Closing Ceremonies: DH Field School Hosts THATCamp

DH BISC Students and Instructors

DH BISC Students and Instructors

This summer’s Digital Humanities Field School finished with a splash at THATCamp DH BISC 2014. As a culmination of their hard work, students presented their projects to their peers at Herstmonceux Castle and to members of the wider Humanities and Technology community in the morning, and they hosted THATCamp DH BISC that afternoon.

Attendees at THATCamp DH BISC 2014

Attendees at THATCamp DH BISC 2014

In the morning, students presented their micro-projects in TEI editing to the attendees, providing editorial statements, discussions of their editorial processes, and accounts of the problems and solutions they encountered.

Student Microproject Presentation

Student Microproject Presentation

In the afternoon, students and attendees proposed a series of workshops that ranged from anime fan cultures and social media anxieties to translating emotion in a digital space and industrial software development processes.

Planning the unconference sessions

Planning the unconference sessions

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DH Field School Launched!

The inaugural DHFS Class, with instructors!

The inaugural DHFS Class, with instructors!

The BISC Field School in Digital Humanities has flown by. Our students, from the diverse disciplines of English, History, Political Studies, Psychology, and Chemistry, spent the first couple weeks in a crash course on digital literacy and TEI encoding supplemented by Field Studies with experts in the field. After a wine and cheese reception at the Castle folly, Field School students got to work debating issues in critical digital studies and got the rare opportunity to look under the hood at new projects in the Digital Humanities.

Dr. Clare Horrocks lets us look at the soon-to-be released Punch Magazine Database. Dr. Smith looks through a print-technology version of Punch.

Dr. Clare Horrocks lets us look at the soon-to-be released Punch Magazine Database. Dr. Smith looks through a print-technology version of Punch.

Dr. Clare Horrocks, professor at Liverpool John Moores University, presented the soon-to-be-launched digitization of Punch Magazine, a collaboration with Gale Cengage Learning. The Punch collection at Gale Cengage is among the first large-scale digitization projects of its nature to partner with academic experts in the field, and Dr. Horrocks spoke to students about the nature of collaboration in public-facing projects such as this one. Students also delved into the Punch Ledgers Project, working with the at-yet-unreleased Punch database to try to answer research questions about the contributors to the magazine using historical financial records.

Dr. Chris Jones teaches students the history of Charlwood Church.

Dr. Chris Jones teaches students the history of Charlwood Church.

Dr. Chris Jones from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, led an expedition to two local parish churches in West Sussex and Surrey, one of which houses well preserved medieval wall paintings, and the other which contains a copy of the King James Bible that belonged to the father of English hymnology, Issac Watts. Students discussed these two nascent digitization projects from the perspective of the possibilities and limitations of a digital project. Questions like the preservation of cultural heritage, object-, space- or text-centered approaches to digitization, and the ethics of digitizing ever-changing elements of cultural heritage were central issues in this Field Study.

In the first couple weeks, students gained insight into projects at completion and at the very beginning of their development on an international scale. Over the next few weeks, they will visit some of the state of the art digital workspaces at the British Library, and deepen their understanding of how digital projects may be curated for both academic and popular audiences.

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DH Pedagogy at Queen’s: Jennifer Hardwick

Jennifer Hardwick is a 5th-year Ph.D. student in the Department of English Language and Literature at Queen’s. Her research interests include Contemporary North American Literature, Indigenous Studies, Rhetoric, Youth Culture, and the Digital Humanities. Jennifer is currently teaching a class on Youth and Digital Culture, in which she models her pedagogy on the concept of multi-literacy: that the emergence of new cultural technologies (New Media, Web 2.0) adds to and enriches the existing technological and cultural landscape (books, poetry).

Jennifer Hardwick,  5th-Year PhD Student at Queen's

Jennifer Hardwick, 5th-Year PhD Student at Queen’s

Your class focuses on youth and cyber cultures. How do you feel that the class intersects with or informs your or your students understanding of the Digital Humanities?

The relationship between youth culture and digital culture has been a source of popular and scholarly fascination over the last few years. Cyber bullying, social networking, #occupywallstreet and #idlenomore, the growth of youth-generated artistic production online… all of it has created a great deal of curiosity and controversy. Do we need to save the children from digital media? Or are the children going to use digital media to save us? Books like Mark Bauerlein’s The Dumbest Generation and Don Tapscott’s Grown Up Digital really tap into that debate.

Of course, the truth of the matter is far more complex and nuanced, which is really the point of my course. Digital technology is a tool, and as such, it is used differently by different individuals. A lot of academic and popular rhetoric surrounding digital media treats it as though it is this force in and of itself — something that has the power to corrupt or save — but the truth is technology needs users. If we want to understand why and how someone uses technology, we should probably look at that person’s social, cultural, political and economic contexts. In that sense, this course definitely leans towards the social end of the digital humanities spectrum. It seeks to better understand youth cultures, and to critically examine how those cultures both inform and are informed by technology and media.

What were some of the challenges that you and your students encountered?

I think both my students and I took our knowledge for granted going into this course. We all use digital media every day, and we know how it functions. We know intuitively that blogs and books are different, and that multimedia changes how we read. However, articulating those differences and changes is surprisingly hard. I struggled to build coherent lectures when dealing with material that was not remotely linear, and I watched my students struggle to draw comparisons and apply their analytical skills in different contexts. Sometimes I felt like we were all in the classroom looking at each other going “we know this. We do it every day. Why is this hard?” I think a lot of it has to do with language — we don’t have a scholarly vocabulary yet to describe so much of DH work. It’s developing, but it’s not standardized in the same way it is for something like literary analysis. As a result, talking about digital humanities work can make us feel inarticulate in a setting where we want to seem intelligent and well-spoken.

What were some of the surprises?

Two of the biggest surprises were related to the challenge of language I noted above. The first one is how adept all of my students were at media analysis, even if they’d never been trained in it. Once they were given a vocabulary and framework they blew me away. It came very naturally. It was like watching 99 people go “oh, this is what we’ve been doing. Cool.”

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Spotlight: DH and Medieval Studies with Dr. Chris Jones

Dr. Chris Jones will join the Field School from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand to lead a Field Study. Dr. Jones tells us about how the Digital Humanities has opened up new possibilities for scholarship from a Medievalist perspective. 

Students of the DH Field School will be able to acquire the employable digital literacy skills that Dr. Jones indicates as the backbone of the field. 

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Spotlight: Queen’s University Libraries and DH

We sat down with Martha Whitehead, the Queen’s University Librarian, to discuss how the Queen’s University Library plays a central role in the Digital Humanities on Queen’s Campus.

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The Library and Archives Master Plan (LAMP) has laid out a vision for Queen’s Library that includes a Centre for Digital and Print Culture in Douglas Library. As the Library and the University community flesh out what the Centre will entail, how do you see this Centre supporting and deepening the Library’s collaboration with scholars across the University? How will scholars benefit from the co-location of entities like the Archives, Special Collections, and the McGill Queen’s University Press?

One of the exciting things for us is working with our academic communities to define what we mean by that Centre for Digital and Print Culture. What we are saying in LAMP is that we picture Douglas Library being this fabulous new facility, with both a dynamic and heritage feel, that pays tribute and gives presence to Archives and Special Collections in a way that currently doesn’t exist on campus. And in doing that, we also want to say that they are so central to scholarship and to such interesting thoughts about print and digital culture.  We imagine secure spaces for Archives and Special Collections housed under the same roof as services supporting digital forms of research and knowledge sharing, and very community-oriented spaces.

The phrase itself [Digital and Print Culture] first came from Dr. Shelley King, and from really interesting conversations with people like Dr. Laura Murray, talking about the excitement of students exposed to, for instance, vinyl records, or printing presses, and also being so immersed in the digital. They really encouraged us to think about the convergence of these things. We liked the word ‘culture’ for the way it embraces the world very broadly.

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DH Pedagogy at the Castle: Dr. Chris Jones

Dr. Chris Jones from the Department of History at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, will lead an exciting Field Study for the DH BISC Field School. Dr. Jones’s Field Study will take students to two local parish churches in the UK to discuss the possibilities Digital Humanities opens up for the texts and artworks that remain at such sites. The Field Study will explore digitization practices for texts, art and architecture and consider best practices in the digital communication of place and context. This trip will include active assessments of a 1615 King James Bible and some of the best preserves 14th century medieval wall paintings in England. Student feedback will inform Dr. Jones’s on-going digitization project at the University of Canterbury.

Join Dr. Jones and the rest of the DH BISC Faculty this summer at Herstmonceux Castle!

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Queen’s University Libraries and the DH BISC Field School

University Librarian, Martha Whitehead lends her voice in support of the DH BISC Field School.

Martha Whitehead, Queen's University Librarian

Martha Whitehead, Queen’s University Librarian

The Digital Humanities Field School at the Bader International Study Centre will equip students with the critical digital literacies to participate in the growing digital culture on Queen’s campus. When I visited the Castle, I was struck by the opportunities students have to build a sense of their global citizenship. Students from the Digital Humanities Field School will understand the ever-changing landscape of worldwide digital cultures and will possess the skills to critically navigate that landscape.

Working with students lets us know about the kinds of services we should be delivering. As the proposed Centre for Digital and Print Culture at Douglas Library is poised to become a hub of interdisciplinary scholarship at Queen’s, students who attend the Field School will be able to shape the future of humanities and technological culture at Queen’s. It is student involvement that allows the Library to offer new, innovative, and relevant support and collaboration. I give my warm support to the Digital Humanities Field School and I look forward to welcoming its students into technological and interdisciplinary scholarship on Queen’s campus.

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Announcement: Exclusive Student Assistantships for Queen’s DH BISC Students

We’re delighted to announce the DH Student Assistant Program, a collaboration between the Bader International Study Centre and Queen’s University Libraries! Queen’s students who attend the DH BISC Field School will have the unique opportunity to apply their skills in a hands-on, paid position in the Queen’s University Library.

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Queen’s University students enrolled in the 2014 Bader International Study Centre Undergraduate Field School in the Digital Humanities will be eligible to apply for two placements as Digital Humanities Student Assistants at Queen’s in the 2014-15 academic year.  These are paid positions with flexible schedules averaging up to 10 hours per week for 12 weeks.

The DH Student Assistants will undertake projects in the Jordan Special Collections and Music Library, applying knowledge acquired in the Field School. Project details will be determined collaboratively by the student, a Field School instructor and the Curator of Special Collections. The Field School instructor and the Curator of Special Collections will co-supervise each DH Student Assistant.

The DH Student Assistants will deliver project presentations or posters at the annual Inquiry@Queen’s Undergraduate Research Conference in March 2015.

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Applications will be accepted following admission to the Field School and up to the end of the first course. To apply, send a short statement of interest and CV to Dr. Shannon Smith, Director, BISC Undergraduate Summer Field School in the Digital Humanities, via email to s_smith@bisc.queensu.ac.uk.

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DH Pedagogy at Queen’s: Dr. Marc Fortin

Dr. Marc Fortin, PhD Queen's 2012

Dr. Marc Fortin, PhD Queen’s 2012

Dr. Marc André Fortin graduated from the Ph.D. program in English Language and Literature at Queen’s in 2012. His research marries analysis of the role of technology in Canadian and Indigenous literature with technologically motivated perspectives on access, social networking, digital textual editing, and pedagogy. While at Queen’s, Marc and his undergraduate students undertook an innovative Wiki-based final project in a Canadian literature class. He has transfered these digital pedagogical skills to his Assistant Professorship at the Université de Sherbrooke, where he has just completed an introductory undergraduate course in Digital Technologies for the Humanities.

You’ve now taught two undergraduate courses that have had a digital component, but they’ve each had a different approach. What were some of the challenges that you and your students encountered in the two approaches?

The two courses that I have taught that either used or centred on using or creating digital technology have had two very different approaches to the digital humanities. The first course was a typical literature course focused on Canadian literature, for which I received a grant from the Centre for Teaching and Learning at Queen’s University in order to undertake a large-scale digital project involving all 90 students registered in the course. This involved using an in-house Wiki that enabled students to collaborate on a volunteer Wiki-based project concerning contemporary Canadian literature. […] I had only asked students to do the most basic of tasks (i.e. edit one word of the Wiki document) to receive the 5% assigned to the grade. Yet many of the students began doing far more work than was required, going back again and again to edit, add to, and shape the Wiki. […] The active participation of the students having gone beyond the required work needed to acquire a minimal percentage of their overall grade, and the feedback I received from the students at the end of the course, suggests that the students had no idea that they could participate in an online collaborative project until they were “forced” to do so, that they had only previously used technology passively for research and as a social networking tool, and that working collaboratively had opened their eyes to the larger peer-network available to them as university students. Overall, the students lamented the fact that they had not participated earlier in the project, as it offered them, in the end, a new way of engaging with scholarship, research, and dissemination of information.

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Spotlight: Editing Amelia Alderson Opie at Queen’s

Ever wonder what DH projects happen at Queen’s? The first of our “Spotlight” series features Dr. Shelley King’s and Dr. John Pierce’s projects on Amelia Alderson Opie. The Amelia Alderson Opie Archive was featured in IDIS220: Hacking the Humanities in the Summer of 2013. The 2014 DH Field School will address many of the same questions as the Opie Project: What is our role as editor within the context of new technologies? How do old forms present new challenges for editorial technologies? How does the accessibility of digital media change us as readers and users?

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In their on-going work on prolific Romantic writer Amelia Alderson Opie, Dr. Shelley King and Dr. John Pierce from the Department of English at Queen’s University have understood online, accessible publication to be the backbone of their continually growing research. Novelist, poet, song-writer, essayist, and avid correspondent, Opie’s works span the full range of Romantic literary production. From their early online work on the Amelia Alderson Opie Archive, to their more recent, TEI-informed editorial study of Opie’s letters, Dr. King and Dr. Pierce have undertaken a publishing strategy committed to open intellectual dissemination, and a collaborative research methodology that has nurtured young scholars in the study of both the Romantic Period and contemporary academic technological practices.

Beginning with the Amelia Alderson Opie Archive, the online, SSHRC-funded project showcases Opie’s careful cognizance of the aesthetic and political implications of her immediate ideological and artistic environment. The site’s wide-ranging treatment of Opie’s biography, portraiture, and literary and musical work, along with scholarly treatments of her oeuvre catalogues the bulk and breadth of Opie’s work and impact on Romantic culture. Dr. King’s and Dr. Pierce’s earlier project, moreover, drew upon and developed the academic and technological skills of two former Queen’s graduate students: Dr. Andrea Terry, who completed her doctoral degree in Art History and went on to hold a post-doctoral position in the School of Canadian Studies at Carleton University, and the BISC’s very own Dr. Shannon Smith, who now teaches theories of usership and scholarly editing framed by contemporary technological processes.

Dr. King’s and Dr. Pierce’s current project, the Amelia Alderson Opie and Henry Perronet Briggs Correspondence, takes the letters exchanged between Opie and her cousin as a more focused case study. By combining the well-established traditional editorial practices for eighteenth century manuscripts with the Text Encoding Initiative’s (TEI) editorial guidelines for contemporary XML editing, the Opie-Briggs Correspondence situates itself within traditional and emergent editorial practice. In so doing, Dr. King’s and Dr. Pierce’s project may shed light upon Opie’s more intimate understanding of the same aesthetic and political implications of the culture which she, her family, and her friends navigated, and over which the Archive provides a bird’s-eye view. The Opie-Briggs Correspondence has produced further academic collaboration at Queen’s, developing the XML expertise of graduate students Emily Murphy and Maya Bielinski as they developed a TEI workshop for the young scholars working on the Correspondence. Sarah Hobbs and Angela Du, two Queen’s undergraduates in the Department of English, have gained hands-on experience with editorial practice and technological frameworks during their work on the Correspondence.

In these two major projects, Dr. King and Dr. Pierce have provided technological platforms for collaboration and development among Queen’s students, all in service of new scholarly insights into Amelia Alderson Opie’s contributions to Romantic culture.

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