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CHI Grad Fellow Post

Joseph Bradshaw

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May 8, 2015

The Saharan World at a Glance is Launched!

May 8, 2015 | By | One Comment

I am happy to announce that my site the Saharan World at a Glance (SWAG) is now live. This site is an education resource designed to introduce an undergraduate audience to the history, culture and politics of North Africa and the Sahel. This site is specifically conceived of as a tool that students will access on their phones or tablets. The site is built like an online text book made up of short units. These units are meant to be used as introductory or supplementary reading for broader lessons. The first unit published on the site introduces orientalism in the North African context, focusing primarily on Algeria.

SWAG was inspired by my experiences as a teaching assistant at Michigan State. My first teaching experience was working alongside Dr. Peter Alegi, who builds a week of his coverage of Apartheid in South Africa around the site Overcoming Apartheid. I noticed that many students engaged with the site over their phones, often within the first few minutes before class. I remembered my own desperate circling of key arguments on freshly printed articles before classes. I figured that even though procrastination is not new, the way students digest information is. My project tries to recognize shifts in information consumption without sacrificing the quality of its content.

The CHI fellowship generously funded and supported the development of my site. As I set to work I was also teaching my first class composed almost entirely of freshmen, and I owe them some thanks. Teaching this class with Dr. Bailey helped me fine tune my approach to the site. End to end this site is meant for incoming underclassmen: even the goofy, yet easy to remember, title! I used the bootstrap, a mobile first framework, and chose a layout that looks best on tablets, large smart phones and small laptop screens. The units are composed of micro-essays. The writing is conversational and short paragraphs are broken up by captivating images.

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The first unit relies heavily on nineteenth century art demonstrate orientalist trends in western thought. The essays are broken up into four sections I introduce Said’s critique and give a brief history of east-west divides. I then move on to a unit on masculinity followed by a unit on sexuality. I close with an attempt to weave the diverse threads together in a section on white slave narratives. Nestled within the broader lesson are introductory facts about the French conquest of Algeria, the civilizing mission, and slavery in Africa.

I see this site as an ongoing project. I plan to add a page that directs students to further readings and perhaps a more detailed gallery for this unit. I will also continue to add units as I develop courses and conduct my own research on Islam in Africa. The next unit will give an overview of Sufi Islam in Africa.

naraya36

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May 8, 2015

FieldworkNarratives

May 8, 2015 | By | No Comments

The Chenchu are one among several tribal communities who live in India. They are traditionally defined as a hunter-gatherer community, living primarily in the Nallamalai forests of Andhra Pradesh and Telengana, India. However, such a definition provides a very limited understanding of who the Chenchu really are. There are various ways in which communities and groups of people are understood. Tribal and indigenous communities suffer from a very limited and narrow way of being represented and understood. While there are obvious historical and political factors that have contributed to such an understanding, it is my objective as an anthropologist, and someone who has an on-going relationship with the Chenchu to do my bit in dispelling these essentialized representations of the community. FieldworkNarratives is a project that is based primarily on this philosophy.

FieldworkNarratives is a pictorial journal of my fieldwork experiences with minimal text to provide basic information about the pictures. I have used StoryMaps, which is an online tool that facilitates storytelling to design my project. The project design is intentionally kept simple and straight-forward keeping in mind that my target audience is young groups of people between the age-groups 13-20 years. Moreover, I did not want to put too much emphasis on my own narrative, allowing instead for people to form their own ideas.

FieldworkNarratives in an on-going project that I will continue working on as my work with the Chenchu progresses. While this is a small step toward a larger goal which can only be fulfilled in collaboration with more people, I am excited about the launch of this project. The goal is to continue building on this through incorporating people’s suggestions as well broadening the scope of the project itself. For now, I am taking a moment to celebrate (i) my increased knowledge on cultural informatics and online applications, (ii) the first project of a digital format that I have ever created, and (iii) small victories toward long-term goals in my commitment of working with the Chenchu.

 

 

neejerch

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May 4, 2015

Wheelwomen at Work is live!

May 4, 2015 | By | No Comments

I am excited to announce that Wheelwomen at Work is live!

Over the past academic year, I’ve been researching, writing and developing my CHI digital humanities project Wheelwomen at Work: Mapping Women’s Involvment in the Nineteenth-Century Bicycle Industry. For my launch post, I am going to recap why I developed the project, what tools I used, and future directions for the project.

My dissertation explores how nineteenth-century women used bicycling as an activist strategy. While conducting research, I uncovered how women’s involvement in the nineteenth-century bicycle industry was multifaceted and key to the industry as a whole, even though men held leadership positions in bicycle companies. I have found evidence of women who designed and produced bicycle accessories and clothing, while others developed frames and components. Women also worked in bicycle shops in sales and even as mechanics, and it was common for bicycle corporations to hire women as sales ‘agents’ to promote their brand. Other women quietly worked their way up to management positions in local factories. Young, working- class women were the invisible laborers behind most components and accessories, working long hours in dangerous machine shops and factory floors. I found a wealth of sources on women in the bicycle industry, yet they were largely scattered across archives. I believed these sources could be much more useful to scholars and lay enthusiasts in an accessible and organized format. I hoped that digitally curating these sources could allow for a deeper and richer understanding of women’s contributions to the bicycle industry, instead of reading individual women’s work as an outlining example isolated from one another.

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royston7

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March 27, 2015

Voyant: DH in the Classroom

March 27, 2015 | By | No Comments

In recent years, teachers in the humanities have begun to see the importance of incorporating technology into our research—if only to make our lives a little bit easier. This change in the way we conduct research has also extended into our classrooms. I aim to adapt my classroom so that it mirrors how students are interacting with the world today, and a large part of that adjustment includes making use of current technology. At times, this has not been an easy evolution, as we all too often teach in the way that we ourselves learned. But not every student we encounter shares our innate love for literature. This means that we must do the best we can to make literature both accessible and interesting to students of the 21st century.

Because I am using Voyant for my CHI fellowship project, I also intend to use this tool in my classroom. This summer I will teach an Integrated Arts and Humanities course online. Largely intended for non-majors, the course title is, ‘Literature and the Environment: Self, Society, and Nature’. I’ve been brainstorming the ways in which this tool might benefit or otherwise engage non-majors in this subject. Here are some of my collected thoughts on using Voyant in the classroom:

The use of Voyant helps me integrate my research with my teaching. Students using Voyant are engaging in the same type of research in which I engage. And students new to literary studies see that they can engage in collaborative, digital, and visual methods of literary research. They see that literary studies is not limited to the solitary act of reading, with a professorial figure largely directing the meaning of what they read the night before. Instead, students using Voyant can look for patterns or uncover interesting facets of the text themselves—creating a truly student-centered learning experience.

Students might track the use of a particular term (or a set of related terms) over the entirety of a novel or play. Perhaps students are asked to locate and then visualize the use of seasonal terms throughout a text; does the use of these terms change in frequency or in terms of specific seasons; how might particular uses draw our eye to pivotal passages within a text?

Or, students can relate texts to one another over the course of a semester by tracking and then visualizing the same terms over a variety of texts. There is potential for finding surprising connections or conversely, locating defining differences between texts. Using Voyant in this way may initiate conversations regarding the connectedness of texts; students see how texts from different authors, time periods, genres, etc. are similar or different.

One of the benefits of Voyant is its accessibility. It is extremely user-friendly and the visualizations users create are easily exportable. Students can use Voyant just once (no log-in or download required), for a simple homework or in-class individual or collaborative assignment. Further, this assignment can be extremely student-centered if students are allowed to pursue their own curiosities. Using this text mining and visualization tool to provide proof of the significance of their interest, students learn the value of evidence in forming a thesis. Lastly, of course Voyant may be used as a formative assessment in support of a larger assessment like a traditional research paper.

Voyant might be especially useful for helping students engage with poetry—a genre that demands attention to detail, sometimes at the level of a single word. Or, for example, students might track the use of pronouns throughout a poetry anthology as a way to reflect upon the speakers and/or subjects.

Lastly, Voyant might be used for non-literary texts. News articles, blog posts, or journal articles could be tracked visually. And perhaps the most interesting use of Voyant might be for students to track their own writing. This would be especially useful as an end of the term project as students reflect on the papers they completed for class. This assignment would allow students to see what their engagements with the texts were, allowing greater insight into who they are as scholars.

The limitations to this tool are slim, but should be considered. Texts must be uploaded to Voyant; therefore the text must be in a digital format. Also, I’ve used Voyant in some sophisticated ways, tracking dozens of terms through thirty or so texts and in this way, I’ve reached some of the limitations of the tool; but these are less likely to occur in semester-length student assignments. Lastly, with the use of many digital tools, accommodations might need to be made for students with special learning needs.

It is my view that Voyant is an excellent tool for reaching students, especially those new to literary students, or students new to the digital humanities. Visualizations can start conversations, they can be created collaboratively, or analyzed collaboratively. Further, Voyant can be used in the face-to-face, hybrid, or digital learning environments. I encourage humanities instructors to use this tool and to cater it to their individual interests, or better yet, their students’ interests.

becca hayes

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March 20, 2015

Mapping Street Harassment Activism

March 20, 2015 | By | No Comments

The Washington Post called 2014 the year that street harassment became a public conversation. As someone who studies activist rhetorics about street harassment and the impact of digital technologies on rhetorical historiography, I was keeping a close eye on the events that contributed to the rise in discourse around street harassment in public spaces, particularly digital ones, like Twitter and Youtube.

One of those events, was a video called, “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman,” produced by Rob Bliss Creative, and released on YouTube on October 28, 2014 by Hollaback, an anti-street harassment organization, self-described as “a movement to end street harassment powered by a network of local activists around the world.” The video is an edited 2-minute clip of a “conventionally beautiful woman” who walked through NYC for 10 hours and experienced over a 100 incidents of street harassment.

In its first day online, the video had over 10 million views  and, in its first month, over 37 million views and nearly 140,000 comments on YouTube. There are also hundreds of videos, video responses, blogs, and born-digital media articles that mimic, support, mock, and lambast the video, makers, funders, research methods, subjects, politics, agenda.  In short, the video played a key part in the exploding public conversations about street harassment in public and digital spaces.

Watching that public conversation unfold, I became interested in how people took up the video’s format of filming someone walking in public spaces for extended amounts of time to problematize mainstream, non-profit , white, feminist anti-street harassment activism.

For the initial phase of my CHI project this spring,  I use Mapbox Studio as a tool to begin curating, mapping, and rhetorically analyzing a small sample of the videos that employ the “10 Hours of Walking…” format.  Some of those videos include “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman in Hijab,” “10 Hours of Walking in Paris as a Jew,” “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a White Man,” and “10 Hours of Walking in Seattle as an Asian.” I’m particularly interested in ways in which the video creators’ adapt the  “10 Hours of Walking…” meme as a productive way to draw attention to the the complexity of interactions between movement in public spaces and seemingly visible identity markers such as race, religion, gender, ethnicity, sexuality. nationality, and ability.

Joseph Bradshaw

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February 22, 2015

Analyzing Twitter Data on Ferguson

February 22, 2015 | By | 5 Comments

The grand jury decided not to indict Officer Darren Wilson on murder charges was the first historic event I followed on twitter. I felt helpless, anxious, and inspired as I read the feeds. After a few hours it occurred to me that someone should be archiving this information, but I couldn’t be sure anyone was. How many people do “digital history/humanities” work anyway? So a few hours after the decision was announced I activated an archive on the online tool, Tweet Arivist, to collect all of the tweets on #Ferguson and #MikeBrown. I have now made that archive public on the site Figshare. What follows are some suggestions for how scholars might interact with this twitter data.

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