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Day of DH

The University of Texas Libraries, the Initiative for Digital Humanities, and LLILAS Benson Digital Scholarship invites proposals for lightning talks about digital projects, both nascent and developed, for Day of Digital Humanities on April 14, 2023, from 11:30-3:00 PM at the Perry-Castañeda Library.

Areas of digital humanities scholarship that are relevant include but are not limited to:

  • Digital and computational approaches to humanistic research and pedagogy
  • Digital cultural heritage
  • Digital surveillance
  • Environmental humanities & climate justice
  • Digital humanities tools and infrastructures
  • Digital librarianship
  • Digital media, art, literature, history, music, film, and games
  • Digital public humanities
  • Humanistic and ethical approaches to data science and data visualization
  • Humanistic research on digital objects and cultures
  • Humanities knowledge infrastructures
  • Labor and organization in digital humanities
  • Physical computing
  • Resource creation, curation, and engagement
  • Use of digital technologies to write, publish, and review scholarship

Participants with a wide range of expertise and in a variety of roles, including alt-ac positions, employment outside of higher education, and graduate and undergraduate students, are invited to submit. 

Lightning talks will be 5 minutes long and can be a presentation on an existing project, a project underway, or a project that you have just started to conceive, and its contribution to the digital humanities at UT Austin.

Applicants should take accessibility and best practices into account when designing their proposals and talks. 

I’m Going There Someday: Space, Place, & The 1835 LDS Hymnal

Amy E Shreeve

History, Rhetoric & Writing

In 2018, Russel M. Nelson, the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, announced that the Church’s standard hymnbook would be revised for the first time since 1985. Expected changes include the removal of national anthems as the Church seeks to include international members. Since the international expansion of the religion demands it to alter the hymns that it commonly uses, these hymns may be considered to be part of a changing Latter-day Saint identity formation. In order to understand the way that this compendium may change in the future, we must consider how the hymnbook has been used to construct LDS/“Mormon” identities in the past. This project uses digital methods to perform a comparative analysis of the 1835 and 1985 Latter-day Saint hymnbooks. Using topic modelling, natural language processing, and named entity analysis, this project reveals differences between the places claimed, political groups aligned with, and texts referenced in the 1835 and 1985 hymnbooks. Such differences have implications for the development of the Latter-day Saint identity over the past two centuries. They demonstrate how early Latter-day Saints viewed their geographical situation in the Unites States, and they demonstrate how standardized hymnals may be used to construct racial and political identities among religious groups. Most importantly, the changes between the hymnbooks chart the progression of “the American Religion” from local to global.

What Kind of Constitution Do Citizens Want? A New Method for Analyzing Public Constitution Data

Matthew Martin

Government

Public consultation has become an indispensable part of constitutional design, yet the voluminous, narrative data produced are often impractical to analyze. Text-as-data methods can facilitate the Herculean task of collecting, analyzing, and interpreting the collective voice of citizens, and a recent, ambitious consultation in Chile presents a useful test. In 2016, over 200,000 Chileans shared their hopes for a new constitution, yielding over 2.4 million suggestions on rights and institutions, and nearly 265,000 more comments explaining these. Using multilingual concept-processing tools, we develop an approach that we call conceptual ecology, or the study of the inventory of ideas in some population. Our methodological focus is two-fold: (1) the integration of concepts across corpora, i.e., concept alignment; and (2) concept discovery. To these ends, we employ a comprehensive reference ontology developed by the Comparative Constitutions Project, and new natural language processing tools assessing sentence-level semantic similarity, to identify topics of most concern to Chilean citizens and compare these to topics in constitutions globally. Our approach has major potential for advocates, drafters, and researchers alike seeking to coordinate constitutional concepts and better leverage the valuable input produced by public consultation.

Maira E. Alvarez

History

United Fronteras is a transborder digital repository created in 2019 by Digital Humanities scholars from various disciplines and universities, such as Carolina Alonso, Maira E. Álvarez, Sylvia Fernández, Laura Gonzalez, Ivonne Ramirez, Rubria Rocha de Luna, Veronica Romero, and Annette Zapata. The team is composed mainly of women who are border natives from various regions of the Mexico-U.S. border; the few who are not border natives have experienced this borderland, particularly and closely, through their experiences with (im)migration procedures or in their research. The project's first phase brings together active and inactive digital initiatives from the Mexico-U.S. border that leverage digital components to document the borderlands from various standpoints. United Fronteras offers audiences a unique opportunity to meaningfully engage in the multi-dimensional layers of border spaces through multi-disciplinary, cross-institutional, community-based, and individual collaborations. Furthermore, through minimal computing practices, United Fronteras generates a third digital space to document multiple histories and public memory of the borderlands. This initiative is an effort to connect across borders and document local contexts; this implies stories in different languages, cultures, and social or political phenomena linked to a particular space and historical context to learn from the trans-local communities rather than external voices that often impose their views/agendas. United Fronteras aims to collaborate with other border regions across the Americas to create digital repositories by border communities.

 

Ready, Set, Yokohama! And Other JapanLab Initiatives

Robyn Fajardo

UT JapanLab

I will be presenting on behalf of UT's JapanLab on the project of "Ready, Set, Yokohama!" which is an online version of a traditional Japanese board game set during the early Meiji era on what you may see while traveling from Tokyo to Yokohama. The board game is play as a racing style of game where you and other players race to Yokohama and back, stopping by some local destinations on the journey there. This project was done in collaboration with Ella Barton, Vishi Sant, Kenneth Le, and Jessa Dahl who was our supervisor. The team started off with researching the historical background of the board game and who might be the audience playing. After confirming the historical background of the board game, the team moved on to game design where we quickly learned our limitations and what technologies would be used. The final project ended up being a board game with pop-ups that had a narrative journey to Yokohama and the second page of the pop-up having the historical background of the tile you landed on. Some technologies the team became familiar with are Git/Github, Unity, and C# for the coding team and Google Doc’s for the narrative design. The character shown throughout the digital game was drawn by team member Ella Barton. UT's JapanLab is an initiative for students to create Digital Humanities for the sake of learning more about Japan through games and digital projects. Each project is done with collaboration between students from different colleges and majors with a supervisor from the Asian Studies and History departments who have a focus on Japanese history and culture.

 

Hannah Hopkins, Eloisa Moreno, Jo Hurt, and Ian Ferris

Digital Writing & Research Lab

Collaboration and Invention: A DH Practicum in the Graduate Curriculum 

In 2020, the Department of Rhetoric & Writing piloted the Digital Writing and Research Practicum, a multi-semester sequence providing doctoral students practice with a range of digital technologies. From sensors and solar computers to audio recording and zines, technologies explored in the Practicum support hands-on digital research, creating scholarly artifacts, and integrating digital tools in pedagogy. Designed and facilitated by graduate students in the Digital Writing & Research Lab (DWRL), the Practicum continues to evolve, exemplifying an ongoing exploration and experimentation in the teaching and learning of digital methods in the humanities. In this presentation, Practicum facilitators and participants will share their process and products-in-progress as examples of student-led digital humanities collaborations. DWRL Assistant Director Ian Ferris will discuss the Practicum’s design as an example of this unique pedagogical approach in the digital humanities. Then, each of this year’s participants – Hannah Hopkins, Eloisa Moreno, and Jo Hurt – will introduce their Practicum projects in development. Projects include a solar-powered computer for running a composition course; a study in the practice and production of digital zines to be leveraged in a future course, “Rhetoric of D-Zines”; and a soundscape-mapping approach to researching place and embodiment centered on UT’s Barbara Jordan statue. This presentation contributes to ongoing conversations around how such student-centered models of DH exploration and practice might work across the University, and panelists hope to invite graduate students from across UT to join in future iterations of the practicum.

 

Analyzing Sentiments About Sea Monsters in the Ancient World

Srilakshmi Palanikumar

Classics

This project seeks to analyze the myths surrounding sea monsters in various ancient cultures by applying topic modeling techniques to their literature. By using frequency analysis and other simple NLP tools, this project will identify common themes and motifs across different cultures, and explore how these myths were shaped by their perception of the sea and its creatures. The project will focus on original literature, such as epics and other mythological texts, from various regions and cultures across the globe, including but not limited to ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt, and Mesopotamia. By examining these sources, the project aims to identify recurring patterns and topics, and understand how different cultures perceived and interpreted sea monsters. The use of topic modeling and other natural language processing tools will enable the analysis of a large corpus of literature from different time periods and cultures, providing insights into the similarities and differences between cultures' mythologies surrounding sea monsters. While challenges may arise in accurately identifying topics and determining the appropriate number of topics to analyze, the potential contributions of this project are vast, including a better understanding of how cultures shaped their understanding of the natural world and how they viewed the unknown. This nascent project is expected to face various challenges, such as accurately identifying topics and determining the appropriate number of topics to analyze. Additionally, working with texts written in various languages that are not fully supported by current natural language processing tools poses a technical challenge.

 

Queer Identification and Fashion: A Study of Modern Fashion Subreddits

Noor Iqbal

Rhetoric and Writing

 

Throughout history, LGBTQIA+ people have used queer signaling to shift between overt and covert methods of revealing identity while evading dangerous attention. The advent of computer-mediated communication (CMC), and specifically social networking sites, has allowed LGBTQIA+ people to comfortably form communities without revealing their identities. In a time when LGBTQ+ rights has made significant progress globally, my research group (Surya Garcia-Crow, Meghna Ravi, and Nika Pajuh- under the supervision of Professor Thorsten Ries) sought to understand how symbols of queer signaling have evolved as a result of community formation on social networking sites, especially those with anonymous interaction. We chose to scrape five fashion subreddits on Reddit.com for seven terms related to queer identity. After compiling our corpus, we performed topic modeling by using Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) to identify main conversational themes and Word2Vec to understand underlying sentiments. The limited scope of our corpus resulted in underwhelming quantitative results, especially for the smaller subreddits. However, our qualitative results, extracted from manually comparing the word results across subreddits, revealed that queer signaling symbols are still present in queer community formation today. Although covertness is not always as necessary now, symbols of queer identity, such as specific haircuts, are necessary in developing one’s own identity alongside others. While our scope for this project resulted in limited quantitative results, our topic modeling process using LDA and Word2Vec proved useful for identifying what symbols and conversational topics remain (and emerge) as important amongst online queer communities.

 

Leveling Up: Management of Harmful Content in Digital Collections

Karina Sánchez 

LILLAS Benson, UT Libraries

Academic libraries are grappling with the presence of Harmful Language and Description within their collections, but there is limited research on managing potential harmful content. Our research focuses on the management and presentation of harmful content, specifically visual or auditory, in digital collections with the intent of minimizing possible harm caused to collection users without proper content warning and labeling. In our poster session we denote the differences between harmful description and harmful content, provide four levels of engagement when presenting and managing potentially harmful visual and audio content, and discuss ethical concerns around access and potentially harmful content. Academic libraries are grappling with the presence of Harmful Language and Description within their collections, but there is limited research on managing potential harmful content. Our research focuses on the management and presentation of harmful content, specifically visual or auditory, in digital collections with the intent of minimizing possible harm caused to collection users without proper content warning and labeling. In our poster session we denote the differences between harmful description and harmful content, provide four levels of engagement when presenting and managing potentially harmful visual and audio content, and discuss ethical concerns around access and potentially harmful content. Academic libraries are grappling with the Academic libraries are grappling with the presence of Harmful Language and Description within their collections, but there is limited research on managing potential harmful content.

Luke G. Sumpter

Philosophy

A project using AudiAnnotate, a workflow that curates and shares annotations of audiovisual collections held at libraries, archives, and museums, "A Digital Florilegium" is a collection of essays and digital artworks. This project introduces and refutes classic philosophical arguments and criticisms of digital art and the use of technology in art, and provides evidence– including film, radio broadcasted plays, and a conglomeration of poetry, video and song– that are all analyzed through the themes of time and transformation. It argues that through these utilizations of time and transformation, with academic backings of popular aesthetic, film, and literary theorists, there is a requisite for the authenticity of digital art as a true art form and not secondary to the likes of literature or painting, and furthermore digital art could represent the higher form of human essence. Gilles Deleuze pieces on Cinema and Linda Hutcheon’s work on Adaptation theory are the two integral academic works used in the pieces, and many of their ideas are cited to support these digital artworks as authentic works of art. This project is also a reflection on how doing work on the essence of digital works through digital means, like AudiAnnotate, can be immensely helpful in developing the project compared to a completely physical construction. This project highlights a crux in the criticism of digital humanities– and digital scholarship in general– through the rejection of the idea that the human essence is being lost through virtual translation.

 

Mapping Covid-19 Vaccinations Using R

Adrian Fernandez

History

 

As part of a project for the class "Thinking Like a Historian" taught by Dr. Mark Ravina during the fall of 2022, this map of Uruguay's Covid-19 vaccinations was created using R-Studio in order to examine the rates and densities for each of the country's regional departments. By examining these rates in Uruguay from 2021 onwards, this study yielded disparities between each of the country’s regional departments with higher rates and densities of vaccination in rural communities than some of its more urban ones. As the map is pulling data from Uruguay's national health bureaucratic agency perpetually and is published as a .html file online, the map is continuing to be updated in reflection of changing rates in vaccination. There are also additional maps that can be created using this extensive collection of data in a similar process, in which one can examine the departmental differences in the types of vaccines used, the demographics of the populations who received these vaccines, as well as the timely increase in the number of individuals vaccinated. When placing this map and data into context with how the Pan American Health Organization, a branch of the World Health Organization, promoted the importance of receiving a vaccine against Covid-19 in Uruguay through a propaganda campaign that emphasized the role of the rural community against the spread of the virus, the reasoning for the regional differences in vaccination rates shown on the map begin to become clearer.

Black Classicists in Texas

Elena Navarre

Classics

Black Classicists in Texas is a public exhibition that celebrates early Black educators in Central Texas and their passion for the study of antiquity. This collaboration between UT's Department of Classics, UT Libraries, Huston-Tillotson University and the Carver Museum highlights the interconnectedness of Black academics and higher education institutions across Texas, underscored by a strong advocacy for classical education and early 20th century African American advancement. The exhibition is divided into three distinct physical locations throughout Austin, with each location focusing on a unique aspect of the historical narrative. The online exhibition unites the physical exhibits, emphasizing the interconnectedness of individuals and historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and providing a comprehensive understanding of the historical events, figures and their influence on education in Austin. The online exhibition utilizes multimodal approaches enabled by digital forms of presentation, such as timelines, story maps, virtual tours, and digitized archival images and descriptions to best convey the activity and context of the individuals and institutions involved. By showcasing the contributions of Black Classicists in Texas, the exhibition sheds light on the underrepresented voices in the study of antiquity and demonstrates the impact of historically Black colleges and universities on the field of classics. The use of multimodal digital tools provides a unique and comprehensive understanding of the diversity of Texas' educational history, and we look forward to showcasing their implementation and impact. 

Cognitive Narratology for Responsible Data Visualizations

Patrick Sui

English, School of Information

How could the frontier research in narrative theory inform the design choices of data visualizations, and vice versa? I would argue that since poetry could be thought of as an embodied form of visualization, reading them from the lens of cognitive narratology could help data scientists and engineers to become more responsible designers. Data practitioners hold almost unchecked epistemic power over their viewers’ cognitive processes, covered up by the perceived objectivity of visualizations, while the “storytelling” and subjective side of their work has been often ignored. Many tend to assume that operational principles of "storytelling" could be generalized from their own lived experience, or summarized by a few overarching types of story arcs -- an out-of-date and essentialist assumption from the standpoint of the narrative theory community. I believe that incorporating more up-to-date models of narrative into design pipelines and practices could lead to more effective workflows for data visualization. I am particularly interested in how cognitive narratology, perhaps the most prominent area of interest over the past decade for journals like Narrative, could help data scientists become more responsible with the immense cognitive power vested in their visualizations. As far as digital humanities at UT is concerned, the proposed research helps bring together the English department’s strength in narrative theory (Dr. Frederick Luis Aldama) and (one of) the iSchool’s most popular courses (“data storytelling,” Andrea Cato).

Leo Cao

Journalism and Media

Our surveillance investigation is a collaborative effort involving numerous faculty and graduate students from different colleges. They include Amy Sanders (Journalism and Media), Anita Varma (Journalism and Media). Ciaran Trace (School of Information), Maria Esteva (TACC), Kara Kockelman and Atlas Wang, (both in Engineering). The graduate students include Leo Cao, Emily Woodward and Sheila Lalwani (Journalism and Media), We use several research techniques, including qualitative data gathering and critical analysis of data policies. Our perspective on surveillance considers the impacts of surveillance on less powerful /marginalized groups, the 'algorithmic literacy' required to meaningfully engage with or shape policies around the use of surveillance technologies, the hidden facets of data control, and the centrality of data policies. The latter are particularly inadequate at this time, and scattershot across different nations, geographies and administrative units such as cities, states and federal regulatory agencies in the U.S. context.

 

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