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CHI Project Info

Jessica Yann


September 30, 2016

Introducing Jessica

September 30, 2016 | By | No Comments

Hello all!

My name is Jessica Yann. I am a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology. My focus is archaeology, specifically of the Midwestern region with an emphasis on the late 18th and early 19th centuries.  I am currently working on finishing up my research and analysis for my dissertation.

683My dissertation research focuses on how Native Americans and British traders were interacting throughout the Great Lakes region from 1760 to 1820, which is sometimes referred to as the ‘British period’ in the history of this region.  Specifically, I am looking at the choices that various groups were making regarding what goods to get from traders as well as who groups were choosing to trade with.  I am examining issues of supply and demand to test notions of dependency.  Many early research on this time period and topic claim that Native Americans became completely dependent on Europeans.  By looking more closely at supply and demand, I can examine these notions of dependency, and get a better idea of what was actually happening during these trade interactions. [Spoiler alert: I don’t think Native Americans were ever ‘dependent’ on Europeans, in the sense that they could not survive without them. I’m investigating this.]

All of that said, I am really excited to be working with CHI this semester.  I’m not sure that my project will relate specifically to my research, but I really love the idea of making archaeology more approachable and accessible to the public, so my project will probably revolve around that.  As my project develops, I will keep you all posted!



September 30, 2016

Introducing Ramya

September 30, 2016 | By | No Comments

Hi! I am Ramya, a first year graduate student in History at Michigan State. I am broadly interested in borderlands history, urban history and environmental history (specifically water). I come to history from an inter-disciplinary background in Journalism, Political Science, Science Technology Studies and most recently, Urban Design. I recently completed a Master’s thesis positing the idea of a political border as infrastructure (most of my thesis is available at here), using the case study of the Detroit River

 DSC_0463My proposed doctoral project aims to understand the relationship between a political border and urban form. I view the urban and environmental history of the US Canada border along the Detroit River as a critically under-researched topic. Through an exploration of the relationship between urban history and the political border, I want to explore a more bottom up way of envisioning and analyzing the border. Extant work on the US Canada border has analyzed the changing relationship of the two countries (especially post 9/11). However, there is little or no work on the Detroit Windsor border linking city growth with the formation of the US-Canada border.

My proposed project for the Cultural Humanities Informatics Fellowship aims to map the Underground Railroad vis-à-vis changes in urban form on both sides of the Detroit River border between the United States and Canada through the 19th century. Thus far, scholarly work on the Underground Railroad has been focused on important actors and events. In relating growing urban areas on both sides of the Detroit River with the Underground Railroad through the 19th century, I aim to spatialize the operation of the Underground Railroad.  By tracing the relationship of infrastructure (i.e. technology, people and places) of the Underground Railroad to the growth of urban areas on both sides of the Detroit River, I aim to move beyond traditional scholarship on the subject. I see this project folding into my larger dissertation that aims to examine the relationship between city growth and border making, particularly of Detroit and Windsor.

One of my motivations in applying to MSU is the tremendous support offered to digital humanities. I am very excited to be a part of such an inter-disciplinary cohort and look forward to learning from my peers!



September 30, 2016

First Year: New adventures

September 30, 2016 | By | No Comments

Hello! O’siyo! Konichiwa!
My name is Kenlea Pebbles, and I am one of the fellows in the Cultural Heritage Informatics cohort at Michigan State University (MSU). I am one of two of the Writing, Rhetoric, and American Culture (WRAC) fellows in this year’s cohort. I am looking forward to everything we will be learning and producing this year.

This is my first year in the Ph.D. program in WRAC. I will be focusing on cultural rhetorics and linguistics in the Writing and Rhetoric program. I have a strong interest in: environmental rhetorics, feminist rhetorics, visual rhetorics, Native American and Indigenous rhetorics, digital rhetorics, and a plethora of other topics. In particular, I am interested in how linguistics and cultural rhetorics intercept and overlap.

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September 30, 2016

Fellow Introduction

September 30, 2016 | By | No Comments

Hello! I’m Stephanie Mahnke, a second-year PhD student in Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures. I got my undergraduate degree in English Literature at UCLA, but after that, I spent many years abroad and working at community colleges. It was during that break between undergrad and grad that I developed interests in community-building and the rhetorical power of places/spaces. As a PhD student, my main research interests include Filipinx rhetorics, the rhetoric of place/space, identity-place inter-relationships, and network and mapping theories. More specifically, I focus on critical understandings of place as rhetoric as a means of support for civic purposes and sustaining cultural histories.

denver (2) My research has revolved around cultural geographies, particularly how physical sites work toward cultural memory/forgetting. Recent work has included analysis of cultural sites in Egypt, Atlanta and Las Vegas. My work and place/space lens has also lent contribution to other area studies, such as collaboration with a Las Vegas environmental group which sought public participation for conservation efforts. This research ultimately leads to my current work on how nostalgia and culture are sustained in Filipinx communal spaces in their new host countries. The results of such a study, I believe, works to sustain cultural narratives but also reveal the hidden geographies of underrepresented cultures such as those in the Filipinx and Asian American Midwest communities. My hope is to eventually use digital spaces as repositories and engaging platforms to represent the place data in rich, highly accessible, non-linear formats such as interactive maps and networks. Being a CHI fellow brings me closer to that realization, and I’m very excited to work alongside such a brilliant cohort of scholars!

Erin Pevan


September 29, 2016

Introducing Erin Pevan

September 29, 2016 | By | No Comments

Hei sann alle sammen! My name is Erin Pevan and I am one of the new CHI fellows for the 2016-2017 Academic Year. I’m a second year graduate student in Anthropology, currently working on finishing a Master’s degree before I delve head-on into the PhD. I’m a bit of anomaly in the department, a jack-of-all-trades kind of person, so my research and interests and experiences are diverse and expound. In addition to the CHI Fellowship, I am also a Bailey Scholars Program graduate fellow/convener and a TA in the department of Anthropology.

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Nikki Silva


September 29, 2016

Re-Introducing Nikki Silva

September 29, 2016 | By | No Comments

Hi everyone! I’m Nikki Silva and I’m one of the returning CHI Fellows for the 2017/2018 fellowship. I’m a 5th year PhD Student in Anthropology and my research attempts to answer the question: How does culture contact/interaction between two groups of people affect the creation of a new community and the use of space at this new location? My work will explore the effects of cultural interaction on the spatial dimension of community by using a multi-scalar approach to site structure.


Last year I collaborated with other returning CHI fellow Autumn Beyer on the Mapping Morton Village project, an interactive map of the Morton Village archaeological site, where Autumn and I will both do our dissertation research. The project’s goal was to provide background on the Morton Village archaeological project and also educate visitors about some basics of archaeology.

My CHI project this year will focus on building a web resource on Oneota Archaeology, which will include a map, citations, and other information for scholars interested in this topic. It will be a big project and I will only be able to complete one portion of it during the fellowship, but I look forward to continuing the project after the fellowship ends.

Autumn Beyer


September 28, 2016

Re-Introducing Autumn Beyer

September 28, 2016 | By | No Comments

Hello again! I’m happy to announce that I am one of the returning CHI fellows. In case you are not familiar with the CHI blog, I’ll first give you some background on my personal research and my previous CHI project, before delving into my plans for this year.

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May 7, 2016

The Launch and (Re)Emergence of #HearMyHome

May 7, 2016 | By | No Comments

Originally conceived of as an “everyday” cultural heritage informatics project interrogating how contemporary youth write community through and with sound. #hearmyhome inquires how hearing difference and listening to community may re-educate the senses and attune us towards cultural difference. Ultimately working to develop materials that hear, recognize, and sustain community literacies and cultural rhetorics, #hearmyhome asks educators, users, and participants alike to take heed of the frequencies and rhythms of culture as they architect, design, and teach towards more equitable landscapes for learning.Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 9.33.34 PM

Focusing on “everyday” cultural heritage, #hearmyhome demonstrates how youth can “hear” and “listen” to better understand difference and community literacies through expansive personal learning networks (PLN). Illustrated by the site’s larger open-networked soundscapes map, #hearmyhome is an affinity space wherein participants share both knowledge and life experiences (through audio, visual, and text) as a way to form interpersonal relationships and create a fuller understanding of community.

#hearmyhome has three primary goals:

  • As an area for research, #hearmyhome is about examining rhythmic rituals and the ambient soundscapes of culture that cut across the contexts of home, school, and community, looking at the connections, overlaps, and disjunctures.
  • As a pedagogical project for learning, #hearmyhome posits that some of the most meaningful forms of learning happen when a learners have interests or passions they are pursuing across contexts of (inter)cultural affinity, social support, and shared purpose.
  • As a model for connected learning design, #hearmyhome offers a way of connecting the spheres of home, school, and community-based learning, leveraging the affordances of digital and networked media.

In creating the #HearMyHome landing page, I used two primary tools: Bootstrap and GoogleMaps. Bootstrap was used early on during the Fellowship year to create the front-end framework and GoogleMaps was used to create a participatory archive of pins with links to modal referents and participation. Pins include reference to username, mode, and link. Explore!

Across the 8 week sonic series (Feb 8 – April 2, 2016), #hearmyhome introduced over 100+ users to the affordances of audio and sonic composition. From Billings, Montana to Coffs Harbour, Australia, we earwitnessed community and culture from a variety of peoples, places, and soundscapes. Although I was initially disappointed that the project did not have the massive 500+ member following I hoped for, the avenues of collaboration and networks of participation that transpired excite me. I look forward to collaborating with folks from #CLMOOC, #walkmyworld, and Sounding Out!

This summer, I hope to categorize, index, and host the soundscapes of participation for users to download, remix, and employ in their own interrogation of sound and audio possibility. Additionally, I hope to write grants that explore the sonic possibilities of classroom composition, connected learning, and practitioner-inquiry. Still interested in collaborating? Join by signing up for our email correspondences here or like our page on Facebook for more information on each sonic event, or simply ‘lurk and learn’ by following the #hearmyhome hashtag across Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!



May 6, 2016

Launching the Armed Services Editions: A Computational Analysis

May 6, 2016 | By | No Comments

ASE Website


I am happy to announce the launch of my CHI Project, The Armed Services Editions: A Computational Analysis. On my page, users can navigate through three “Data Narratives”: simple analyses that I conducted to answer critical questions about these data. The Gender Data Narrative considers the distribution of gendered pronoun usage throughout the corpus, and features a basic foray into LDA topic modeling. The Genre Data Narrative considers the types of books that were sent to servicemen, and how the generic representation of books may have shifted over time. Finally, the Geography Data Narrative the geographic imagination of the corpus– both domestic and internationally– with NER.

This first phase of this project is, quite simply, a book history project. To date, the ASE Corpus has not been studied in total. Several scholars have published institutional histories of the Council on Books in Wartime, or discussed the role of specific books, or even discussed the ASEs in relation to a larger sociological project. I am interested in assembling a more thorough, stylistic, macro-history of the ASEs, that attends to both it sociological import as well as its formal properties through computational analysis. The data I’ve assembled is descriptive, working toward that end, and is a necessary foundation to the more advanced analysis I will be conducting this summer.

In addition to an analysis of the ASE Corpus, this website is also a record that chronicles the development of my methodological chops. While I had a basic foundation in R (thanks to a fabulous course at HILT), my skills needed (and still need) development. I used two textbooks to improve my skills, testing my dataset throughout. Users familiar with Text Analysis with R for Students of Literature by Matt Jockers and Humanities Data in R by Lauren Tilton and Taylor Arnold will likely be able to trace my data analysis back to the chapter problem sets.

Full disclosure: I feel insecure about this. I would like, eventually, to publish on the ASEs. A record of my fledgling explorations in R and data analysis is… well, nerve-wracking. Yet, as Ethan Wattrall has reminded me in a variety of ways, it’s also an important intervention. Over and over again this year, I have been reminded of and impressed by the generosity of my colleagues in DH; I post this basic data analysis in hopes of inviting that same generous conversation.

Only a fraction of the work that was completed on this project his featured on my project website. I should have foreseen this problem and created a time-lapse video of my hours and hours running OCR on hundreds of documents, or adding metadata to my database. Or, better yet, learning how to analyze data in R. For this project, however, I decided to visualize my data using Tableau. Tableau provides far less specificity, for sure, but it also allows for a greater degree of user interactivity. Since my data is, at this stage, largely descriptive, I wanted users to be able to explore with greater flexibility.

It’s been a long year working on this project, and that long year has turned out to be just the beginning. I’m so excited to see how this project continues to develop. Over the summer, I’ll be continuing this project by running these analyses—and much more interesting, advanced analysis (fingers crossed)—on the entirety of my corpus.

The questions motivating this project are increasingly pressing, and continue to motivate me—particularly as a powerful political candidate has remained consistently hostile toward the free exchange of ideas that should define any democratic discourse. Ultimately, this project asks, what (or whose) ideas are acceptable, and what (or whose) ideas aren’t? And what (and who) makes that so? These questions should be asked about 1940, and they should be asked about 2016.