Wednesday, October 28

Day 1 Program

Coffee Quarantini (8:45-9:15 PDT)

Whatever time of day it is for you in your time zone, grab a beverage and come have informal conversations with other attendees!

Session 1.1 (9:30-10:45 PDT): Designing for Difference

Chair: Mary Chapman (Academic Director, Public Humanities Hub, UBC-Vancouver)

Keynote Speaker: Tara McPherson (Chair, Division of Cinema & Media Studies, University of Southern California)

Abstract: How did a feminist film scholar trained in post-structuralism and critical race theory end up collaborating on software design? In answering that question, this talk engages various histories in the development of computational systems in order to argue that we need more humanities scholars to take seriously issues in the design and implementation of software systems. Humanities scholars are particularly well suited to help us think through such topics as the status of the archive as it mutates into the database, the possibilities for less hierarchical computing, and the cultural contexts of code. In short, this talk argues that neither theorizing media nor building new technologies is sufficient onto itself; we must necessarily do both. As a concrete example of the relationship of theory to practice, McPherson will discuss the work that her University of Southern California team has undertaken over the last decade, including the digital journal, Vectors, and the new multimodal authoring platform, Scalar. Their research has always been in direct dialogue with key issues in the interpretative humanities, including discussions of race, gender, sexuality, memory and emotions, and social justice and power. How can such themes come to shape the practice of software design?

Session 1.2 (11:00-12:15 PDT): Roundtable: The Data-Sitters Club: A Colloquial, Comprehensive, Collaborative Guide to Computational Text Analysis

Chair: Heidi Tworek (Associate Professor, History, UBC-V)


    • Anouk Lang (Senior Lecturer, Digital Humanities, University of Edinburgh)
    • Katherine Bowers (Associate Professor, Department of Central, Eastern, and Northern European Studies, UBC-V)
    • Lee Skallerup Bessette (Learning Design Specialist, Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship, Georgetown University)
    • Maria Sachiko Cecire (Associate Professor, Literature and Director, Center for Experimental Humanities, Bard College)
    • Quinn Dombrowski (Academic Technology Specialist, Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages, Stanford University)
    • Roopika Risam (Associate Professor, Secondary and Higher Education and English, Salem State University)

Abstract: The Data-Sitters Club is a feminist collective of DH practitioners and researchers who have joined forces to create a colloquial, comprehensive how-to guide to doing DH text analysis using the corpus of Ann M. Martin’s best-selling series The Baby-Sitters Club, published from 1986-2000. This collective’s collaboration has, to date, produced 7 “books” on topics including digitization, data cleaning, tools such as AntConc, textual variants, metadata, multilingual DH, and DH collaboration. Their project tied for “Best Use of DH for Fun” and tied for third for “Best Blog” in the 2019 DH Awards. This roundtable will take the form of a conversation amongst the Data-Sitters that will address the project’s origin, the ways that members of the group plan and work together across multiple time zones, differing disciplines, and research interests, and the project’s scope and future; it will conclude with some reflections on DH collaboration more broadly and time for a Q&A.

Lunch Break (12:15-1:15 PDT)

Session 1.3 (1:15-3:00 PDT): Project Showcase

This session provides an opportunity for 5 teams to discuss their DH projects briefly, followed by breakout sessions in “virtual exhibit spaces” that will permit attendees to chat more informally with team members about their projects in what we hope will function as virtual equivalents of “demo sessions.”

Chair: Mary Chapman (Professor, English Language and Literature, UBC-V)

1. Team Mahiet: Collaboration in the Paris Book Trade, 1325-1350


    • Erik Kwakkel (Professor and Director, iSchool, UBC-V)
    • Patrick Moran (Assistant Professor, French, Hispanic, and Italian Studies, UBC-V)
    • Alvionne Karpinski (Doctoral Candidate, School of Information, UBC-V)

Abstract: Making a medieval manuscript entailed coordinated collaboration of one or more scribes and several decorators (e.g. penwork flourishers, illuminators). These “bookish” teams were brought together –subcontracted –by a stationer or libraire, the medieval bookseller. While the precise make-up of teams varied, libraires often relied on the same artisans. This project focuses on manuscripts decorated by Mahiet, a famous illuminator who was part of a particularly productive network in fourteenth-century Paris. “Team Mahiet” produced over thirty-five manuscripts together and many decorators he worked with have been identified. However, those who did most of the labour–the scribes–have not been studied and remain obscured. We will discuss a methodology for including currently “invisible” scribes in network studies and how doing so impacts the reconstruction of a medieval commercial network as part of the preliminary results of our DH project, Tracing the Scribe.

2. Collaboration Successes and Challenges for the Johnson’s Dictionary Online Project


    • Beth Young (Associate Professor, English, University of Central Florida)
    • Will Dorner (Senior XML Analyst, University of Central Florida)
    • Amy Larner Giroux (Associate Director, Center for Humanities and Digital Research, University of Central Florida)
    • Connie Harper (Software Developer, University of Central Florida)
    • Abigail Moreshead (PhD Student, University of Central Florida)
    • Carmen Mathes (Assistant Professor, University of Regina)

Abstract: When Samuel Johnson’s A Dictionary of the English Language appeared in 1755, it swiftly became the language’s most influential dictionary, and it is still widely used. For all its importance, though, the lack of an authoritative text and usable interface have made this resource more difficult to use than it should be. Our three-year NEH-funded Johnson’s Dictionary Online project (beta site) seeks to remedy this problem by creating an online, searchable edition of the Dictionary (including both 1st [1755] and 4th [1773] folio print editions) with functionality comparable to other modern, scholarly dictionaries. This edition began as a crowd-sourced project (legacy site) by an independent scholar; now it involves a smaller collaboration among academics. Nine months in, we have accomplished a great deal, but we have encountered significant challenges that collaboration is helping us to resolve. Our presentation will describe these challenges and explain how we are working through them. We hope attendees might learn from our experiences—and we hope to learn from theirs.

3. Canada’s Early Women Writers: Playing Nicely with Others


    • Carole Gerson (Professor Emerita, English, Simon Fraser University)
    • Karyn Huenemann (Project Manager, Simon Fraser University)

Abstract: The primary mandate of Canada’s Early Women Writers (CEWW) is to share biographies and bibliographies of early Canadian women writers with researchers in all spaces: academic, genealogical, personal, etc. Since its inception in the 1980s, CEWW has enjoyed an expanding digital presence that promotes collaboration across institutions, disciplines, and public spaces. CEWW includes a bio-bibliographic resource (780 women) affiliated with the Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory and a simpler database (4500+ women) housed at Simon Fraser University. Through our websites as well as associated social media platforms, we have engaged in reciprocal research with over 100 members of the public; this reciprocity has both enriched our project and supported others’ varying research endeavours. Our presentation will showcase the various methods we have used to disseminate our data, as well as highlighting a number of particularly interesting examples of cross-disciplinary collaboration.

4. Place-based approaches to knowledge exchange: The Downtown Eastside Research Access Portal


    • Anita Fata (Student Librarian, iSchool, UBC-V)
    • Emily Jean Leischner (Community-Based Research Assistant, UBC-V)
    • Heather de Forest (Research Commons Librarian, Simon Fraser University Library)
    • Heather Holroyd (Community-Based Research Coordinator, UBC-V)
    • Heather O’Brien (Associate Professor, iSchool, UBC-V)
    • Kristina McDavid (Librarian, UBC-V Library)

Abstract: The Making Research Accessible initiative (MRAi) is a multi-institutional partnership responding to community-identified needs for access to findings of research conducted in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES) through the development of the DTES Research Access Portal (DTES RAP). This collaboration is co-led by the UBC Learning Exchange and UBC Library’s Irving K. Barber Learning Centre in consultation with DTES community organizations and residents, with input from the UBC Office of Community Engagement, UBC Knowledge Exchange Unit, UBC’s iSchool, Simon Fraser University Library, and Vancouver Public Library. Our presentation will provide a brief introduction to the DTES RAP and the partners involved, while the virtual exhibit room will offer the opportunity to explore how the skills and expertise of partnership members–including metadata schematics, user interface design and evaluation, community engagement, and practices related to knowledge exchange and open access–contributed to developing this place-based online tool for diverse users. A place-based (rather than issue-based) focus provides a unique opportunity to explore issues related to creating technological tools for knowledge-making, sharing, and use in specific contexts.

5. Collaborating Across Time and Space: The Database of Religious History


    • M. Willis Monroe (Research Associate, Asian Studies, UBC-V)

Abstract: The Database of Religious History, based at UBC, has been collecting data since 2013 on the history of religion across the globe and throughout time. This lofty and rather large goal is only feasible if the project can communicate and collaborate with the large cross-section of scholars in a variety of fields. In order to work with and attract new editors and experts to the project the database must offer a platform that is agnostic in field-specific vocabulary while also offering a familiar environment for scholars working with a wide variety of evidence. By creating multiple ways of collecting data, and adopting inclusive terminology the project has managed to increase the scope of our data collection and data presentation beyond the focus of individual members of our team. At the same time the project is acutely aware of the range of audiences (both scholarly and public) who might use the resources contained within our database and their diverse needs and expectations are also accounted for in the planning the design and functionality of the website. Collaboration across multiple fields of history, archaeology, and other human sciences is integral to the overarching goal of the project. Without a truly collaborative environment the DRH would be unable to bring in historical data from experts across the globe, and likewise present the data in way that is commensurable to researchers in both the humanities and social sciences.

Break (3:00-3:15 PDT)

Session 1.4 (3:15-4:30 PDT): Geospatial Discovery and Data

Chair: Eka Grguric (Digital Scholarship Librarian, Library, UBC-V)

1. Geospatial Discovery for Canadian Research Data


    • Mark Goodwin (Geospatial Metadata Coordinator, UBC-V)
    • Paul Dante (Software Engineer, UBC-V)
    • Eugene Barsky (Head of Research Commons, UBC-V Library)

Abstract: With increasing demand for geographic components in research, there is an opportunity for research data repositories to provide alternatives to text-based discovery. Enter Geodisy: an open-source spatial discovery platform for Canadian open research data. Initially funded by CANARIE and now in partnership with Portage, Geodisy provides a map-based search that is available alongside Canada’s Federated Research Data Repository (FRDR). Data is discoverable based on its location, and users have the ability to preview datasets as overlays on a digital map and access comprehensive metadata. Data is currently sourced from Scholars Portal Dataverse, which houses open research data from over forty Canadian institutions. The project’s next goal is to continue to integrate with FRDR and expand the interoperability of the tool to include additional data sources, including governmental open research data. For humanities research that relates to geospatial location, this work provides a new and useful form of data discovery. In this presentation, we will share software architecture, metadata processes, and a demonstration of the platform.

2. Geospatial Data from the Map Cabinet: Digitizing British Columbia’s Mid-Century Forest Cover


    • Claire Williams (Forestry Archivist, Rare Books and Special Collections, UBC-V)
    • Evan Thornberry (GIS Librarian, Humanities & Social Sciences Division, UBC-V)

Abstract: In this talk, we will share a special collaborative project undertaken between units within UBC Library and Faculty of Forestry which resulted in the scanning and digitizing of 149 maps detailing British Columbia’s forest landscape during the 1950s. As a result, this digital archive now enables users to better conceptualize the historic ecosystems of our province. The talk will discuss the transformation of this set of maps from physical to digital, providing users with scanned images, geodata, and spatial access to this unique archive. We will discuss the process, challenges, and opportunities involved with scanning the maps, creating item-level metadata, providing public access to the map images, and using Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) to transform the map images into geodata that can be spatially analysed.