Four Faculty Members Receive Course Development Support Through CDHI

The Carolina Digital Humanities Initiative is pleased to announce the recipients of the first round of course development grants: Anna Agbe-Davies, Malinda Maynor Lowery, Seth Kotch, and Colin West. The course grants are meant to encourage the incorporation of digital methods and materials into humanities courses at UNC and to support the new graduate certificate program in the digital humanities.

Seth Kotch and Malinda Maynor Lowery will use their course development grant to redesign “Introduction to Oral History,” a graduate-level course offered by the Department of History and the Folklore Program in the Department of American Studies. As stated in their proposal, Kotch and Lowery plan to “integrate the methods, ethics, and knowledge of oral history with those of the digital humanities.” The redesign will focus on providing students with a better understanding of digitally-driven oral history projects and their place in communities both on- and off- campus. The course will also benefit from a connection to the Southern Oral History Program, where Kotch worked as Coordinator of Oral History Digital Initiatives from 2008 to 2014, and where Lowery currently serves as director.

Anna Agbe-Davies will use her grant to bring collective transcription to “Archaeology of African Diasporas,” a course she teaches in the Department of Anthropology. As part of this module, students in the course will help transcribe and analyze daybooks and ledgers from Stagville, a historic site in Durham that was one of the largest plantations of the pre-Civil War South with approximately 900 slaves and 30,000 acres of land by 1860. The daybooks and ledgers are part of the Cameron Family Papers, an archival collection held by the Southern Historical Collection at UNC. As Agbe Davies explains in her proposal, these documents “offer an important complement to the archaeological record” by providing insight into “how African American consumers at Stagville—pre-Emancipation and during the years of Jim Crow—fashioned lives with the things that they bought.” This summer, Agbe-Davies will use the grant to develop a process for digitizing and transcribing the transcripts, which will then be implemented in the course itself. As she explains, this is an effort to teach students “about creating digital humanities content in a way that compliments the opportunities [she] has always offered to use such content in course assignments.”

Also in the Department of Anthropology, Colin West will use grant funds to enhance “Anthropological Applications of GIS.” The course already includes exercises in GIS mapping of African cultures, languages, and histories, allowing students to create their own digital maps, to gain skills in GIS, and to use real-world data. This summer, West will use the grant to expand this effort, collecting, digitizing and developing the materials and instructions necessary to make GIS a more robust part of the course. As West explains, this work provides students with an opportunity to “develop analytical techniques that allow them to manipulate spatial and tabular data to answer geographical questions.” West will also explore ways to bring these assignments online, so that they may be shared with a wider community.

American Studies

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