#FridayDHSpotlight: Introduction to Digital Humanities

For this week’s #FridayDHSpotlight, we’d like to present a reflection by Sean Buchanan on his semester taking the Intro to Digital Humanities course taught at the Claremont Graduate University by our very own Assistant Director of DH@CC Aaron Hodges last fall.

Students in this class examined the impact of computational methods on humanities scholarship in both theoretical and practical ways. Students also experimented with digital publishing platforms to present their research. After exploring various publishing platforms, they engaged in discussion concerning whether or not specific platforms are appropriate for humanistic research.

Sean entered the class wary of digital humanities, but through the many conversations and discussions had in the class, he came to understand the benefits that digital methods can bring to the study of the humanities. Thanks for this thoughtful reflection, Sean!

I came into the course as an archivist, filled with skepticism. My limited knowledge of DH at that point pertained to the digitization of archival materials and methods of processing and describing born digital materials. When I left the course at the end of the term, my skepticism had considerably diminished. This is to say that the readings assigned for class discussion stirred useful conversations about the state of the humanities, the “crisis” in humanities, and pedagogy.

I was once wary of DH and its perceived takeover of the various disciplines, but I have come to realize through Aaron Hodges’ class that DH, among other things, is an excellent tool for teaching across all age groups. Particularly younger generations, who were born into a digital world, respond well to digital tools and methods of instruction. Thinking from the perspective of an archivist, who wants to advocate for their collection and promote engagement with primary sources, DH represents a valuable opportunity. If it were not for the class, I may have remained a skeptic.


Sean is finishing up his last semester at the Claremont Graduate University, after which he will have earned his M.A. in History and Archival Studies. For more information about the Introduction to Digital Humanities course at CGU, feel free to contact the DH@CC Team.

2019 DH Summer Institute

We’re pleased to invite all interested faculty, staff, and students to attend the 2019 DH Summer Institute coming up on Friday, August 30th from 10:00am – 2:00pm in the Keck Classroom of the Honnold/Mudd Library.

This year’s workshop has been designed to introduce new faculty members to the wide variety of resources that are available to them through collaboration with the Digital Humanities Initiative at the Claremont Colleges. Participants will not only have an opportunity to brainstorm potential digital assignments with members of the DH@CC Team, but will also learn about a number of different successful projects that have been undertaken by members of the Claremont community. Lunch will be provided, so please RSVP by Wednesday, August 28th.


2019 DH@CC Summer Institute Poster

Sarah Osailan & Indu Shrestha: Digital Demos

StoryMapJS - Top 50 Women in Tech 2018

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 Techdrew 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.

Esri StoryMaps - Top 50 Women in Tech 2018

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.

Paul Faulstich: Update from Visual Ecology

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.

Microblogging as Scholarship

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.

DZ Lecture

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.

© 2020 Digital Humanities at The Claremont Colleges.
Unless otherwise indicated, all materials licensed by the CC 4.0 BY-NC License.

DH@CC has been made possible through a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.