Recent Digital Projects at Dickinson

A 2013-2017 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon foundation for faculty-driven digital projects is part of the longer-term flowering of digital projects at Dickinson, all of which involve students as scholars collaborating with faculty in some way. The History department has been particularly active in this realm since the 1980s (Dickinson Chronicles, House Divided, Dickinson History Project), and there are substantial projects in the Classical Studies department (Dickinson College Commentaries), the language departments (The Mixxer), and in the Sociology department and the College Archives (Carlisle Indian Industrial School Project). Here are some new and ongoing digital projects at Dickinson that the Digital Humanities Advisory Committee has been pleased to be able to support in recent months, thanks to the Mellon grant:

  • Mark Aldrich (Spanish and Portuguese): creating a digital edition of the 1984 work Andanzas de un mensajero fiero y pendenciero by poet and artist Rafael Pérez Estrada.
  • Patrick Belk (Mellon DH Postdoc): The Pulp Magazines Project, a full-text, searchable archive and database of British and American Fiction Magazines from the early twentieth century.
  • Chris Francese (Classical Studies): a digital version of T.D. Goodell’s School Grammar of Attic Greek; database of Vergilian vocabulary; multimedia edition of Vergil’s Aeneid.
  • Jim Gerencser (Archives), Susan Rose (Sociology), Malinda Triller Doran (Library): Carlisle Indian School Digital Resource Center: digitizing materials held at the U.S. National Archives; programming in Drupal to implement the various types of user interactivity.
  • Jacob Sider Jost (English): Eighteenth-Century Poets Connect, a Drupal database of patronage, authorship, and publication data from early 18th-century English literature (1710-1730)
  • Nicoletta Marini-Maio (Italian): gender/sexuality/italy (g/s/i), an online annual, peer-reviewed academic journal.
  • Crystal Moten (History): Visualizing Black Milwaukee, a platform to visualize (GIS mapping) the spatial dimensions of African American life in Milwaukee during the 1950s and 1960s.
  • Matt Pinsker (History): House Divided: E-Book publication series; Videotaped panels / special exhibit for the “Understanding Lincoln” online course; video tour, virtual trip to President Lincoln’s Cottage at the Soldiers’ Home in Washington DC; multimedia edition of Lincoln’s writings.
  • Blake Wilson (Music): database of poetry incipits, poet, poetic forms, language, composer, music sources, literary sources, and bibliography and notes related to singing and song culture in Renaissance Florence.

An earlier post lists activities related to the grant over its first year. Thanks to all the faculty who are doing this exciting work, and to the Mellon Foundation for fostering it!

Mellon DH Fund supports ongoing Digitization Efforts of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School Project

Directed by Jim Gerencser, Dickinson College Archivist, Susan Rose, Professor of Sociology, and Malinda Triller Doran, Special Collections Librarian, the Carlisle Indian Industrial School Project is developing a comprehensive digital resource to catalog and preserve records of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School (1879-1918). It brings together widely dispersed archival materials to aid research and study, and serves as a virtual home for an active CIIS community of memory and inquiry. Launched in 2013, this exciting, new project at Dickinson College is already making a positive impact upon the communities of scholars and family historians who do research on the Carlisle Indian Industrial School and its many thousands of students.


With support from the Mellon Digital Humanities Fund last January, the project was able to hire two new undergraduate researchers, Katie Walters and Tessa Cicak, who spent two weeks at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. scanning materials from the student files series of CIIS records. Along with Caitlin Moriarty (Friends of the Library), they scanned 1560 student files during that time, comprising roughly 16,200 pages of text. Gerencser also spent several days at the National Archives, surveying the contents of other document series and scanning 5 boxes of student id cards. Back in Carlisle, undergraduate interns Michele Metcalf, Stephanie Read, and Frank Vitale continued to add processed, finalized student files to the online database, while correcting and updating student files that had been uploaded in summer 2013. Through the technology consultancy services of Don Sailer, also funded by the Mellon grant, new search features, an updated home page, and enhanced content entry standards were also added to the project’s website, along with a blog to provide regular updates on the project’s progress.


As of that time, Gerencser and his team had scanned 3556 student files, of which 667 files were online, edited, and fully updated; 628 were online, with editing/ updating of descriptive content needed; and 288 were processed and ready to be put online. Of the 15 boxes of student card files in D.C., 5 had been fully scanned and processed, comprising roughly 1950 cards. Large sections of CIIS registers and record books were also transcribed, edited, and ready to be put online.


The Carlisle Indian Industrial School Project was featured that month in an article for Indian Country Today, “Carlisle Indian Industrial School Files Go Digital,” and most recently was the subject of an ABC27 news story, “Digital records unearth Indian school history.”

For more information on the Carlisle Indian Industrial School Project, you can contact Jim Gerencser by email here.

Mellon DH Fund supports Innovation in Foreign Language Learning @ The Mixxer


The Mixxer, a Web application developed at Dickinson College by language technologist Todd Bryant, is a free educational resource allowing language learners around the world to schedule Skype sessions to fit their schedules, and helping Dickinson’s language departments harness technology to provide students regular conversations with native speakers. Having grown over the years to include 100,000+ international participants, The Mixxer enables Dickinson’s faculty to provide students the kind of experience that was once impossible in the classroom.

Last year, The Mixxer offered a MOOC to English speakers learning Spanish and paired the participants with a partner course of Spanish speakers learning English. Using open educational resources from COERLL, Colby College, Voice for America and the BBC among others, the language learners were introduced to new vocabulary and grammar points through texts and audio and then given activities to complete with their language partner from the other course. If you have ever taught or taken a language course, you can think of the language exchange as a replacement for the partner activities done most every day in class.

Explanation of The Mixxer (1:57 minutes)

With support from the Mellon Digital Humanities Fund, The Mixxer was able to build on its successes this summer, hiring three Dickinson education and language students to create free, online courses in German, French, and Chinese. The lessons are structured in much the same way as a traditional language class, with learners first being introduced to new content, given examples, asked to practice, and then finishing with some form of written assessment.

The German and French lessons, created by Ezra Sassaman and Caitlin DeFazio, respectively, assume some knowledge of the language – roughly one semester. The lessons in Chinese, created by Betsy Vuchinich, have been designed for beginning learners of the language, and use content primarily from the Confucius Institute and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. All three courses are complete, free to use, and currently available on The Mixxer site.

Additionally, Bryant and his team were able to hire a computer science major, Santiago Princ, to help with technical additions to The Mixxer. By using jQuery, Princ helped Bryant write a module that allows native speakers to quickly view, edit, and resubmit corrections to their partner’s written work. The language learner can then reply to the native speaker with further questions.

The module that Princ helped create extends the open-source Drupal platform, and has been published on along with an acknowledgement to Princ. It is viewable here.

Benefits to Students

Sassaman, DeFazio, and Vuchinich received training from Dickinson College associate professors Sarah Bair (Education) and Sarah McGaughey (German) on the basics of language pedagogy and the structure of language lessons. They then learned how to apply these principles to an online learning environment. They were also required to participate in the language exchanges themselves to gain an understanding of the lessons work in practice from a language learner’s perspective. The lessons are published under their name to which they will be able to refer if they decide to pursue a career or further education in language pedagogy.

By working with Bryant to create the module, Princ gained a solid and fundamental understanding of jQuery, a very common web developing language. More importantly, he now has experience working with open-source software along with the process of using community resources to diagnose and solve errors.

Bryant and Vuchinich also had the opportunity to showcase these resources at the CALICO / IALLT conference in Athens, Ohio (May 6 – 10), where they received praise from educators. Of particular interest was the news that they would use these lessons as part of three MOOCs to be offered on The Mixxer site (starting July 1, 2014). As before, learners from each course are able to connect with partners via Skype to complete the language exchange activities provided within each lesson.

For more information on The Mixxer, or foreign language learning with technology in general, you can contact Bryant by email here.

A New Allen & Greenough

With support from the Mellon Digital Humanities Fund and the Roberts Fund for Classical Studies at Dickinson, the Dickinson College Commentaries team has completed a new digital version of that perennially useful tool for Latinists, Allen and Greenough’s New Latin Grammar for Schools and Colleges, edited by J.B. Greenough, G.L. Kitteredge, A.A. Howard, and Benjamin L. D’Ooge. Boston: Ginn & Company, 1903.


The project involved re-scanning the book to have good quality page images, then editing a set of existing XML files kindly provided by the Perseus Project. We added to that the newly digitized index, which was not in the Perseus XML. The purpose there was to make the book browsable via the index, which is important for user utility, and absent in all other online versions. On March 23, 2014, Kaylin Bednarz (Dickinson ’15) finished revision of XML files for Allen & Grenough, and the creation of html files based on the new XML. She was assisted and trained in the use of Oxygen software (which converts the XML into web-ready html) by Matthew Kochis, Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities, who also helped with day to day project management.

In late March, Dickinson web developer Ryan Burke uploaded the html and XML files to Dickinson servers, and created the web interface for A&G in html. This revealed issues of formatting: indentations were often not preserved, resulting in lack of clarity. Some character formatting was not right, and footnotes from the original print resource were not clearly displayed. Forward and back buttons had to be put in for each of the 638 sections.

On May 20, 2014, Meagan Ayer (PhD in classics and ancient history, University of Buffalo, 2013) began work hand-editing Allen & Greenough html files, removing errors and fixing formatting, adding navigational infrastructure using Adobe Dreamweaver. A few missing XML files had to be added and converted to html, and those finishing touches were put on last week.

The differences between the DCC version of A&G and others available on the internet are:

  • Page images attached to every section
  • Analytical index makes finding what you need easier
  • Functioning word search for the entire work
  • Attractive presentation with readable fonts and formatting
  • Fully edited to remove spelling errors and OCR misreads (further error notifications appreciated!)

And of course the whole is freely available under a Creative Commons CC-BY-SA license. We plan to systematically link to this version of A&G in our Latin commentaries, and we are planning to have a similar work on the Greek side up soon:

Thomas Dwight Goodell, A School Grammar of Attic Greek (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1902). This excellent work was scanned by the Internet Archive. Last year Bruce Robertson of Mont Allison University kindly performed the OCR using Rigaudon, the output of which is available on Lace. At Dickinson the OCR output was edited and the XML and html pages created by Christina Errico. Ryan Burke has created the web interface. Meagan Ayer is in the process of editing and correcting the html pages. So look for that in the next few months!

Fall 2014 Digital Dialogues season at MITH


The Maryland Institute of Technology in the Humanities (MITH) at the University of Maryland in College Park has announced the lineup of speakers for their Fall 2014 Digital Dialogues season. The seven speakers come from a wide variety of research specialties ranging from Women’s Studies, Film & Digital Media,  Information Studies and gaming culture. They are:

Tuesday September 30, 2014: Alison Booth

Tuesday October 7, 2014: Stephanie Ceraso

Tuesday October 14, 2014: Marisa Parham

Tuesday October 21, 2014: Alexis Lothian

Tuesday October 28, 2014:  Andrew Johnston 

Tuesday November 4, 2014: Darius Kazemi

Tuesday, November 11, 2014: Alex Wright

Read more at Save the Dates! Here are MITH’s Fall 2014 Digital Dialogues speakers.

CFP: Bucknell Digital Scholarship Conference: 14-16 November 2014

Bucknell Digital Scholarship Conference: 14-16 November 2014

Call for Proposals

Bucknell University, with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will host its first annual international digital scholarship conference. The theme of the conference is “Collaborating Digitally: Engaging Students in Faculty Research” with the goal of gathering a broad community of scholar-practitioners engaged in collaborative digital scholarship in research and teaching.

This conference will bring together a broad community of scholar-practitioners engaged in collaborative digital scholarship in research and teaching. We encourage presentations that emphasize forms of collaboration: between institutions of higher education; across disciplines; between faculty, librarians, and technologists; and between faculty and students. We welcome contributions from scholars, educators, technologists, librarians, administrators, and students who use digital tools and methods, and encourage submissions from emerging and established scholar-practitioners alike, including those who are new to digital collaboration.

Submission topics may include but are not limited to: engaging with space and place; creating innovative teaching and learning environments; perspectives on implications for the individual’s own research and pedagogy within the institutional landscape, etc.

Presentations may take the form of short papers, project demos, electronic posters, panel discussions, or lightning talks.

For more information about submitting a presentation proposal, please go to the Bucknell Digital Initiatives website: . The deadline for proposals is August 1, 2014.

If you have questions or would like more information about the submission process, please email conference coordinator Diane Jakacki:

Bucknell is a private liberal arts university located alongside the historic Susquehanna River in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. At Bucknell “Digital Scholarship” is defined as any scholarly activity that makes extensive use of one or more of the new possibilities for teaching and research opened up by the unique affordances of digital media. These include, but are not limited to, new forms of collaboration, new forms of publication, and new methods for visualizing and analyzing data.

Mellon Grant Interim Report 2013

Dickinson College received a $700,000 grant in December 2012 from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for use over approximately four years to support faculty and curricular development in the digital humanities. The Mellon Foundation provided project funding to support the following: 1) a one-course reassigned time for the faculty chair of a digital humanities advisory board to guide the initiative; 2) a postdoctoral teaching fellowship to help introduce the latest digital technologies, link Dickinson’s efforts to a larger community of scholars, and assist our Library and Information Systems (LIS) staff in defining needed future capabilities; 3) competitive internal grants for faculty to incubate significant expansion of existing digital projects and/or pilot the use of new tools in teaching and research, including providing student-faculty research opportunities; 4) an intensive program to better train undergraduate students for robust collaboration with faculty on complex digital projects; 5) a virtual “digital studio” to provide accessibility, visibility, and outreach for the best work being done at Dickinson in this field, 6) workshops with representatives of all humanities departments and with key all-college committees to enhance their capacity to support and evaluate digital work in the humanities and across the curriculum; and 7) work toward defining learning outcomes expected for Dickinson students with regard to digital humanities skills.

Here are some excerpts of the report prepared for the Mellon Foundation on activities completed in the first year of the grant, prepared by Cheryl Kremer:

1. Digital Humanities Advisory Committee

Over the past year we successfully established a Digital Humanities Advisory Committee (DHAC), which is the key planning committee for this initiative. DHAC has been meeting regularly to guide and oversee all of the aspects of the project. The committee was convened in the spring of 2013, has developed guidelines for awarding grants from the Digital Humanities Fund, and has been actively awarding these grants since the spring of 2013.
The committee is comprised of five faculty members: Chris Francese, Professor of Classical Studies (who will be Chair from 2013-2015); B. Ashton Nichols, Professor of English Language and Literature and the Walter E. Beach ’56 Distinguished Chair in Sustainability Studies; Susan Rose, Director of Community Studies Center and the Charles A. Dana Professor of Sociology; Matthew Pinsker, Associate Professor of History and Pohanka Chair in American Civil War History; and Siobhan K. Phillips, Assistant Professor of English. Also serving on the committee are five administrators who have a strong interest in and connection to digital humanities work on campus: Patricia Pehlman, Director of Academic Technology; Jim Gerencser, College Archivist; Todd Bryant, LIS Language Program Administrator; Ryan Burke, Web Programmer; and Matt Kochis, Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities.

2. Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow

Our second goal for this grant was to create a new post-doctoral fellowship position in digital humanities at Dickinson. We conducted a successful search and hired Matthew Kochis to fill this position. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Tulsa in May 2013 and began his work at Dickinson in July 2013. Matt has strong skills in digitization, XML, database design, and project management—all of which proved to be crucial to fostering digital humanities projects. He trained students to work with faculty to create usable XML documents, to digitize documents with ABBYY Finereader, to organize image assets using appropriate and current metadata standards, to implement effective workflows using the Basecamp application, and generally to manage projects more efficiently.

Our post-doc taught a course entitled Writing for Digital Media (ENGL 212) in the spring semester of 2014. He also met individually with many faculty members and students to assist in the development of a wide variety of digital humanities projects. Additionally, he designed and ran our first Digital Humanities Boot Camp—a training program for students interested in digital humanities that was held in January 2014. The successful Digital Humanities Boot Camp occupied much of Matt’s time in November and December of 2013 and January 2014. (For additional details, see item 4 below.) We are pleased to report that Matt Kochis was offered and accepted a tenure-track position at another institution, starting in fall 2014. A search for his replacement recently concluded with the hiring of Elyse Graham.

3. Digital Humanities Fund

The third major aspect of this grant involves awarding internal grants to support Dickinson faculty members interested in beginning or advancing their digital humanities efforts. The two main categories of support thus far have been: 1) summer student-faculty collaborative research pairings in which teams of one faculty member and one student work full time on a project for eight weeks, and 2) student research assistantships that assist one faculty member for approximately eight hours per week for either 14 or 28 week periods. The following is a list of grants awarded to Dickinson faculty members through our Digital Humanities Fund over the past year, the vast majority of which have involved students in substantive ways:

Art and Art History
• Melinda Schlitt – reassigned time to assist Prof. Chris Francese by annotating visual images for the first multimedia edition of Vergil’s Aeneid (to begin summer 2014)

• Christofilis Maggidis – rental of 3-D archaeological 3-D digitizing equipment for use in documentation of finds and architectural remains at Mycenae, Greece

Classical Studies
• Chris Francese
- student assistant to help create a new digitization of Allen & Greenough’s Latin Grammar to provide unprecedented ease of access and navigability for this basic resource for classicists
- student assistant for a new digitization of T.D. Goodell’s School Grammar of Attic Greek in sharable XML forma, to do the same for this resource
- student summer research assistant to help with the creation of the first multimedia edition of Vergil’s Aeneid (to begin summer 2014) with audio recordings, extensive image assets, and notes. (The audience for this project is AP Latin students (approximately 7,000/year) and others in colleges and universities.
- consultant to help develop a database of Vergilian vocabulary to be used in the Aeneid edition, based on a new digitization and editing of Frieze’s Vergilian Dictionary

• Wendy Moffat – student assistant to help with a curated exhibit based on and database of 2,000 images of letters, photos, maps, and ephemera from 24 archives and personal collections around the country relating to her forthcoming book entitled A Disbelief in Obstacles: Three Prophetic Americans and the Great War

• Sarah McGaughey – student assistant to help create foreign language instructional materials to be used with Mixxer, the Dickinson-based social networking website for connecting students in foreign language courses with native speakers abroad who are studying English

• Emily Pawley – reassigned time and student assistants to help develop a new online museum of Dickinson’s history, currently called the Dickinsonia Project
• Karl Qualls – student assistant to help develop a website on Russian-American émigrés, centered around oral history materials and interviews with Prince Gagarin
• Matthew Pinsker
- student assistant and faculty consultant to help develop a multimedia edition of Abraham Lincoln’s writings: 25 Lincoln podcasts by Prof. Todd Wronski (Theatre and Dance), providing teachers and students with a unique set of audio transcripts for teachable Lincoln documents. Filmmaker Lance Warren from the Gilder Lehrman Institute helped film and produce 25 short videos of Pinsker conducting close readings of these same featured Lincoln documents. These videos are now a focal point of the new website entitled “Lincoln’s Writings: The Multi-Media Edition” which launched in on July 7, 2013 and was named one of the “Best of the Humanities Web” by NEH EDSITEMENT in November 2013. (See…)
- student assistant to help digitize approximately 4,000 page image files from period sources such as Harper’s Weekly, Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, and selected nineteenth-century books. Nearly 400 of these scanned images have since been edited and published at House Divided’s online Research Engine, with plans to post several hundred more in the coming months. (See
- two student researchers to help with the successful “Understanding Lincoln” open online course in summer 2013, which had 750 total participants including 100 tuition-paying graduate students. (See…) Materials from these student assistants and selected course participants were then featured in a special exhibition hosted by the Google Cultural Institute to help commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address (See…)

French and Italian
• Nicoletta Marini-Maio – student assistant to help develop an online, open-access peer-reviewed journal project entitled “Gender/Sexuality/Italy”

Middle East Studies/Political Science
• Ed Webb – student assistants to help modify the video game “Civilization” for use in teaching the Spain/Aztec empire and the colonization of Africa

• Greg Wilder – summer student assistant to help validate the boundaries of the Isomer Project’s capacity for machine musical analysis, model representation, and algorithmic transformation, using advanced machine-learning techniques

Religion/Judaic Studies
• Andrea Lieber – student assistant to help digitize information about a Jewish cemetery in Harrisburg,

• Maria Rubin – travel to develop content for her “Russian Rooms” multimedia authentic Russian language materials for educational use

• Susan Rose – student assistant for summer and academic year to help develop a comprehensive digital resource regarding the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, including the digitization and annotation of school records in the National Archives. Many thousands of files have been digitized, annotated, and made available, with many more to come. (See

The following are faculty professional development projects in the digital humanities that were also funded by the grant:

Classical Studies
• Chris Francese and Matt Kochis – to attend THATCamp in Harrisburg (Oct. 25-26, 2013)

• Karl Qualls – to attend THATCamp in Pittsburgh (October 5-6, 2013)

Spanish and Portuguese
• Abraham Quintanar
- to attend the 48th Annual Congress for Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo Michigan for a workshop session on specific .RDF standards for MESA, a collation of medievalists who are posting digital texts in a specific, searchable format (May 8-12, 2013)
- to attend a workshop at Brown University entitled “Taking TEI Further: Teaching with TEI” (August 21-23, 2013)

4. Digital Humanities Boot Camp Program

Our first “Digital Humanities Boot Camp” was held from January 6 – 17, 2014 to provide advanced training for students interested in working with faculty on digital humanities projects. A total of 17 students participated. They were Santiago Princ (Computer Science), Barrett Ziegler (Russian Studies), Chloe Miller (Archaeology/Anthropology), Frank Vitale (History), Laura Colleluori (Theatre Arts/Italian Studies), Zha Xueyin (History/Sociology), Colin Tripp (English/Creative Writing), Rachel Schilling (English/German), Allison Charles (English/Creative Writing), Max Rubinstein (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology), Rachel Kruchten (Psychology), Ashieda McKoy (Political Science/Creative Writing), Amy Hudock (undeclared), Benjamin West (Archaeology), Xiang Wei (undeclared), Caio Santos Rodrigues (Psychology), and Jaime Phillips (Environmental Science).

Matt Kochis, our Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities, mapped this project’s curriculum and coordinated the boot camp’s day-to-day operations. After five days of online tutorials, students gathered on campus to be guided in the creation of sample digital projects and briefed on digital humanities methods and principles. The training focused on GIS, Drupal, WordPress, Adobe Photoshop, Audacity, and iMovie. Topics of sample projects ranged from Three Mile Island to the history of African-American students at the college. One student created a multimedia Drupal site called “Invasion from the Front Lines,” which detailed his grandfather’s World War II experience. A digital poster session, held on January 27, 2014 allowed students to present their work and connect with faculty members. The program received a strong positive response from student participants, with 26 applications received, and we expect to see even greater demand next year. As a result of the boot camp experience, some student participants have already linked with faculty members for summer projects and other future work in digital humanities.

5. Virtual Digital Studio

The chair of the Digital Humanities Advisory Committee created a web presence for the digital humanities initiative at Dickinson, consistent with the virtual “digital studio” concept presented in our original proposal. This site may be viewed at…

6. Workshops for Faculty

We also conducted several very well-received workshops on the topic of digital humanities for faculty committees and departments. First, on December 17, 2013, Todd Presner, Professor of Germanic Languages, Comparative Literature, and Jewish Studies at the University of California Los Angeles and Chair of their Digital Humanities Program, presented a workshop for Dickinson’s Faculty Personnel Committee (FPC) to help them develop guidelines for assessing the use of digital technology in research and pedagogy as part of the faculty evaluation process. Seven tenured faculty members of FPC attended (from the Departments of Spanish and Portuguese, History, American Studies, Music, and Biology), two other faculty members from the Information Technology Services Committee (from the Departments of History and Religion), in addition to the Provost and Associate Provost.

Second, Prof. Jeffrey McClurken from the University of Mary Washington presented a full-day workshop concerning the use of digital humanities in teaching and research to a group of 27 faculty members from humanities and humanistic social science disciplines and 11 other administrators on January 10, 2014. McClurken recently received the Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council of Higher Education of Virginia for Teaching with Technology. Faculty who attended his workshop represented the Departments of American Studies, Classical Studies, English, French and Italian, German, History, Medieval and Early Modern Studies, Music, Philosophy, Political Science, Religion, Sociology, Spanish and Portuguese, Theatre and Dance, and Women’s and Gender Studies. Administrators represented Library and Information Services, Academic Affairs, and College Advancement.

7. Defining Learning Outcomes

The January 2014 workshop conducted by Jeffrey McClurken (described above) represented a first step toward defining learning outcomes for Dickinson students with regard to digital humanities skills. At the conclusion of that workshop, faculty participants were encouraged by the Provost to return to their departments to discuss the possibility of convening smaller workshops to work more intensively on specific learning outcomes relevant to their department. We have agreed to provide internal funds (as cost sharing) for three to four departmental workshops, and plans are underway for several to occur in summer 2014.

8. Plans and Goals for Upcoming Year

Major activities planned for next year include completing the search for a replacement of our postdoctoral fellow in digital humanities, with a July 1, 2014 start date. In summer 2014 we will also be conducting several study groups for humanities and humanistic social sciences departments that are interested in defining department-specific student learning outcomes related to digital humanities. In the fall of 2014 we will be offering a workshop for the members of the college’s Research and Development committee concerning the evaluation of digital humanities scholarship. We will conduct our second Digital Humanities Boot Camp in January 2015. The Digital Humanities Advisory Committee will continue to meet throughout the year to review and award additional grants to faculty for related digital humanities scholarly projects and professional development activities, as well as summer and academic-year student collaborators and assistants to help in the development of their projects.

We are profoundly grateful to the Mellon Foundation for support of this comprehensive initiative in the digital humanities at Dickinson. As this interim report indicates, this grant has initiated a great deal of creativity and successful collaboration in its first year. It has created many new opportunities for humanities and humanistic social science faculty and students to create useful digital resources. All of this activity has generated a genuine sense of excitement among faculty and students, and we expect to continue to work diligently to leverage the Mellon Foundation’s generous support to continue vigorous growth in new projects, initiative, and collaboration in the year ahead.

Mining Data Gold




by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson

There’s a superabundance of data out there and growing demand for those who can mine it effectively. On May 6, 16 students showed them how it’s done during the GIS (geographic information system) Exhibition and Poster Session, an annual event showcasing the ways students apply powerful technology to recent or ongoing research.

“It’s a reasonably complicated computer program to learn, but it’s definitely worth the learning curve,” said Jill Hautaniemi ’14 of the software, which provides a framework to store and analyze geographically based data.


The students, all part of an advanced GIS-applications course, presented data that had been recently gathered in points near and far. A double major in environmental science and biology, Hautaniemi cross-referenced data she’d collected for her senior biology-research project with elevation data sets from a government Web site, and found correlations between elevation levels and the health of hemlock trees in the Carlisle region.

Jenna LaRiviere ’14, an archaeology major, married historical and construction data about barns in Pennsylvania with the geological makeup of the ground on which each barn stood. “By integrating location with foundational materials, we can get insights about the economic, political and practical reasons why they chose these materials, and this tells us something about the people who lived there,” says LaRiviere, who will pursue a master’s in museum studies at the University of East Anglia in the fall. “It adds a whole new dimension to our understanding of their histories.”

Environmental science major Jack Bryan ’14 examined stream-remediation options in nearby Michaux State Forest, using raw data collected by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and by students in a conservation seminar. By creating elevation and relief profiles of the watersheds, he was able to identify the areas most in need of cleanup, and he’ll make the project available to stream-monitoring volunteers.


Students present GIS projects during the annual symposium. Photo by Carl Socolow '77.Photo by Carl Socolow ’77.

“Hopefully, they’ll build on this, and as they do, they’ll be able to recognize patterns and use different variables in tandem, combining data they might not think to combine,” Bryan said.

Taylor Thompson ’14 presented student-faculty research on the effects of temperature on sex determination in painted turtles born in 2010 at a local pond. She inputted temperatures recorded at 16 turtle sites with the precise locations of each nest, the makeup of the soil on which they rested and the sex of the turtles born there. Nests built on natural soil, which stabilizes slight temperature fluctuations, yielded a roughly even number of male and female turtles, whereas nests built on a soil-gravel mix did not. “Because the information is displayed spatially, you can see the patterns emerging,” she said.

Other locally based projects included Michael D’Aprix ’14’s geodatabase for Dickinson’s campus, Anna McGinn ’14’s produce-access map of the Carlisle area, Anne Dyroff ’14’s qualitative map of Carlisle running routes, Mary DiGiorgio ’14’s analysis of campus trees and Christine Burns ’14’s study of trees in downtown Harrisburg.

Projects rooted farther from home included a crime-rate analysis of North Philadelphia (Amanda Vandenburg ’14), a basin analysis of a state park in Maine (Elizabeth de la Reguera ’14) and a trail map of Michaux State Forest (Tucker Deady ’14), while Will Kochtitzky ’16 and Leslie Milliman ’14 went global, creating a map of lake vegetation in Bolivia and of weathering on an island in Guadeloupe, respectively.

“It’s amazing how many different applications there are, as you can see in the variety of subjects represented here,” said Thompson, an environmental studies major who plans to apply GIS technology to her analysis of trail connectivity as part of her job with the Doylestown Heritage Conservancy, which begins after her graduation in May.

“And we’re just scratching the surface,” added Bryan. “It’s essential to know how to apply basic skills in new contexts. And this is an incredibly useful and powerful tool.”


Plotagon Videos on Transnational Feminism

Plotagon, launched in August 2013 by a Swedish start up and still in its beta version, cuts the effort needed to create animation by directly recreating a script into an animated film. The films can then be posted on Plotagon’s website, or on Youtube. Jennifer Musial, Visiting Assistant Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies, is putting the form to productive academic use by having her students make videos with solidly researched information. Students in the Transnational Feminisms class make videos based on their major research project.  Using Plotagon, each student creates a script featuring one character, an expert in the field, who must communicate research findings to a less knowledgeable character.  Students enjoy this creative way to convey their learning in the course. Leigh Ratino, a graduating senior in Environmental Science, created this one, a conversation about environmental racism.

For more Transnational Feminism Plotagon videos, check out the class blog.