Digital Day 2016

For the second year, GSAS futures and the Center for Medieval Studies will be presenting a Digital Day, with sessions on Photoshop and WordPress. If you weren’t able to attend the Digital Day last year, come join the mighty throng! If you were, join the throng anyway, for a refresher!

Digital Day 2016

Monday, August 29, 11:30 am – 3:30 pm

Faber Hall, Room 445

Phone: 718 817 4656

Email Registration:

digital day


Mark Your Calendars!

We are excited to announce these upcoming events for the Fall 2015 semester:

“Minimal Computing” for Graduate Students
Tues., Sept 22, 3 pm (LC)
Alex Gil, Columbia University

In this workshop we will immediately link digital humanities to critical theory by looking at the production of our own knowledge within the context of global capitalism and environmental decay. We will accomplish this by reducing the technological stack you can use for your own production to bare minimums that you can both understand and command. We call this type of praxis (theory + making), minimal computing. Specific technologies you will be introduced to: Terminal, Markdown, HTML/CSS, Pandoc, Jekyll & Github. Bring your laptops (Macs & Linux preferred).

Alex Gil holds a PhD from the University of Virginia in Caribbean Literature and Digital Humanities, and  is the Digital Scholarship Coordinator in the Humanities and History Division of Columbia University Libraries.

Digital Pedagogy: What it is, Why it is and How to do it
Thurs., Oct. 15, 1 pm (RH)
Anelise H. Shrout, Davidson College

We’re often told that our students are digital natives – growing up on and with the internet.  At the same time, digital pedagogy seems to flummox many undergraduates, who are familiar with writing papers but not with making websites.  This talk discusses approaches to integrating things digital into undergraduate classes, introduces a few useful tools (Omeka, Neatline, Voyant, WordPress) and workshops some solutions to the challenges of digital undergraduate pedagogy.

Anelise H. Shrout holds a PhD in History from New York University, and is currently a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Studies at Davidson College in North Carolina.

Social Media as a Professional Platform

A roundtable on using social media for professional purposes as an academic, featuring Erin Glass ( Digital Fellow at CUNY Grad Center), who will discuss her emerging project for online graduate student collaboration, “Social Paper.” Other speakers to be determined.

DH on the Job Market

A roundtable to help you demonstrate your DH skills while on the job market, featuring Prof. Jean Elyse Graham  (Asst. Professor of English and Digital Humanities at Stonybrook University), and other panelists to be determined.

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.

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!