Omeka and Digital Collections

Back in February, the HASTAC group Digital Collections hosted a webinar on the use of Omeka in the classroom. As Fordham has recently acquired a license for Omeka, this webinar was incredibly useful in navigating the basics of both and

One of my current projects attempts to use Omeka to curate a large manuscript tradition with copies spread around the world. The webinar made Omeka much more navigable, and I encourage anyone interested in using Fordham’s license to take a look at the video.

The link to the webinar video is here:

-David Levine

Topics in Digital Mapping: Georectifying Maps and Using Map Warper, Meeting Report

In the third installment of our Topics in Digital Mapping Workshop Series, “Georectifying Maps and Using Map Warper,” David Wrisley demonstrated georectifying to participants, showing us how to code maps and other images onto digital coordinates. David offered many possibilities for why one might want to georectify a map, including:

  • Organization of a catalog by spatial metadata

  • Mining information from analog data

  • Definition of borders that aren’t political or topographical

  • Rethinking the relativity of spatial representations and coordinate systems from an intentionally warped image

  • Map deformance, a way of thinking through the relative spatiality of documents that resemble maps

  • Or just for a nifty background to one’s own map

David also introduced us to some of the tools for georectifying, including the data format Keyhole Markup Language (KML or KMZ) and OpenStreetMap, an open access, collaborative project by rebellious mappers who chart neighborhoods for the public. Workshop participants then practiced georectification with NYPL’s Map Warper, using an 1873 map of Painted Post, NY, found at

For a list of links from this workshop, please visit

Blog post by Heather Hill, MVST student at Fordham University

Topics in Digital Mapping: Timelines and Palladio Meeting Report

Digital map makers are often interested in animating the spatial visualization over time or linking their maps to a timeline.  This session provided participants with examples of animations and timelines using Neatline and GeoTemCo.  The workshop also covered data formats and how time and mapping can be combined in Palladio, a free, web-based visualization platform designed for the humanities. All of the information provided to participants is available in a google doc.

We opened with examples of animated map visualizations. Two of particular interest are the Islamic Urban Centers project and the Atlas of Early Printing. While creating an animated visualization was not covered, these projects give a good idea for what the integration of time into our datasets can be used to do.

Abigail Sargent, MVST student, gave a brief presentation on the French of Italy NeatLine exhibit, a project that uses Omeka’s NeatLine plug-in to visualize the locations and dates of medieval French texts of Italian origin.

We then moved into talking about Palladio, and what each of the three main presenters are using it for. David Wrisley introduced participants to the idea of point-to-point data, of seeing the relationships of pieces to things in medieval texts. David Levine demonstrated some of the limitations of Palladio by pulling up a very large data set about medieval woodland and demonstrating how Palladio’s visualizations and network mapping can be useful. Alisa Beer drew on her research into medieval English libraries and demonstrated how Palladio can map points geographically as well as how the timeline function can be used.

We then broke into small groups and trouble-shot an intentionally broken data set, and then had participants create a .csv file based on Amtrak time tables from 1971, including the trip from New York to Boston.

Once participants had created a .csv file, we uploaded to Palladio and discussed the point-to-point map we had created!

Palladio Amtrak Image

Interested in learning more about Palladio?
Check out Miriam Posner’s tutorial to Palladio. Then open this google doc for participants, where you will find an intentionally broken data set to fix and upload into Palladio!

Topics in Digital Mapping: CartoDB

Topics in Digital Mapping:
Bringing it all together: CartoDB

We look forward to seeing you tomorrow for the final Topics in Digital Mapping event of our four-part series.  No need to have attended the earlier sessions: we will provide a recap and meet and greet from 2-3pm.

Wednesday, April 15
Fordham Lincoln Center LL 619

Session Recap and Meet and Greet: 2:00-3:00
Workshop: 3:00-5:00
Contact for information.
Refreshments will be provided.
All interested parties are welcome!  Come for the Recap and the Workshop, or for only one.

Spring Break: Digi-Dissertation Edition

Blog post by Christy Potroff

For me, there’s nothing more appealing than an open week in my calendar. That blank iCal space means no lesson planning or grading for my Texts & Contexts course. I don’t have to ride the D-train to the Bronx for a meeting or lecture. It’s a week of sartorial freedom: basketball shorts over khakis, t-shirts over blazers. Most importantly, a break from my weekly routine means I can settle into my home workstation and immerse myself in late eighteenth century seduction fiction—as it relates to my dissertation, of course. As an advanced doctoral student, my expectations for this past spring break were writing-intensive. I had no travel plans and only a handful of social events for the week. I carved out this precious time to write and revise sections of my dissertation.

An open week—like a blank page—can be intimidating. The possibilities seem endless and dizzying. A few weeks ago, I found myself wondering: could I write fifteen pages on epistolary novels for my dissertation group? Would I be able to read Margaretta and The Hapless Orphan during the break? Is an annotated bibliography the best use of my time? Should I start writing that book review? Wait! How is this a “break,” exactly? Will I ever finish House of Cards?

A few days before the break, Fordham medievalist extraordinaire, Boyda Johnstone, had a stroke of brilliance. Boyda organized a week-long online dissertation writing group for graduate students at Fordham and beyond. The purpose of the online dissertation group was simple: we wouldn’t critique one another’s writing; rather, we would focus on accountability in the writing process. Each group member was asked to set daily and cumulative goals for the week, then members would report on their daily and weekly progress. These goals were public, specific, and realistic (i.e. read and summarize 3 articles on notecards; write for 1.5 hours in the morning; notes toward response paper for Hapless Orphan). Throughout the week, we gave each other advice on the writing process, suggestions for professional development, and general motivation for the hard task of writing. In effect, each individual group member spent the week consciously and publicly organizing her time; as a community, we held one another accountable and supported one another.

The tool that facilitated our online writing group was a simple one. Boyda created a shared Google Doc with a template for each group member’s goals. Here’s our group’s template:


Within this template, our goals were specific, but informal. We used the comment function to engage with eachother’s goals. The encouragement was consistent and inspiring. This kind of structured online engagement made me not only more purposeful in my use of time, but I also felt accountable in reporting back my accomplishments.

At the end of each day, I would set the next day’s goals. When I woke up in the morning, I put on my basketball shorts, fed my cat, drank my coffee, and had a clear plan of action for the rest of the day. I was purposeful and supported.

Even though I spent most of the week in academic solitude, I never felt alone. The group happened to be populated by eight graduate student women. Seeing other avatars in our shared Google Doc made me feel like part of a productive and collaborative community of academic women. We were from Fordham University, NYU, University of Alberta, and York University. Despite our geographical and institutional distance, I received daily encouragement from this community and I felt accountable to them. What is more, I encountered writing and research practices and professional development activities beyond the norms at Fordham thanks to the group’s institutional range. Even though our group never met face-to-face (and I don’t know what some of them look like at all), my online engagement with this community heightened my productivity throughout what would have otherwise been a very solitary week. While I certainly wouldn’t advocate for an all-digital academic community, this was a positive and productive experience enabled by a simple digital tool.

Time is the most precious commodity in graduate school. Time management is a difficult skill to learn—but it’s not something you need to learn alone. The next time you feel disoriented by an open calendar, take to the internet! Create an online group of like-minded friends. Make specific public goals for how you’ll use your time and hold one another accountable.