Tools for DH–Humanities in Action

I am teaching a partial credit course for the Languages and Cultures and Humanities Residential Colleges this year, called Humanities in Action.  This is a project based course that meets once a week over supper to develop ideas for Humanities based projects and develop and design them in a group.

As I have been working with students and faculty on various projects in DH I have wanted to have one page where I put together sites/tools/tutorials that are helpful to us. I am compiling these here and this is still a work in progress, but it might be useful to colleagues out there also.  In DH we tend to learn collaboratively; so many of the tutorials are adapted from colleagues who have pioneered this approach to teaching, such as Miriam Posner at UCLA and Alan Liu at UCSB,

Tools for DH–Humanities in Action

There are some basic tools that can help you with your DH projects, whether you know programming or not.  Here are some of the ones my students and I have found most useful.  Tutorials are also linked.

Text analysis

jiayu's network
Network visualization of terms in Wikipedia’s RPG game descriptions (by Jiayu Huang for HUMN 270 Fall 2015)

Voyant is the best multi-tool text analysis platform for a start.  The version that is online is the earlier release and can be found as part of the suite of tools that can be found here.  There is a new version of Voyant that brings these different platforms into one interface and which doesn’t require switching between tools.  If you want to use that, ask me.  I have a version on my thumb drive.

Voyant is very good as a concordance and frequency analysis visualization tool.  It can work with large amounts of text in multiple files.  You can compare aspects of different texts easily.  For example, which words come up most frequently in which texts; which terms are collocated; what are the vocabulary densities of different texts?

Here is a tutorial for Voyant 2.0

There are also sites/tools for analyzing large amounts of text data from a macro or high level perspective:  for example, Google Ngram viewer which visualizes word frequencies in the corpus of Google digitized books (in multiple languages)  and Bookworm which visualizes trends in repositories of digitized texts.

Topic Modeling

Screenshot 2015-09-27 19.26.38Topic modelling is a method by which your text is chunked into pieces and a computer works out what the most important topics are in the chunks.  The algorithm is not interested in meaning, just in related concepts.  The best tool for this is MALLET; a Java-based package for statistical natural language processing, document classification, clustering, topic modeling, information extraction, and other machine learning applications to text. MALLET includes sophisticated tools for document classification: efficient routines for converting text to “features”, a wide variety of algorithms (including Naïve Bayes, Maximum Entropy, and Decision Trees), and code for evaluating classifier performance using several commonly used metrics.

But if you are not comfortable with command line programming there is also an online version that can work for smaller amounts of text.  That can be found here.

There is also a nice demo tool that can be used to identify topics, themes, sentiment, concepts at AlchemyAPI

Screenshot 2015-09-27 19.29.27Miriam Posner has written a great blog about how to interpret the results from Topic Modelling outputs.


There are lots of online platforms out there for mapping data.  It all depends how fancy you want to get and whether you want to do more than map points.

CartoDB is definitely fast and flexible.  If you have a csv with geo-coordinates you can upload in seconds and have a map.  It also has a geo-coder that can quickly turn your list of places into latlongs.Screenshot 2015-09-27 19.49.35

Another way to go is through Google Fusion tables.  Again this is a super fast and easy way to map data.  You can also produce a nice “card view” of entries that will make your Excel spreadsheets into much more reader friendly format.  There are also other multiple ways to visualize your data in graphs, networks, and pie charts.

ArcMap online is another way to go if you want to produce far more sophisticated mapping visualizations, such as Story Maps and Presentations.  Bucknell has an institutional account.  If you want to use it, let me know.

Palladio is an interesting multi-dimensional tool from Stanford Literary Labs.  It can produce maps, networks, timelines and graphs of your data.  Here is a tutorial for my HUMN 270 class, written by Miriam Posner.

Building 3D Models

This is a part of DH I have not yet ventured into, but others on campus definitely have!  The easiest entry into modelling is SketchUp.  We also have Rhino loaded on the machines in Coleman 220 and it is regularly used in Joe Meiser’s Digital Sculpture class.


Screenshot 2015-09-27 20.30.02There are various platforms out there for constructing digital timelines that also allow for the inclusion of multimedia elements and one, Timemapper, also allows for a mapping window.  Most frequently used are Timeglider and Timeline.js

Creating a Digital Exhibition

If you re interested in curating a digital exhibition of artifacts, the best platform to use is This is a free online version of the more robust and versatile platform which has to be installed on Bucknell’s servers (which can take a while). allows you to upload digitized images, documents, maps etc to a “collection” that can then be arranged and curated as an online exhibit.  This is particularly useful if you have found a collection of photographs (maybe your own) that you would like to present in a public facing platform with a narrative logic.

Screenshot 2015-09-29 09.00.21
View of Matthis Hehl’s Itinerant Map of Pennsylvania, annotated using Neatline.

Again, if you want to do this I am happy to show you how.  Here is a link to my own (developing) Omeka site at Bucknell on the Stories of the Susquehanna.  The server-based version has a very nice visualization tool called Neatline, which allows you to link the digital artifacts in your collection to a base image (maybe a map or a painting) and then annotate. This is an example I am developing for the 1750s Itinerant Preachers’ Map of Pennsylvania which I have used a great deal in my research and also in my teaching.  There is also a Timeline widget you can activate.  I have discovered a great tutorial on how to use Omeka and Neatline here, put together from a workshop given at the Michelle Smith Collaboratory at the University of Maryland.


If you want to create a network visualization in more detail and depth, use Gephi. Gephi is an open source, free, interactive visualization and exploration platform for all kinds of networks and complex systems, dynamic and hierarchical graphs.  It runs on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.  One of most important issues to consider before investing a lot of time in learning Gephi is whether or not your research question might be answered through using this visualization platform.  Ask yourself these questions, and then if the answer is yes, prepare your data!  Gephi has an excellent set of tutorials on GitHub.  Data can be prepared directly in Gephi or can be imported in csv format.


Anna Piesch Seidel

Ich bin gebohren anno 1726 den 12ten January in Berthelsdorff
allwo meine lieben Eltern sich <(>interims Weise<)> aufhielten, bis ihr
neu erbautes Haus in Herrnhuth fertig wurde, denn sie waren
den Herbst vorher erst aus Mähren angekommen.
Wie ich 6 Jahr alt war, verlohr ich meine liebe Mutter, die an
einer hitzigen Kranckheit gar sehr selig u. geschwinde heimging.
Ich hatte 2 Brüder die jünger waren als ich, u. wir wurden eben
alle 3 in das damalige Wäysen-Haus in Hhuth gethan. Unser
lieber Vater war selten zu Hause, weil er beständig mit dem
seligen Papa auf Reisen war. Die Behandlung in dem lieben
Wäysen-Hause war dazumal hart u. schwer. <(>Meine armen
kleinen Brüder grämten sich daß sie beyde die auszehrung krieg-
ten, u. ihrer lieben Mutter bald nach folgten. Ich blieb also
allein übrig, u. habe meine Zeit ab u. zu daselbst zugebracht
bis ich 12 Jahr alt war. Der liebe Heiland war mein Einiger
Trost, an Ihn hielt ich mich, u. Er half mir <gnädig.> durch. Wie ich 11
Jahr alt war 1737 kam ich nebst noch mehreren von meinen Gespie-
linnen ins Stunden-Gebeth, u. war in diesem mir aufgetragenen
Geschäffte so threu, daß ich noch iezt mit Vergnügen dran denke.
den 13ten Septr. dieses Jahres wurde ich in die Kinder-Gemeine auf-
genommen. 1738 im Jan: reiste ich nebst noch unterschiedenen Kin-
dern nach Berlin, allwo der sel. Papa mit seinem Hause schon
verschiedene Wochen vorher war. Wir wurden in Seinem Hause
einlogirt, u. wenn Er seine Reden an die Weibs-Leute hielt, saßen
wir um die Bühne herum worauf er stand, u. sangen gemein-
nigl. die Lieder, die er zum Anfang singen lies.
Im Monat May dieses Jahres, reisten wir Kinder mit Geschw.
Leohards nach Marienborn, u. formirten auch da eine Anstalt, zu
welcher immer Kinder herzu kamen, bis wir endl. zieml. starck wurden. ///Da ich noch nicht 14 Jahr alt war, wurde mir eine zieml. große
Stube voll Kinder anvertraut, deren Vorgesezte ich war, welches
eine eigene Schule vor mich war, u. mich gar sehr zum Heiland trieb
in allen Angelegenheiten.
anno 39 im Oct: ging ich zum erstenmal zum heil: Abendmahl,
zum unvergeßl. Eindruck u. Seegen vor mein armes Herz;
(<)14 Tage darauf wurde ich nebst noch unterschiedenen von meinen Ge- spielinen Confirmirt, oder zur Accoluthie angenommen.(>)
anno 40 zogen wir nach Herrnhaag in das vor die Anstalt er-
baute Haus. anno 41 im Jan: wurde ich Kinder Aeltestin u.
mit Aeltestin der grossen Mädgen, <(>welche Aemter ich in wahrer
Armuth des Geistes etl. Jahre bedient habe.<)> den 13ten Nov: da
das erste Aeltesten-fest in Hhaag gefeyert wurde, war ein ganz
extraordinairer Gnaden- u. Seegens tag, den ich so lang ich lebe
nie vergeßen werde, denn der Hld. that auch aparte Gnade u.
Barmherzigkeit an mir Seinem armen Kinde.
(<)anno 42 da Papa in America waren, hatten die Arbeiter alle Monat ein Pilger Abendmahl in Marienborn, wozu ich auch die Gnade hatte zu kommen, welches mir gar erstaunl. wichtig war, u. mir viel Seegen vor mein Herz austrug.(>)
(<)anno 43 im Apr. kamen Papa, meine liebe Tante u. die liebe Benignel von America zurück, da ging wieder eine ganz neue Gnaden Zeit an, die vor iedes Herz in der Gemeine viel ausgetragen hat.(>) im Juny gings zu einem Gen: Synodum
nach Hirschberg, ich reiste auch dahin, u. wurde bey demselben
am 5ten July zu meiner Gen: Mit Aeltestin ernennt.
<(>Diese hohe Würde in der Gemeine zu bekleiden, kostete
mich unzehl. Thränen,(>) und ich ging klein und Sünderhafft dran.(>)
Die Liebe und wirckl. Zuneigung aller meiner Geschwistern zu
mir armen <(>Ding<)>, beschämte u. beugte mich (<)noch mehr(>).///Nach dem der Synodus vorbey war, reisten wir über Ebersdorff
nach Hhuth u. Schlesien, hatten im Herbst desßelben Jahrs ein
Pilger-Haus in Burau. im Winter war ich im Hhuthschen
Schw. Hause. Da Papa von Liefland zurück kamen 1744
waren in Hhuth selige Mensch-Sohns-Tage, doch war der Auffent-
halt kurz. wir reisten von Hhuth wieder nach Mborn, u. blieben
daselbst bis im Febr. 45 da reisten wir nach Holland, u. hatten
in Amsterdam in Schellingers Haus, ein Pilger-Haus von ein
paar Monaten, alsdann reisten wir wieder zurück nach Mborn
u. ich zog bald drauf ganz nach Hhaag das led. Schw.-Pfleger-
amt zu übernehmen, welches ich bis zu ende Sept: dieses
Jahr besorgte, u. alsdann nach England reiste, nebst meinem
lieben Vater und dem Br: Leonhard<(>, letzterer u. ich hatten den
Auftrag das ganze Werk des Heilands dasselbst zu besorgen,
u. die Arbeiter zusammen zu halten.<)> Dabey hatte ich besonders
den Auftrag ein led. Schw. Chor in London zu sammlen u.
deren Specielle Arbeiterin zu seyn, es sah im Anfang schwierig
aus, aber der Hld lies mirs gelingen, daß ich in kurzer Zeit
ein recht schönes led. Schw. Chor kriegte. Die Sprache lernte ich
auch sehr geschwind, u. war in kurzer Zeit ganz zu Hause.
Im July 46 kamen Papa, Mama u. viele Geschw: nach London
u. wir formirten in Red Lions quare ein schönes Pilger-Haus.
Noch vor Ende des Jahrs gingen Papa pp. wieder zurück nach
Teuschland. anno 47. im Apr: reiste ich zurück nach Hhaag,
wurde am 4ten May vom Papa u. Mamagen zur gen: Aeltisten
aller led. Schw. Chöre eingesegnet. dieselben etl. Monate in
Hhaag werde ich meine lebe tage nicht vergeßen, denn es war
eine ganz aparte selige Zeit. Von da reisten wir nach
Hhuth, u. das Jünger-Haus hielt sich im Berthelsdorfer Schloß///auf. im Nov: reiste ich mit Johannes u. Benignel nach Hhaag
im Herbst 48 reiste ich nach Holland, u. nach einem 2 monatlichen
Auffenthalt in Zeyst mit der sel. Mama über Barby nach
Hhaag zurück, allwo ich den ganzen Winter blieb, u. eine
ernstere schwere Zeit in dem Sichtungs Periodo hatte.
Zu Ende May 1749 reiste ich nach England ins Jünger haus, welches
sich dazu mal im Bloomsburry Square befand. Bald nach meiner An-
kunfft reisten Christel und ich mit Papa und Mamagen nach Yorkshire
u. hielten uns bey nah 2 Monat in dem neuen Gemein Ort in Pudsy
auf, welches bey unserem Da seyn den Namen Grace Hall bekam.
(<)wir legten die Grund-Steine zu den led. Brr- u. Schw. Häusern u. hatten sehr selige u. vergnügte Zeit mit der Gemeine daselbst.(>)
im Aug: kamen wir zurück nach Bloomsburrysquare; u. blieben
da bis anno 50, da wir über Zeyst, Neuwied Mborn u. Hhaag reisten
Hhuth reisten. Von Hhaag emigrirten im Herbst dieses Jahres die
Kinder, (neml. die Mäd:anstalt:) Sie wurden im Hennersdorffschen Schloß
einlogirt, ich kriegte meinen mehresten Auffenthalt bei ihnen, weil
mir die Aufsicht über die ganze Anstalt übertragen worden war
u. es war eine selige Zeit die wir mit den Kindern in diesem
lieben Örtgen hatten. im Merz 51. zog ich mit er Anstalt nach
Hhuth. im Aprill besuchte ich in Schlesien, u. kam zum 4ten May
wieder in Hhuth an, allwo ich verblieb bis im Mitte im Juny, dann
machte ich einen Besuch in Ebersdorff, u. ging von da nach Hhaag
u. Mborn, vertheilte meinen lieben ledgen Schwestern vollends
u. fertigte welche nach Ebersdorff, welche nach Neuwied, und
eine zieml. Anzahl nach Zeyst ab, von da reiste ich über Holland
nach England, allwo ich den 23ten Aug: in Bloomsburry eintraff
u. den Tag drauf kamen auch Papa u. übrige Geschwister des
Jünger-Hauses an. (<)Gegen Winter zogen wir nach West Minster
wir hatten zieml. schwere Zeit. Christel wurde kranck, kriegte im
Febr: 52 das Blut-Speyen, u. darauf eine geschwinde Auszehrung ///u. ging am 28ten May zu unser aller großen Schmerz u. Betrübniß
zum Heiland. ich vor meine Person fühlte aufs empfindlichste was
ich an Ihm verlohr, u. wäre der Hld. nicht mein Trost gewesen
so wäre ich untröstl. über den Verlust geblieben.<)>
Zu anfang Oct: dieses Jahr, reiste ich mit einer Collonne ledger
Schw: nach America; wir gingen mit der Irene, u. kamen am
24ten Novr glückl. u. wohl behalten in Bethlehem an, u. wurden
mit vieler Freude aufgenommen, hatten auch die Gnade noch am
selbigen Abend mit der Gemeine das heilige Abendmahl
zu genießen. im Jan: 53 machte ich eine Besuch in den Stadt
u. Land-Gemeinen. die Indianer Gemeine in Gnaden-Hütten
charmirte mich sehr, u. überhaupt gefiel mir alles sehr wohl
in America. in der Mitte des Febr: reiste ich wieder von Bethle-
hem ab, über Philadelphia nach New York, hatte am 25ten
die Freude mit dasiger Gemeine das heil: Abdm. zu genießen.
ging am 26ten an Bord der Irene, u. am 25ten Merz hatte
ich die Gnade u. Freude das heilige Abendmahl im Jünger
Hause in Westminster mit zu genießen. etliche Tage da-
rauf zogen wir in Linseyhouse ein. im herbst deßelben
Jahrs machte ich einen Besuch in Yorkshire meinen lieben
krancken Vater zu besuchen sehen u. zu sprechen, welcher
auch am 3ten Novr. selig zum Heiland ging. Sein Heimgang
kostete mich viele Thränen, doch ich ihm sein Glück beym
Herrn daheime zu seyn nicht misgönnen.
anno 54 im Jan: reiste ich über Holland nach Hhuth u. Schlesien
zur Visitation der led. Schw. Chöre, u. reiste mit der seligen
Mama im August durch die Niederlande nach England zu-
rück, war im Herbst sehr kränckl., so daß ich schon zieml. von
den Doctores aufgegeben war, u. o, wie gern wäre ich damals///
heimgegangen, aber es gefiel dem Heiland mich wieder gesund
werden zu laßen.
im Febr: 55 ging ein Theil des Jünger-Hauses nach Holland, u.
ein Theil blieb noch in Lindseyhouse, ich reiste mit nach Holland
u. wir hatten unsern Auffenthalt in Zeyst. im May reisten
wir über Neuwied, Mborn, Barby, nach Hhuth, u. das Jünger-
Haus war im Berthelsdorffer Schloß.
anno 57. im Septr. reiste ich mit Papa u. Mamagen pp.. über Barby
u. Mborn nach der Schweiz. Wir kamen am 3ten Oct: in Mont-
mirail an. Besuchten im Nov: Geneve u. Lausanna, u. hatten
selige Zeit mit den Geschwistern allenthalben, im Rückwege
besuchten wir Bern, Arom, Basel, Zürch u. Schaffhaußen
u. reiseten durchs Würtembergerland nach Ebersdorff, wo wir
kurz vor Weyhnachten ankamen. Gleich nach den Feyer-Tagen
reiste ich nach Hhuth u. kam am lezten Dec: glückl. daselbst an.
Im Früh-Jahr 58 war ich wieder sehr kränckl. u. verbrachte meine
meiste Zeit in meinem lieben led. Schw. Hause in Hhuth.
Im August reisten wir nach Holland, u. das Jünger-haus zog
nach Herrndyk, allwo wir den ganzen Winter blieben, u. auch
noch im Jahr 59, bis im Monat Aug, doch waren wir auch
viel in Zeyst
Am Ende Mey reiste ich mit Johannes und seiner
lieben Frau nach England zur Visitation der Gemeinen u.
Chöre, u. kam zu Ende des Jahrs mit ihnen zurück nach
Zeyst. Bald nach dem Neuen Jahr 1760 reisten wir über Barby
nach Hhuth. Als ich da ankam, fand ich mein gutes Mamagen
sehr schwächl. ia in völliger Auszehrung, gab mich also gleich
dazu her sie zu pflegen u. zu warten, u. mich um sonst wenig
zu bekümmern, u. das habe auch treul. gethan u. gehalten.
Es war eine drückende schwere Zeit vor mich, aber der Heiland
der bey allem Brast (?) u. Kummer mir innig nahe war, halff mir ///
mir gnädig durch. Am 9ten May ging unser allerliebster Papa
heim, der wol nie vergeßen werden wird, von allen die ihn ge-
kannt u. die gnade gehabt haben um ihn zu seyn. Das war
ein tief schneidenter Schmerz, u. beförderte auch das gute
Mamagen daß sie ihm am 21ten schon nachfolgte. Nun war
ich ganz verwayst, u. die Betrübniß und Kümmerniß meiner
armen Seele war gross, <(>nicht nur allein um ihre 2 lieben
Personen, sondern auch hauptsächl. darum; weil die Gemeinen
u. Chöre nunmehr ihre Leit-Schaafe verlohren, u. wie es künf-
tig gehen würde.<)>

Nach dem Heimgang dieser 2 lieben Leute,
dachte ich mich nunmehro meinen lieben led. Schw. Chören ganz
zu widmen, u. doppelte Treue u. Fleiß anzuwenden <(>, glaubte
auch daß es iezt nöthiger sey als sonst. Allein der Hld. fügte
es ganz anders u. gab mir ein ganz ander Feld zu bearbeiten.
ich kriegte meinen Plan in America, u. dazu den lieben Bruder
Nathanael angetragen, wir solten dahin gehen das dortige
oeconomat u. die Güther der Unitæt zu übernehmen. dieser
Plan war schon bey Papas Leb Zeiten vor uns bestimmt, u.
so gut als resolvirt, u. ich selbst war auch informirt davon.
Nach America ging ich gern, aber in die Ehe zu treten, das
kostete sehr viel, u. es gab manche bittre Schmerzen bis ich
meinen Willen in des Hlds Sinnen geben konnte, Er halff
mir aber auch darinne durch, u. war mir kräfftig zur Seiten.
Wir wurden am 15ten Juny in einer kleinen lieben Gesellschafft
versprochen. Dieser Vorgang wurde aber den led. Chören nicht bekannt ge-///gemacht, bis zu Ende August. <)> Wir waren 5 Monat versprochen.
Nathanael reiste in der zwischen Zeit mit Johannes nach Barby
u. ich mit Geschw. Marschalls nach Ebersdorff zur Visitation des
led. Schw. Chores. den 16ten Oct.r kam ich wieder in Hhuth an,
u. wir wurden am 30ten von unserem lieben Br. Johannes
zur heiligen Ehe verbunden, unter einem ganz aparten Ge-
fühl von der Gnaden Gegenwart unsers besten Freundes. ich
ging wie schon gemeldet sehr schwer in diesen wichtigen Stand
doch da es des Heilands Wille so war, so bat ich mir auch gleich
zum Eintritt in daßelbe von Ihm zur Gnade aus, daß Er
mich Ihm, wie auch meinem lieben Mann zur Freude u. Ehre
gestalten möge, u. mir Gnade geben nunmehro ein treue
unterthänige Frau zu seyn. ich gab mich Ihm dazu hin
wie ich war, u. fühlte Seinen Frieden u. Sein gnädiges Be-
kenntniß zu uns bey allen Umständen die mit uns vorkammen.
Wir besuchten diesen Winter noch Niesky, u. reiseten am 2ten .
Merz 61. von Hhut über Barby nach Holland ab, waren 6 Wochen
in Zeyst, u. unsere ganze Collonne fand sich nach u. nach zusammen
wir nahmen ein gemiethetes Fahr Zeug, u. fuhren mit selbig
nach England, kamen am 12ten May glückl. in Lindseyhouse
an. Zu Ende May gingen unsre lieber Geschw. die nunmehro
50 Personen ausmachte an Bord der Hope, Br. Jacobsen
Capitain, u. segelten nach Portsmouth. Mein lieber Mann
u. ich, nebst Geschw. Marschalls blieben noch ein paar Wochen
in Ldshouse, weil wir mit Br. Johannes noch viel zu conferiren
hatten. im Juny reiseten wir auch ab, u. gingen zu Lande
bis Portsmouth, u. von da gleich auf unser Schiff. Wir lagen
aber als den noch 7 Wochen vor Anker; u. musten auf die Flotte warten./// Wir machten ein Complietes Gemeinlein auf unserm Schiff aus,
hatten täglich unsre Versammlungen, u. das heil. Abendmahl
zur gesezten Zeit, verbrachten unsere Tage u. Wochen selig.
Br. Johannes besuchte uns auch noch einmal, so auch noch unter-
schiedene andre Brüder von London. Am 4ten Aug. segelten
wir endlich ab, 96 Schiffe in der Flotte, hatten eine passable
gute Reise, brauchten aber doch 10 Wochen bis wir am 18ten
Octr. abends in die Hook vor Anker liefen.
Am 23ten Octr. kamen wir nebst unsern lieben Geschw.
Münsters u. Marschalls in unsrem lieben Bethlehem an.
Die andern Geschw. kamen in den folgenden Tagen auch
alle glückl. an. <(>Die ersten Wochen gabs nichts als Freude
u. Niedlichkeiten, hernach aber gings in die Arbeit nein.
Das erste im Jahr 62 war die Umkehr der gemeinschaftlichen
oeconomie, welches ein schweres Stück Arbeit war, das
meinem guten Mann u. mir manche Schlaflose Nächte
verursachte. Der Hld. stand uns aber auch in diesen Um-
ständen gnädig bey.
Mit meinem lieben led. Schw. Chor allhier stand ich in
wahrer Herz Vertraulichkeit die ersten paar Jahre.
Mein Verheiratet Seyn, stöhrte nichts bey ihnen, noch
bey mir, u. ich wäre herzl. gern in dem Gange mit
ihnen geblieben. Aber die Veränderung Ihrer Arbeiter
machte auch hierinne eine Veränderung die mir gar
sehr schmerzl. Wehe gethan hat, doch habe ich mich mit der
Zeit auch dahinein schicken lernen durch des lieben Hlds
Beystand.<)> In den Stadt u. Land-Gemeinen, haben mein ///lieber Mann u. ich fleissig besucht, u. manche Bewahrung bey
dem vielen Reisen vom lieben Hld. erfahren. Anno 64 waren
wir in Newyork, u. hatten ein Boat genommen nach Staaten
Island über zu fahren, wie wir ans Waßer kamen, steigt
mein lieber Mann gleich hinein, ist aber keine Minute drinne
so tritt er in ein anderes, ich ruffte ihm zu, u. sagte ihm,
daß dieses das Boat sey wo wir drinne wären, mit dem
wir gehen wollen, er aber sagte nein, komm du nur in
dieses, ich will mit diesem gehen, ich folgte ihm stillschwei-
gends nach, wir gingen gleich ab, u. kamen glückl. über
es stand ein starkes Gewitter am Himmel, welches ausbrach
da wir noch eine halbe Meile vom Land waren, aber
wir erreichten das Land ohne Schaden, hingegen das andere
Boat wo wir erst drinne waren, kipte um, u. 7 Menschen
ertrancken bey dieser Gelegenheit. Wir sahen also
recht augenscheinl., wie uns der Hld. bewahrt hatte, daß
Er meinem Mann es so ins Herz gab, aus diesem Boat
raus zu gehen. Der gleichen Exempel könnte ich noch viele anführen,
es mag aber nur bey diesem bleiben.
Anno 69. reiste ich mit meinem lieben Mann zum General
Synodum nach Europa. Wir reiseten von unserem lieben
Bethlehem den letzten Merz ab, u. segelten von Philadelphia
den 17ten Aprill, kamen am 29ten May glückl in London
an, u. reiseten nach ein paar Tage Auffenthalt über
Zeyst u. Neuwied nach Mborn, allwo wir am 28ten
Juny glücklich eintrafen. Ich hatte große Freude viele
von meinen lieben, alten Bekandten wieder zu sehen <(>u. zu ///zu umarmen,. u. das wars auch alles, denn im übrigen
hatte ich kein Freude, sondern lauter Betrübniß, u. habe
viel viel Tränlein da geweint.<)> So bald der Synodus
vorbey war eilten wir zurück, u. kamen am 6ten Octr.
glückl. in London an, u. wären gerne noch dieses Jahr
nach America zurück gegangen, kriegten auch ein Schiff
an welches wir am 11ten Octr. wirkl. gingen, ich war etwa
eine Stunde mit meinem guten Mann an Board deßelben
so musten wir wieder mit Lebens-Gefahr davon weg
eilen, weil er ganz auf die Seite fiel u. auf einer Sand
Bank veste lag, wir gingen an Land, u. hielten uns bey
ein paar Geschw. auf, bestellten es aber daß uns ruffen
sollen, wenns Schiff wieder los käme, allein das Schiff
ging ganz zu Grunde in der Themse, u. wir musten nun
resolviren diesen Winter in England zu bleiben. Wir
thaten also eine Reise nach Yorkshire, Ockbrook u. Bedford
u. kamen zu Ende January 1770 wieder in London an.
hatten selige u. vergnügte Zeit mit der Gemeine da-
selbst, u. reisten am 12ten Merz von da nach Gravesend
ab, u. von dort an Bord eines Schiffes das nach Newyork
segelte. Wir hatten eine zieml. gute Reise, nahmen 10
oder 11. led: Brr: mit hieher nach Bethlehem u. Christians-
brunn. Mein guter Mann war kränckl. auf der Reise, u.
kriegte die gout das erstemal zieml. hart, ich aber
war wohl, u. konnte ihn pflegen. Wir kamen am 12ten
May glückl. in Newyork an, hielten uns nur ein paar
Tage da auf u. reisten alsdenn nach Bethlehem, wo ///wir zur wahren Freude aller unsrer lieben Geschwister
glückl. eintraffen. Wir thaten bald darauf eine Reise
in die Stadt u. Land Gemeinen an, nachdem der Verlaß
des Synodi hier u. in Nazareth u. Litiz war publiciret
worden, um ein Gleiches bey ihnen zu thun mit dem was
vor sie gehörte u. wir waren zu Ende Octr erst damit
Anno 71. fing mein guter Mann an sehr zu kränkeln, doch thaten
wir 4 1774 noch einen Besuch in allen Stadt u. Land-ge-
meinen u. bald drauf brach der unglückselige Krieg
aus, der uns gar viel Kummer u. Gram verursachet hat
wegen der damit verknüpften Umstände.
Anno 79 im Merz kamen unsre lieben Geschw. Reichels zu unserem
wahren Trost hieher, u. mein guter Mann schien ganz auf-
zu leben, aber es änderte sich das Jahr darauf da Geschw.
Reichels in der Wachau waren wieder gar sehr, u. er
kriegte gleich nach Weyhnachten 80 solche Zufälle, die mich
in große Noth u. Bekümmerniß brachten, u. was ich ge-
fürchtet ist mir wie zu præcis eingetroffen, denn er
ging am 17ten May 82 zu meinem unbeschreibl. Schmerz
sehr geschwinde heim. O hätte ich gleich mit Ihm gehen kön-
nen, wie wohl wäre mir geschehen! Ich hatte bey andert-
halb Jahren nichts anderes vor mir gesehen, als daß ich Ihn
verliehren würde, u. stellte mirs Centner schwer vor, aber,
aber alle Vorstellungen reichen da nicht hin, was man
erfährt bey der Auflösung dieses Bruders.
Nun hatte ich alles verlohren, was ich in dieser Welt
Liebes gehabt hatte, u. glaubte ofte daß es mir nicht möglich ///seyn würde, es zu überkommen. Allein meines besten
Freundes Nahes zu thun zu mir Seinem armen Kinde
kam mir auch in dieser harten Probe zu Hülffe, u. Er
sagte mir zu in meiner nunmehrigen Einsamkeit mein
Trost u. mein Ein und Alles zu seyn.
Die 21 u. ein halbes Jahr, die ich in der Ehe zu gebracht,
überdachte ich oftermals, fand unzehlige Ursachen Sün-
derin vor dem lieben Heiland zu werden, doch konnte ich
Ihm auch tausend Danck sagen vor Sein mit uns seyn,
vor Sein Bekenntnis zu uns in so mancherley schweren
Dingen, die in unserem Amts-Gange vorgekommen
sind. Bey allen Fehlern u. Mängeln haben es unsre
Herzen doch treu gemeynt. Wir haben nichts zum
Zweck u. Ziel gehabt, als den Heiland u. seine Sache.
Dabey haben wir einander zärtlich lieb gehabt, u. Freud
u. Leid mit einander getheilt, u. weil er bey 10 Jahren
her schwächlich u. kränklich war, so wars mirs eine
wahre Gnade ihm zu dienen bey Tag u. Nacht, u.
ihn so gut zu pflegen als es nur möglich war, hätte
es auch gern noch viele Jahre gethan, wenn mir ihn
der liebe Heiland noch hätte laßen wollen.
Ich gönne meinem guten Mann seine Ruhe von Herzen
ob ihm gleich noch ofte Thränlein von mir nach geweint
werden, denn ich weiß am Besten, wie sehr er sich darnach
gesehnt. Der liebe Heiland wird mir armen Sünderin
auch noch helffen zu Seiner Zeit u. Stunde. Indeßen
bleibt Er meine Zuversicht alleine, sonst weiß ich keine.

A Head Full of Landscapes

View across Lake Clarke on the Lower Susquehanna

Yesterday I fulfilled a desire, harbored for all the years I have been working on the Susquehanna River; and that was to travel as far south as I could to the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. It took a lot of driving and navigating, but I did it.

This desire was not merely a romantic wish to experience the river from source to bay (which now I have done, albeit not always in a kayak). I was stunned at the changes the river goes through, from its modest beginnings up in Cooperstown; its torments at the hands of the post-industrial towns of Binghamton and Wilkes Barre; its majesty on the North Branch as it winds its way through the mountains, steep wooded ridges rising on both sides and monitored by high soaring eagles; the calmer waters as it joins with the West Branch at Sunbury and provides the motorist on route 15 with a most glorious companion with its wide stretches, and myriad wooded, farmed, and rocky islands, that reminded one Moravian missionary of a city with its avenues and cross streets. And then finally, the transformation of a river into a series of lakes, some over 200 feet deep, formed behind the hydro-electric dams of Safe Harbor, Holtwood and Conowingo.

Standing at Fisherman’s Park on the spillway below the Conowingo Dam.

It is late summer and the river is low. From the main branch down to Wrightsville, the bed rock is visible, jutting up over the surface to make riffles that would please any kayaker and exposing the ledges in the river bed. The water is warm, maybe too warm for the fish to enjoy and thus the eagles hunt elsewhere. But below the last dam, at the spillway of the Conowingo, this wide full river is a trickle, meandering like an afterthought through the rocks. Its banks bustling with anglers and birders, this final stage of the river seems on an August afternoon weary of its 444 mile journey to the sea, almost succumbing to defeat at the hands of human industry. As I looked downriver all that was visible were the final metal bridges crisscrossing the viewscape before you get to the Bay. An ignominious end.

I had  a very pragmatic need to make this journey yesterday.  I am in the final stages of compiling a report for the National Park Service on the Indigenous Cultural Landscape of the Lower Susquehanna. As part of the segment planning process, I am heading up a team of scholars and mappers to make an argument to the NPS for certain landscapes of the Susquehanna to be designated as “evocative of the natural and cultural resources supporting American Indian lifeways and settlement patterns in the early 17th century.” (See These landscapes are also important to descendant communities today, and are intended to aid conservation strategies in the Chesapeake and its watershed. This has not been an easy process. As this approach to understanding large landscapes is still in the development stage, it has not always been clear how to describe an “Indigenous Cultural Landscape” without succumbing to the romanticization of an indigenous viewpoint, without projecting the settler culture’s desire for a “edenic” past (to quote my colleague and collaborator, Alf Siewers). And indeed, the displacement and genocide of the Native populations of Pennsylvania means that those descendant people are probably radically dislocated from these landscapes. Unlike Virginia or Maryland or New Jersey, Pennsylvania is one of only two states left in the Union that does not recognize the presence of Native nations in its borders. Thus, the very notion of a Native heritage landscape is thoroughly disrupted. And unlike the PI’s in other Indigenous Cultural Landscape studies (as on the Nanticoke river) I can’t go to the recognized American Indian nations and ask, “What does this place mean to you?” because they are elsewhere.

The vast amount of work that has been completed by my colleagues and our students on the history and culture of the Susquehanna River under the umbrella of the “Stories of the Susquehanna” is crucial to the rebuilding of Native American connections to the landscapes that were left behind. Through outreach to the Haudenosaunee, facilitated by Sid Jamieson, and public history events, such as the North Branch Heritage Kayak sojourns, organized by David Buck of Endless Mountains Outfitters, bonds are being rebuilt between the landscapes of the Susquehanna and the descendants of those people who populated them, hundreds of years ago. And there are those, like Onondago Canoe Club owner, Hickory Edwards, whose mission it is to “reindigenize” the river. Paddling the length of the Susquehanna last year, down to Annapolis and then walking on to Washington DC to the opening of “Nation to Nation” exhibition of treaties at the Museum of the American Indian, Hickory might exemplify a Native view of Indigenous Cultural Landscapes. They are being rediscovered, like a newly revitalized part of the body, awakened after centuries of numbness.

The guidelines for creating an IC11884093_10156008710345531_2436891468245013356_oL make it clear that the importance of landscapes to descendant communities today is central. But my question is, who is the audience or viewer of the landscape? Yesterday, as I paused for a meeting at the Zimmerman Heritage Center on Long Level, I was thrilled to see the progress that had been made there in creating interpretive materials for the passing public.  A stylish jetty on the waterfront has been built, shaded by a sloping roof and lined with benches wide enough to provide work space for me and my computer and my collaborators.  In front of us, a full size replica of Benjamin Latrobe’s glorious survey of the Lower Susquehanna, commissioned by the Pennsylvania State legislature for the “improvement” of the river from Columbia down to the head of the Bay, is displayed, revealing a water viewscape radically different from that which confronts today’s visitors who can read, “Latrobe’s Susquehanna survey represents a rare profile of the physical features of a region just beginning to feel the impact of agricultural and commercial development.”  As true as this is, the view across the river, now a lake, also points us in the direction of Washington Boro, the site of dense Native American settlement and horticulture/agriculture during the timeframe delineated by the requirements of the Indigenous Cultural Landscape initiative.  Benjamin Latrobe’s survey certainly gives the viewer an idea of the radical change in the river thanks to the hydroelectric dams of 20th century energy production, but what it does not tell us is that this was a center of trade, exchange, agriculture and human interaction with the environment for hundreds of years prior to his “clearing” or dynamiting of a channel up the river.  This part of the story is told behind the viewer.  Turn around and climb the escarpment and you will find the “Native Lands County Park”, which at my last visit to this place was just an idea. Now the visitor can learn about the last known village of the Susquehannock Indians that stood on top of this hill (1676-1680) (the Byrd Leibhart site) where once 3,000 people lived in a stockaded four acre village in 16 ninety foot longhouses. The view from this hilltop reveals the wide sky, water and rolling hills of the Piedmont, now punctuated with wind turbines and McMansions. But the sense of this landscape is strong enough to blot out those intrusions of 21st century America (for now).11886143_10156008707160531_781607673786200798_o

Even with the deep knowledge I have of this landscape, its history of human settlement and conflict, its soils, its elevation, its climate, its cultivation, I cannot see it through Native eyes. And I should not. If all that this initiative does is to deepen the settler culture’s understanding of the place on which it stands and builds and dynamites and dams, then I think much will have been achieved. However, within the borders of Pennsylvania’s bastion of historical denial, within this state of willed and legislated amnesia, we are a very long way from reindigenizing our landscapes.

Pedagogical Hermeneutics and Teaching DH in a Liberal Arts Context

Diane Jakacki and I gave the following presentation yesterday at DH2015 in Sydney, Australia. We include the slides and the abbreviated form of the talk.  The complete version will be published as an article in the near future.

Thanks to everyone for coming and for your interest!

We take our title from Alan Liu’s challenge to DH educators to develop a distinctive  pedagogical hermeneutic of “practice, discovery, and community” What does this look like?  How do we put this into practice?

This paper focuses on our teaching experience at Bucknell University in the academic year 2014-15 to show how the planning, design, and execution of a new project-based course, Humanities 100, introduced undergraduate students to the world of digital humanities through the use of selected digital tools and methods of analysis. This course, taught within the Comparative Humanities program, was designed specifically for first- and second-year students with no background in digital humanities, in order to encourage the development of digital habits of mind at the earliest phases of their liberal arts curricular experience. Developed to encourage examination and experimentation with a range of digital humanities approaches, the course asks students to work with primary archival materials as core texts to encourage digital modes of inquiry and analysis. The decision to root the course in a multi-faceted analysis of archival materials provided the rare chance for students to also engage in the research process typical for a humanities scholar: namely, the discovery of artifacts, the formulation of research questions, followed by the analysis and synthesis of findings culminating in the publication of initial findings in a digital medium. In the process, we introduced students to the basic structure of how to develop a DH research project.

The Comparative Humanities program is an ideal curricular environment to teach such classes with its explicit learning goals of comparativity (historical period, cultures, genres, modality) to which we added course specific learning goals that pertain to DH. (Slide with goals) The course therefore provided us with the opportunity to not only expose students to methodologies related to distant and close reading, network and spatial visualization, but also requiring that they learn to think critically about what each of these methods, and the tools that they used within the course, reveals in the texts with which they worked.

To date the course has been taught three times: as twin sections in Fall 2014 in which we both used the same scaffolding method with discrete subject matter and core texts. We participated fully in one another’s sections – this gave us the opportunity to teach our specializations within each other’s classes. Katie Faull taught the course again in Spring 2015, and Diane Jakacki participated. Both of us will teach a section next year.

This approach to teaching is important as we consider how to incorporate DH into the classroom. It required significant commitment on both our parts to the actual execution of the course, as well as recognition that we needed to be transparent to ourselves as well as to our students about how this represented a new model for course design at Bucknell. It is important to note that while other DH-inflected courses are being taught, this is the first Digital Humanities course at Bucknell.

At  Bucknell, the focus in digital humanities scholarship and learning to date has been primarily on spatial thinking, until recently rooted in working with ArcMap-type GIS and thinking about humanities in “place”.  It was important to both of us to emphasize and extend that objective in the development of the course and its learning outcomes, and so we focused on finding materials that would be of interest to students so that they could relate to the historical context more directly.

The first time the course was  taught we decided to run it in two sections, anticipating an opportunity to reflect different perspectives of our expertise with DH methods and tools. Diane’s focus has until now been on text encoding and analysis, while Katie’s has been on mapping and data visualization. We also worked with discrete data sets of archival materials. Katie’s course focused on the Colonial mission diaries of the Moravians from Shamokin, Pennsylvania (today Sunbury) and situated 9 miles downstream from the university. Written in English, the diary sections selected dealt with interactions between some of the first Europeans to the area and the Native peoples they met and worked among. Katie has spent the past five years working with this subject matter, and is considered an expert in the field of Moravian studies.

Diane’s course considered a subset of the diaries of James Merrill Linn, one of the first graduates of the university and a soldier in the American Civil War.  The choice of the Linn material had to do solely with its accessibility – Linn’s family left his life papers to the Bucknell Archives. Diane’s research is not in 19th century American history, and so she had to be honest that engaging with Linn’s diaries would be a discovery for her, too. In Katie’s iteration of the course this Spring, she selected materials that took the students slightly further afield, but still kept them within the Susquehanna watershed and the Chesapeake Bay using a different set of Moravian archival materials.  (Slide with archival materials)

Both of our choices reflect and extend Bucknell’s interest in digital/spatial thinking in terms of its place in the larger historical and cultural narrative. In all cases, students responded well to the investigation of places familiar to them, with several students having family connections to specific locales mentioned in the archival materials. The pedagogical hermeneutics of Humanities 100 were intentionally designed to encourage student examination and experimentation  and discovery with a range of digital humanities approaches.  To this end, the sequencing of the modules was carefully designed so that the “product” of each module then became the “data” of the next module.

In addition to praxis-oriented assignments, we wanted students to understand the broader context of their work within a DH framework. To that end we assigned theoretical readings and analysis of a range of major DH projects, which students then wove into their online reflections. Extensive use was made of online platforms that emphasize important forms of digital engagement, including collaborative online writing environments. Each module ended with a short assignment and also a reflective public-facing blog post that became a shared form of intellectual engagement.

In order to begin any kind of DH archival project the students had to produce a digital text.  In the first iteration of the course we did not have a transcription desk available and so students transcribed the assigned pages of the original into a shared Google doc.  This digital text was then color-coded in terms of “proto” tags to ease the way into close reading with TEI tags in Oxygen.  By the time the second semester started we had obtained an institutional subscription to the online platform Juxta Editions which we were then able to use as the transcription platform and also the introduction to thinking about tagging. From the transcription came the lightly marked up digital text that was then imported into Oxygen for more complex tagging.  Students then began tagging in earnest and were introduced to the discoveries of close reading involved in marking up a text.  Names, places, and dates were easy (in Juxta edition they had already been imported).  However the hermeneutical fun started with working out whether a boat was a place or an object, for example.  Or whether God was a person.  And just what is balsam, an object?  an emotion?

During these classes, the historical remoteness of the texts (in Faull’s class from the first half of the 18th century, focusing on Native Americans in the fall and in the Spring on preaching to the enslaved peoples on the Tobacco Coast) was lessened by the act of tagging and the lively discussions that surrounded it. Once a reliable text had been established we then introduced students to the concept of “distant reading” through the Voyant platform.  At the same time as students were encouraged to “play” we also pointed out the circular motion of discovery and confirmation that is inherent in any research experience. The students had just read these archival texts very carefully in order to transcribe them, so we asked them the usual kinds of questions one asks when approaching any kind of new text.  What is it about?  What are the major themes?  Who are the most important characters?  Then, having read Edward Whitley’s text on distant reading we asked the students to think about what reading a text distantly does to that hermeneutic. (Slide of distant reading prompt and visualizations)

This data, the TEI tags, crucial to the success of the students’ mark up assignment and the production of a final digital document, needed some restructuring as we moved onto the next module.  To manage this, we developed a prosopography for each core text – a database of people, places, and connections that grew organically out of the focus of each specific section and provided the data for entry into Gephi and was then built out in adding geospatial data for GIS. So for example, one group of students wanted to use Gephi to interrogate the assumption that relationships between the missionaries and the Native Americans in the area around the mission remained constant.  However, by using the TEI persName tags and exporting them into a Gephi node/edge tables the students were able to show how relations between the Native leaders and the Moravian missionaries changed over a five year period of the mission (Include slide of Jerry and Henna’s work). Students also used the sigma.js plug in so that the network visualizations were interactive.  However successful this team was in their work, it was clear from all iterations of the class that the hermeneutics of social networks was the hardest for the students to analyse and manipulate (which is quite ironic, given how most of them are well plugged in to Twitter, Instagram, etc).

Lastly, students worked in ArcGIS Online to consider the evidence they had discovered within these texts in terms of spatial analysis. The story maps they produced became a new form of critical essay, with thesis, arguments supported by direct evidence, and conclusion all presented within a story map framework. so, for example, one student used Linn’s references to ships running aground during a storm at Hatteras Inlet, found a contemporary document reporting on the damage done to Union ships during this point in the campaign, and overlaid his evidence on a nautical map drawn in 1861 to determine where Linn’s ship had foundered.

Both the composition of the class (in terms of student personalities) and also the nature of the material determined to some extent the kind of final project students chose.  For example, in my section there were some natural groupings of students and there were a variety of final projects (one involving Gephi; two TEI markup; one hybrid ArcMap and TEI; and one story map). In Diane’s class all but two students chose to work independently  In the second iteration of Katie’s course, students decided that they would produce one final group project all together –a  course website that highlighted the best of their DH work. (Slide of Payne Froehlich website)

Assessment slide–self-explanatory

Another challenge to the class design was the high number of L2 students who enrolled in it.  In Katie’s Fall 2014 section there were 2 students of 9 from mainland China; in her spring section that ratio increased to three of five.  In the fall there was one from Australia and one from Vietnam (neither L2s but international students); one student in the spring course was from South Africa – her first language was Afrikaans.  Although the students admitted to being challenged by the readings and also the public facing writing in the blog site, a means for adjusting for student errors and allowing for corrections was developed that would allow the students to post their blog reflections in a way that did not impede their openness to reflection, knowing that they would have an opportunity to correct their English.

However, for all the challenges involved in teaching the class, there were moments of glory. Disengaged students became engaged; solitary learners recognized the essential need to collaborate in order to succeed; participants recognized the transformative nature of the course to their own concepts of the humanities. Students were eager to participate in crowdsourced data collection; they were intrigued to visualize ego-networks as they learned the concepts of network theory; they were excited to see their marked up transcriptions published in an online digital edition. Through these discoveries, they realized that they were creating a community of young DHers and expressed eagerness to take part in more of these learning experiences. Thank you!

“Writing a Moravian Memoir: the Intersection of History and Autobiography”

Screenshot 2015-05-14 19.19.51 Monday, May 11, 2015, University of Goteborg, Sweden

I delivered this seminar paper via Skype to a group of European scholars interested in ways of reading and analyzing Moravian memoirs.  The two day seminar was entitled “Life-writing and Lebenslauf:  Pillars of an invisible church” and was organized by Dr. Christer Ahlberger, in the faculty of History. In this paper I discuss ways of thinking about autobiography and the Moravian memoir, both as a radical act within the history of the genre and also, when analyzing the memoirs with the methods of DH, as a radical hermeneutic to reveal new voices in the historical record.

Screenshot 2015-05-14 19.24.46The genre of autobiography is a tricky one. Although only recently even acknowledged within the scholarly community as an object worthy of critical scrunity, autobiography has for millenia served the purpose of providing a model of the exemplary life. Whether in the form of saints’ lives, the chronicles of kings and queens, the political autobiography, or Johannes Arndt’s “best seller” the Historie der Wiedergeborenen, all have served the purpose of shaping others’ lives. Through autobiography the author is able to examine memory, shape experience, interrogate the reasons for action and examine conscience. For the reader, the genre provides an opportunity to view this process within another human subject, to witness the relation of authentic (or inauthentic) experience and emotion. Continue reading ““Writing a Moravian Memoir: the Intersection of History and Autobiography””

Student Final Project for HUMN 100-The Humanities Now! Spring 2015

This spring I taught another iteration of HUMN 100 to a small group of highly motivated and talented students.  Like last semester, (see HUMN 100) this is a project-based class where students take an as yet unpublished manuscript from the Moravian Archives in Bethlehem, PA and develop their DH skills.

Screenshot 2015-05-05 21.26.02
Click image for link to website

This semester we were fortunate enough to work on the Travel Journal of Christian Froehlich and Jasper Payne.  Students started with the transcription of the manuscript and once a text had been established they were then able to analyze it using the lenses of the digital humanities.  The course website can be found here, where the outline, assignments, and blog posts are organized by topic (Close Reading, Distant Reading, Visualization, and Time).

Teaching with Emerging Technology: the Centrality of the Collaborative Mode

Screenshot 2015-01-30 13.22.22Over the last 6 months I have been working with the latest instructional technologies and digital tools in my class, Humanities 100.  This course, brand new for the 2014-15 academic year is designed to teach students how to create a digital project with archival materials.  The goal of the course is to teach students the importance of the creation of a digital text; to think about the design of data that stems from that digital text; to make intelligent decisions about the presentation of that digital text on the web; to teach students how to mark up a text in TEI lite and beyond; to begin to think about how to add geo-spatial elements to the analysis; and also how that text can be mined to build up a database of people and places (at the least)  that can then be used to create a network analysis of the text. That is a lot to learn; and from my experience last semester I can say that some students wanted to stop at, say, transcription of the text, or mark-up.  Continue reading “Teaching with Emerging Technology: the Centrality of the Collaborative Mode”

A Shamokin Thanksgiving

Seal of Agreement for smithy

As we gather today in the Susquehanna Valley to share our food with friends and family, we might be curious how this time of year was celebrated back in 1747, in the time of Chief Shikellamy and the beginnings of the Moravian mission at what was then called Shamokin, today Sunbury.

1747 had been a very busy and important year in the history of Shamokin. The project of establishing a forge at the Confluence of the North and West Branches of the Susquehanna River, first requested by the Six Nations in 1745 and not approved by the Colonial government in Philadelphia until 1747, had finally been achieved. Moravians and Indians had met in conference in the spring of that year to discuss exactly how the forge would be built and the conditions under which the Six Nations and their emissary, Shikellamy, would permit the European missionaries to live at the confluence. Shikellamy and his sons had helped to construct the mission house and smithy during the summer months and the Moravians had already cleared land around their house to plant corn, beans, and squash. By the end of July the smithy was ready for business, with the preferred customers being the Indians of the Six Nations (for whom account books were kept); and traders being just tolerated. The wives of the Moravian missionaries, Anna Mack and Catharine Schmidt were already participating fully in the economy of the smithy and mission as they took in sewing from the Indians, mending Shikellamy’s shirts on a regular basis.

But the hard work of setting up the smithy and mission house had already taken its toll on one of the Moravians. After a long trip down river to collect supplies, Brother Hagen succumbed to the prevailing fever and, in September of 1747, was buried in a plot just beyond the turnip field, accompanied by a beautiful service of song.

That November was cold. The charcoal fire in the forge had been started, and many Indians passing through Shamokin stopped at the smithy to have work done to their weapons and to keep warm. The last full week of November was marked by the sadness that prevailed at the death of Shikellamy’s two year old grandchild. Anna Mack and Catharina Schmidt sewed, as requested, a death shroud for her out of a piece of linen brought to them by the Indian women, and then visited the dead child before burial.

But amid the sadness there was kindness and hope. The sharing of dried cherries and bread between a Mohican woman (Shikellamy’s daughter in law, the wife of his eldest son) and the Moravians; the sharing of Moravian bread with a cold tired and hungry Delaware man from the Wyoming Valley. The last Thursday in November 1747 brought a woman trader to the mission with much rum, much to the dismay of the Moravians. They neither wanted alcohol in Shamokin nor traders, whether male or female.  The Moravian Sisters spent “Black Friday” chopping and fetching wood, while their husbands were working in the smithy or repairing shoes.

That Saturday, the rum the woman trader had brought to town had clearly been exchanged for skins and the population of Shamokin was drunk. Order returned with Shikellamy though, who had been absent on Colonial business and arrived that evening from Tulpehocken and Conrad Weiser’s house with letters and news for the Moravians. He had also brought a piece of beef for Catharine Smith and the others from her mother who lived close by Conrad Weiser’s.

The relations between Shikellamy, his family and the Moravians were clearly warm and loving. His daughter in law, the Mohican, was worried about the fate of the dead child, for example. Would the child be with God even though it wasn’t baptized? Yes, said Anna Mack, she will be, because we are all loved by God, regardless of whether we are baptized or not. And as a sign of fellowship the Moravians bring Shikellamy his favorite, turnips.

Looking back at these records from nearly 270 years ago the picture we can see of relations between the Native peoples and the Moravian missionaries is clearly not the one that is popularly depicted with turkeys and pies and pumpkins. However, what we can see is a time of mutual aid, kindness, and significant intercultural understanding. True, the Moravians are not like all “white people”, a comment often made by the Indians who witness their quiet love. The outside forces of the traders and Colonial policies have their effect on the population around Shamokin, in that rum is all that Indians can trade their goods for. But the last Thursday of November in 1747 is marked by shared food and warmth. A true Thanksgiving.

The Importance of Understanding Visual Rhetoric: thoughts on Johanna Drucker’s Graphesis

I am re-posting on my personal site my blog entry for my class site for The Humanities Now!  These are questions that I have been thinking about a lot, and my reading of Johanna Drucker’s Graphesis has really helped to crystallize my ideas.  I am so happy that she will be coming to Bucknell in April of 2015 as part of our Humanities Institute on the Digital Humanities.

Over the last week or so, we have revisited visualization as a technique for interpretation. In our production of networks using Gephi, the process of creating data, preparing it for input into the software, manipulating it once in the software and then interpreting it once entered has been foremost. As we move on to mapping, we will find parallel processes at work: preparing data, entering it, manipulating it, interpreting it. And as we do so, it behooves us to think critically about what we are doing, and what we are not doing.

Johanna Drucker’s intelligent, broad view of visualization as a form of knowledge production offers us many pointers for taking each step on our path to visualization and interpretation with deliberation. The long chapter “Interpreting Visualization–Visualization Interpretation” from her book, Graphesis: Visual Forms of Knowledge Production (Harvard, 2014) presents us with an overview of forms of visualization primarily since the Renaissance, and it also issues a plea for the development of a greater understanding of the force of visual rhetoric; a plea that is directed especially at humanists, as they enter into a realm of spatialized representation that might appear to belong to the realm of the quantitative over the qualitative.

Visualizations can be either representations or knowledge generators in which the spatialization or arrangement of elements is meaningful. When reading a visualization, Drucker encourages us to use language carefully, employing terms such as “juxtapose”, “hierarchy”, “proximity”. Drucker claims that visualization exploded onto the intellectual scene at the edge of the late Renaissance and beginning of the early Enlightenment, when engraving technologies were able to produce epistemologically stunning diagrams that both described and also produced knowledge. Now with the advent of digital means to manipulate and produce data we can all produce timelines (!) without giving a thought to the revolution in the conceptualization of time and history that (our near neighbor) Joseph Priestley occasioned. So, as we play with Timemapper or Timeglider, Drucker cautions us to become aware of the visual force of such digital generations. “The challenge is to break the literalism of representational strategies and engage with innovations in interpretive and inferential modes that augment human cognition.” (p. 71)

How do we do this? Drucker argues for us to recognize three basic principles of visualization, both as producers and as interpreters: a) the rationalization of a surface; b) the distinction of figure and ground; c) the delimitation of the domain of visual elements so that they function as a relational system.

In her sections on the most prevalent forms of visualization, I find most pertinent to the coming module on mapping her insight that a graphical scheme through which we relate to the phenomenal world structures our experience of it (p. 74). In other words, the mapping of the earth, sky, sea or the measurement of time, that are in themselves complex reifications of schematic knowledge, actually become the way in which we experience that thing. The week is seven days long and the month is 28-31 days long (because of lunar cycles) and thus astronomical tables become the way we structure time. But time isn’t like that; it isn’t linear, especially in the humanities! It contains flashbacks, memories, foreshadowings, relativities (it speeds up when we are nervous, and slows down when we are scared). So we are imposing structures from social and natural sciences onto human experience. Drucker argues that the shape of temporality is a reflection of beliefs and not standard metrics, and therefore asks how do we find a graphical means to inscribe the subjective experience of temporality or the spatial?

For example, digital mapping may give us the ability to georectify a manuscript map onto a coordinate system, but what does this give us? It might show us how accurate a mapmaker was, or was not; it might help us to locate an archaeological site with more probability, but it is ignoring the fact that the manuscript map, drawn perhaps on buckskin, or stone, or vellum is a representation (and a thin one at that) of a traveler’s or observer’s experience that we are then translating into a system of coordinates. What is absent is the story; way-finding depends upon narratives, travel accounts, diaries. We must be aware that maps produce the illusion of isomorphism, but this illusion is based on an elaborate system of abstract schema and concrete reality.

I am most captivated by the section of her chapter that focuses on visualizing uncertainty and interpretive cartography, as this is an area I have thought a lot about in the last five years during which I have been working with GIS. As a software, GIS gives us enormous power to produce knowledge as a generator; through the combinatory power of layers, and base maps, and points, and embedded data tables, GIS has often seduced me with its “deceptive naturalism of maps and bar charts” generated from spreadsheets that I and my students have spent months creating. It strengthens the fiction of observer-independence; the objectivity of the “bird’s eye view”, and, as Drucker so aptly states, “we rush to suspend critical judgment in visualization.” For me, however, and for the students I have worked with, the question of how to represent ambiguity has consumed us; as has also how to make ambiguity the ground of representation. I think here of the brilliant visualizations of Steffany Meredyk, ’14 as she created her interpretive map of the main stem of the Susquehanna River.

Steffany Meredyk's map of the Susquehanna River
Steffany Meredyk’s map of the Susquehanna River

Using the work of Margaret Pearce, Steffany and I talked for long hours about the importance of reinserting the positionality of the observer into the visualizations of the river. Taking her “data” from accounts of massacres in the 1760-80s that occurred on the Susquehanna River, and using graphical means of Adobe Illustrator to represent ambiguity, uncertainty and emotion, I consider Steffany’s work to act as a model for the way in which we can use digital media and methods as humanists. We can, as Drucker observes, “model phenomenological experience; model discourse fields; model narratives and model interpretation.”

Re-indigenizing the River: Hickory Edward’s Epic Quest down the Susquehanna River

Katherine Faull, Bucknell University

View of the North Branch of the Susquehanna River

Kayaking is not just a sport to Hickory Edwards of the Onondaga Nation. It is his way of reviving his nation’s knowledge about its own history and the environment, and also raising public awareness about the ties of the Haudenosaunee to the land. This summer, the coordinator of the Onondaga Kayak and Canoe club decided to retrace the steps and paddle strokes of his forebears by kayaking first from Buffalo, New York along the Tioughioga to the Chenango river to Onondaga on a trip that became known as “The Journey to the Central Fire” to recognize Onondaga’s central position in the “Long House” of the Six Nations. While attending the annual four-day reading of the Haudenosaunee’s “Great Law of Peace” Edwards listened to the words that had been recited so many times about the planting of the Tree of Peace that had brought unity and concord to the then five warring nations of the Iroquois. Seeing that tree in his mind’s eye, Edwards realized that its spreading white roots were actually routes of peace, traditional waterways that spread out from the center of the Haudenosaunee world, waterways that would take him to the sea in whatever direction of the compass he chose to go.

He decided to go south, down the Susquehanna River to the Chesapeake Bay and from there on to Washington DC. “We wanted to take our message from the capitol of the Haudenosaunee to the capitol of the US,” he said in a recent interview from his home near Syracuse, NY. And what is that message? “We are still here. The Native people and their trade routes and waterways are not forgotten. We need to remember our language and our lands. We need to re-indigenize the river.” The goal of this epic human-powered journey was the National Museum of the American Indian on the capitol’s Mall where an exhibition opened on September 21, 2014, “Nation to Nation,” that celebrates the historic treaties drawn up between the Native nations and the colonial governments. “The treaties are still valid,” said Edwards “so we decided to go see them.”

capitol and hickory
Edwards carrying the Haudenosaunee flag to the National Museum of the American Indian

Although prepared to paddle over 500 miles alone, Hickory Edwards could not help but attract support from wherever he went. Joined five days into the journey by fellow kayaker, Noah Onheda and supported the whole way down by his parents acting as ground crew, Edwards described the highlights of the trip down the Susquehanna. For example, standing at Indian Rocks just north of Wyalusing, where Handsome Lake, religious leader of the Six Nations in the late 1700s contemplated the spiritual future of his people. Or the petroglyphs at Safe Harbor that represent powerful, ancient things, carved into what looks like a little Turtle Island in the river. “This is what we must do,” said Edwards “relearn the waterways of our peoples to know where these places are.” Following what he called the “white route of peace” south, Edwards claimed they never had one bad night. “The water was good to us all the way down.” Well, except the very last day, when the winds on the Chesapeake Bay picked up and the waves rose so high around the kayaks that Edwards lost sight of his paddling companion Noah for the height of the water. “Maybe the waves didn’t want us on the water that last day,” Edwards mused. Despite the wind and tide and waves, they made it to Sandy Point State Park, just outside Annapolis, Maryland where they were greeted by representatives of the National Park Service, Deanna Beacham and Suzanne Copping, and treated to a meal, big enough to sate any epic paddler’s appetite!

Having not really used their legs for nearly three weeks, walking over 30 miles from Annapolis to Washington DC was no easy feat. But, they did it. Arriving at the nation’s Mall and the NMAI was a historic moment, with the Haudenosaunee flag flying high. “We did it,” he said, “we came from our capital to yours to see the historic treaties.” And they had even brought water from the spring on the Onondaga Nation land to water the tobacco plants in front of the museum.

Edwards and his father and co-paddler, Noah Onheda examine the treaties made from Nation to Nation at the NMAI exhibit that opened September 21, 2014

Now back home for almost the first time this summer, Hickory Edwards is already planning his next big trip. From kayak races on the Onondaga creek, to a Peacemakers’ journey, to joining the Two Row on the Grand River in Canada next summer, Edwards paddles to revitalize our awareness that clean water is important. “The circle of life starts out with the next generation looking up at us from the earth,” he explained. “They grow and live and return to the earth. But there is one constant throughout, and that is water. Waterways are the veins of our Mother Earth.”

And it is along those life-giving waterways that Hickory Edwards will continue his personal quest.

hickory sunset