Race, Data-Mining, Control

Thursday, October 12, 12:30-1:45 pm
Williams 415

“Data-Mining the Body”: Racialized Bodies, Data-Mining, and Technics of Control

Digital Scholars is pleased to welcome Anaïs Nony, post-doctoral fellow in French and Francophone Studies at Florida State University, for our second discussion of what can occur at the methodological intersections of DH, race, and alterity. Nony will introduce the “nootechnics of the digital” — the psycho-cultural practices of care and empowerment (2017, p. 130) — asking us to consider the ways in which we thoughtfully and thoughtlessly use medical devices as modes of control that extract data from bodies to assess medical conditions and influence transnational flows of migration. Drawing primarily from a chapter in her book and secondarily from ongoing work in nootechnics, Nony will examine various technologies of control in the context of nationalist discourses on security. Participants are invited to read the following in advance of our meeting:

All are welcome. We hope you can join us,



In/Visibility and Exclusion in Creating DH Taxonomies

Friday, September 22, 1:30-2:45 pm
Strozier Library TADS Commons  (ground level, past the quiet study area)

Aspects of Visibility: Reckoning with the Taxonomizing Impulse of the Digital Humanities

Digital Scholars is pleased to welcome Sarah Stanley, DH Specialist and Librarian at Florida State University, to help usher in this semester’s discussions of what can occur at the methodological intersections of DH, race, and alterity. Stanley asks us to consider and interrogate various attitudes toward building taxonomies that undergird a majority of DH projects, whether those taxonomies seek to render multiple phenomena in “same-as” relationships rather than critically distant ones (Drucker, 2011), or whether they seek to articulate phenomena as a hierarchical ordering of relationships that function on a measurable scale (Tsing, 2012).

For those who work in and around network, digital, or visual studies, such a call to rethink taxonomies seems not unfamiliar. In her prologue to Graphesis (2014), for example, Johanna Drucker differentiates between a diagrammatic image that “produces the knowledge it draws” and a digitally rendered image of Web traffic that “only displays information” (1, italics original), arguing that our rendered images—like our networks and queries—are situated and thus in need of nuanced distinctions between those visualized representations that construct information vs. those visualizations that merely re-present. For those who work with data—especially with the mining, construction, or interpretation of indigenous or culturally sensitive data sets—such a call to rethink taxonomies is especially salient to avoid recreating ontological dilemmas that flatten or erase difference.

Yet, what practices (or impulses) might we put in their place? Moreover, with what aspects of visibility should we be willing to contend? Finally, at what cost to particular notions of the “digital” or the “humanities” should these contentions occur? To help us work through these questions, participants are invited to read the following in advance of our meeting:

For additional context or related conversations, participants are also invited to browse, skim, or reread any of the following:

All are welcome! We hope you can join us,


Issues and Debates at the Intersection(s) of DH, Race, and Alterity

Friday, September 8, 12:00-1:15 pm [cancelled due to FSU closures]
WMS 317 (Williams Building, 3rd floor, L off elevators)

Alex Gil‘s virtual visit to our reading group and collaboratory last April was memorable, not only for his dogged persistence in modeling ways of de-colonizing the digital humanities, but also for his honest admission of the challenges we face when starting and sustaining epistemic collaborations among cultural groups. Our meetings during the Fall 2017 semester will continue, if not heighten, discussions on these challenges and collaborations.

This semester, most of our discussions will occur at various intersection(s) of DH, race, and alterity — some of them approaching the intersection via aesthetics and critique, others looking humanistically at mechanisms or methodologies, and still others interrogating morality and access.

While the September 8 meeting is primarily for graduate students enrolled in or regularly attending the group, all Digital Scholars participants are welcome to read and join us for conversation on the following:

Looking forward to it,


DH, Race, and Alterity

Friday, April 21, 1:30-2:45 pm
Williams 013 (“Common Room,” basement level)

Building A “Republic of Letters” Beyond Anglocentrism: A Conversation with Alex Gil

Digital Scholars is pleased to welcome Alex Gil for its final meeting of the semester. Gil joins us via videoconference from Columbia University, where he is Digital Scholarship Coordinator for the Butler Humanities and History Division of the University Libraries (with affiliate status in the Department of English and Comparative Literature, and in the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures). Informed by his specializations in twentieth-century Caribbean literature and textual studies, Gil’s own postcolonialist fantasies have spawned large-scale projects that attempt to re/discover the multilingual and multinational scope of DH work, including the Global Outlook:Digital Humanities (GO:DH) initiative, and “Around DH in 80 Days,” launched in 2014 to “address[] the challenge of multi-directional and reciprocal visibility in an asymmetric field.”

“Around DH …” began as a Scalar-based, crowd-sourced mapping project, and ultimately featured hundreds of submissions from scholars around the globe. These and other of Gil’s projects simultaneously stem from and support three goals: (1) building digital platforms that support “minimal” editions of literary texts; (2) fostering open-source platforms to support postcolonial translation and pedagogy; and (3) making pathways for digital humanists to contend with a diverse intellectual kósmos.

Participants are invited to read the following in advance of our meeting:

and to browse the following projects:

For additional context or related conversations, participants are also invited to read:

All are welcome! We hope you can join us,


GIS and Archaeology

Thursday, March 30, 2:30-3:45 pm
Strozier 107K [map]

Spatial Patterns, Spatial Evidence: GIS and Archaeology

With the promotion of what spatial humanists call “deep maps,” historians are provided tools for charting what is amendable and excluded from any geographic purview, allowing them to look beyond what is memorable and concrete (Bodenhamer et al. 2015; Bodenhamer et al. 2013; Guldi 2014). Advanced spatial technologies afforded by multilayered geographic information systems (GIS) are growing in popularity, not only enabling the animated reproduction of ancient sites but also allowing complex maps to show cultural reflexivity through the representation of “personalities, emotions, values, and poetics, the visible and invisible aspects of a place” (Bodenhamer et al. 2013, 172). Ideally, what results are historical narratives that are more fluid than finite,  reflecting complex events or actions at any scale.

Yet the convergence of GIS with specific kinds of historical activities creates a representational challenge of humanistic proportions. Beyond the questions of cultural precision and representational accuracy, how can using certain GIS technologies do more than validate a single research agenda? How does geovisualization enable or constrain our ability to interrogate its appropriateness for intellectual work? What assumptions does GIS-enabled archaeology make about the viability of locational data, and about how historians should access or interpret it? Digital Scholars is pleased to welcome Dr. Sarah Craft, postdoctoral fellow in Classics at FSU, to facilitate discussion on these questions and to present on her work. Since 2013, Dr. Craft has been actively proposing and developing landscape archaeology projects in different regions of the world, with a special eye toward methodological critique.

Participants are invited to read the following in advance of our meeting:

and to browse the following projects:

All are welcome! We hope you can join us,


3D Fabrication and Virtual Reality

Thursday, February 16, 2:30-3:45 pm
Diffenbaugh 432 [map]

3D Technologies Transcending Space and Time: A Reciprocal Influence?

Since David Brewster’s 19th century stereoscope, the drive toward perfecting three-dimensional capture has paralleled the drive to recreate in minute detail the intricacies of environments not previously accessed. We can mark the impact of 3D technologies on humanistic environments in myriad ways, by observing the merging of virtual and material in the service of art and architecture, and by attending to the shifts in how we — as historians and scientists — understand or gauge human-object interactions. On the one hand, digital technologies can empower users to represent any known or imagined physical object or environment virtually and on any scale, from DNA strands to distant galaxies. The human visitor to the virtual environment can engage and interact with virtual objects to learn and innovate, and as access to 3D technologies rapidly increases, so will their impact on the humanities in the academy.

But can 3D reveal the ways in which the humanities have had “[similar] impact on the digital environment” (Drucker, “Humanistic Theory and Digital Scholarship” 85)?  Digital Scholars is pleased to welcome Ken Baldauf, Director of FSU’s Program in Interdisciplinary Computing (PIC), to lead us in a demonstration of 3D modeling software and a consideration of this question. Through a variety of digital fabrication technologies including Printing (“additive”) and Laser Cutting (“subtractive”), digitized objects can be manufactured and brought from the virtual into physical existence. Conversely, digitally scanned artifacts can be redistributed through a virtual network, and tweaked and reproduced until perfected. How do these virtual possibilities and creative behaviors reflect a particular kind of mimesis, and how much do our expectations of the nature and exactitude of their copies originate in extant beliefs about art, material, and/or human?

Participants are invited to read, view, and browse the following in advance of our meeting:

Humanities and the Digital Environment

Virtual Reality

3D Printing and Scanning

Maker Spaces

All are welcome! We hope you can join us,


Archive as Methodology, Pedagogy, Practice

Wednesday, January 25, 12:30-1:45 pm
Strozier Library 107K [map]

The FSU Card Archive as Methodology, Pedagogy, and Practice

Digital Scholars is pleased to welcome Dr. Michael Neal, who will discuss the conception, evolution, and continued re-evolution of the FSU Card Archive, a dynamic site that collects and exhibits postcards and stereocards from the late 19th to the early 21st centuries, and in some cases a study in the challenges of achieving common cultural snapshots.

The FSU Card Archive is unique in its emergence as a pedagogical tool; at the same time, that pedagogical emphasis brings into deep relief two concerns that often accompany discussions of digital archival projects. First, the collaborative curatorial nature of the Card Archive — its commitment to decentralized control and fluidity — necessarily moves discussions of the archivist’s (in)visibility into an uncharted space. What difference would it make for the collections, curated exhibits, and actual or potential users if the Card Archive were more closely vetted and controlled? Second, the archivist’s subjective participation becomes a productive yet inextricable contention for evaluators of the site, raising questions about the affordances and limitations of Archive 2.0 work on public memory projects. Without assurance that curators are expert or that the archive reflects all facets of Florida history, and knowing the challenges of  imagistic representation, how does such an archive ensure dynamic historical representation when the teachability of its platform requires certain selections and omissions to be made? How does one ensure that the archive becomes a usable past — or, for some underrepresented or disenfranchised subjects, more than merely a usable past? Dr. Neal invites these and other questions at the intersection of archive, material, and human, and welcomes all participants to join a hands-on demonstration of the site and of its workings.

Participants are invited to browse the Card Archive and discuss the following from any disciplinary or technical perspective:

Strozier 107K will afford us ample table space. Laptops and tablets are welcomed and encouraged. We hope you can join us.


Issues and Debates at the Intersection(s) of Art, Archive, Human, Material, and Network

Friday, January 13, 2:30-3:45 pm
WMS 415 (Williams Building, 4th floor, L off elevators)

The organizational meeting for Spring 2017 Digital Scholars will be dedicated to an introductory discussion (and potential complication) of issues and debates at various intersections of five central topics: art, archive, human, material, and network. While this meeting is primarily for graduate students enrolled in or regularly attending the group, all participants are welcome to read with us and join us for conversation:

Generally speaking, our readings for each session will reach across disciplinary boundaries; thus, if any of these pieces is difficult on first read, you might keep track of the following to help you get through it:

  1. The writers’ overarching project or stance, i.e., to what are they responding, or, what are they arguing for, writing about, promoting, or helping to re/define?
  2. How the project outlined in each text either raises or settles questions you might have about digital humanities, digital scholarship, or digital work in/across the disciplines
  3. Anything else that resonates.

See you in January!


Crowdsourcing, Small-, and Large-Scale Collaboration

Friday, April 15, 12:00-1:15 pm
Strozier Library (Scholars Commons Instructional Classroom) [Map]

“Capacity and Care”: DH Crowdsourcing, Small-, and Large-Scale Collaboration

The simultaneous bane and boon of most digital projects can be summed up in what Dr. Bethany Nowviskie, Director of the Digital Library Foundation, called “capacity and care” in her September 2015 keynote lecture at the NEH Office of the Digital Humanities. In this address, capacity refers to a project’s desired and expected growth potential, while care reflects the neglected but necessary process of ensuring that projects grow humanely (i.e., without promoting the spread of value-laden metaphors). By pairing these concepts, Nowviskie effectively argues that “making a case” for DH projects requires more than just making sense of the interpretive, cultural information-processing, and sharing capacity of small and large corpora; it requires giving attention to the kinds of (sustainable) working relationships that DH projects increasingly need.

For the final Digital Scholars meeting of 2015-2016, Dr. Silvia Valisa and Dr. Will Hanley will demonstrate some results of their large-scale digital projects and share their thoughts and experiences on conducting (and sustaining) collaborative projects in many sites — with digital librarians at home and abroad, across disciplines, and in the graduate and undergraduate classrooms.

Valisa’s development of the Il secolo project has sparked a series of collaborations related to platform development and metadata harvesting with faculty, staff, and graduate students in the FSU Libraries and the School of Information. As a bibliographic project alone, Il secolo is already a coup: it is a rare primary research tool for scholars of 19th-century Italian and European history that, until this digital collaboration, was accessible via micro-film or CD only in situ, in Italian National libraries. (FSU is the only  institution in the world outside of Italy to own and digitize this historical resource.) However, as a DH project, Il secolo is just as significant: building and maintaining the database has provided the libraries an opportunity to test and implement new semantic searching tools for their Islandora platform.

Hanley’s development of Prosop — a linked, flexible pool of historical names and demographic information — has led to a series of workshops, formal and informal collaborations and, most significantly, the development of DH curricula at FSU. In Fall 2016, Hanley will lead an undergraduate class in digitizing, encoding, and publishing the full text of a daily newspaper from Alexandria, the Egyptian Gazette, for the year 1905. Inspired by another Middle Eastern newspaper project, Till Grallert’s work on the Arabic-language Cairo/Damascus newspaper al-Muqtabas, Hanley’s class is an experiment in microhistory, pedagogy, collaboration, and academic labor, as well as an attempt at modeling a small-scale application of TEI.

Participants are invited to read the following in advance of our meeting:

and to browse the following resources for background:

All are welcome, and participants are encouraged to bring tablets or laptops.

We hope you can join us,


Evolution of the English Short Title Catalogue

Monday, March 21, 12:00-1:15 pm
Williams 454 (4th floor, turn R off the elevators)

“More than a science”: Evolution of the English Short Title Catalogue

With almost 500,000 items, the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC) straddles the line between bibliography and database. Under (the late) former director Henry L. Snyder, its function expanded from recording 18th century English imprints to organizing records for letterpress items in any language from the middle 15th century through 1800, published mostly in the British Isles and North America. Records such as Samuel Edwards’ “Abstract of English Grammar, Including Rhetoric,” John Kersey’s treatise on elementary algebra, and Hannah Glasse’s “The Art of Cookery” indicate the vast range of topics currently reflected within the metadata of the ESTC; yet topical range is not the ESTC’s most notable trait. Unbound by a single criterion such as genre, chronology, or geography, the ESTC embodies several characteristics of a 21st century research tool, including crowd-sourced contributions and linked open data.

Digital Scholars is pleased to welcome Dr. David Gants to provide an insider’s look at the ESTC’s evolution, from its original three volumes compiled without the aid of a computer to its present imaginative logics based on “silent testimonies of fact” (Alston, “Computers and Bibliography,” 1981). The recipient of a 2011 Planning Grant from the Mellon Foundation, the ESTC makes an optimal case study for bibliographic and non-bibliographic tools that have outgrown their first trajectories. Dr. Gants will focus on six years of the project’s history (2011–2016), inviting us to reflect on its sustainable traits and to consider the problems and questions that arose as the ESTC attempted to move from its 30-year-old legacy platform to a more modern platform: What are the administrative steps involved in moving from bibliographic inquiry to digital preparation? How do we define a digital “record”? Who are (or who become) the new users of such a tool? What becomes its public impact on non-specialist communities and audiences? How can such a tool fulfill research agendas that are simultaneously nationalist and transnational in scope?

Participants are invited to read some of the following in advance of our meeting:

and to browse the following resources for background:

This session will be interactive; participants are encouraged to bring tablets or laptops. Dr. Gants has offered to share some of the ESTC Board’s internal documents in advance of the meeting. Please contact Tarez Graban with an RSVP so that she can provide you with a link for accessing them.

We hope you can join us,