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Grad Student Mini-Conference On The Digital Humanities

I was invited by Stéfan Sinclair to attend a small conference put on to celebrate the work of graduate students of a LLCU-602 - a graduate course on Digital Humanities. The students were presenting posters for digital projects they worked on. Here are some of the projects they presented:

  • Jennifer Burger and Leona Kober talked about their Witness to History project to create an archive for oral histories from the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre. They use Collective Access to manage their materials which include, for example, a video testimony from Henry Morgenthaler.
  • Lizandro Alfoso presented on Collective Possessions in Independence Discourse. He used text analysis tools to look at three foundational texts having to do with independence in Spanish America. He used Voyant and he found a very high frequency of collective possessive pronouns (like "ours") in Letter to the Spanish Americans - something that he hadn't noticed before. He was "enchanted" by this focus on solidarity and checked the relative frequency against other documents. He then went through categorizing the ways collective possessive pronouns were used and then asked others to do the same.
  • Sandra Lauzon talked about A Mapping Project: German-related locations and events in the Greater Montreal area. She used Google maps (Google spreadsheets and Wix) to map events having to do German. She teaches German and thought such a map would help her students find places to experience German culture in Montreal. With Street View her students can actually explore the sites associated. Her students can also add to the map.
  • Eleanor Coulter talked about ''Voyages D'Italie, Allemagne, Pays-bas & Angleterre: A Digital Translation". She created a digital reconstruction of a French nobleman's account of their Grand Tour of Europe, 1669-1672. She found she had to think about the purpose of the digitization in order to choose the technologies to use. To keep some sense of the original reception she edited the text as a blog as the original was a diary. The blog format came with its own demands. She also make available a full text that could be passed to analytical tools. Like Lizandro she found Voyant more interesting than she expected.
  • Shoshana talked about Rob Ford or "Ian"? A first attempt at authorship attribution. She used authorship attribution techniques to try to tell if a man called "Ian" who called a radio show (AM 640?) on October 31st, 2013, 8:23pm, was in fact Rob Ford. The host of the radio show, Bill Carroll, believes "Ian" was Rob Ford and flagged characteristic repetitions/expressions. Rob Ford, however, denies having called, claiming he was out trick-or-treating. She tested the hypothesis by looking at repeating phrases like "you know." Her slide had a great title, "crack-detective."
  • Mary Oviedo presented on From Mapping to Text Analysis: Letters of Manuela Sáenz. Manuela is known for being the lover of Simon Bolivar. Mary wanted to look at the sentimental and political in Manuela's letters as too often people on the romantic aspects. She tracked over time words like amor, patria, and republica. (Not sure I'm spelling these right.) Amor is found more in earlier letters and patria only in the final letter (after independence). Words in the semantic field of "love" disappear over time.
  • The next student talked about using the Dynamic Table of Contexts to create a digital edition of Spanish document he found on a trash heap. The document has to do with colonialism and government and so he tagged the document let one navigate such contexts. He talked about how the document is part of something larger and he hopes by putting it up that others can identify where it came from. I'm reminded of the Ege manuscripts which were sold as samplers where each set would have one page from a larger manuscript.
  • Jennifer talked about Spectacle, Spectators and Surveillance: Subculture in East Germany before 1989. She created a visualization of the stories people tell about the punk scene in East Germany - a movement that was "loudly against everything". Documents are now dribbling out that include interviews, stories, photos and so on. She created an animation as her intervention.
  • Jonathan Armoza presented on Plotting in Reverse which is looks at topic modeling, literary texts, and Bartleby, the Scrivener. He started by talking about a book called Plotto which presents a way of plotting a story. He used Plotto to describe Bartleby, then marked up the text to then use topic modeling to analyze it again. I'm not sure I followed the process, but it seemed intriguing.

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