Tag Archives: Chronicle of Higher Education

Spanish Flu Project at Virginia Tech via Chronicle of Higher Education


Soldiers with the Spanish flu are hospitalized inside the U. of Kentucky gym in 1918. In one prevention method examined in a new study, New Yorkers were advised to refrain from kissing “except through a handkerchief.” – via the Chronicle of Higher Education

The Chronicle of Higher Education (February 27, 2015) contains an article by Jennifer Howard on the Spanish Flu Project: a big data project funded by the NEH (among other entities) exploring reporting on the 1918 Spanish Flu. As Howard describes the research:

The team began with several questions: How did reporting on the Spanish flu spread in 1918? And how big a role did one influential person play in shaping how the outbreak was handled? . . . Royal S. Copeland was the health commissioner of New York City in August 1918, when a ship arrived in New York Harbor from Europe with flu victims aboard . . . . Copeland helped set the tone for how the nation reacted to a viral threat—and has been the subject of debate among historians ever since, with competing camps arguing about whether he did enough.

Researchers would typically scour public statements by Copeland to answer these questions. But since the outbreak was “well documented in the popular press of the day,” it seemed an ideal topic for “digitally enabled scholarship.”

Using the Library of Congress’s Chronicling America database of historical newspapers, the HathiTrust Digital Library, and other sources, the Virginia Tech researchers sought out direct and indirect evidence of Copeland’s role: mentions and quotations, references to flu-containment strategies he promoted. “You can see his influence even if his name’s not used,” Mr. Ewing says.

The article does a good job highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of this form of digital scholarship. As Howard notes, this complex project requires both “code and context”:

To produce useful results, this kind of investigation depends on customized algorithms. But coming up with a good algorithm involves both code and context, a mingling of the complementary strengths of computer scientists and humanists . . . . The hybrid, trial-and-error nature of the Spanish-flu investigation may say something about the current state of computer-assisted humanities work. Mr. Bobley of the NEH says he has been impressed with the flu researchers’ “candid thoughts on how computational approaches like data mining are no magic bullet,” even as they expand what humanists can do. The work is a reminder, he says, that “historical documents like newspapers are rich, messy, nuanced, and complex documents that defy easy computational analysis.”

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Digital Humanists: If You Want Tenure, Do Double the Work | Vitae

Digital Humanists: If You Want Tenure, Do Double the Work | Vitae.

This article from the new Chronicle of Higher Education job site, Vitae, describes the difficulties digital humanists encounter when tenure committees evaluate their work. As a Ph.D. Candidate in English literature trying to bootstrap my way into the digital humanities (in a program that does not value it), I am not at all surprised that digital projects often do not count toward tenure. My digital projects are, as my dissertation advisor puts it, “a distraction from my real work.” Evidently the situation doesn’t get any better if you find a tenure track job in English. This is changing, slowly–but the main trend is for digital humanists to work off the tenure track in alt-ac positions. While it may be a plus to not have to work for tenure, neither do alt-ac positions provide the benefits of the tenure track.

The good news, according to the article, is that some programs are slowly coming around. The MLA has issued guidelines for evaluating digital scholarship.

The recommendations advise making expectations clear to candidates; asking faculty members familiar with digital work to participate in the review; accepting the work in its original, electronic form and not only, for example, as printed screen shots; and staying informed about technological innovations that help people with disabilities to conduct research, among other principles.

It is a good start.

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Filed under alt-ac, DH jobs, Digital Humanities, English Literature

The Algorithms of Our Lives – The Chronicle Review – The Chronicle of Higher Education

Here is another thoughtful article, this time from The Chronicle of Higher Education, about the need to theorize the role of software in digital media, especially the way users interact with digital materials (the article is linked below). Although not the major point of the article, the author Lev Manovich makes an interesting observation about digital humanities:

Over the past few years, a growing number of scholars in the digital humanities have started to use computational tools to analyze large sets of static digitized cultural artifacts, such as 19th-century novels or the letters of Enlightenment thinkers. They follow traditional humanities approaches—looking at the cultural objects (rather than peoples’ interaction with these objects). What has changed is the scale, not the method.

Instead, Manovich argues that “peoples’ interaction with these objects” — not documents, but performances–is the data of the future, and software not only makes new sorts of interactions possible, it is also the means for tracking and analyzing those interactions.

via The Algorithms of Our Lives – The Chronicle Review – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

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Filed under Big Data, Digital Humanities, internet

CFP: Data Driven: Digital Humanities in the Library | HASTAC

Call For Conference Proposals

Data Driven: Digital Humanities in the Library

June 20-22 2014, Charleston, SC

Guidelines for Submission
Lightning Round/Paper/Panel deadline: 01 December 2013
Workshop proposal deadline: 01 February 2014

General Information

“Data Driven: Digital Humanities in the Library,” sponsored by the South Carolina Digital Library, the College of Charleston and the Charleston Conference, invites submissions for its 2014 conference, on all aspects of digital humanities in the library. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Digital scholarship
  • Humanities & library collaborations on DH projects
  • GIS and/or data visualization projects
  • Text mining & data analysis
  • Digital humanities librarianship
  • Digital project management
  • Knowledge lifecycle, including production & collaboration
  • Creating or using tools & services for the production, editing and/or analysis of DH data
  • Metadata and linked data in DH

We particularly welcome collaborative panel and paper submissions from librarian and humanities scholar-based teams and/or graduate students. We strongly encourage any proposals relating to the theme of the conference.

CFP: Data Driven: Digital Humanities in the Library | HASTAC.


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Filed under Digital Collections, Digital Humanities, Library science, workshop/conference

Biologists and Humanities Scholars Break the Code on Digital Partnerships – Research – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

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April 25, 2013 · 6:47 pm

A call to action! Open Access

The Chronicle of Higher Education argues that civil disobedience is called for to change the paradigm of academic publishing.

Aaron Swartz Was Right – The Chronicle Review – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

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Filed under Digital Humanities

The Challenges of Digital Scholarship – ProfHacker – The Chronicle of Higher Education

The Challenges of Digital Scholarship – ProfHacker – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The MLA (Modern Language Association) grapples with the question of assessing digital scholarship. There is a list of interesting links at the bottom of this article.

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Filed under Digital Collections, Digital Humanities