In the 4th grade, Thursdays were hot dog days at school. Volunteer mothers would bring the hotdogs to our classroom and distribute them. This might have been when I was deep into reading sleuthing books, but, in my conveniently sized group, I used to track who had ketchup or mustard on their hotdog and what was their hair color. I was trying to correlate mustard use with blond hair and ketchup use with brown or black hair. I remember being frustrated with those who partook of both and wondering how to classify them. It was hard to keep track of a third category in my head. That might have been shortly after I discovered that illustrations in books were not literal, that, somewhere in the world, there was a place that looked exactly like the illustration, even if it were a pen and ink drawing. That used to be a happy and intriguing thought.
I like data, like working with data, and even enjoy cleaning up data to a certain extent. Library resources and their use involve many, many spreadsheets, and the occasional accompanying interesting observation. When the library had digital humanities training, I worked with a group from several divisions to analyze library print book acquisitions. Looking at titles and later LC subject headings, we were trying to develop a way to analyze library collections in order to spot biases or deficits. The discussions and work we did to download, process, clean and interpret the data were interesting and sometimes maddening, but we felt we were doing good work and helping the profession.
Participating in the DH Reading Group, despite my extremely limited knowledge and practice, has been a great way to learn about DH and also academia, research, information management and interpretation, and even super heroes. It has been so rewarding to bond with others inside and outside of the library, share thoughts and observations, and in my case ask dumb questions. In spite of our busy-ness it is stimulating to stretch a little. Join us! In condiment and other worlds I’m still seeing bizarre correlations…
Margaret Hogarth is the Electronic Resources and Acquisitions Librarian for The Claremont Colleges Library. She has an MLIS from California State University, San Jose and a Masters in Environmental Studies from California State University, Fullerton. She has been a librarian since 1998.
As Digital Research Studio Fellows, we work on various projects, often creating digital demos that showcase different features in the tools supported by the DH@CC team. These presentations are used in classes to give the students and participants an idea of how to use different tools to present their work. This spring, we wanted to create a story map using different tools but for the same dataset. Our goal was to present the same story with different approaches and perspectives.
A story map is a great visual way of telling a story using a location. In order to create demo projects that showcase the narrative potential of particular platforms, we first brainstormed different topics to research such as civil revolutions, biopics of well-known people in history, human rights movements, and women rights. Since we started our project towards the end of February, and March is Women’s History Month, we decided to focus on topics related to women. The Forbes Magazine article “The World’s Top 50 Women In Tech” drew our attention and we thought that it is a perfect fit to tell a story in honor of Women’s History Month.
StoryMapJS and ESRI’s StoryMaps were the two tools used in this project and the data of 50 women mentioned in the Forbes’ article was used. Out of 50 women, we focused on 11 women from different parts of the world and from different sectors within the tech industry. StoryMapJS has a basic template which supports audio, video, text data while ESRI’s StoryMaps offers a wide range of templates and also supports audio, video, text and map layers.
Indu Shrestha is an M.A. candidate at Claremont Graduate University (CGU) in Information Systems and Technology (IS&T) with a concentration in Data Science and Analytics. Sarah Osailan is a Ph.D. candidate at CGU in IS&T focusing on Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Data, and Text Mining.
H/T to Dr. Jenny Kreiger at the University of Oregon for inspiring us to create digital demos.
In addition to building and curating personal online portfolios, students in Paul Faulstich’s course this semester have begun the ambitious project of creating a Field Guide to the Claremont Wilderness Park. In Visual Ecology — a combined theory & praxis course developed with the help of a Digital Course Development Grant from DH@CC — we integrate studio art with scholarly analysis and engaged field research as we create socially and environmentally responsible works. The primary class project has two components: 1) a hardcopy field guide, and 2) a corresponding website.
The Claremont Wilderness Park is a treasured community resource of almost 2,500 acres of chaparral habitat. The City of Claremont estimates that there are about 500,000 visits to the Wilderness Park each year. The Park is habitat for a diverse array of flora and fauna, but most of the visitors do not have an understanding of the ecosystem and its biodiversity. This field guide will provide a resource for visitors to help them better appreciate the plants, animals, history, and geology of this cherished part of our city. The Field Guide will be a “pocket naturalist guide”: a laminated, accordion folded pamphlet with illustrations of the most important plant and animal species. Approximately 15-20 plants will be depicted, along with about 25 animals (about 10 of which will be birds). Each species will include its common and scientific names, identifying features, and size. For mammals, their tracks will be shown. The scientific drawings are being created by students, and the photographs are from Professor Faulstich’s ongoing trailcam research. The Guide will also include a map of the Wilderness Park and its trail system, an introduction to the ecology of the chaparral habitat, brief overviews of the geology, fire ecology, and environmental history of the area, credits and acknowledgements, and a salute to Tongva for having cared for this land for eons before it came to be known as Claremont.
The website will provide a source of additional information related to the Field Guide. The website will allow visitors to click on images of plants and animals to get more in-depth information, including material on medicinal uses of plants and animal behavior and demographics, and video clips of animals engaged in their natural activities. A GIS Story Map will allow users to click on a diagram of the Wilderness Park to access detailed information on specific locales. The class is working with the Digital Humanities of the Claremont Colleges staff to create and populate the site with more detailed natural history than can be included in the Guide.
We’re fortunate to live near open spaces large enough to sustain astonishing wildlife. The Field Guide to the Claremont Wilderness Park and its corresponding website could become resources enabling our community to gain understanding and appreciation of our local natural environment.
Students in this year’s Digital Humanities Studio (DGHM 150): Archaeology in a Digital Age have spent the first half of the semester critically examining digital platforms and digitally curated data. Twitter, in particular, has got a bad rep. When most people think about the social media platform, they imagine brief snippets of news containing links to additional information, or the unsolicited thoughts of celebrities and the general public. Few conceive of Twitter and other social media platforms as effective means of teaching concise writing with a creative twist for pedagogical purposes. In a recent studio assignment, Microblogging as Scholarship, that coincided with Dr. Donna Zuckerberg’s lecture, “How Deep the Rabbit Hole Goes”: The Alt-Right’s Infatuation with Stoic Philosophy, students in the studio “live-tweeted” to this end.
Live-tweeting has the potential to change the way audience members listen to, process, and engage with research, and this practice is consequently growing in popularity at conferences and academic lectures. Live-tweeting is posting a series of focused tweets that offer a minute-by-minute rundown on what is being shared by the speaker/panelists and what questions are being asked by the audience—all in real-time. Why are scholars and students live-tweeting in the first place? We live in an age where many of us own smart phones. For this reason, many of us have the ability to promote and communicate knowledge on a globally accessible platform with just the click of a button. By broadcasting information via platforms like Twitter, we can uphold our fundamental responsibility as scholars to openly share our work with a broad audience rather than only with other academics behind closed doors.
Because this was the first time many of the students had been encouraged to formally engage with a platform like Twitter, they composed their “tweets” in a form set up specifically for this assignment. Their collective “tweets” not only demonstrate their engagement with the topic but also provide a useful summary of the talk, readily accessible to those who weren’t able to attend. You can learn all about their take on this important subject, a play-by-play of the lecture itself, and some thoughtful reflections on microblogging as scholarship by accessing their “tweets” here.
For more information about the Digital Humanities Studio (DGHM 150), visit the course website.
Several students and faculty from the Claremont Graduate University (CGU) and Pomona College (PO) have collectively come together to form the Digital Innovation & Text Analysis “Fake News” Lab, a lab with the goal to find a method to evaluate truth claims, public statements, and the trustworthiness of news stories. While similar research in the past has looked at superficial features such as article headlines and article sources as reference points for a text’s trustworthiness, this lab is looking at linguistic (semantic and syntactic) features which could be more holistically indicative of a text’s trustworthiness. The project is an extension of a similar early-stage research project from a year prior, but this lab has the goal of further developing and improving upon the dataset and method of evaluation of trustworthiness that resulted the previous project’s work.
The lab meets weekly and provides students with an opportunity to work under the guidance of an experienced faculty member, Professor Hovig Tchalian, a professor of management whose research focus is language and innovation. He also teaches an introductory data analysis course and uses text analysis techniques to study social discourse. The lab is managed by a project manager, Kristina Khederlarian (CGU PhD student in computational analytics and international relations). The rest of the research team is made up of Anthony Lyons (CGU PhD student in information systems), Amin Nash (CGU Master’s student in English critical theory and analysis), Brady DeMeritt (Pomona ‘19 majoring in computer science and linguistics & cognitive science), Daniela Hinojosa Sada (PO ‘19 majoring in linguistics), Alex Ker (PO ‘22 majoring in philosophy and computer science), and Jack Weber (PO ‘22 majoring in Computer Science and Economics).
Comprising people with diverse backgrounds, the team’s skill sets range from politics and simulation modeling to linguistics and computer science. The project, which is funded by a Project Research Grant from the Digital Humanities Initiative at The Claremont Colleges (DH@CC), has given students a chance to do extensive research by not only having them find and collect usable data sources, but by also having them process that data and use advanced digital techniques such as those of natural language processing and machine learning to analyze the data to create a trustworthiness prediction model. The lab has so far worked to collect data and process that data into linguistic features, and the next step is to use machine learning to identify relevant correlations between the data’s features and trustworthiness levels. There are hopes to in the future not only incorporate this research into team member’s dissertations and theses, but to also further analyze the role that a fake news proliferator’s intent, whether backed by malevolence or ignorance, plays in the manifestation of the linguistic features in fake news.
The DH@CC team is excited to welcome Dr. Donna Zuckerberg, Editor-in-Chief of Eidolon, to campus this week. Dr. Zuckerberg’s timely lecture, entitled “How Deep the Rabbit Hole Goes”: The Alt-Right’s Infatuation with Stoic Philosophy will be this Wednesday, March 6th, at 4:15pm in the Founders Room in the Claremont Colleges Library. For more information, please contact the DH@CC Team.
It’s been a lot of fun redesigning our website over the past few months, but we’re finally ready to put ourselves back out there! We’re excited to be able to use this space to showcase all the great work that the DH@CC team has helped facilitate over the years, as well as highlight some of our ongoing projects and upcoming events. We’ll also be using the blog as a platform for reflections from faculty and students, as well as members of the DH@CC Team, so keep an eye on this space for frequent updates.
The following faculty members are the recipients for the final round of $6000 Digital Humanities Course Development Grants:
Paul Faulstich, Pitzer College: NatureWorks: Aesthetics and Praxis in the Anthropocene
This course explores the ecology of expressive culture and how art mediates between humans and the more-than-human environment. We combine the social sciences and humanities with ecology to break down normative barriers between the scientific and the poetic. We explore how science, art, and philosophy can be effectively integrated for activist and educational effect. This course engages students in intellectual inquiry and creative practice, without acquiescing to a division between the two. It integrates studio work with scholarly analysis. Since the humanities employ skills that can uniquely address strategies of reform and conservation, they play a powerful role, serving as the conscience of culture and offering creative solutions.
Phyllis Jackson, Pomona College: Black Aesthetics and the Politics of (Re)Presentation
Using a constructionist approach to representation, the course encourages students to historically situate and question the theoretical, ideological, spiritual, and aesthetic assumptions of artists, collectors, art critics, and art historians. We explore the ways in which the interlocking constructs of race/class/gender/sexuality/religion/citizenship influence representational practices, the training and education of artists, public and private patronage, cultural criticism, and the histories of art. This course provides a social-historical frame for the interpretation of art form and content, resulting in students’ production of original theoretically sound, socially aware cultural criticism. We examine changes in modes of expression, formal techniques, pictorial themes, visual codes as well as the impact of movements such Modernism, Black Aesthetics, African Aesthetics, Afrocentrism, Critical Race Theory, Black Feminism, and Postmodernism.
Tanja Srebotnjak, Harvey Mudd College: Forthcoming New Course
The course aims to bridge several humanities and STEM disciplines by linking statistical analysis, petroleum engineering, political science, history and community, and social justice questions. In this studio course, students will examine the role of environmental (in)justice in the joint evolution of Los Angeles’ demographics and its century-old oil and gas exploration and production. The course will map and statistically analyze the timeline of the socio-demographic and socio-economic evolution of communities in proximity to oil and gas production from 1900 to present to answer these questions: So is oil and gas production an environmental justice problem in Los Angeles? How did people settle and move in parallel to Los Angeles’ oil boom of the 1920s and until today?
Erich Steinman, Pitzer College: “Unsettling Settlers and Making Space: Pitzer College and Indian Nations of Southern California”
The course seeks to operate on a variety of levels, from intellectual to personal; it is designed to link theory and history to contemporary social relations; and it aims to connect analyses of injustice with praxis that works to undermine colonial dynamics. This is a writing-intensive course that will include a personal essay reflecting on students’ community engagement, an analytical (argument) essay regarding inclusion of Indigenous perspectives in higher education, and a research project focusing on linking students to entwined histories of Indigenous presence and colonial settlement. Engagement will draw on existing Pitzer projects or collaborations promoting Indigenous access to higher education and supporting land-based cultural practices. The creation of a holistic learning community among students in the class will support the learning, processing, and integrating of course information and experiences.
Tamara Venit-Shelton, Claremont McKenna College: Human Health and Disease in American History
This course is designed to give students hands-on experience with historical practices, reading and analyzing primary sources against theoretical works and secondary scholarship as we explore the intersecting histories of medicine, public health, and environmental health in the United States from the colonial period to the present. We pay particular attention to the way that social difference (race, gender, and class) has contributed to health inequities and access to care. Topics include: Indian dispossession and epidemic disease, the professionalization of American medicine, immigration and public health, eugenics, abortion, and birth control, disease eradication and diplomacy, race and medical testing, and the AIDS crisis.
Weiqing Gu, Harvey Mudd College: Forthcoming New Course
This course focuses on developing students’ ability to analyze big data, as well as their data-to-decision skills, which will provide a foundation for future studies and potential career paths. We will explore the key determinants of currency crises to facilitate the application of data analytics to study real world issues. Previous scholars have conducted extensive studies regarding the impact of macroeconomic factors on the occurrence of currency crises; therefore, our course will not only build on the foundation established in the literature, but it will also expand our analysis to non-economic factors, such as politics and culture. We aim to build connections across the disciplines of social science, humanities, and computer science.
Gabriela Bacsan, Scripps College: Trans-Caribbean Formations: Translating Identity, Race, and Gender in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico
The course aims to explore questions of identity formations during different historical time periods in the Caribbean. Our main goal will be to explore how the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality are translated into Caribbean identity formation. We will pay close attention to how conceptualizations of blackness are deployed—simultaneously highlighted and erased—during different iterations of nation-building projects in each country. We will also explore the place of indigenous peoples in Caribbean national imaginaries.
Isabel Balseiro, Harvey Mudd College: Forthcoming New Course
This course will introduce students to an interdisciplinary approach to the digital humanities through an examination of the anthropological and literary work of the first African American woman to graduate from Barnard College: Zora Neale Hurston. Born poor in the South, highly educated in the North, a luminary amongst the talents of the Harlem Renaissance, and buried in an unmarked grave in her native Florida, Hurston’s writing and life offer a unique view onto notions of race, gender, and class in the aftermath of Reconstruction that reverberate to this day.
Todd Honma, Pitzer College: Science, Technology, Asian America
This course examines the construction of Modern Western Science through the lens of race, class, gender, colonialism/empire, and globalization, with a particular focus on its effects on Asian diasporic communities in the United States. The course investigates how the construction and institutionalization of Modern Western Science has privileged certain groups while marginalizing others. We examine how marginalized groups have struggled against hegemonic forces of domination to challenge systemic forms of inequality and oppression in the fight to establish a more socially responsible and democratic engagement with science and technology. We also analyze different approaches and strategies in various social justice movements of science that will help to inform our work in the community.