Public Talks: Transformative Potential of Digital Humanities for American Studies

The Department of American Studies is hosting a series of public talks as part of the first DH faculty search:

“The Transformative Potential of Digital Humanities for American Studies”
5:00 – 6:30 pm

Monday, February 4
Rob Nelson
Director, Digital Scholarship Lab, University of Richmond
Location: Donovan Lounge, Greenlaw

Robert Nelson is the Director of the Digital Scholarship Lab at the University of Richmond. Rob received his PhD in American Studies from William and Mary in 2006, with a dissertation entitled “Society of Souls: Spirit, Friendship, and the Antebellum Reform Imagination.” As Director of the Digital Scholarship Lab, Rob has spearheaded projects on “Redlining Richmond,” the “History Engine,” and “Mining the Dispatch.” His current research utilizes topic modeling to uncover themes and reveal historical patterns in large document collections (the Richmond Daily Dispatch and the New York Times) from the Civil War era, with particular attention paid to nationalism. Some of his preliminary research has been shared in the recent New York Times “Disunion” blog series. He is currently planning two new research projects: the first will use text-mining techniques to analyze the thirty-five year run of William Lloyd Garrison’s the Liberator to develop an intellectual history of Garrisonian abolitionism. The second is a collaborative project to produce a digital atlas of American history.


Thursday, February 7
Seth Kotch
Digital Humanities Coordinator, Southern Oral History Program, UNC
Location: Donovan Lounge, Greenlaw

Seth Kotch is the Digital Humanities Coordinator at the Southern Oral History Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A 2009 graduate of UNC’s History Department, Seth is currently revising his dissertation, “Unduly Harsh and Unworkably Rigid: The Death Penalty in North Carolina, 1910-1961,” into a monograph, and his 2010 co-authored article on the death penalty in the North Carolina Law Review has proven to very popular and influential in current state debates over the death penalty. As Digital Humanities Coordinator at the SOHP, Seth has spearheaded the digitization of the entire oral history collection while experimenting with ways of using technology to restore the voice to oral history practice. His “Mapping the Long Women’s Movement” project, created in collaboration with the Digital Innovation Lab, models new ways of interacting with oral histories, and will launch in the next few weeks. He is Principal Investigator on the second phase of the Civil Rights History Project, a nationwide oral history interviewing project under the auspices of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and the American Folklife Center in the Library of Congress. He has just received a NEH grant to explore the state of social justice activism in the South in the 1970s through the lens of print, radio, and television journalism in North Carolina. His future plans include creating and refining new tools for oral historians, including developing speech-to-text capabilities.


Monday, February 11
Michael Kramer
Lecturer, History and American Studies, Northwestern University
Co-founder, Northwestern University Digital Humanities Laboratory
Location: Hamilton 569

Michael Kramer is a Lecturer in History and American Studies and Northwestern University and Co-founder of the Northwestern University Digital Humanities Laboratory. Mike received his PhD in History from UNC in 2006. His forthcoming book, The Republic of Rock: Music and Citizenship in the Sixties Counterculture (Oxford University Press, March 2013), examines the history of rock music and citizenship during the late 1960s and early 1970s, with a focus on San Francisco and Vietnam. He is currently developing a prototype for Digitizing Folk Music History using the Berkeley Folk Music Festival Collection at Northwestern. This digital project will bring together multiple repositories to enable more dynamic, collaborative, and interactive explorations of archival materials. He is interested in sonification, using the digital to explore the world through sound, and is the creator of the Issues in Digital History blog.


Thursday, February 14
Lauren Klein
Assistant Professor, School of Literature, Media, and Communication
Founder, Digital Humanities Lab, Georgia Institute of Technology
Location: Donovan Lounge, Greenlaw

Lauren Klein is Assistant Professor in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Founder of the Digital Humanities Lab there. She is a 2011 graduate of City University of New York (CUNY) in English and a Certificate in American Studies. She is currently revising her dissertation, “Matters of Taste: Eating, Aesthetics, and American Identity, 1720-1865,” into a monograph. The Digital Humanities Lab that she founded brings together students and faculty to explore issues of epistemology through the creation of software tools to support new forms of scholarship, and digital archives to facilitate new forms of research. The lab’s anchor project is to create TOME (TOpic Model and MEtadata Visualization), a tool to support the interactive exploration and visualization of text-based digital archives. Her next book project is a cultural history of data visualization from the Enlightenment to the present day. She is also working on a digital humanities project based on the Papers of Thomas Jefferson which involves text mining and visualization approaches to trace Jefferson’s relationship with the Hemmings family.