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Looking back, looking forward

The end of the year is a time for reflection, to look back at what was accomplished and look ahead at what’s to come. Here at Aurelius, we’ve been keeping busy!

This past fall semester, we assisted with another digitally-enhanced class, this time in Classics. Students in Dr. Valentina DeNardis’s Cities of Ancient Greece (Classics 2051) class had a component to present their research on ancient sites on a course website. This website will be similar in appearance to the Ardmore Project, with a map and clickable locations that lead to students’ essays. Students are currently finishing up their coursework as the semester winds down, so this website will be ready for viewing early in 2015, with a launch party for the project scheduled for February 16 (more details to come). Complementing the class on Ancient Greece, we will be assisting with another of Dr. DeNardis’s classes in the spring semester, this time focusing on Ancient Rome. This course will also be discussed at February’s launch party.

Map of Greece

Map of Greece, from volume 8 of The Travels of Anacharsis the Younger.

Our other major project for the fall semester was organizing and hosting a series of Digital Humanities workshops for graduate students. The series consisted of five workshops, beginning with an Introduction to Digital Humanities, and followed by Coding Basics, Audio Editing, WordPress Beyond the Basics, and Mapmaking for Digital Humanities. These workshops were taught by local experts and focused on providing students with an introduction and overview to some useful tools and ideas. Students who participated enjoyed the workshops and learned a lot.

Looking ahead to the spring, in addition to our continued collaboration with Dr. DeNardis on describing the ancient world, we will be collaborating again with Dr. Craig Bailey of the History Department on a reiteration of the Ardmore Project. This time around, we will actually be expanding the project to encompass more of Lower Merion Township. We just met with Dr. Bailey and I’m pretty excited about his ideas for the future of this project!

Map of Lower Merion

Map of Lower Merion, from the Atlas of Philadelphia and Environs (1877).

We wish you a happy & healthy holiday season and we hope you’ll stay tuned for more about our new and continuing projects!


DH in the Classroom: Local History and an Online Textual Edition

We’ve got a busy semester helping with two digital humanities courses. I’m very excited about getting DH into classrooms so that students get hands-on experience with digital tools and methods!

Map, Part of Lower Merion Township Montgomory Co.Dr. Craig Bailey is teaching History 2998, Social History & Community Research. This class is a research seminar in which students are working on creating a profile of a local community in the early 20th century, in this case Ardmore, a small non-incorporated town (population 12,455 in the 2010 census) located near Villanova. Throughout the semester, students will be visiting archives, learning to identify and evaluate primary sources, collecting and analyzing data, and using secondary literature to complement their own research. Students will be digging into the 1920 census and compiling some of their research into a website, which will feature an interactive map of Ardmore and profiles of some notable community members.

Title page of El Peru manuscriptDr. Chad Leahy is teaching Spanish 3412, El libro que estás leyendo no empezó así:
Introducción práctica a la edición de textos en la era digital (The book that you are reading didn’t start out that way: Practical introduction to textual editions in the digital age). In this class, students are working to create a digital scholarly edition of El Peru en sus tradiciones, en su historia en sus artes (Peru in its traditions, its history, and its arts), a manuscript from Falvey Memorial Library’s Special Collections that has already been digitized in the Digital Library. Students will transcribe the text, add some annotations to place it in context, and then they will collaboratively write a scholarly introduction.

In addition, both classes have assignments for the students to come to the library and assist with the digitization of an item. Dr. Bailey’s class will be scanning issues of the Ardmore Chronicle and Dr. Leahy’s class is scanning issues of Los dramas de la guerra (The Dramas of the War), a Spanish-language fictionalized account of the Great War.

Stay tuned for more as these projects near completion!

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Aurelius and Recent PhillyDH Activities

Recently, contributors to the Aurelius Project, Laura Bang and David Uspal, participated in several PhillyDH activities in the Philadelphia Area. First off though, not familiar with PhillyDH? Here’s a quick primer (straight from the PhillyDH mission statement):

(PhillyDH) represents a friendly peer network of novices and experts alike, dedicated (for now) to the exploration of new ideas, tools, and best practices in the world of digital humanities via forums, workshops, meetups, happy hours and whatever else suits our fancy.

Begun back in the fall of 2012 out of discussions at a regional ThatCAMP, PhillyDH is a loose association of individuals interested in promoting Digital Humanities in the greater Philadelphia area. More of a volunteer-driven collective than a formal group, it has no real hierarchical structure (no officers, etc); rather, events and promotions are all started by members of the group generously volunteering their time, efforts and resources.

PhillyDH Logo

PhillyDH: we have a logo, so we must be legitimate.


An example of this: on Tuesday, June 4th, 2013 the University of Pennsylvania held PhillyDH@Penn, an “unconference” (i.e. a participant-driven meeting), at the new Special Collection Center at the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center. Activities for the day included two sessions of planned workshops, three rounds of unconference sessions, and a lightning round of talks (short, two minute blurbs), capped off by “The Age of Scale”, a talk by Michael Edson, the Smithsonian Institution’s Director of Web and New Media Strategy. Workshops and unconference sessions held included various topics such as Open Access Images, Video Production, Photo Editing (with free and open source products no less!),and intensity mapping, as well as on technologies including EAD, TEI and OpenRefine.

Previous to this event, on April 11th, 2013 PhillyDH met at the Chemical Heritage Foundation in downtown Philadelphia for a Project Incubator night, where over thirty local PhillyDH members gathered to offer advice, ideas and expertise for six local project proposals. The idea was for the PhillyDH community to act upon its mission statement “to learn, to teach, to collaborate, to create, to pitch-in” and help local projects move forward, for both potential projects and projects already in the works. Projects on the docket for the evening included projects exploring the educational value of gaming, mapping of historical data, and aggregating information on local events and projects, among others.

Everything poetically comes full circle when, on September 27 and 28th 2013, PhillyDH will be the host for the next Philadelphia area ThatCAMP.

ThatCAMP Philly 2013 Logo

When I left you I was but the learner;
Now I am the master.



Save the date: Aurelius launch on April 30

Aurelius Launch Party

The Library will be celebrating the formal inauguration of Aurelius with a launch party scheduled for Tuesday, April 30 at 1:00pm in Room 205 in the second floor Learning Commons of the Library. The event will feature a discussion of the definition of “digital humanities” and how Aurelius will support this emerging trend in scholarly practice, as well as work-in-progress project overviews from Dr. Craig Bailey (History) and Dr. Annika Thiem (Philosophy). Light refreshments will be served. This event is open to the public.

More information about Aurelius can be found on our website.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!


Growing a digital humanities community

November 27, 2012, was the inaugural meeting of the new regional group for digital humanities in the Delaware Valley. There are already over 100 members in the Google Group and 34 of us showed up at the Chemical Heritage Foundation for the first meeting. I’m so excited that so many people are interested in creating a regional DH group! I first got interested in DH while working on my master’s degree in the Washington, D.C. area, which is fortunate to have two really excellent DH centers (CHNM and MITH), so I’m really excited to help bring some of that vibe to Philly!

At the meeting, we discussed a few topics including what our vision for the group is and what sorts of things we would like the group to do. In order to facilitate this, we broke into a few smaller groups. You can read the minutes from the meeting here. If you’re interested in helping out, our working groups are: the web & social media team, the programming team, and the outreach team. If you don’t want to help out actively at this time, you are welcome to stay in touch via the Google Group and Twitter (more social media accounts to follow).

As we start our own DH initiative here at Falvey Library, I’m wrestling with a lot of the same questions the regional group is. It’s easy to say that we should support DH, but it’s much harder to make that vision into a concrete reality. What is/are the digital humanities? How can we “sell” it to people who would be interested in the kinds of projects you can do with DH, but maybe don’t understand what DH is? How do we evaluate DH projects? How do we integrate DH into the classroom? There are a lot of questions and — at least for now — not as many answers. But that’s okay. DH is a growing movement and, more importantly, a growing community. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can grow here at Villanova.

Photo of pumpkin and gourd seedlings.
“Seedlings” by Ed Mitchell.

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Announcing the Aurelius Digital Humanities Initiative

Aurelius Digital Humanities Initiative logo

Today, at an informal “brown bag lunch,” we are excited to introduce the Aurelius Digital Humanities Initiative, a project of Falvey Memorial Library to support digital humanities (DH) projects and promote a DH community here at Villanova.

Humanities scholarship and technology are intersecting in interesting ways and the Library believes it is important to facilitate and support these connections.

Our digital humanities initiative is still a work-in-progress as we get a feel for the interests and scope of those interested in DH at Villanova. What should a Villanova DH program look like? We hope you’ll be part of the conversation!



Last Modified: November 15, 2012

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