Digital Scholarship

Scroll down to content

Digital Scholarship. Collections. Communities. Pedagogy.

The humanities research workflow has changed profoundly over the last three decades.  While collections still constitute the foundation of primary resources that support humanities research, their form has been altered irrevocably through digitization.  Every point in the humanities research workflow, from assemblage to cataloging, from transcription to interpretation, from peer review to publication, has been radically altered. With digitization, we enable the applications of numerical methods to collections that were strictly alphabetical, and in applying these methods, we begin to envision the reverse, that the collections that we once viewed as strictly related to humanities disciplines might also inform teaching and research in STEM fields. 

In this environment, research is inescapably collaborative, presupposing or even forming cross-disciplinary communities.  Successful collaborations bring together computer scientists with scholars in comparative literature, statisticians and early modernists, art historians and mathematicians. And, when these projects succeed, their participants can transform their respective pedagogies, providing them with a way of leading students to and through unique and distinctive collections by way of a multitude of itineraries.   

2016-06-14 15.38.03
Humanities Data Workshop

Current Projects

  • Images as Data: Processing, Exploration and Discovery at Scale

I am the principal investigator for this Mellon-funded initiative (a $50,000 sub-grant through the University of Nevada Las Vegas Collections as Data – Part to Whole). 

Photographs, with their dual role as documents and pictures, possess unique persuasive power. Their wide-ranging use, from tokens of memory to government records, from social media to scientific findings, from artistic endeavors to forensic evidence, invests them with an authority that crosses many disciplines. Yet the cultural heritage institutions that collect and preserve them, whether they be libraries, museums, historical societies or art galleries, often work in silos, with the subject matter of a particular collection determining its processing and destination. With born-digital collections, these divisions are amplified at scale. As institutions increasingly deal with large collections of born-digital images, traditional processing is impracticable on both local and collective levels.

Another major challenge for archives, museums, and libraries is metadata creation at scale. This challenge has been exacerbated as archives in different institutional settings seek to diversify and decolonize their collections. In order to provide access to collections, many of our mechanisms for search and discovery rely on free-form and faceted search. The ascendency of free-form natural language search as popularized by Google has shaped the search and research patterns currently adopted by many scholars. Generating metadata is expensive, time-consuming, and laborious. Assigning keywords, ontologies, and schemas to images requires painstaking processing by catalogers and metadata specialists describing each image. As a result, a collection may be under-described or not have item level descriptions. There is often a need to re-describe when a collection is described. Furthermore, the kind of descriptive metadata can change with new developments in data/information/library science, new areas of inquiry among scholars, and changes in audiences, but it is often cost prohibitive to re-describe a collection.

Machine-based computational methods are opening up new avenues for large scale image analysis and retrieval.

The project “Images as Data: Processing, Exploration, and Discovery at Scale” provides a model for creating, searching, and assessing data about images at large scale.

The scope of the grant includes:

  • Demonstrating how computer vision can provide descriptive metadata (text data) for born-digital and digitized materials at large scale using the Distant Viewing Toolkit, a Python package funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities Digital Humanities Advancement Grant and built by the University of Richmond Distant Viewing Lab.
  • Generating visual data for aggregating and analyzing visual patterns across extremely large corpora of retro-digitized and born-digital images.
  • Developing user-driven recommender systems for content-based image retrieval for scholars and a model for image-based search.
  • Providing a model for how to navigate rights and access with sensitive audio/visual material.

Past Projects

Participatory archive created in conjunction with the Yale Digital Humanities Lab, the Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration, and the Yale University Archives. Principal investigator.

A collaborative study of medieval manuscript rolls, scrolls, and manuscript fragments at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, using digital tools. Project management and strategic planning consultant.

A series of symposia held at the Yale University Library which examined how scholarship and its supporting institutions might face the upcoming opportunities and challenges of an open, digital, and networked environment. Administrators, librarians, and graduate students also participated in a half-day workshop with leaders in the field of digital scholarship, exploring themes surrounding stakeholders, institutions, and infrastructure. The ideas discussed shaped strategies to promote digital scholarship at Yale.  Project manager.

This customized WordPress site developed with the Digital Humanities Lab, the Yale University Library and the Dante Society of America, uses the extra-illustrated volume as an organizational principle to foreground the material transmission of Dante’s poetry at the turn of the twentieth centuryPrincipal investigator.

In collaboration of the Instructional Technology Group and ITS Academic Technology at Yale,  an Omeka exhibit drawn from digitized lantern slides of an academic’s early 19th century trip to Italy. Principal investigator.

A timeline currently in development of significant events in the history of one of the oldest scholarly societies in North America for the Society’s website. Editor, strategic planning consultant.



organizing committee chair


research fellow

  • New England Consortium in Digital Humanities – Boston DH

 academic task force



workshop facilitator

HASTAC scholar 2012-13

founder and coordinator 2008-2012

Digital Pedagogy

course design and instruction with Lauren Tilton (University of Richmond)

contributor – “Digital Humanities in the Italian Language Classroom” in press.

contributor – “Beatrice in the Tag Cloud”

editor, contributor


course design and instruction

  • Teaching with Technology

Instructional Innovation Intern

%d bloggers like this: