies onto and into which these ideologies gets placed (where they are quite literally made muscular) that allows them to function.

These stories are all marked not only by flows and circulations, but also by key displacements that, like portals, remake the peoples, cultures, economics, social forms, and political formations of the Atlantic World by causing them to pass through transformations. In other words, one way to get a sense of place in this history is precisely through movement; one way to look toward specific histories is by, in an odd way, looking askance at them. The periphery, as we have long known, turns out to be core to the story. Place emerges from displacement. Culture provides a way to glimpse how in circulations and flows larger struggles, contestations, negotiations, reconfigurations have occurred. Therefore, perhaps like flows, circulations, and hubs, portals might become another productive keyword for this project.

Flows, Circulations, Hubs, Displacements, Reconfigurations, Portals, and…Currents?: Getting Decentralized and Connected at the Same Time

Additionally, one tension I believe we noticed (articulated by Gabriela) in these projects is that we must balance our interest in multiplicity without creating complete fragmentation. How might we use the layered, multidimensional qualities of the digital platforms to present the overlaps and the gaps among the many frameworks for Atlantic World study (transatlantic, circum-Atlantic, Black Atlantic, hemispheric, Pan-American, colonial and postcolonial, diasporic, etc.)? At the same time, how do we create coherent, connected history? Perhaps the metaphor of currents, taken from the movements of water in the Atlantic itself (Gulf Streams, etc.) might help us better consider and historicize two opposing thematics: sometimes there are what Lara Putnam, borrowing from Kamau Braithwaite, calls the “submarine unities of Atlantic history” that rest beneath the “above-water fragments”; at the same time, we also seek to complicate the assertions of above-world unities that hide the great diversity of stories within Atlantic World circulations and flows. If we can trace the ironies of these seeming contradictions effectively perhaps that is a path to better historicization and crystallization of this very large, dare I say oceanic, story.

From Structure and Agency, Domination and Resistance to Other Frameworks?

A final observation: as Richard Cándida Smith noted that he learned in his study of Pan-American cultural exchange, and as Didier Aubert also suggested in his work on the photography by Methodist missionaries in places such as Chile, and indeed lurking in much of our research is a different framework for thinking about power and culture. Rather than privilege ideology alone as a shaping force, we noticed in cultural forms the complicated interactions between institutional forces in the economic and civil spheres (publishing, academic and professional associations, religious organizations and practices, art world dealers and salons, public holiday traditions, etc.) and ideological urges (nation-state formation, capitalism, socialism) and aesthetic gestures (music, visual art, vernacular expression). This is not completely different from existing frameworks we use as historians, such as structure and agency or domination and resistance (or hegemony and counter-hegemony in the Gramscian sense), but it does point to a slightly different way of considering (borrowing again from Richard) the pragmatics of Atlantic World cultural histories, the ways in which culture and power, continuity and disruption, emerge from concrete and specific situations rather than the actual lived experience of the Atlantic World arising from abstract forces. With everything from Paul Gilroy’s Black Atlantic “practical philosophy” to the “transmodernity” that Walter Mignolo examines to other seemingly abstract dimensions of Atlantic World history, these research projects on the Atlantic World, brought into a shared digital platform and space, have the potential to reveal both the very particular instantiations of larger forces and show how the larger forces only arise from the particular empirical examples. In short, here is a way to, as Bill Hart put it, responding to the work of Lara Putnam, create better duets between microhistories and epic histories—as he put it, to grasp the interactions between “the Small and the Mighty.”

Overview of Project

Atlantic World Forum Kickoff Symposium
Creating Digital Scholarly Dialogues About Atlantic World Cultural Histories
Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs, Robert A. Jones ’59 House/Davis Library 105B
Middlebury College
Tuesday-Wednesday, October 16-17, 2018

A two-day symposium introduces the DLA project Atlantic World Forum: Reimagining the Online Scholarly Roundtable, Reshaping the Global Digital Humanities, Reframing Circum-Atlantic Cultural Histories at Middlebury.

Partnering with a larger French-Brazilian-led endeavor, Transatlantic CulturesAWF harnesses the interactive and multimedia dimensions of the digital domain to foster international dialogues on circum-Atlantic cultural history. Each Atlantic World Forum roundtable assembles a group of five to seven scholars from various countries and focuses on a particular theme. The participants meet and exchange ideas by digital means as each one works on a multimedia essay. Projects might also include their exchanges leading to the multimedia essays and after their publication. Other digital work will emerge as well: maps, timelines, databases of primary source material, and invited commentary by additional experts. We seek to distribute the forum in digital modes accessible in various places, whether it be by the web in the US and Europe or by mobile phone in West African countries or even paquetes in Cuba. One to two distinct forums are planned for each year.

Through a proposed seminar taught each semester at Middlebury by DLA Acting Director and historian Michael Kramer, students combine historical pedagogy in Atlantic World history, from its origins in Anglo-American colonial studies to later work on the Black Atlantic to other approaches, with hands-on digital and experiential learning. They work with the participating scholars to conduct research, develop digital and multimedia components for essays, hone editing and project management skills, and innovate new modes of digital humanities collaboration, narrative, and scholarly communication. Potentially, students at other institutions can join the project as well.

Faculty at Middlebury are able to contribute to roundtables, advance their own research when applicable, and incorporate the project into teaching when appropriate. Faculty and students at the Translation and Interpretation program and Middlebury Institute Globe Multilingual Language Services will work with the project on translation of the AWF into multiple languages. Faculty and students at Middlebury’s Schools Abroad and Monterey courses in Intercultural Competency, Intercultural Rhetoric, and Intercultural Digital Storytelling can participate as well in future meetings and exchanges so that AWF contributes to the substantive strengthening of Middlebury’s global networks of scholarship.

Funding for the Kickoff Symposium was generously provided at Middlebury by the DLA, Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs, DLINQ, Academic Enrichment Fund, and Pedagogy Enrichment Fund.

Digital Opportunities September 2018


Digital Scholarship Opportunities

This is a new feature of the DLA—sent out by email roughly every other month—publicizing a selection of grant, fellowship, conference, workshop, panel, and other opportunities in the digital liberal arts. It is not all-inclusive, so feel free to send any CFPs or announcements to dla@middlebury.edu so that we can include them in a future email or on the DLA website. —Michael Kramer, Acting Director, DLA/Assistant Professor of the Practice, Digital History

Conference: Sound Education, Harvard Divinity School, Nov 1-3, 2018

From the conference website: Every day, millions of listeners listen to podcasts and radio programs to teach themselves about the humanities, sciences, and other academic topics, selecting the programs and hosts that suit their learning styles. From professionals in studios to hobbyists in bedroom closets; from tenured academics to energetic young enthusiasts, producers of educational audio are a diverse set. But they share a common goal – distilling complex information into lectures, conversations and interviews that are free and accessible to everyone in the world. Sound Education is a three-day event at Harvard University for educational and academic podcasters and radio hosts, and their listeners. 

CFP: HASTAC 2019: “Decolonizing Technologies, Reprogramming Education,” 16-18 May 2019

On 16-18 May 2019, the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory (HASTAC), in partnership with the Institute for Critical Indigenous Studies at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and the Department of English at the University of Victoria (UVic), will be guests on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓-speaking Musqueam (xʷməθkʷəy̓əm) people, facilitating a conference about decolonizing technologies and reprogramming education.

The conference will hold up and support Indigenous scholars and knowledges, centering work by Indigenous women and women of colour. It will engage how technologies are, can be, and have been decolonized. How, for instance, are extraction technologies repurposed for resurgence? Or, echoing Ellen Cushman, how do we decolonize digital archives? Equally important, how do decolonial and anti-colonial practices shape technologies and education? How, following Kimberlé Crenshaw, are such practices intersectional? How do they correspond with what Grace Dillon calls Indigenous Futurisms? And how do they foster what Eve Tuck and Wayne Yang describe as an ethic of incommensurability, unsettling not only assumptions of innocence but also discourses of reconciliation?

Deadline for proposals is Monday 15 October 2018.

Conference website (available in English, French, and Spanish).

CFP: Current Research in Digital History 2019, Mar 9, 2019

The Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media invites submissions for the second annual Current Research in Digital History conference. Submissions should offer historical arguments and interpretations rather than showcase digital projects. The format of short presentations provides an opportunity to make arguments on the basis of ongoing research in larger projects. Graduate students are encouraged to submit proposals. Some travel funding for presenters is available. Presentations will be peer-reviewed and published in an online publication that accommodates dynamic visualizations and narrative.

Submissions due: September 28, 2018. E-mail submissions as a PDF or URL to lincoln+crdh@lincolnmullen.com. Questions may be sent to the same address.

Format: Each presentation will be 10 minutes in length. Proposals must include the full text (no more than 2000 words) and accompanying visualizations or websites to be presented. Papers can include multiple authors. Submissions can be either a single presentation or a session of two presentations. Proposals may suggest a commentator but are not obliged to.

The conference will feature sessions sponsored by the African American Intellectual History Society and the Colored Conventions Project. Special consideration will be given to other papers on Black digital history related to the sponsored sessions.

How papers will be selected: The primary criterion by which these presentations and panels will be judged is whether they advance historical argumentation. In other words, while digital methods will be common to all the presentations, we will select presentations that show how those methods have advanced specific interpretations of history.

Accepted proposals will be returned with reviews provided by the program committee on December 14, 2018. Revised versions of accepted papers will be due to the session commentator by February 1, 2019. Commentators will provide an additional review at the conference on March 9, 2019. A final revised version of the paper for publication will be due on May 24, 2019. Travel funding: Four $200 stipends are available to support the participation of presenters who have to travel to the event. Please indicate on your submission if you wish to be considered for a stipend.

CFP: Association for Computers and the Humanities (ACH) Conference, Jul 23-26, 2019

Deadline: November 10, 2018 
Submit a proposal:  https://www.conftool.org/ach2019The inaugural Association for Computers and the Humanities (ACH) conference will take place in Pittsburgh, PA, July 23-26, 2019 at the Pittsburgh Marriott City Center.Conference DescriptionACH is the United States-based constituent organization in the Alliance for Digital Humanities Organizations (ADHO). The ACH 2019 conference, in partnership with Keystone DH, provides a forum for conversations on an expansive definition of digital humanities in a broad array of subject areas, methods, and communities of practice.

ACH recognizes that this work is inherently and inextricably sociopolitical, and thus additionally, but not exclusively, welcomes scholarship that emphasizes social justice through the use of computers and related technologies in the study of humanistic subjects.

Areas of engagement include but are not limited to:

Computational and digital approaches to research and pedagogy;
Digital media, art, literature, history, music, film, and games;
Digital librarianship;
Digital humanities tools and infrastructures;
Humanistic research on digital objects and cultures;
Knowledge infrastructures;
Physical computing;
Resource creation, curation, and engagement;
Use of digital technologies to write, publish, and review scholarship.
We particularly invite proposals on anti-racist, queer, postcolonial and decolonial, indigenous, Black studies, cultural and critical ethnic studies, and intersectional feminist interventions in digital studies.

As an organization committed to cross-disciplinary engagement, we welcome interdisciplinary proposals. We also are especially interested in receiving proposals from participants with a range of expertise and from a variety of roles, including alt-ac positions, employment outside of higher education, and graduate students. We further invite proposals from participants who are newcomers to digital humanities.  

Conference Proposals

We encourage those proposing sessions to consider formats beyond the traditional 20-minute paper panels, such as roundtables, multi-speaker panels, digital posters, lightning talks, installations, and performances. When proposing a session, we ask that you describe your session type and indicate a preferred time length for the session. Suggestions are below, but we encourage proposers to move beyond them and to think creatively about other possibilities.

Proposals should be between 250-500 words in length and should describe the proposed topic, requested time length, participants, and audience for the session, and should include five keywords. We suggest 250-word proposals for individual submissions and 500-word proposals for multi-speaker submissions. While proposals should be clearly linked to existing scholarly debates, formal citations are not required except for direct quotation. Submissions will be evaluated using double-blind peer review, so please omit identifying information, including author name and affiliation, in the proposal.

While our CFP has been released in English, Spanish, and French, we welcome proposals for contributions in other languages. Proposals will be reviewed in the language of submission. Regardless of the language of your proposal, please ensure that your five keywords are in English to facilitate program scheduling.

Proposals will be submitted using ConfTool: https://www.conftool.org/ach2019. Please create a new account to submit your proposal.

Please note that for the purposes of scheduling, we may suggest an alternative length or collaboration between related proposals. While there is no limit on number of submissions, the committee will not normally schedule more than two presentations from one primary author.

Suggested Proposal Types and Duration

The proposal types and durations below are suggestions. We eagerly welcome alternatives.

Workshops (3 hours to full-day): In-depth hands-on sessions led by presenters with expertise, technical or otherwise, in an emerging topic or methodology of broad interest to the ACH community.

Panels (1 hour): Engaging sessions that facilitate dialogue between panelists and across panel and audience, highlighting connections between projects, methods, or themes.

Papers (10-20 minutes): Dynamic presentations that share experiments, works in progress, or sustained reflections and outcomes of more complete projects while engaging a range of participants and fostering connections and dialogue.

Roundtables (1 hour): Sessions for which speakers provide brief interventions or framing on a set of issues, keywords, methods, and/or themes, followed by open discussion among speakers and the audience.

Lightning Talks (5 minutes): Highly-focused presentations that succinctly introduce a topic, method, tool, project, or work-in-progress to catalyze ideas and foster follow-up discussion.

Posters (poster session): Poster proposals present work on any relevant topic or offer project tool, and software demonstrations in any stage of development.

Installations and Performances (1 hour to ongoing throughout conference): Art work, creative data visualizations, performances, demonstrations, and other critical interventions that engage conference issues, methods and themes.

Proposal Review and Notification

ACH 2019 submissions will undergo double-blind peer review. Please remove all identifying information from your proposal submission including author name and affiliation. Presenters will be notified of acceptance by February 18, 2019.

Code of Conduct

ACH is dedicated to creating a safe, respectful, and collegial conference environment for the benefit of everyone who attends and for the advancement of research and scholarship in fields supported by ACH. The ACH 2019 conference will be governed by the ADHO Conference Code of Conduct (http://adho.org/administration/conference-coordinating-program-committee/adho-conference-code-conduct). Please review the Code of Conduct and indicate your willingness to observe it when signing up for your ConfTool account. 


ACH strives to ensure that the conference is accessible for all participants. We will provide guidelines for accessibility of sessions to all accepted participants. Gender-neutral bathrooms will be available for attendees, and we are working to secure a lactation room and childcare services. More information, along with a request for information about participant needs, will be circulated in early 2019. 

Travel and Accommodations

ACH 2019 will take place at the Pittsburgh Marriott City Center, located in downtown Pittsburgh. We are working to secure dormitory housing for the conference as well. The closest airport is Pittsburgh International Airport. 

Contact Information

For questions and concerns about the CFP, conference program, submissions, Code of Conduct, or accessibility, please contact the program committee co-chairs: Roopika Risam (rrisam@salemstate.edu) and Patrick Juola (juola@mathcs.duq.edu). 

If you are interested in translating this call for proposals into Portuguese, German, Italian, or another language, please contact the co-chairs.

Program Committee

Co-chair: Roopika Risam, Salem State University
Co-chair: Patrick Juola, Duquesne University
Emily Esten, Kennedy Institute
Sylvia Fernández, University of Houston
Heather Froehlich, Penn State University
Anna Kijas, Boston College
Nabil Kashyap, Swarthmore College 
Thomas Padilla, UNLV 

Steering Committee

Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Michigan State University
Matthew K. Gold, CUNY Graduate Center
Jennifer Guiliano, IUPUI
Patrick Juola, Duquesne University
Alison Langmead, University of Pittsburgh
Jessica Otis, George Mason University 
Gesina Phillips, Duquesne University
Roopika Risam, Salem State University
Scott B. Weingart, Carnegie Mellon University

CFP: The International Journal for Digital Art History, 30 Sep 2018

The International Journal for Digital Art History is currently seeking submissions for its fourth issue. Digital Art History is often described as a methodological addition to Art History. Moreover, it includes a profound transformation of its institutional framework: server rooms replaced the slide libraries as the former center of art historical departments, museums are concerned with digitizing their collections and making them accessible via virtual exhibitions, and conservators facing challenges pre­ serving digital art with its soft­ and hardware.

The transition from analog to digital pictorial transcription has transformed art history and its archives in profound and unexpected ways. The objects of our study, once physically circumscribed by the walls of the slide library, are now widely available. The advent of image retrieval platforms like ArtStor and Google Image Search, not to mention countless muse­ um databases, present new challenges and opportunities for cataloguing and visualizing data. The photographic practices of museum visitors have likewise been transformed by the integration of digital photography, cellular phones, and social media. Additionally, art historical publishing and pedagogy continue to be mostly constrained (in the English­ speaking world) by antiquarian protocols governing copyright and image clearance.

For the upcoming issue of the DAH­Journal we ask for contributions on the following topics:

 –How are analog institutions transforming and which digital tools steer this transformation? What practices persist, which one are eliminated?

–What nascent digital methodologies do museums and archives utilize to engage visitors, organize metadata, and document collections?

–How might digital publishing, art making, and experimentation challenge and change art­-historical research?

– What are digital opportunities to develop and document archives of underrepresented, neglected, or ephemeral traditions of image­making?

The fourth issue’s featured author will be Johanna Drucker, who is currently the Martin and Bernard Breslauer Professor in the Department of Information Studies at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA.

We welcome articles from art historians, curators, conservators, artists, information scientists, and authors from other related disciplines who are concerned with questions around this topic. To send in articles, please register first at http:// dah­journal.org/register.html and then submit articles by September 30, 2018 (6,000 words max.). For more information please visit “Information for Authors” on our website.

CFP: Triple Canopy’s 2018 Call for Proposals

The magazine invites proposals for new work to be developed by artists and writers in collaboration with Triple Canopy’s editors for inclusion in an upcoming issue devoted to the role of emerging technologies in fostering, reconfiguring, and eroding associations between people, which will launch in early 2019. For this year’s call for proposals, we’re only seeking works of fiction and poetry to be published online; that said, we’re open to hybrid genres, combinations of text and visual media or audio recordings, stories that are generated by or linked to events to be staged by the author, etc. (Unfortunately, we’re not able to consider proposals for works to be written in a language other than English or for translations.)

Triple Canopy’s twenty-sixth issue will assess how digital technologies, which once promised to connect and democratize the world, have instead provided the means to foster division, sow confusion, privatize communication, and enhance control. The issue will consider how the migration of so many cultural and political activities to proprietary online platforms, and the sudden dominance of novel forms of reading, viewing, and socializing, is contributing to the corrosion of democracies. At the same time, the issue will reflect on the bonds that we might form as a result of—and in response to—the circulation and consumption of selves as data (and vice versa).

While the issue will include artworks, essays, and public programs, in this call we invite authors of fiction and poetry to consider the following questions: How might we convey the tension between our favored forms of communication and the thoughts, experiences, and relationships that cannot so easily be captured and quantified? How might we represent ourselves if to do so makes us all the more legible to systems of surveillance and oppression? How might something like public opinion be expressed in the face of data-crunching operations that probe behavior, decipher biology, and manipulate impulses? How might we recognize ourselves in relation to the sentient software that we expect to serve, entertain, record, and know us?

To apply:

Triple Canopy is looking for writers with coherent proposals for projects that can be realized in one year or less. While we are open to ideas that can be evaluated in relation to completed works, we will prioritize proposals that are accompanied by samples of the writing in progress. We are, as ever, in search of work that makes innovative, persuasive use of its own form and medium. While past publication or experience is not a prerequisite, successful applicants will demonstrate fluency in the genres in which they are writing. We appreciate work that takes into account current discussions and debates but is not bound by them, work that is carefully crafted but not fixated on form. While there is no limit on the length of proposed projects, keep in mind that we rarely publish works that contain more than eight thousand words.

Commission recipients receive:

* Eight to twelve months of artistic, editorial, and technical support
* An honorarium of $2,000
* The possibility of using Triple Canopy’s Manhattan office and venue for an event devoted or related to the work
* The possibility of publishing a version of—or conversation about—the work on Triple Canopy’s forthcoming podcast
* Archiving of materials and long-term maintenance of the project by Triple Canopy in partnership with New York University’s Fales Library and Special Collections
Read the complete application guidelines

Apply for free via the online form by October 26, 2018, at 11:59 EDT.



2018-2019 DLA Fellows

We are delighted to introduce our 2018-2019 DLA Fellows.

Will Nash, American Studies/English and American Literatures—One Cry, Many Voices: The Role of Scrapbooks in the Struggle to End American Chattel Slavery

Abolitionist scrapbooks compiled in the United States in the first half of the nineteenth century have been underappreciated and under-analyzed by scholars. Although fighting the anti-slavery battle necessitated overt, often public, action and frequently demanded the collaborative creation of a collective voice to speak against the peculiar institution, the impetus for participation in the struggle necessarily began privately and internally for each individual. If one reads the scrapbooks as illuminating both the subject matter and the maker, then collecting individual maker’s takes on the central moral and political struggle of the mid-nineteenth century provides scholars with an invaluable window of insight into how the struggle arose and how it shaped and was shaped by the individuals, famous and unknown, who embodied and enacted that resistance. It also firmly establishes a connection between the artifacts and our present cultural moment. If, as historian Ira Berlin has asserted, “slavery has become a language, a way to talk about race, in a society in which blacks and whites hardly talk to each other at all,” then exploring the language of the struggle against slavery, and most particularly the language of a collaborative movement like the abolitionist struggle, provides us with a model for thinking about how to address and possibly overcome the inherent tensions and violence that continue to plague America’s racial realities. Within the language of resistance to American chattel slavery, the abolitionist scrapbook stands as a monument both to what an individual can contribute to the struggle and how the preservation and dissemination of his or her insights can help lay a foundation upon which groups of resisters can build. As hybrid texts, the scrapbooks are also ideal candidates for digital humanities work, beginning with the goal of creating a fully-realized, searchable digital edition of the scrapbooks accessible electronically to scholars and teachers who might find the resources useful.

Natalie Eppelsheimer, German—Escape Routes and Refugee Narratives

This project moves from studies of people fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe between 1933 and 1945 to refugee experiences more broadly. It widens the perspective and timeframe by examining escape routes taken by current refugees seeking to reach, rather than escape, Germany. The project will create geospatial visualizations and timelines of refugee stories, use digital tools for text analysis, and harness computational and multimedia tactics to connect WWII-era refugee narratives to a broader geographic and historical context ranging from the writings of German Jewish refugees depicting their lives in British East African colonies to contemporary refugee crises in Europe.

Brigitte Humbert, French—La Grammaire Française: Interactive French Grammar Web Site 

This project draws upon materials developed over a career teaching French at Middlebury to build an interactive French grammar website in French with rules, exercises, and activities (songs or games) that are both informative and fun. Explanations of grammar rules are downloadable for safekeeping and further use, as well as readable directly on the site for those who wish to check and confirm a grammar point. Exercises and activities can be downloaded as well, but also done directly on the website with instant feedback. Finally, the site will provide links to more complex French grammar sites for those who wish to study a grammar point more in depth or do further practice.

Jason Mittell, Film and Media Culture/American Studies/Senior Adviser to the DLA—The Characteristics and Characterization of Breaking Bad: A Video Book 

This multimedia project will explore the landmark American television series Breaking Bad (2008–13) via the emerging format of videographic criticism, producing a collection of open access video essays interpreting the particular modes of characterization within the series and arguing for the significance of character as an aspect of media storytelling. The resulting “video book” will be intellectually significant in three primary ways: adding to our theoretical and analytical understanding of characterization in moving image media, filling gaps in the existing literature; serving as one of the first extended single- authored studies of one of the most popular, acclaimed and influential contemporary television series; and breaking new ground on how videographic criticism engages with television, establishing a new format of the video book focused on a television series. Given the popularity of the series and the accessibility of and high interest in the video essay format, this video book should make a strong impact on both the academic field of media studies and general audience understanding of Breaking Bad and videographic criticism. Check out a draft of Chapter One, What’s Walt Thinking? Mind Reading & Serialized Memory in Breaking Bad.

Glitching History

Acting Director of the DLA Michael Kramer has a new essay in the inaugural issue of Current Research in Digital History, published by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. The essay, “Glitching History: Using Image Deformance to Rethink Agency and Authenticity in the 1960s American Folk Music Revival,” focuses on the surprising ways in which file glitching can aid in historical inquiry. It draws upon Kramer’s current research into the folk music movement, which includes a digital project about folk music on the West Coast as well as a book project about technology and tradition in the folk music movement. Kramer will be teaching his digital methods seminar, Digitizing Folk Music History, with students at Middlebury in Spring 2019.

Student Nathan Anderson’s 2013 glitch experiment with Kelly Hart’s 1964 photograph of “Mississippi” John Hurt, Sam Hinton, and Arthel “Doc” Watson at the Berkeley Folk Music Festival.

Two Students Take a Digital Humanities Approach to Arabic Literature

By Mari Odoy ’20 and Will O’Neal ’20

One morning in early August, two humanities majors with very limited knowledge of computers found themselves working furiously on a computer program that involves coding and data analysis—how did this happen?

Will O’Neal ’20 and Mari Odoy ’20.

We are both very much humanities-oriented students. We are literature majors with more interest in reading a text closely than working with quantitative data. Working with Professor Dima Ayoub on her Arabic paratexts project this summer, however, we brought together data analysis and literary analysis in a way that cuts across the supposed divisions between traditional humanities and cutting-edge digital technologies. Working with Dr. Dima Ayoub and funded by the DLA, we helped to develop a database of every Arabic novel translated into English from 1970 to the present. Professor Ayoub’s goal is to run computational analyses of trends within the paratexts of these translations; that is, anything that is not the text of the translation itself. Paratexts include introductions, glossaries, footnotes, prefaces, forewords, and dedications. These little studied aspects of a translated text turn out to contain information that begs to be digitized and analyzed for undetected patterns that a computer can discern better than a human since they exist at a large scale.

The project digitizes and creates a standardized database of the paratexts within Arabic translations. We use this dataset to explore important hypotheses about Arabic-English translation. The experience of combining digital and literary approaches allowed us to connect literature to broader social and political issues; Arabic translation into English is incredibly politically influenced, and many texts are botched and altered to fit Western stereotypes and misconceptions of the Arab world. By quantifying the ways these Arabic works are altered in English translation, we were able to gain a complex picture of the relationship between these two languages and cultures. Professor Dima Ayoub already suspects that the digital approach will yield surprising results and revise understandings of Arabic-to-English translation in both scholarly and larger public domains. For us as students, compiling and analyzing the paratexts as data also greatly contributed to our understanding of questions we are studying as Comparative Literature majors.

We cannot tell a lie: the data input process could be slow going at times, but it was worth it since the project felt important to us because of how it linked questions of literature and politics in the humanities to digital tactics of investigation. It was truly the perfect blend of hard and soft disciplines. For instance, we were very invested in making the dataset holistic: we supplemented the data with interviews with translators and publishers, whom we spoke with on the phone or met in person. We truly saw all sides of the translation process, and thus we could better understand our data and its humanistic significance.

At times the experience was challenging—we had to push ourselves past our comfort zones with both computer programs and the Arabic language—and that challenge was one of most valuable parts of the experience. By entering unknown technological territory, we were able to make mistakes, but with the mentorship of Dr. Dima Ayoub—and some timely assistance from Data Services Librarian Ryan Clement and DLA Acting Director Michael Kramer—we succeeded in the end and we were able to analyze literature in a unique, almost avant-garde fashion while also expanding our knowledge of analysis methods and ways to think about the humanities. On a more immediate level, conducting online research in Arabic for this project helped prepare us for our next semester, in which we will be studying abroad in Amman, Jordan; reading about literature on Arabic websites increased our language skills and enriched our sense of cultural understanding going into our study abroad experiences.

The interdisciplinary nature of this project necessarily broadened our understandings of what the humanities are and why they are important. A popular misconception of the humanities is that it is a so-called soft area of academia, in which people just read a lot and gain no practical knowledge or skills. We found this not to be the case at all. The humanities can tell us a lot about our world and the ways we think about it; it can help us understand how others think about the world; and the humanities let us think about all of this on a deeper and more humane level. As we saw in our project, the humanities, and specifically literature, are a powerful tool for analyzing social issues. Adding computational approaches to data analysis, we were able to undertake holistic and meaningful large-scale analysis. This is the power of digital humanities.

Editor’s Note: Hear Dima Ayoub discuss the overarching project at a DLA Behind the Scenes event—Glossing the Glossary, Digital Approaches to Paratexts and Power in Arabic Literature—later this fall 2018.

Don’t Cite it, Write it! Try a Wikipedia Assignment With Your Students

Editor’s Note: As Middlebury faculty prepare classes for fall semester, many may be interested in the opportunity to connect coursework to Wiki Education, which partners with faculty to develop teaching assignments and student work focused on contributing to Wikipedia and using it more critically. The following guest post from Wiki Education Outreach Manager Samantha Weald explains how the partnership can enrich your teaching and your students’ critical digital fluency. Additionally, faculty at Middlebury can learn more from Samantha at an upcoming Monterey campus visit on 24 September 2018. The meeting will be available by Zoom. For more on a new Wikipedia project at Middlebury, see Amy Collier’s “Newspapers on Wikipedia project – What DLINQ students & staff are up to,” DLINQ Website, 20 July 2018. — Michael Kramer, Acting Director, DLA

By Samantha Weald, Outreach Manager, Wiki Education

Wikipedia: it is the fifth most visited website in the world, so we know our students are using it, but has anyone ever talked to them about how to use it with a critical eye? Wiki Education, a small nonprofit organization from California, offers free teaching tools and resources for instructors interested in deepening their students’ digital literacy practices. In a Wikipedia assignment, students are asked to improve or create articles on Wikipedia as a course assignment. As with a term paper, the assignment asks students to select a topic, compile a bibliography, write a draft, and complete a peer review. However, better than a term paper, they are also asked to critically evaluate Wikipedia, to improve their media literacy and digital fluency, and to communicate their area of inquiry to a public (live!) audience. All as part of this active learning assignment.

Wiki Education has been helping instructors and students develop these assignments for over six years. The nonprofit’s suite of resources include an online course management system, instructor orientations, student trainings, and assignment templates. Wiki Education also provides staff to help with assignment design, and to support you and your students on Wikipedia during the project. You can read more instructor testimonials on the Wiki Education blogIf you join their program, you get access to all this and much more for free!

How you can make a difference:

Teach with Wikipedia!

Wiki Education’s strategy focuses on increasing knowledge equity on Wikipedia. They are looking for courses in all disciplines excited to improve public access to their field via Wikipedia. To learn more, just head to the Wiki Education Dashboard and sign up with Wikipedia. This will provide you access to the Wiki Education instructor orientation and assignment templates, which you can customize for your course.

Share with your friends!

If you have friends or colleagues at Middlebury College or elsewhere who you think may be interested, feel free to forward details about Wiki Education, their programs, or contact information to Outreach Manager Samantha Weald.

If you’d like to discuss incorporating a Wikipedia assignment into your next course, Samantha is available to answer questions about assignment design, Wiki Education’s online tools, and more. She can be reached at samantha@wikiedu.org.