DH Research Project Grants

In anticipation of the final year of the Digital Humanities Mellon grant, the DH@CC team has sought to support faculty from across the consortium in humanistic research that meets three criteria. First, the proposed research must employ digital methods. Second, the project must provide undergraduates with an opportunity to work directly with faculty on this research. Third, research efforts must result in a publication or conference presentation before the end of the grant period (30 September 2019). Three projects have been approved so far, and we’re in the process of soliciting additional proposals from interested faculty members.

DIG-ital Innovation & Text Analysis Lab

Hovig Tchalian | Drucker School of Management | Claremont Graduate University

This proposal aims to cross the last mile of research projects in computational text analysis – getting from domain research and conceptual design to the nitty-gritty work of text and computational analysis by creating DIGITAL, Digital Innovation and Text Analysis Lab. The lab’s objective is increasing the pace of activity in text-analytic research through the ‘bottleneck’ of the last mile, while providing students an opportunity to work with faculty on substantive research.

Project focus:
Our project proposes to refine a method for evaluating the trustworthiness of news stories, public statements and truth claims. The research team will be working on a novel approach for judging whether statements made by public officials, enhanced by news sources and debated on social media sites, are worthy of trust. The approach recognizes both the need for, and the limitations of, public and private watchdog groups. While there are numerous truth and accuracy watchdogs, such as Politifact, they are limited in their scope and reach. Not only is the work slow and labor-intensive, it is also prone to the vagaries of contests over facts and their interpretation.

Our approach is based on a simple fact recognized in linguistics and sociology – how we say something matters as much as what we say. We therefore analyze utterances to help reveal the consistent but latent (or, hidden) patterns they exhibit. We use a combination of Natural Language Processing (NLP) and machine learning (essentially, “big data”) techniques to identify the linguistic markers consistently associated with fact-check sites’ existing truth rankings of particular statements. The ultimate objective is using the method to ‘back into’ the grounds of justification for public statements – investigating whether our concern for the trustworthiness of statements has shifted in the recent past.

For more information, please see Professor Tchalian’s Faculty Page and LinkedIn Profile.

Rampaging Waters: Floods, Environmental Justice, and Power in San Antonio

Char Miller | Environmental Analysis | Pomona College

This project seeks to create a digital representation of the 1921 flood that devastated San Antonio, Texas, which has left an enduring mark on the city’s built environment and political landscape. The flood also exposed the deep social divisions that existed in the city and how those inequities were replicated in subsequent local flood control policies and politics.

On September 9, 1921, the remnants of a hurricane stalled just north of San Antonio and within hours Alazán and Martinez Creeks ripped through the city’s West side barrios, killing more than 50 people. On the North side, Olmos Creek roared into the San Antonio River, sending a wall of water crashing into the central business district, wreaking considerable damage. The community’s response to this disaster shaped its environmental politics and policies for the next 50 years. Everyone wanted to control floodwaters, but which would be controlled, and thus what portions of the community would be protected and rehabilitated most thoroughly, was to be decided in the political arena that Anglo commercial and business interests dominated. So although the subsequent construction of the Olmos Dam in the mid-1920s ever since has held back floodwaters from sweeping into the downtown core, this benefit depended upon a disturbingly skewed distribution of public benefits in one of America’s poorest big cities. The local power elite deliberately ignored the interlocking problems on the Latino West side that flowed from poor drainage, bad housing, and inadequate sanitation. The discriminatory downstream consequences, channeled along ethnic divisions and class lines, continually resurfaced until the mid-1970s when a West side grassroots organization known as COPS (Communities Organized for Public Services) launched a successful subaltern revolt that brought much-needed flood control to oft-inundated neighborhoods and disrupted Anglo domination of local politics. COPS’ emergence as a power broker offers a perfect bookend to the half-century of San Antonio’s history that undergirds my new book project, Rampaging Waters: Floods, Environmental Justice, and Power in San Antonio, 1921-1974 (Trinity University Press, under contract; submission Summer 2020), and for which this DH project is a constituent element.

Songs Unsung from African American Los Angeles (1920-1935)

Anne Harley | Music | Scripps College

In Fall 2018 (and possible Spring 2019), three co-editors from three different institutions of higher learning will curated a prototype of a richly commented, freely available, digital online anthology of modern performing editions of approximately 4-5 unpublished art songs by Harold Bruce Forsythe (1908-1976), a Los Angeles African American composer, pianist, and author, who flourished during the 1920s and 1930s. The project will be created in Scalar, but the goal is to present this e-book to  Lever Press for conversion to the Fulcrum platform. Faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students will collaborate on the project.

Ulysses by Numbers

Eric Bulson | English | Claremont Graduate University

The words in James Joyce’s Ulysses have occasioned countless interpretations over the past century, so many, in fact, that one may begin to wonder if there’s really anything left to say. “Ulysses by Numbers” is one ambitious attempt to prove that there is, but instead of only reading the words on the page, it also counts them, along with the paragraphs/sentences, characters (both present and absent from the plot), first subscribers (for 1,000 copies), and the years of composition (7 total). My book intervenes forcefully in debates about the value of quantitative methods and tools in the humanities and argues that they should not be restricted only to big-data sets and distant reading practices promising to reveal hidden patterns across massive corpora. To the contrary: these same quantitative methods and tools, which include Geographic Information Systems, social network analysis, text-mining, timelines, and topic modeling, are an incredible opportunity to answer some of the most basic qualitative questions that literary critics have been asking on a smaller scale for centuries, and they have the power to let us access the structure and design of literary works in ways that would have been unthinkable even a few decades ago.

Proposal Guidelines

Interested faculty members should contact the DH@CC Team before submitting a proposal.

Proposals should include:

  • one paragraph abstract describing the scope of the project,
  • proposed final outcome of the project (publication; conference presentation venue),
  • timeframe for support, and
  • estimated budget (line items that are appropriate for funding include student workers, training sessions, software licenses, etc.)

Please remember that all funds must be dispersed and that research efforts must result in a publication or conference presentation before the end of the grant period (30 September 2019).

Submit proposals via e-mail to the DH@CC Team.

© 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.