Digital Humanities Fellows Kick Off Year-Long Projects

Each summer, Northwestern’s Digital Humanities Summer Workshop brings together faculty, librarians, and technologists for an intensive, collaborative experience in developing digital humanities projects with meaningful roles for students. Faculty who apply to the workshop come with a project in mind and their vision is either confirmed or dramatically evolved based on inspiration from the tools and presentations they are exposed to over the course of the workshop.

For the five Weinberg College instructors sitting around the conference table at the Kaplan Institute, what lays before them is no small task. But now, having come out the other side of eight days of presentations, discussions, workshopping and prototyping on what can be done with today’s technology, they must stand in front of their workshop leaders and department chairs to lay bare their plans for the coming nine months.

Prof. Mendoza presents her Digital Humanities project idea

Projects for the 2018-2019 cohort

César Braga-Pinto
Chair, Associate Professor, Spanish & Portuguese
Project: Mozambican Literature and Cultures Archive

Prof. Braga-Pinto’s project aims to create a website archive of Mozambique literature and culture complete with curated readings and other materials, which students will help gather and categorize. Early ideas for categories include music, literature, theatre, visual culture (film and photography), and journalism. One of the highlights of the collection will be a visual archive of the first African newspaper owned by Africans, not Europeans. Other plans for the website include using timeline software to tell the political history of Mozambique as it relates to cultural happenings and special collaborative exhibits with other universities. Beyond a simple visual archive, the website will incorporate related criticism where it exists for the included works.    

Averill Curdy
Associate Professor of Instruction, English
Project: Pickpockets, Poets, and Other Sad Marvels of City Life

Prof. Curdy’s project will update the pedagogy of a freshman seminar she has previously taught three times before. As in prior iterations, students will begin the course by reading a variety of texts about what it means to experience and be a part of a city, and then complete individual projects based on a self-directed topic. Based on the figure of the flâneur, the overarching theme is to look at what it means to be a “connoisseur of the city” – something Prof. Curdy hopes to inspire by teaching her students to be “productively lost.” Students will spend time in Chicago collecting materials related to their topic and then digitally curate them in a way that tells a story – either as part of an original work of fiction or the underpinnings of a future research project.  

Dominique Licops
Associate Professor of Instruction, French
Project: Mapping and Visualizing France’s Transnational Identities

Prof. Licops’ project will add new digital tools to her introductory French 211 course to investigate how the student experience is transformed. Prof. Licops plans to use a combination of tools to help students create detailed annotations of full-length works encountered for the first time in the class. The planned three-level annotation will allow students to analyze vocabulary choices, word frequency and patters, and any related geographic, cultural, or historical influences. Each student is assigned a section of the work so that the annotation is built collaboratively with contributions from the entire class. In addition to the digital annotation, visualization tools will also be introduced to help visualize France’s national identity as it relates to its colonial history.

Elvia Mendoza
Visiting Assistant Professor, Latina & Latino Studies
Project: Fugitive Si(gh)tings: Feminist Aesthetics of Resistance & Survival

Prof. Mendoza’s project will address the idea of “fugitivity” and how we interpret the concepts of resistance and liberation. Students will begin by reading texts to explore the diasporic routes of fugitivity, followed by trips to Chicago to look for art (murals, slam poetry, etc.) that can serve as modern examples. Once the students have collected their examples, they will use them to create visualizations to show how the artist’s travel has influenced their work, displaying connections between specific locations and its artistic interpretation.

Sara Monoson
Chair, Professor, Political Science (Classics, Philosophy)
Project: Socrates in the Vernacular

Prof. Monoson’s project aims to seek out appearances of Socrates in American popular culture across media to inventory the diversity of portrayals and identify a network of traits regularly attributed to him. The planned archive aims to confirm the following theses: Socrates has become a symbol of democracy in the post-Cold War Era and a modern symbol of resilience. The digital collection will use visualizations to show the connections, rather than doing so only through descriptive text. Finally, a planned video essay will bring the work to life through a visual narrative.

 

The 18-19 cohort of Digital Humanities Fellows is the fifth group to participate in the Summer Workshop, and second of five years of new funding from the Office of the Provost and Weinberg College Dean’s Office. It is hosted annually by the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities and co-organized by Northwestern University Libraries and The Weinberg College Media and Design Studio.

Digital Learning will follow these projects over the course of the academic year as their exciting work takes shape and will post an update in the Spring Quarter to tell the story of the journey each has taken as theory meets practice in the classroom.