DH@Guelph 2015

by Susan Brown

The University of Guelph offered DH@Guelph Summer Workshops from May 19 to 22, 2015, enrolling 29 students in this inaugural offering.

We welcomed librarians, alt acs, profs, undergrad and grad students, and postdocs from a wide range of disciplines and departments, including the University of Guelph, Western University (lots of participants), the University of Oregon, Cornell University, University of Waterloo, University of Toronto, University of Pennsylvania, York University, Rochester Institute of Technology, Trent University, McMaster University, and Ryerson University.

Participants came to work on: 19th century British literature, 19th century American history, 18th century literature, law and copyright, 19th century architectural photos, representations of the prison, comparative literature and literary, identity struggle, multi-culturalism and minorities including Jewish-Islamic struggle in Europe, historic house museums, 18th century rare books, development of anthropology, early modern drama, gender and early modern studies, post-WWI Canada, narratives and photographs of Richard Wright, Jane Austen’s creation of external space through her prose, feminism in early modernism, and the letters of and digitized texts related to Eliza Fenwick. Also participating was a corpus linguist interested in what words mean through the exploration of topic modeling, a spatial humanities expert exploring digital scholarship tools, and a researcher studying a children’s literature archive of toys, books, comic books and periodicals.

Students in the “Topic Modeling for Humanities Research” course offered by Adam Hammond and Julian Brooke got a good leg up with both Mallett and RStudio and engaged with a wide range of materials. To mention just a few of the projects, work on Spenser’s Faerie Queene offered insights into the impact of rhyming words on topic formation. We saw the contrasting ways affect registers around the notion of “memorial” in a 9/11 newspaper archive; Hansard records from around WWI supports topic modelling of what different MPs or parties or regions talk about particular subjects; using RStudio to topic model Pepys Diary broken up by years and months and 100 topics allows the visualization of the frequency of topics over time.

Students in the “Developing a Digital Exhibit in Omeka” course offered by Adam Doan, Melissa McAfee, Andrew Ross, and Catherine Wilson developed a wide range of exhibits related to: the English writer Eliza Fenwick, who lived in the Niagara region; neo-orientalism and occidentalism in the case of Jewish-Egyptian singer Layla Murad; and historic house museums featuring different categories of houses and a map representing their location. An adventurous participant successfully experimented with slurping up materials from the Cornell University Artsstor Shared Shelf collections to create exhibits for teaching and commentary.

We also held several public events. Susan Brown (Guelph) gave an opening talk on “Emergent Modes of Digital Scholarship.” Jennifer Roberts-Smith gave a very engaging keynote called, “Your Mother is Not a Computer: Phenomenologies of the Human for Digital Humanities,” and we had a lively panel with Adam Hammond (Guelph, soon UCSC), Aimée Morrison (Waterloo) and Andrew Ross (Guelph, soon LAC/BAC) on “DH, Early Career Scholars, and Alt-Ac.”

Everyone participated with gusto and there was a great atmosphere. Thanks to all who came and made it a success!

The workshops were offered as part of the DHSI network, meaning that student who enrolled in the course, some of whom are heading off to Victoria for courses in June, will be able to count their work at the DH@Guelph workshops towards the new University of Victoria Graduate Certificate in Digital Humanities. We are considering offering workshops again next year and have already had inquiries from people nearby interested in contributing a course. If you are interested, please contact digital.humanities@uoguelph.ca.

You can keep up with DH@Guelph on Facebook or on Twitter @DHatGuelph.

Susan Brown is a Professor in the School of English and Theatre Studies at the University of Guelph. Susan is President (English) of the Canadian Society for Digital Humanities/Societé canadienne des humanités numériques.

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