In today’s #FridayDHSpotlight, Trevor Anthony, a first year graduate student at the Claremont Graduate University, reviews the inaugural semester of the Research Studio Series.
Sipping coffee from my DH@CC cup, I take the opportunity to re-cap the Fall 2019 Research Studio Series, following my first semester at CGU. This series proved a valuable way for a newbie to acclimate to the Claremont scene. Kudos to Jeanine Finn, Leigh Lieberman and Aaron Hodges for organizing the series and the presenters who demonstrated the vibrant life of the Digital Humanities at The Claremont Colleges:
Mark Buchholz from The Claremont Colleges Library kicked things off with “A Primer on Digitization Programs,” featuring the case study of the archive of that noted (and perpetually frustrated) celebrity predator, Wile E. Coyote. The digitization of archives, a “bedrock” manifestation of DH, represents the democratization of information – a boon to scholars as well as society-at-large. As Mark described, there is a great deal of art as well as science involved in digitizing an archive.
The advent of digital tools in scholarly practices represents a rather literal side of DH. Leigh Lieberman presented a test-drive of the Zotero open-source reference management software. Zotero allows the writer to create references and bibliographies for any text editor and integrates directly with Microsoft Word as well as JSTOR. (My 2020 resolutions include getting up-to-speed on this cool tool!) And for those interested in an alternative to the “traditional” Mac or Windows OS, Joseph Osborne, AI researcher at Pomona College, provoked with “Reclaiming Personal Computing – or Your Life in Plain Text,” showcasing open-source GNU Emacs. Technically a text editor, I understood Emacs to be a much more expansive platform, offering the ability to manage one’s computing experience in a single, highly customizable environment. If you crave customization (and possess the heart-of-a-hacker), then Emacs is for you!
The Scalar publishing platform, offering an alternative to the traditional, linear academic “paper” format, is especially useful for integrating media into one’s work. T. Kim-Trang Tran from Scripps College shared some of her Scalar work, including an ongoing, collaborative class-based project. While Scalar integrates with YouTube quite well, she highlighted Creative Commons as an alternative for those who prefer to host our own media files. This fair use /public media archive is intended to support the reuse of media in scholarly and creative contexts.
If DH thought-leaders like Jerome McGann are to be taken at their word, our future as humanists may require that we build up some coding chops. And for those tempted by the siren song of DH to get their hands “dirty” with programming, Jeanine Finn led the Python working group. We began our travels in Python with the Anaconda programming environment, and she recommended Coursera’s University of Michigan 4-part “crash course” as a good way to get our feet wet.
The Reading Group session on September 27 delved into the complex question of labor – student and otherwise – in the DH sphere, for example, with “Student Labour and Training in Digital Humanities.” Asya Shklyar, the Director of High Performance Computing at Pomona College, shared her thoughts on staffing of projects. Given the multi-disciplinary, team-based character of DH projects, staffing considerations will demand more attention as DH projects become more pervasive.
In Debates in the Digital Humanities 2019, James Coltrain and Stephen Ramsay promote video games as vehicles for humanities scholarship. Recent Pomona graduate Gerard Bentley demonstrated this in sharing his project, “Tagging and Understanding Video Game Affordances,” suggesting that video game learning techniques and AI represent undiscovered country for DH.
As you can see, a variety of inspiring presentations! Thanks to all who shared their work and thoughts. I am looking forward to DH@CC in 2020. Onward!