First FGSDH Meeting!

Debates in the Digital Humanities!
Wednesday, February 4, 1-3pm, FMH 220.

Next week we’ll be discussing Debates in the Digital Humanities, an excellent DH-project-and-ebook about the concept of Digital Humanities research and projects, which is centered around debates in the field.

The meeting will discuss three chapters from the book:
The Digital Humanities Moment, by Matt Gold
Time, Labor, and Alternate Careers in Digital Humanities Knowledge Work, by Julia Flanders
The Resistance To Digital Humanities by David Greetham

Attendees are encouraged to read one or all of the chapters with the following questions in mind:
How are the authors in question defining DH? Is their use of the term already dated? Is DH an “Alt-Ac” career field, or a natural extension of humanities research? Is DH necessarily humanities-only?

Attendees are of course encouraged to also bring other, new questions, comments, and opinions.

Topics in Digital Mapping: Getting and Organizing Spatial Data


The first workshop for the Topics in Digital Mapping Series was yesterday, January 21st.  David Wrisley introduced us to a variety of tools and ideas related to the process of getting and organizing spatial data. Participants were encouraged to try porting .csv files into Google Maps and to compare the visualization options with those available from CartoDB, which will be the subject of Workshop four in this series.

All participants were encouraged to create a data set for themselves for the next workshop, on February 11th, with 25 points and a temporal element, so they can map a topic of personal interest in Palladio.

All slides from the talk are available for download at

Exciting Spring Events!

After a hiatus last semester, the Fordham Graduate Student Digital Humanities Group is back with a bang.  We’ve got a great list of events coming up, and two series going on.

FGSDH Events
Rose Hill Campus, 2pm-3pm
February 4: Debates in the Digital Humanities
February 25: Digital Pedagogy
March 25: Building and Maintaining an Online Profile
April 18: Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon

Topics in Digital Mapping Events
Lincoln Center Campus, 3-5pm Workshops, 2-3pm Meet&Greet
February 11: Thinking about Time with Maps: Timelines/Palladio
March 4: Georectifying/MapWarper
April 15: Intro to CartoDB

2014-2015 HASTAC Scholars: Call for Applications

Deadline for applications: August 25, 2014
Announcement of Award: September 3, 2014

Are you a graduate student engaged with innovative projects and research at the intersection of digital media and learning, 21st-century education, and technology in the arts, humanities and sciences? Would you like join an international conversation about the digital humanities? If so, you are invited to apply for the opportunity to become a 2014-2015 HASTAC scholar. As a Scholar, you will represent Fordham University at HASTAC’s prestigious, online community. Two successful candidates will each receive a $300 honorarium from the office of the Dean of GSAS.

HASTAC (pronounced “haystack”), which stands for Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory, is an interdisciplinary, international network of undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, as well as librarians, archivists, museum curators, publishers, and IT specialists. Members of the HASTAC community blog, host forums, organize events, and discuss new ideas, projects, and technologies that reconceive teaching, learning, research, writing and structuring knowledge. For more information about HASTAC Scholars and to see their discussion forums, please see the HASTAC Scholars website and also this page.

Successful candidates will:

  • Remain in good standing with the university.
  • Give one workshop centered on integrating digital tools into the classroom or research. The workshop will be open to the campus community and given by April 2015.
  • Be an active participant in the Fordham Graduate Student Digital Humanities Group by leading or planning one or more events related to the digital humanities, including workshops, speakers, and/or reading groups.
  • Frequently engage, according to your interests and abilities, in the discussions taking place on the HASTAC website, as well as related events taking place during the year.
  • Between September and May, contribute no fewer than two posts per semester to the HASTAC Scholars blog and to the Fordham GSDH (These may be cross-posted.)
  • Report your activities at least twice a semester to a faculty mentor to be assigned to you.

Applications will be evaluated based on the scholar’s activities in the areas of digital humanities research, pedagogy and technology, and service to the community. Highly motivated students with limited exposure to the digital humanities are encouraged to apply. This opportunity is an excellent way to learn more about digital media and practices.

To make the application, please answer the following the questions:

  • Why do you want to become a HASTAC Scholar?
  • How will being a HASTAC Scholar support your current work at work Fordham? Please speak to this question in terms of both your teaching and research, noting your experience with digital humanities research and pedagogy.
  • What strengths and experience can you contribute to the HASTAC community?

Your application must include a brief recommendation from a faculty member who can speak to your scholarship and ability to collaborate with others, both in person and online.

Send applications and recommendations as Word Documents to Dr. Elizabeth Cornell, cornellgoldw_at_fordham. edu, with “YOURLASTNAME-HASTAC APP” as the subject line. Applications are due no later than 5:00 PM, August 25, 2014. Members of Fordham’s faculty Digital Humanities Working Group will review applications and two scholars will be announced no later than September 3. Selected scholars should make an application at the HASTAC website by September 10. Details for that procedure will follow if you are selected.

Online Profile Management Workshop

This post is a response and reaction to the workshop I led on April 23rd, Your Online Presence: Google, Facebook, and Life Ahead It is not a summary of the workshop, but instead my takeaways from it, particularly my suggestions and questions for anyone interested in leading a similar discussion.

Many DH-savvy people perhaps take for granted the idea of managing one’s online profile — we know that we will be Googled by other scholars, by potential employers, even by potential dates.  As participants in DH projects, we often have content associated with our names that is readily available.

I think it is easy for us to forget, however, that not everyone is as interested in, or as aware of, their online presence: we may assume too high a level of awareness.  I found, when I presented for a class of undergraduate juniors and seniors, that while most of them understood what an online “presence” consisted of, many of them appeared unconcerned about what it contained.

The idea, for example, that someone might lose their job over a picture of drinking posted on Facebook seemed horrifying and almost unbelievable to some of the students.  The idea of generating content intentionally on sites like LinkedIn and a personal blog seemed foreign to many of them, and the idea of using social media professionally (or of employers using/searching Facebook, much less any other social media site) seemed, in some cases, to be quite a bit to swallow.  Other students seemed to already be quite media-savvy, so it was a mixed group: I don’t mean to imply that all of them were surprised.

My biggest question, which I hope we will have the chance to discuss as a group in the fall, but which I encourage anyone to respond to in the comments, is this:

How essential do you consider online presence management?  Does everyone need to worry about this, or only those who are interested in pursuing a more digitally-oriented job?

Mapping Religious Concern in the Later Middle Ages: Software Ups and Downs for DH Visualizations

By Alisa Beer

At the final meeting of the Digital Humanities Graduate Group on April 23rd, Alisa Beer (that’s me) presented “Mapping Religious Concern in the Later Middle Ages.”

Jacqueline Howard followed with her presentation on the Bronx African American History Project and Digital History, which she wrote a blog post about for us. Since Jacqueline already posted about her topic, I will focus on my own presentation’s topic.

Mapping Religious Concern in the Later Middle Ages: Software Ups and Downs for DH Visualizations
My presentation derives from work I did for my MA thesis, Guido de Monte Rocherii’s “Manipulus Curatorum”: the Dissemination of a Manual for Parish Priests in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries.

The Manipulus Curatorum, or Handbook for Curates, is a text that instructs priests in their duties. It survives in 261 identified manuscript copies, the majority of which are either undated, or dated to the fifteenth century. This is, as medievalists reading this blog will recognize, a very large manuscript survival.

In order to figure out where this text may have been used, or at least, where its manuscripts are currently housed, I created a Google Map, in the fall of 2012. Then I used Microsoft MapPoint, in the spring of 2013 to create a similar map, and finally, in the spring of 2014, I tried CartoDB. The features of each differed, at the points at which I used them, and in this post I will discuss the ways in which each helped me to visualize my data and to get more information out of my spreadsheet of manuscripts in different ways.

Google Maps

This was helpful because it was:

–Easy to learn and to use, if time-consuming,

This was less helpful because it:
–Didn’t handle multiple pins in the same location well
–Did not import spreadsheets at the time I was using it (Fusion Tables has changed all of that!)
–Did not have many display options

Microsoft MapPoint

This was helpful because it:
–Allowed for shading by density of points, which helped me see where the manuscripts were most concentrated.
This helped me to form a better view of where the manual had collected in the years since 1500. This was a fairly transformative realization, since it helped me focus my research geographically in ways that would have been harder had I relied on a spreadsheet and a general sense of how many were in Germany vs. Austria vs. England.
–Allowed for differentiation by features (such as date).
This allowed me to see, visually, exactly how many of the manuscripts were undated vs. fifteenth century, and how very rare the fourteenth-century manuscripts were, though I already knew that, and it wasn’t exactly a transformative realization.
–Imported data from a spreadsheet.
Oh, so lovely not to have to put every pin in by hand, and to be able to update the spreadsheet, re-upload the data, and not have to worry about finding the right pin and changing it individually.

Downsides included:
–A less-than-ideal visual display.
I am not a fan of its graphics. They’re fine, but they’re not appealing to me at all.
–A difficult user interface.
I found it cumbersome to work with, at best. I achieved my goals with it, but only by dint of stubbornness, online searching for help topics, and a good deal of wasted time.
–A very expensive paid version: $299.99, and a slightly hobbled trial version.
Enough said.




I liked CartoDB best of the options I tried because it:
–Has very flexible display options.
This was lovely. I was able to choose colors, map backgrounds, and other options, in order to visualize in the way I found most clear and helpful. This transformed my understanding of how the manuscripts moved, since I could see “only” thefourteenth-century ones, only the fourteenth-to-fifteenth-century ones, etc. I look forward to creating an animation of the spread of the printed editions using CartoDB, because it will be incredibly helpful, compared to a similar animation of the spread of printing in the same time period.

–Imported data from a more complex spreadsheet than MapPoint.
I was able to import my entire spreadsheet and select data displays that were more complex than I managed in MapPoint. This allowed me to differentiate between a wider variety of dates, for example, and to add extra criteria, or otherwise display information that MapPoint and Google Maps were unable to help me with (at the time at which I used them.)
–Was accessible online on any computer.

Downsides include:
–The need to sign up for an account, and limited functions of a free account, including the public visibility of free account data.
This didn’t deter me, but I think it might make some a bit leery. I’m also perfectly happy to have my data be publicly visible, but I know many people are not.
–The need for internet access.
While not always a problem, when my internet went out, I was very unhappy not to be able to use CartoDB at all.
–The cost of a paid plan — the least is $29.99/month.
This is, annually, more than MapPoint. And it’s a subscription service, so you have to keep paying for it.

While I like CartoDB better than the alternatives, I’m still going to keep an eye out for open-source mapping software, and try my hand at Omeka’s mapping options, because I’m not content to pay $29.99/month for the ability to have more than 5 tables. At the moment, I don’t need more than 5, but I’d like to have a better sense of what’s out there before I subscribe to any program.

Thoughts? Comments? Suggestions of other mapping software? All would be more than welcome!

Five Digital Tools for Pedagogy and Research

As the academic year tumbles to a close, I would like to use my final blog post to discuss five tools that have made the past semester a little less precarious. Certainly, there are more advanced tools available, and I hope you will share them via the Comments thread. However, for this post, I simply want to focus on tools that I regularly use and rely upon to save time and frustration (if only a little).

ImageA no-nonsense shortcut utility for the Mac, TextExpander ($25 edu) has taught me the virtues of automation. Designed around shortcuts (Abbreviations) and the texts they expand (Snippets), TextExpander allows you to supplement your desktop’s keyboard shortcuts and to build forms using a bevvy of customizable templates. These templates can be as simple as custom email signatures (available system-wide), tools for validating and truncating URLs (Internet Productivity Snippets), or, my favorite, Fill-ins, with which you can create forms around predefined selections (Popups) and open fields (Fill-ins). Fill-ins have already saved me hours in writing midterm and final grade reports. (Thanks to TextExpander’s Statistics feature, which tracks and visualizes usage, I can report that the utility has saved me more than a dozen hours this semester). Once I started thinking about my reports in terms of what could and could not be automated, I realized that much of what I write in my headers and footers can be accomplished using three or four different forms. By creating several such forms, I allow myself more time for rigorous reflections on student work.

ImageWhen it comes to managing that work, TurnItIn (pricing depends upon your institution) has changed the way I evaluate research papers. After discovering that Fordham offers a free license for educators, I decided to use it for my students’ first batch of longer essays. I had noticed that despite our conversations about integrating and introducing research, many of my students were playing it fast and lose with outside sources, and I feared that there might be instances of academic dishonesty. Previously, when I harbored such concerns, I manually searched for phrases that sounded misplaced, a time-consuming and incomplete process. With TurnItIn, you can either ask your students to submit papers through the website or you manually upload files. After a couple of minutes per paper, the site calculates the essay’s originality, providing a deceptively specific percentage of that paper’s derivation (given that it doesn’t parse quotations, it’s advisable that you not take the score too seriously and comb through the document yourself). I found that I could open each essay and see where it might be derivative. TurnItIn annotates the document and provides access to the sources of those annotations. (If the source isn’t available publically, TurnItIn allows you to request access). This semester TurnItIn helped me identify two instances of academic dishonesty, which, on my own, would have required hours of additional searching

ImageMy biggest time saving tool, however, has nothing to do with my teaching. When it comes to tracking, managing, and sharing citations, I cannot sing more loudly my praises of Zotero (free). Zotero lives where most of us begin our research: the web browser. While it was originally designed for Mozilla FireFox (where it still works best), you can also download the standalone application, connectors for Google Chrome and Apple Safari, and word processor plugins (for Microsoft Office and LibreOffice/OpenOffice). With JSTOR and WorldCat, Zotero boasts particularly thorough integration; of search results you can tick off articles whose bibliographic information and content (such as full-text PDFs) you want to save. You can access citations via the Zotero button in your browser, where you can create folder hierarchies, export citations in just about any style, or view downloaded PDFs. If you register for Zotero’s free synchronization service (Zotero Sync), you can even access your citations on other computers. By default, you’ll get one hundred megabytes of storage, more than enough for citations alone, but somewhat miserly for PDFs. (After archiving twenty journal articles with PDFs, I exhausted more than a third of the allotted storage). If, however, you intend to conduct your research from one desktop, however, your machine’s hard drive is your only limitation.

ImageFor stubbornly material resources, the latest version of Delicious Library ($25) tidies up everything on your bookshelf, including books, movies, albums, software, and gadgets. Adding items is easy. If it has a barcode, you can scan it using your desktop’s iSight camera or a barcode reader. I added the vast majority of my books using my MacBook’s webcam, but for editions that predate barcodes, I found that I could add them using keywords, authors, and titles. In addition to acting as my iTunes for everything outside iTunes, Delicious includes a particularly dulcet feature: Loans. You can check out books (or anything else) to anyone in your Contacts, and thanks to the software’s interoperation with Apple Calendar, you set and track due dates. Given that I’m constantly swapping books with friends, this feature applies as much to me as it does my peers. (You don’t keep friends by absconding with their books).

ImageI’ve saved my final tool until the end because it is a summer project unto itself. If Apple’s Pages is Microsoft Word with a fresh coat of paint, Literature & Latte’s Scrivener ($45 with a 15% edu) is a gut renovation. Based on the premise that long texts (e.g., chapters, dissertations, monographs) are comprised of short texts, Scrivener allows writers to collect research, write in smaller, modular texts, and to compile fragments into cohesive manuscripts that can be outputted in just about any imaginable format (form Word docs to ePubs). Whether you’re working on a novel or a recipe collection, Scrivener offers a template; alternatively, you can start Blank, just as you would a Word doc. The interface has three main components: the document at the center (Editor); metadata to the right (Inspector); and text hierarchy to the left (Binder). In the Binder, you can store drafts or just about any kind of research (PDFs, images, documents). Everything in Scrivener can be manipulated using drag and drop operations and a host of different views and layouts. What I like about Scrivener is that is meets me where I am. Although my diss chapter will become a single, continuous text (fingers crossed), it doesn’t start that way. Instead, Scrivener allows me to work in small chunks of text (paragraphs, sometimes more), and to synthetize them into a Word doc suitable for my readers.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 36 other followers