DH Undergrad Certificate students present their final projects

Katherine Hoovestol and Juliet Gallegos completed the DH Undergraduate Certificate this semester and each presented their final projects which investigated their own research topics using DH tools and methods.

Katherine’s work centers on a central case study from her undergraduate thesis on Skam, a Norwegian teen drama. For her directed study in DH she worked on developing part of that thesis into her presentation on notions of piracy and ownership in “Exporting Shame: Competing Ownership Models in Transnational Media Flows.” This May she will graduate with degrees in Entertainment & Media Studies and German, and will begin her Master’s degree in media studies at the University of Texas at Austin in the fall. She will be presenting this same project at the 2021 Digital Humanities Summer Institute in June.

Juliet Gallegos’ research focuses on a central concept of digital reading, the multimodal text, “From Volume to Virtual: A Study on how Reading has Changed.” Her work explores notions of engagement and the receptions of multimodal reading. This May she will graduate with a degree in English and a minor in Business, and will begin working for N3, a technology sales and consulting firm, in Atlanta as a business development representative in July.

Congratulations to them both and we’re looking forward to their bright futures!

Check out their full presentations:

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Teaching Transatlanticism Website


Barbara McCaskill Professor of English, University of Georgia

Linda K. Hughes Addie Levy Professor of Literature, Texas Christian University

Sarah Ruffing Robbins Lorraine Sherley Professor of Literature, Texas Christian University

Sofia Prado Huggins Ph.D. Candidate in Literature, Texas Christian University

March 26, 2021

In our latest Digi Colloquium, Dr. Barbara McCaskill hosted “DH, Public Humanities, and New Landscapes of Learning: Writing for the Teaching Transatlanticism Website,” in which Texas Christian University’s Teaching Transatlanticism team discussed their work on the Teaching Transatlanticism website, and graduate students from UGA and TCU showcased their research contributions for the site’s digital anthology.

In the first half of the colloquium presentation, the Teaching Transatlanticism team (led by Dr. Linda Hughes and Dr. Sarah Ruffing Robbins, and including Sofia Huggins, a Ph.D. Candidate in Literature at Texas Christian University) described their motivations in creating the Teaching Transatlanticism website.  Based on Dr. Hughes and Dr. Robbins’s textbook Teaching Transatlanticism: Resources for Teaching Nineteenth-Century Anglo-American Print Culture and their current work on an anthology of transatlantic texts, the website is intended to be a fluid, collaborative resource.  Researchers are invited to contribute to the digital anthology by adding additional texts and ways of conceptualizing them, building a community that creates knowledge through social interaction.

In the second half of the colloquium, graduate students from Dr. Barbara McCaskill’s ENGL 6770 class and from Texas Christian University presented their own research contributions for the Teaching Transatlanticism Digital Anthology:

  • Ruth Myers and Chanara Andrews, Ph.D. students in English at UGA, described their work on a selection of sources written by and about Olaudah Equiano, and how these texts can show the narratives surrounding Equiano over time.
  • Ronika McClain, MFA candidate at UGA, and Catherine Maloney, MA student in English at UGA, are currently transcribing the college writings and early activism of Mary Church Terrell, with a particular focus on her poetry.
  • Abigayle Farrier, Ph.D. student in Literature at TCU, is digitally recovering The Carib, the first Antiguan literary journal. Her presentation for this colloquium focused on the challenges of transcribing and annotating “Scissors and Paste” by Frieda Cassin.
  • Alonzo Smith, Ph.D. student in English at TCU, discussed Frederick Douglass’s “Haiti and the United States. Inside History of the Negotiations for the Mole St. Nicolas” and the insights it offers into Douglass’s conflicting emotions toward his role as a diplomat in Haiti.

These presentations showcase how the Teaching Transatlanticism website provides a place for the collaborative efforts of researchers from a variety of backgrounds to contribute to the knowledge of transatlantic literature, which can then be carried forward into future classrooms.

Watch the full presentation.

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Digital Archive of Texas English Speech


Lars Hinrichs Associate Professor of Linguistics, University of Texas at Austin

Axel Bohmann Assistant Professor of English, University of Freiburg

In our latest Digi Colloquium, guest speakers Lars Hinrichs and Axel Bohmann presented “The Promise of Nine Decades’ Worth of Interviews: Building the Digital Archive of Texas English Speech”, in which they discussed the process of creating the Digital Archive of Texas English Speech, and how this archive can be used to map linguistic changes in Texas English over time.

The Digital Archive of Texas English Speech (DATES), a legacy archive containing recordings from 1934 to 2020, includes data that was originally collected using a variety of media: gramophone recordings in the 1930s to 1950s; reel-to-reel tapes, cassette tapes, and survey forms in the 1970s and 1980s; and digital recordings in the 2010s.  The first stage of the DATES project therefore involved digitizing the older records.  All digital records were also prepared for linguistic analysis by aligning the audio with its transcript, allowing individual words and sounds to be extracted and measured.

In this lecture, Hinrichs and Bohmann discussed three changing features of Texas English that they have analyzed using DATES: including the vowel in price, the vowels in lot and thought, and the vowels in bit, bet, bat.  Using acoustic data from the recordings, they demonstrated that these first two features have consistently developed to become more similar to General American English between the 1980s and 2010s, and that the bit/bet/bat vowels are undergoing a shift that has also been seen in Canadian and California English.  They also raised the possibility that pronunciation changes in Texas English may not have developed in a linear way over time: in some cases, vowels from the 1950s were more similar to those from the 2010s than the 1980s, which may mean that Texas English developed to become more distinct from mainstream American English at some point in the 20th century.  These findings demonstrate the utility of a legacy archive like DATES for tracking linguistic change over time.

See Hinrichs and Bohmann’s full lecture here

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DH Certificate: Combining Humanities knowledge with digital skills

Active since 2016, our Digital Humanities Certificate has been a method for professors to incorporate digital projects into their courses and for students to use digital tools to ask new kinds of questions about humanities objects of study.

These projects have included work in all aspects of digital work from text analysis, network analysis, mapping, quantitative analysis, digital exhibits etc. Since 2016, our certificate has included over 50 courses in 7 disciplines.

The symposium celebrates the innovative teaching and learning done as part of our Certificate. The core classes for the certificate are taught by Librarians, including Meagan Duever’s “Intro to GIS” and Elliott Kuecker’s “Text Analysis” class. The praxis classes are those taught in other disciplines that incorporate a DH project as a significant portion of the class.

We embrace all kinds of explorations and the DigiLab is an active participant in these classes. We can help scope or design projects, offer instruction to students or instructors, and offer the Lab as a space to teach that is equipped with necessary technology.

The symposium highlights professors who share their experience in teaching these types of classes. First is Dr. Elizabeth Davis who is the coordinator of the Writing Certificate and Writing Fellows Program. Her presentation, “Data, Documentation, and Dialogue: A Pedagogical Intervention in the STEM/Humanities Divide” describes her novel coordination of her Technical Writing class with Dr. Shannon Quinn’s Data Science class in Computer Science.

Using a corpus of texts compiled from Project Gutenberg (the shared dataset between these two classes can be found in our GitHub repository), Davis’ class serves as the content experts and defined the questions Quinn’s students would work with using the text as data in their own area of expertise. Together these cross-disciplinary teams created, tested, and wrote documentation for their analysis.

Second, Dr. John Hale, Arch Professor of Linguistics, presented the “Text and Corpus Linguistics” class along with students Katie Kuiper and Keiko Bridwell.  Hale’s class utilized the Digital Archive of Southern Speech (DASS) to investigate questions of language use and how words change over time. The Linguistics Lab has also compiled a number of additional corpora, including LDC corpora, which are available to Cooperating Academic Units. This class introduces students to methods for exploring and using corpora for research and analysis.

Text & Corpus presentation PDF

Hale will be offering the Fall 2020 edition of Text & Corpus Analysis, an interdisciplinary course originally created by Professor William Kretszschmar. No programming skills are required!

Kuiper will offer her expertise in corpus linguistics as the TA for the class this Fall, and Bridwell will apply her skills as the RA for the DigiLab next year.

These classes are the epitome of the DH certificate. Each opens up students not only to digital methods but to give students the confidence in their own skills to be stronger collaborators and to recognize the strengths of their peers.

Watch the full symposium

Learn more about our certificate or add a class to our list for next year.

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Mapping Phonetic Difference in the American South



As the culmination of her time at UGA, Leah Dudley is graduating this semester with a BA in Linguistics and a certificate in Digital Humanities. Her CURO project focuses on analyzing a corpus of southern speech for her work in “Mapping Phonetic Variation in the American South.”

“The southeast region of the United States is arguably the most dialectally diverse area in the country. Though some would generalize that everyone from this region has a ‘Southern accent’, in reality these states are filled with smaller subsets of distinct and diverse regional dialects,” explains Dudley.  “As the south has an interesting history of both an agrarian economy and stratified settlement by different social groups, there is a strong possibility that these different regions developed different phonetic formants for certain vowels.” To further investigate the changes in vowels Dudley utilized the Digital Archive of Southern Speech (DASS) corpus, the largest corpus of Southern speech and analyzed the results using Digital Humanities tools, most notably RStudio and ArcGIS, to find dialectal trends in different regions of the South.

Watch her full presentation.

Dudley has been a great addition to our interdisciplinary DH classes which have influenced her thinking on analysis for her final project. She has also brought insight and productive conversation to our DH reading group.

We wish her all the best in the future and we’ve loved working with her!

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Georgia Prisoners in Black and White

Barry Godfrey Professor of Social Justice, Liverpool University

Recent analysis of Georgia Penitentiary records by Steven Soper and Barry Godfrey show that there was a significant rise in the number of formerly enslaved people who were imprisoned following the end of the Civil War. In Georgia before the war there was an average of forty people a year being sent to prison. One such person was prisoner Samuel W. Whitworth, described as ‘fair’ of complexion, blond, blue-eyed, 5 feet nine inches tall, from Jones County. The cotton farmer, originally from North Carolina, was gaoled for causing ‘mayhem’ (probably some drunken violence) on March 10th 1817, and sentenced to ten years imprisonment. He managed to escape on Christmas Eve 1820, and had three years on the run, before being re-captured and hanged in South Carolina in December 1823. As a white man, he was in the majority whilst he served his time in a Georgia prison. Between 1817 and 1865, the records of complexion reveal that four-fifths of inmates were described as ‘white’, ‘fair’, or ‘light’; and a fifth were described as ‘black’, ‘dark’, or ‘copper’ coloured. From 1868 the category of ‘race’ replaced ‘complexion’ in the records, giving the records a spurious pseudo-scientific gloss, though terms such as ‘ginger cake’ (used for nine hundred people) reveal the impressionistic and casually derogatory basis of the descriptors. 

Georgia Prison system reception by ‘race’, 1817-1923 (%)

Statistics can only take us so far. The digital composite photographs constructed by Jessica Liu and shown in the exhibition more dramatically capture the shift in prison demography. 

Pre and post average faces of Georgia convicts

In Georgia, the prison population reflected racist policies operated through the criminal justice system, and the legacy of the over representation of African Americans can still be seen in Americas prisons today. It seems we now have access to evidence which shows the long-standing use of prison as a tool of oppression against the poor, and particularly the African-American poor. 

Caroline Wilkinson, in her lecture which accompanies this exhibition, further explores cognitive and other biases which continue to play out in the criminal justice system, and in society.

Using methods developed in the “Digital Panopticon” (which provides huge amounts of data on British convicts) Steve Soper and Barry Godfrey have used digitised trial reports, census records, prison documents, and family histories in order to reconstruct prisoners’ lives, before and after they were imprisoned in the system. Some of these stories of people convicted of theft, murder, drug-and alcohol-running are revealed in the exhibition. However, wherever possible, our research tells the story of people after they were released. We believe that people should not be defined either by their status as formerly enslaved people, or as prisoners of the new Georgian penal estate. They spent time in prison, but, when released, they re-built their lives. For example, Claud Leavell, who was born the son of a farm laborer in Carollton, Georgia, 1903. During the First World War In WWI, he presented himself at Fort McPherson in Atlanta to enlist. Although he was only fifteen years old, he was allowed to join up as he had given his age as nineteen. He served his country until 1919, when he was given an honorable discharge. Three years later, struggling to find work after being discharged, he was convicted of transporting liquor contrary to Prohibition legislation, his first and only conviction. By the time WWII started, Claud was employed and living in Detroit with his wife Maria. Like many people, he worked hard to overcome the stigma of being a former-convict, and battled other forms of discrimination, to make a new life. The stories in this exhibition do as much to honor their struggle as much as condemn the system that made struggle necessary.

See Caroline Wilkinson’s full lecture.

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LaTeX Dissertation Template

The DigiLab is pleased to announce the creation of a dissertation template for LaTeX.

In addition to the Graduate School’s template for Word, the LaTeX template gives users another method for writing, editing, and compiling their dissertation. The template, authorized for use by the Grad School, sets up your margins, font size, sections, and page numbers within the template. The user can add their own content and be confident that the LaTeX file will handle all the basic formatting for you.

LaTeX is the industry standard for scientific writing. It is much better than standard word processing applications at writing mathematical and chemical formulae and is adept as incorporating and organizing figures and tables. Most importantly, it keeps track of all your references and automates your in-text citations and bibliography saving you a lot of time and stress. No matter the discipline, the template is flexible and adjustable to the user’s needs.

If you’re new to LaTeX it can be a steep learning curve. While it may require time spent learning and adjusting to LaTeX at the beginning, it will save time and frustration in the long run. To get you started in LaTeX, we’re offering a series of three workshops, each offered twice in February.  Recordings of the three workshops will be made available as well as supplemental material.

Introduction to LaTeX
How to best use LaTeX and learn its syntax and logic.

Video recording

Intro to LaTeX materials

The UGA LaTeX Template
How to apply the UGA LaTeX template to your thesis or dissertation.

Video recording

Friday, February 28, 2:30-3:20 p.m. in the DigiLab, 3rd floor Main Library |  Register

Advanced Topics in LaTeX
​Customize and use LaTeX for your own discipline.

Video Recording

Friday, March 6, 2:30-3:20 p.m. in the DigiLab, 3rd floor Main Library |  Register

For our full template and instructions on getting started with LaTeX, visit our GitHub repository

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Uncovering newspaper history with Chronicling America

Photo by Walter Lee Olivares de la Cruz on Unsplash

Deborah Thomas, Program Manager for the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP) at the Library of Congress visited the Digital Library of Georgia and joined our Colloquium series to discuss Chronicling America, an online newspaper collection available through the Library of Congress, and their efforts to digitize and preserve America’s vast newspaper history.

The Digital Library of Georgia has been working on the Georgia Historic Newspaper project which has collected and digitized newspapers from every area of the state with issues dating from 1786 to 1986. This herculean effort is only surpassed in scope by the Library of Congress’ NDNP which holds 15.7 million pages online that were printed between 1789 and 1962.

Deborah Thomas demonstrating search strategies on Chronicling America

Thomas provided methods for sorting through this massive amount of data. This collection provides a glimpse into history including huge events like disasters or elections, and it can let users find a family member, a town, or a specific reference given a user’s patience and determination to find what they’re looking for. All of this information has the potential to shift a perspective or the historical narrative. All of the pages are made available through the hard work of hundreds of partner institutions and the Library of Congress.

UGA has contributed to this effort over the last three years by the work of Public History Interns in D.C. through a connection with Professor Akela Reason in the History Department.

Learn more about this project @Librarycongress #ChronAm on Twitter or read their blog series Headlines and Heroes for their latest newspaper discoveries.

See Deborah Thomas’s full talk.


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Next Level Data Visualization

We are surrounded by data everyday and we are becoming more adept at interpreting visualizations of this data. From graphs, to charts, to maps, to infographics, we are expected to quickly read and understand data as it is presented in articles and in the news. Joey Stanley, PhD candidate in Linguistics, reminds us to be skeptical of the method and delivery of this data as objective truth in his series of workshops on data visualization.

The initial goal of the workshops was help students and faculty make better visualizations. Using Edward Tufte‘s principles of design, Stanley advocates for simplicity and using Tufte’s concept of “proportional ink,” or the idea of being faithful to the data you have and using the amount of ink (pixels) proportional to the data you are representing. The best visualization will help the reader to quickly understand the data as directly and as faithfully as possible.

Joey Stanley demonstrating colors that are visible to those with color-blindness

Though adding a three dimensional graph or adding a lot of color may seem like the way to make a poster or presentation stand out, these additions might hide the strength of your argument behind unnecessary clutter.

Stanley and GIS Librarian, Meagan Duever, took up this point in their workshop “Send the right message: The dos and don’ts of color.” Building on Tufte’s principles they spoke against using unnecessary color and ensuring everything on the visualization has a function and that your argument is clear whether you’re using a map, graph, or other visualization.

Through both presentations Stanley and Duever advocated for transparency in how and what data you are using and in accessibility in your visualizations in making the argument clear. The audience saw what goes into creating a visualization. Far from objective, hundreds of decisions about which data to represent, how to illustrate that data, and even what colors to use, have a deep impact on the way we see and interpret data. The audience for these workshops is now well armed to evaluate any graph or map they encounter in the future.

Listen to a recording of “Fidelity, integrity, and sophistication: Edward Tufte’s principles of data visualization”

View the slides from “Send the right message: The dos and don’ts of color”

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Public History and Digital Storytelling

Jim McGrath, a Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Public Humanities at Brown University, gave a talk in our Colloquium series about his work in using public history and pop culture in the classroom. His talk, “Black Mirrors and Melting Wizards: Digital Storytelling Tools and Techniques,”discussed the branching structure of narratives that include an element of reader/user choice like those that create Choose Your Own Adventure stories and that form the basis of Bandersnatch, an innovative interactive episode of the dystopian British series Black Mirror. 

McGrath also focused on defining “public” and the audience for any project. In order to reach a population outside academia one must take into account the desired outcome, how any given public will access the material, and how a public would use that material. Addressing new publics also raises critical questions about the ethical concerns in representing human lives or reducing tragedy to mere data point. These are questions his team is in the process of addressing in his work with students on Monica Muňoz Martinez’s Mapping Violence project that is mapping violence on the Texas border between 1900 and 1930.

In practicing Digital Public Humanities, McGrath reminds us that these questions of audience and publics are not tangential issues, but are central concerns and need to be addressed at the earliest stages of any project, whether that be creating a digital story or working in larger projects that seek to reveal urgent histories.

Listen to McGrath’s talk

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Congratulations to our 2019 DH Undergraduate Certificate Recipients

Maggie Dryden and Ragan Foley successfully completed work in the Digital Humanities Undergraduate Certificate. Both were inspired by their work in DH classes and completed their certificates with their capstone as a CURO project as well.

Dryden was a member of the inaugural DH Summer Scholars Program. Inspired by her work with Professor Susan Rosenbaum on the Mina Loy project, Dryden worked on finding patterns in Modernist poetry using text analysis in the summer program. This semester,  she took the methods she applied to her summer program and has worked with DH Coordinator to examine poetry and editorial discretion through text analysis in her presentation “Poetics from a Distance in Modernist Magazines” Next year she will begin the MA program in English at UGA.

Ragan Foley started  her work in Dr. Elizabeth Davis’ Writing for the Web class and has furthered this work alongside of Professor Davis to examine Privacy Policies from some of the most common sites and apps on the internet using text analysis in her presentation “The Rhetoric of Privacy.” This project chooses 30 companies, including Instagram, 23 and me, and Venmo then divides these groups into three categories, social, biometric, and financial. Like Dryden, Foley uses Voyant Tools and text analysis in order to investigate how these companies define third party usage, data, and how they utilize user contributed information. She will graduate this semester with a BA in English and a minor in Spanish.

Congratulations to Maggie and Ragan!

Apply for our Digital Humanities Undergraduate Certificate for next year.

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GIS Day 2018

GIS Day at UGA is fast approaching!

As part of the celebration, any student, undergraduate or graduate, can submit a map to our annual GIS Day Map Contest. First prize in the undergraduate and graduate captions is $100. All maps will be featured at GIS Day on Wednesday, Nov. 14th in the Main Library from 10AM-2PM.

Do you have a map that you have made that you are particularly proud of?
Do you have an idea for a map that you have always wanted to showcase?
Now is your chance!

We are now accepting submissions from all students!


Submit all entries by Wednesday, November 7th @ Midnight

Prizes given out in the captions of:
1) Undergraduate 2) Graduate 3) People’s Choice!


For information on how to submit your map see our flyer or if you have any questions, contact us at gisdayatuga@gmail.com


Guidelines for Submission
A single map document (multiple maps are acceptable as long as they are all arranged on a single page)
Length/X-axis = 24” (min) and 48” (max) | Width/Y-axis = 24” (min) and 42” (max)
Map must be in a PDF format, ready to print
Must have a cartographer’s statement describing the purpose, inspiration and take-aways (included in the sign-up link)
Judging criteria: Creativity, technicality and clarity of content

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Halloween Frankenreads Event



The Frankenreads event was a huge success. With popcorn, pizza, candy, crafts, movies, a book reading, and more, how could you not have fun? The library played Frankenstein, Young Frankenstein, The Curse of Frankenstein, and The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror. Over in the café, there was an epic reading of the novel Frankenstein. Hosted by Roxanne Eberle and Casie Legette of the English Department, the live reading lasted from 8am-6pm with a huge cast of readers including students and professors lending their voices to the 200 year old novel. (pictures on twitter)

They joined an international effort sponsored by the Keats-Shelley Association of America in partnership with the National Endowment for the Humanities (source).



Taking a break from reading, the audience watched Frankenstein movies including the 1931 edition of Frankenstein and Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks’ 1974 classic Young Frankenstein. While watching movies, the audience created their very own spooky monsters (picture above). Luckily, no one got quite as attached to their monsters as Dr. Frankenstein did!

The event ended with a screening of The Bride of Frankenstein at Athens Cine at 7pm.

Thank you Frankenreads, the English Department, and the Main Library for a chilling event! We had so much fun. Dm any pictures you have from the event to @digilab_uga. We hope everyone had a fun and safe Halloween!

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Brand Yourself: Taking Control of Your Digital Narrative


The Brand Yourself workshop was a huge success. We really hope you were able to make it. If you were not able, no need to worry- we are here to help! A detailed run down of everything the Brand Yourself Workshop covered can be found on Joey Stanley’s website.

Joey Stanley’s top three tips for creating your professional digital presence are using social media to build an online profile, building your own webpage, and joining your field’s conversation.
Joey discussed Academia.eduResearchGateGoogleScholarLinkedIn,  ImpactStory, and  Mendeley  for creating online profiles. Joey strongly emphasized sharing your work is one of the most crucial steps in creating a professional digital presence. He offered a solution to keeping up with numerous different profiles. He advised to only stay current on one profile and direct all traffic from your other profiles to the one current profile.
To organize all your created profiles, Joey advised to bring them together by building a personal website. On this, the numerous profiles become one solid profile. Joey offered Word Press, Wix, and Square Space as platforms for creating your webpage. He also mentioned Github or building from scratch for more experienced webpage builders.
Joey’s final step in creating a digital presence is to find your field’s conversation. He offered listservs, coffee breaks, Twitter, and Slack as possible mediums for where conversations may occur. To find your conversation, Joey gives 2 crucial steps: 1) find where your industry is talking 2) Join their conversation.
Joey Stanley’s notes from his workshop can be found on his website.  We hope you enjoyed the presentation and found it useful!


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DH Summer Scholars present their work

DH Summer Scholars Katie Curry, Jordan Miceli, Maggie Dryden, Bradley Comacho, Nellie Brunson, Trevor Talmadge

DH Summer Scholars Katie Curry, Jordan Miceli, Maggie Dryden, Bradley Comacho, Nellie Brunson, Trevor Talmadge


Digi’s Digital Humanities Summer Scholars, Katie Curry, Maggie Dryden, Bradley Camacho, Annelle Brunson, Trevor Talmadge, and Jordan Miceli, presented their summer’s work demonstrating the application of digital humanities to projects of their own design.

A Portrait of Bondage

Katie Curry, a senior majoring in English, did a textual “analysis of narrative styles exhibited in the two coming of age novels”[1] Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham and James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, investigating why the novels had vastly different receptions despite their similar themes ,. Curry studied the vocabulary density, word choice, and sentence structure of both works. She specifically focused on word usage surrounding certain words that appeared frequently in both novels; visually displayed using the text analysis program Voyant Tools. Curry proposed her future goals with hope to see how the novels affect current culture.

The Landscape Poetry of T.S. Eliot and Hart Crane

Maggie Dryden is a senior majoring in English and minoring in History with a certificate in Digital Humanities. For her project, Dryden was “interested to see what kinds of effects of a geographical location has on artistic generation, specifically in the realm of poetry”[2]). Like Curry she also used the text analysis tool Voyant. Dryden used these tools two very different poets to compare T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” and Hart Crane’s “The Bridge” to investigate similarities in their word choices to communicate the contrasting themes of hope and desperation.

Exploring Borges in Translation

Rising junior, Bradley Camacho, majors in English and minors in Computer Science. Camacho’s project explores began with the question, is there “enough evidence to call Postmodernism simply a sub-genre of Modernism”[3] . As his question evolved he investigated whether the English translations of Jorge Luis Borges’ short story “The Library of Babel” impacted the way English readers viewed the text and where it was placed in the literary canon. He looked at three different translations of “The Library of Babel” by Hurley, Kerrigan, and Irby to study how different each translation compared to each other. Camacho looked specifically interested in the word usage among the three translations to observe the similarities and differences of each. By using sentiment analysis in R, a programming language, he was able to map out the positive and negative words within each translation to compare the overall trends while also observing specific emotions across each translation. http://litdiff.com/

Midnight Knell: Stillbirth and Infant Mortality in Athens 1919 -1928

Annelle Brunson is a master’s student in History with her B.B.A. in Accounting. Brunson pulled from her experience of using data visualizations to show how stillbirth and infant mortality manifested in a microcosmic southern town during the early twentieth century.  She dives deep into 1920s Athens using data from the digitized Clarke County death certificates to discuss women’s access to public health care and highlight the differences in race, sex and age. Brunson shows how reducing infant mortality and stillbirth was a twofold problem: first women needed better access to healthcare, and second, healthcare had to be extended to all women. Her visualizations also confirm that Athens stillbirth gender ratio mimicked the male dominant national average. Going forward, she would like to incorporate all available data (1919-1942) and expand the geographical scope of her project. Midnight Knell

Suicide and Mental Health

Trevor Talmadge, a senior majoring in Women’s Studies and Linguistics, is interested in the realm of mental health. The goal of Talmadge’s project is “to illuminate how societal norms that span but are not limited to gender, race, class, sexuality, and ability much exacerbate mental health issues across these boundaries but in different ways”[4]. Talmadge did a textual analysis on the top media’s coverage on Robin Williams’ suicide to dive into how identity has affected suicide and conversations about suicides. He wants to take media coverage and twitter posts to observe how both the media and the public responded immediately following his suicide. He also wants to investigate current-response trends after time has passed since his death. The goal of Talmadge’s project aims to begin a new era of mental health where there is more open discussion.

Women’s Political Participation in CEDAW states

Jordan Miceli is a senior majoring in International Affairs and double-minoring in Women’s Studies and History. Following school, Miceli “intend[s] to continue on to law school where [she] hopes to study Human Rights law as it pertains to the United States and the world, specifically concerning women and children”[5]. Miceli’s project investigates the political participation of women in each of the seven Convention on the Elimination Against Women (CEDAW) treaty party states to see if an increase or improvement has been observed since ratification. Miceli’s project specifically focuses on article seven of the CEDAW treaty. jordanmiceli97.wixsite.com


These six scholars were incredibly successful this summer in applying the tools and methodologies of Digital Humanities to real-world investigations. Each of their projects  was impressive and will launch their research for their future.


Do you want to be a part of something bigger? Have you ever had a passion that you wanted to dive deeper into? Join Digital Humanities next summer in your investigation! Keep an eye out for next summer’s application and join your fellow Summer Scholars in the search!


[1] https://dhsummerscholars.wordpress.com/curry/
[2] https://dhsummerscholars.wordpress.com/dryden/
[3] https://dhsummerscholars.wordpress.com/camacho/)
[4] https://dhsummerscholars.wordpress.com/talmadge/
[5] https://dhsummerscholars.wordpress.com/miceli/

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Brady Moore: first to graduate with a DH certificate


Brady Moore finished his time at UGA with a BA in History and the first ever Certificate in Digital Humanities. Though History is already a rigorous discipline Brady chose to take on the additional certificate because he sees “DH as an upcoming discipline that will intertwine the fields of  humanities and programming. I want to be apart of the synthesis and see what becomes of it.”

As part of his course work he took several History classes with a DH project in addition to classes outside his discipline like Visual Anthropology with Professor Velazquez Runk and DIGI 2000, Intro to GIS for humanists, a core DH class taught by GIS Librarian Meagan Duever. According to Brady these interdisciplinary courses in the certificate taught him a broader perspective on his course of study that included “the skills and knowledge to use DH for historical research and better teaching methods through visualization tools.” For him the DH certificate was a worthwhile endeavor that he recommends for any student in the Humanities and Arts. “I believe DH is the future and learning these interdisciplinary skills will give students a great advantage,” explains Brady.

Congratulations to Brady and the entire class of 2018!



For more information about the certificate  visit digi.uga.edu/certificate or stop by the DigiLab.

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DIGI Workshops: Using and manipulating data in R Studio

Joey Stanley leading a lecture

Joey Stanley leading an Intro to R workshop

Linguistics PhD Candidate, Joey Stanley, is offering a series of workshops on the programming language R this semester. The workshop series will offer tutorials on R Studio, the open source software for use with R, as well as several packages used to perform specific tasks. A working knowledge of R and its components can make handling and analyzing data more accessible. R Studio and its packages can also create data visualizations on the fly and perform complex statistical analysis. These sessions are open to all and are intended for beginners. No experience necessary. Each session will include a different topic. Attend an intro session then choose the others that best fit your research agenda. All workshops are held in the Willson Center Digital Humanities Lab (300 Main Library). Additional dates for Spring will include a repeat of the Intro class as well as additional packages including R’s Shiny App.


ggplot2 – Make compelling visualizations                                   October 12                2-3:00

Tidyverse – Clean and organize your data                                 November 10            3-4:00


For those who may have missed our first introduction session here is Joey’s detailed guidebook: 170912-intro-to-r-handout.


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Four at UGA awarded NEH grants for 2017


Congratulations to the four UGA recipients of August 2017 grant awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities:

  • Sheila McAlister, director, Digital Library of Georgia, UGA Libraries (project director)

Georgia Digital Newspaper Project, Phase One

Project Description: Digitization of 100,000 pages of Georgia newspapers published prior to 1963 as part of the state’s participation in the National Digital Newspaper Program.

  • Emily McGinn, digital humanities coordinator, Willson Center DigiLab, UGA Libraries (co-director with Lauren Coats, Louisiana State University, project director)

Textual Data and Digital Texts in the Undergraduate Classroom

Project Description: A one-week in-person institute hosted at Mississippi State University on approaches to computational textual analysis and how these techniques may be incorporated into the classroom. This institute will be followed by a series of virtual sessions focused on digital pedagogy and the humanities.

  • Susan Rosenbaum, associate professor, department of English (co-director with Suzanne Churchill, Davidson College, project director, and Linda Kinnahan, Duquesne University, co-project director)

Mina Loy: Navigating the Avant-Garde

Project Description: A multimedia research project, including a public crowdsourcing component, exploring the work of early 20th-century artist and writer Mina Loy.

  • David Saltz, professor and head, department of theatre and film studies (project director)

Digital Technologies in Theatre and Performance Studies

Project Description: A two-week institute for twenty-five college and university faculty on the impact of digital technologies on performance and on theater history.


Three of the awardees are leaders or co-leaders of Willson Center programs: McGinn the Willson Center Digital Humanities Lab, Rosenbaum the Interdisciplinary Modernisms Research Cluster, and Saltz the Ideas for Creative Exploration (ICE) Research Cluster.

The support of the National Endowment for the Humanities is crucial to research in the humanities and arts. We wish these 2017 awardees success with their projects, and we encourage UGA faculty and scholars to seek NEH support for their future endeavors.

Originally Posted on Aug 11, 2017

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THATCamp Shakespeare

by Maria Chappell, English PhD candidate and UGA HASTAC scholar

On Wednesday, April 5, the UGA’s Willson Center Digital Humanities Lab and the Folger Shakespeare Library hosted the THATCamp Shakespeare “unconference.” THATCamps (The Humanities And Technology Camps) are informal conferences whose agendas and content sessions are determined by participants when they arrive at the event, which contrasts with the usual pre-structured and planned out format of most traditional conferences. THATCamp Shakespeare coincided with the 2017 45th annual meeting of the Shakespeare Association of America, a scholarly organization that focuses on all facets of Shakespeare scholarship, from modern performances of his plays to studies of his contemporaries to virtually any topic connected to Shakespeare both in his time and today. Though the combination of the I-85 bridge collapse and the severe thunderstorm systems moving through Georgia made travel more challenging, several Shakespearians braved the tempest and traveled from the conference’s site in Atlanta to Athens to attend THATCamp Shakespeare.

After shaking off our umbrellas and coats, the conference began with the planning session where attendees both suggested topics they’d like to discuss and offered to lead sessions on these topics; the THATCamp topics do not necessarily have to be about Shakespeare, but with a room full of people preparing to participate in a major Shakespeare conference, the suggestions naturally had a Shakespeare and Early Modern flavor to them. After voting, the group decided on five sessions: learning how to tag essays and media in UGA’s own Borrowers and Lenders: the Journal of Shakespeare and Appropriation; a series of “lightning talks” by participants about their current digital projects; split sessions on Early Modern paleography and using the ArcGIS mapping tool; and a discussion of digital humanities in the (Early Modern) classroom.

UGA English professors Dr. Christy Desmet and Dr. Sujata Iyengar led participants through the process of tagging essays and multimedia sources for their award-winning online academic journal Borrowers and Lenders. After that, Dr. Thomas Herron of East Carolina University, UGA graduate student Maria Chappell, Eric Johnson and Gabrielle Linnell of the Folger Shakespeare Library, and Dr. Erin A. McCarthy of National University of Ireland, Galway presented short, 5-minute “lightning talks” on projects ranging from Centering Spenser: A Digital Resource for Kilcolman Castle to RECIRC: The Reception and Circulation of Early Modern Women’s Writing 1550-1700.

The afternoon continued with simultaneous sessions on transcribing Early Modern styles of handwriting (also known as paleography) led by UGA graduate student Sarah Mayo and on using ArcGIS is research led by UGA librarian Meagan Duever. The unconference concluded with a a more informal talk about using DH in the classroom in which all the THATCamp Shakespeare attendees participated.

For a closer look at THATCamp Shakespeare, you can view highlights on the Storify story.



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Be a Data Magician – An Excel Workshop for Humanists

A full house at the DigiLab’s Excel workshop

In our series of data tutorials, Joey Stanley, Linguistics Ph.D student, has put together a comprehensive Excel workshop for humanists. This workshop was well attended by a diverse cross-section of the campus community including students, faculty, staff and librarians. Joey provided a broad overview of the basics of Excel and moved into more specific, complex tasks suited for the kinds of work we do in the humanities.

Joey has compiled a user-friendly guide book that covers: (1) different versions of Excel; (2) the absolute basics; (3) useful stuff like search & replace and sorting & filtering; (4) the awesome power of pivot tables; (5) getting started with functions; (6) lookup tables (7) visualizations and how to make some simple graphs and charts; and (8) some miscellaneous little tips and tricks.

Download the guide book and sample datasets below.

Excel Guide Book






If you would like the DigiLab to host a workshop for your class or department please email digi@uga.edu for more information.


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Georgia Digital Humanities Summit meeting

Brennan Collins of GSU demonstrates the ATL Maps project

The first Georgia Digital Humanities Summit took place on December 9, at Georgia State’s CURVE data visualization lab. The summit, sponsored by the University of Georgia with support from a Mellon Foundation New Director’s Grant, and hosted by Georgia State, brought together 35 hand-selected participants from 10 colleges and universities around the state, from Georgia Tech to Georgia Southern. The participants represented an array of skills and specialties and ranged in rank and position to include librarians, instructional technologists, research faculty and digital humanities practitioners. This summit meeting was the first in what we hope is a continued and sustained dialogue that will keep us connected with the broad range of DH work already happening in the state.

Lauren Klein of Georgia Tech discusses DiLAC

This connection will make all of our endeavors stronger. With further communication we can more easily identify common needs like those found in the Council on Library and Information Resources Hidden Collections collaborative grant, co-authored by the Digital Library of Georgia, Spelman College Archives and Morehouse College. Their project “Our Story: Digitizing Publications and Photographs of the Historically Black Atlanta University Center Institutions,” was awarded funding to increase accessibility and interoperability of materials currently held in the Atlanta University Center Woodruff Library. Connecting these materials through the DLG will make the history of African American higher education more discoverable and accessible for future scholars and our entire community can benefit from these collaborative projects that leverage the combined skills and expertise of each institution.

From this meeting, the group has created Georgia DH a site that includes a list of practitioners, skill sets, and locally focused projects. Our goal is to open opportunities for inter-institutional collaboration on both research projects and classroom endeavors that can draw on the collective skills of the group. Georgia State’s ATLMaps project, one that layers historic maps of the city and allows researchers to create collections, pin locations, and investigate the spatial history of the city, is an example of how such a collaboration can work in a regional context using a broad base to which innumerable projects can be attached. Several institutions have provided historic maps to the collection and a number of projects are already underway using these materials. We aim to identify other platforms and topics that can be simultaneously investigated from multiple perspectives.

If you would like to participate in the consortium, visit  Georgia DH and add your information to our directory. For more information, please contact Emily McGinn UGA’s Digital Humanities Coordinator at digi at uga dot edu or Spencer Roberts, the Digital Scholarship Librarian at Georgia State at sroberts63 at gsu dot edu.


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Curating the Baldwin Hall Excavation

Anthropology Professor Laurie Reitsema and her Human Osteology class took on a critical project for the campus community in their work on the Jackson Street cemetery and the Baldwin Hall excavation.

In 2015, human remains were found during the construction of the Baldwin Hall expansion project. Work was halted while experts including Southeastern Archaeological Services, and members of the Anthropology department, including Reitsema and several of her graduate students meticulously recorded the location of the remains, likely bodies originally buried in a forgotten section of the Old Athens Cemetery, excavated the individual bones, and removed them safely from the dig site.

Graduate students sort and catalog materials found in the excavation

In preparation for the bones’ reburial in 2017, Reitsema and her Human Osteology class analyzed and catalogued the remains. This work requires careful attention; from documenting the original location of the remains to sorting through dust, rocks, and wood to extract every possible piece of material and finally photographing all of the co-located remains.

Students cataloging skull fragments

The class examined the materials in three groups looking for evidence that might tell us more about the lives these people might have lived. They looked for signs of disease and infection, information regarding diet and nutrition, and their activity patterns as evidenced in stress on the bones themselves. The amount of information one can glean from bones alone is astounding. Evidence of everything from abscessed teeth, to injury, to syphilis can be seen in these fragments. Using comparison data sets the students were also able to make basic conjectures on what types of work these Athenians might have done based on the stress to the long bones of the legs and arms.

Image of students presenting on the probable diet and nutrition of the population in a classroom

Students presenting on the probable diet and nutrition of the population

For the students this project provided an invaluable opportunity to do fieldwork in their own backyard. As Anthropology graduate student Rachel Horton explained, “The importance of this work is that these bones represent a lived experience lost to history. We are helping to bring that history to life.”

Reitsema’s class has worked closely with teams of experts and their findings will be combined with ongoing research including DNA testing. All of these findings will be released together as the additional research is completed.

Once complete, this work will join our “Death and Human History in Athens” Digital Humanities project that now includes student investigations of local Athens cemeteries from five classes at the University of Georgia. This project is ongoing and we will continue to add information as it is available.



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Study in a Second Discipline: Amelia Opie and DH

amelia_opieThis semester English Professor Roxanne Eberle has been awarded the opportunity to work in the Provost’s Office Study in a Second Discipline program to gain skills in the Digital Humanities. Over the course of the semester Eberle has worked in conjunction with Digital Humanities Coordinator Emily McGinn, and Assistant Professor in Digital Humanities and History, Scott Nesbit, in a directed study to learn more about the methods, issues, and tools in the digital humanities.

The main focus of this endeavor is to gain skills in TEI and XML with the goal of creating a digital edition of Amelia Alderson Opie’s letters. Opie was a well-known poet, tale writers, and novelist, whose work appeared in print from 1790-1844. She was contemporaries with Mary Wollstonecraft, William Godwin, and Lord Byron.

This project stems from Eberle’s decades long interest in Opie. Her research has led her to countless archives looking for Opie’s correspondence and she has transcribed hundreds of handwritten letters. Now, with this collection in hand, she has been working in the DigiLab to digitize these transcriptions and mark them up using TEI. The final project will be encoded in such as way as to identify Opie’s correspondence networks and her unique language use.

Eberle has now completed a schema for encoding her letters, and in the Spring (release date June 21, 2017) she will create a prototype for her digital edition using a subset of 16 letters that best exemplify Opie’s larger body of correspondence. She hopes to connect her set of TEI encoded letters with other archives of correspondence from the Romantic Period including the Romantic Circles project and the Shelley Godwin Archive.

Eberle will discuss this exciting project in the Digi Colloquium in January (details to follow).

Learn more about Eberle’s work.


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Brand Yourself: A how-to guide for grad students


Joey Stanley leading the professionalization workshop

This week the DigiLab offered a workshop on building a digital identity for grad students. Maintaining a clear, cohesive digital profile is increasingly necessary in a competitive job market, but it can be overwhelming to sift through all the options. The goal of this session, led by Linguistics PhD student and DigiLab research assistant Joey Stanley, along with Digital Humanities Coordinator Emily McGinn, was to help grad students navigate all of their options and help them take control of their online professional identity.

The presentation discussed a variety of methods for increasing visibility and for engaging in professional conversations in the digital world. While these spaces may be different depending on the discipline, what’s most important is to create a single place where all of one’s separate accounts from places like LinkedIn, Academia.edu, and Research Gate can be consolidated. The main objective of the workshop was for each participant to set up this space before they left. With both Stanley and McGinn on hand for extra assistance, each participant was asked to choose a platform they were comfortable with and to get started building their own space. By the end of the session, grad students had accepted the challenged and set up their own websites. Some opted for a free Word Press or Wix account. One even took the challenge to the next level and built his own website using Jekyll and GitHub.

Setting up a consolidated web presence does not have to be expensive, or complicated, or difficult. This workshop provided the space, the time, and the resources to help these grad students get started. For those interested in doing the same check out Joey’s notes on the session or download the slides here.

If you’re interested in this session or others like it, let us know. We’d love to continue the conversation. Contact Emily McGinn at digi@uga.edu for more information.




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Build a Better Project: Digi Colloquium Review

— Joey Stanley, PhD student in Linguistics and DH Grad Assistant

I recently presented on how to build a digital humanities project from scratch, going from primary sources to visualizations of data. I also showcased a piece of software called JMP (“jump”) that I like to use for quick-and-dirty visualizations. Before we get to the fancy software though, we have to step back and consider where our information is coming from.

Primary sources vary considerably. In my own research I’ve drawn from audio recordings, census records, digitized books, ethnographic observations, and online material, but you might also use newspapers, images, maps, or archeological records in your own research. It all depends on your field, your project, and the questions you would like to get answered. Step one is to find the primary sources that are best for this project.

Since we’re talking about digital humanities, it’s important to figure out how to best use computers to draw information from these sources. It’s not simply enough to digitize your data: scans offer no benefit over original records other than portability. You might want to type everything up, which does allow records to be easily searched (using control+F). Your sources may already be scanned but there’s still a wall between it and the answer to your research question.

The key part is that you need to find the structure in the source, and to do this you have to think of it as a potential spreadsheet. These potentially massive tables are organized into rows and columns, with one “observation” for each row, and one “property” per column. This allows you to look at the information for each observation by scanning the cells in each row, while also letting you look at the various properties of all the observations by looking down each column.

For example, in Scott Nesbit’s historical preservation course in spring of this year here at UGA, they looked at runaway slave ads from the early 19th century in Georgia. Interested in the people mentioned in the ads, they decided to set up their spreadsheet with one person per row with the information about each person (name, description, escape location, ad location, etc.) in columns. In my own research on vowel sounds in the Pacific Northwest, I might set up my spreadsheet with each vowel sound in a recording as its own row, with various acoustical measurements and information about neighboring sounds and words as columns.

While you’re setting up your spreadsheet, you have to keep in mind the different data types, because the way we think about the price of a house is different than how we think about its color. The two main data types are quantitative variables and categorical variables. So a house worth $300,000 is twice the value of one worth $150,000. But a house painted white is not inherently better than one painted blue. Here, the value of the home is a quantitative variable because it’s numeric, and the difference in values is meaningful. The color is a categorical variable because the values are arbitrary and there’s no meaningful difference between them.

Sometimes with categorical data, you’ll have way too many different observed values. If you surveyed a thousand houses for example, you might find white, eggshell, baby powder, white smoke, cream, ivory, and ghost white. An architect or designer might be interested in these nuanced differences, but if you want to see if white houses sell faster, it might make sense to collapse all these down to just “white.” The key here is to have a good reason for doing so, something that makes sense in your project. Convenience is not a good enough reason, and neither is forcing the statistical model to work. Whatever choices to make to smooth out the distinctions in your data must be documented and reported in your final write-up.

Once a spreadsheet has been set up, and filled with all the information you’d like to study, it’s time to start visualizing and analyzing the data. This is why data types are important: the kinds of things you can do with your data depend on the data types you have in your spreadsheet. For example, if you want to do a chi-squared test, you’re going to need some categorical variables, but if you want to do a regression analysis, you’ll need quantitative variables. Similar for visualizations: a scatterplot or box-and-whisker plot needs quantitative variables while a bar plot can be used with categorical variables. I’ve helped students in the past who wanted to do some sexy visualization or fancy statistical method they saw in a paper one time, but once I looked at their spreadsheet I had to break it to them that they just didn’t have the right kind of data to do it.

Something to keep in mind. It’s always easier to go from more specific data to more general. Just like with the shades of white houses, you can usually collapse a categorical data type into fewer groups. You can even turn numbers into categories, such as height measurements going from feet and inches to simply “tall”, “average”, and “short.” However, keep in mind that you can’t go the other way, from more general to more specific, without going through your primary data again. If all you wrote down was that the houses were “white,” and later you found out that cream colored houses are important, you’re going to have to go past the houses again and rerecord their color. So in my opinion, always be as specific as possible when collecting your data, because it’s a heck of a lot easier to generalize your data than it is to go back and regather new information.

The critical part of this is that in the end, after you’ve collected your data and you’ve got a spreadsheet set up and you’ve explored what’s going on using visualizations, you’ve got to be the human and the researcher and explain what’s going on. Computers are great and they can help us out a lot, but they ultimately can’t do the most important step: interpreting and explaining your data. That’s where you need to put on your thinking cap and apply all this knowledge you took out student loans to get.

Using computers in humanities research is fantastic. They can save you an incredible amount of time, and they allow you to do things you never thought possible, opening your eyes to new research questions. Great care has to be put into a digital humanities project every step of the way, but the payout is well worth the effort.

View the slides from the presentation.

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Hearing Hot Corner: The DigiLab Audio Field Kit

Part 2 of “The Hot Corner Project”

A project of Alexander M. Stephens (M.A. ’16)

In addition to the three oral histories about Hot Corner in the Russell Library Athens Oral History Project, Broderick Flanigan and I have conducted additional interviews specifically for the Hot Corner documentary we are producing through the DigiLab. We’re using the DigiLab Audio Field Kit to record our conversations. There are lots of great resources out there for people new to sound recording. Transom.org is one of my favorites for folks interested in radio, podcasts, and audio documentaries. And Doug Boyd, of the Nunn Center at the University of Kentucky and the Oral History in the Digital Age project, provides excellent resources for people working in the area of oral history. For starters, see Best Practices, information about tools, and Doug’s digital oral history blog. I am not going to go into too much detail about technique here, but I do want to use this post as a primer on the specific equipment we’re using, which will be available to students and faculty working through the DigiLab in the future.

Here is a list of the equipment in the Field Kit, which all fits inside in a mall Ruggard backpack:


  • Tascam DR-100MKII digital audio recorder
  • Rode NTG-3 shotgun microphone (with foam windscreen)
  • Auray Universal Shock Mount
  • Auray Universal Hand Grip
  • Two Audio-Technica AT899 lavalier microphones
  • Rycote 18cm Classic-Softie Windshield
  • Kopul Studio Elite 4000 XLR microphone cables
  • Two Sandisk Extreme SDHC cards (one 16GB and one 32GB)
  • Transcend USB 3.0 Multi-card reader


I’ll start with some basic concepts in sound recording. In my occasionally-professional opinion, the three biggest factors in getting good sound are 1) distance, 2) positioning, and 3) ambient (or surrounding) noise. (There are many resources for more information about sound recording and production online. This American Life has a comic book tutorial and, again, Transom.org has lots of tips.)

  • As a general rule, the closer the source of the sound is to the microphone, the better it will sound on the recording. If you want it to sound like someone is right there in the room with you when you listen back to the recording, don’t be shy with the microphone(s). Get close—no more than a foot away in most cases. A shotgun mic can be held somewhat farther away.
  • While it’s crucial to get the mic close to the speaker, don’t put it right in front of the speaker’s mouth. That may lead to distortions in the recording known as “plosives,” or it could pick up a person’s breathing or other mouth noises that aren’t (usually) desirable in an interview. The built-in mics on the Tascam and the Rode shotgun mic are “directional” mics, meaning that they pick up sound coming at them from particular directions. The lavalier mics are “omnidirectional,” meaning that they pick up sound in all directions. With directional mics, you’ll want to position them “off-axis” from the source of the sound. That means holding them at an angle to the speaker’s mouth. When I am holding the Rode shotgun mic, I usually find a comfortable way to hold it so that it is pointing directly at the speaker’s mouth but slightly upwards and at about a 45-degree angle. If you use a mic stand or a boom pole, you may want to position it off-axis and above the speaker so that it is pointed down at their mouth. As for the Audio-Technica lavalier mic, clip it on the speaker’s shirt about 6-8 inches below the mouth. For more on lavalier placement, see this video from Rode.
  • There are endless sources of unwanted ambient noise that could interfere with the quality of your recording. Some common ones are air conditioning and heating systems, fans, refrigerators, fluorescent lights, and wind. Your task is to be aware of these sorts of sounds. People don’t usually notice these noises, but with a good mic and headphones, they become obvious. This is why wearing headphones while recording is KEY for ensuring the highest sound quality. It can be awkward to talk with big headphones on at first, but you’ll be glad when you don’t have to worry about a strange buzzing noise or a microwave beeping incessantly when you go to edit your recording. Headphones that cover your ears are usually better for isolating what is coming through the recorder than earbuds, but buds are better than nothing. Some radio producers will ask people to unplug refrigerators or turn off fans during interviews. I don’t usually go as far as the refrigerator, but if you do, make sure to plug it back in before you leave! I would recommend asking people to turn off air conditioning units in the room or fans for the duration of the interview, however, because those things are surprisingly loud.


  • When you’re recording inside, use the foam windscreen. It will provide a buffer for some unwanted noises and the whooshing sounds that can occur while moving the mic quickly. When it comes to recording outside, wind can be a major problem. Fortunately, you have the Rycote Classic-Softie windshield. Use it! Always. It is easy to forget about wind noise, but try recording outside with headphones on and no windscreen—the sensitivity of the shotgun mic will be pretty obvious, even in a mild breeze. Honestly, it wouldn’t hurt to keep the Rycote windshield on even when you’re recording inside. You’ll also want to be aware of “handling noise,” which can come from someone touching the cable or the mic itself. The shock mount and hand grip will help with this with the shotgun mic. With a lavalier mic, this sort of noise can come from someone’s shirt rubbing on the mic or even a beard rustling against it. Also ask that people avoid touching or messing with the cable to the lavalier mic, as that can create noise.
  • Sometimes you want ambient noise, but for most interviews you will want to minimize it. Recording in a quiet environment and neutralizing ambient noise will make it possible to get a low “noise floor” on your recording. The noise floor is the baseline sound on your recording. When you don’t have lots of other sound, you place the mic close to the source of the sound, and you position the mic correctly, you can turn down the gain/input level on your recorder and get that magic quiet that allows people’s voices to shine through on the recording. In contrast, a high noise floor often distracts from the speaker’s voice and can make editing difficult when trying to put together clips that have varying levels of noise.

The tips above are meant to provide you with some basic knowledge about how to approach recording an interview. Now, I’ll go into more specifics about the recorder and the two types of mics in the kit.

Post2_Image3The Tascam DR-100MKII has become the recorder of choice for many oral historians and radio producers looking for a high-quality and affordable recorder with dual XLR inputs. The Tascam has lots of settings, which can be adjusted depending on your needs. The “Limiter” and “Low Cut Filter” switches on the back of the recorder are two important settings to think about. You’ll also want to adjust your “Record Settings.” For most projects, WAV files at 16-bit/44.1kHz will be sufficient. For archival projects, you may want to record in 24-bit/96kHz. Doug Boyd from the Nunn Center has some great tutorials on getting started with the Tascam Watch the video before doing anything with the recorder, follow his setup instructions, and check out his other videos for more useful information. The Tascam records to SD cards, and two SanDisk Extreme cards are included in the kit.

The Tascam will record two channels at once. If you have two microphones connected to the XLR inputs, one mic will register on the Tascam screen as the left channel and the other as the right channel. This enables you to isolate the sound for each mic (and thus for each speaker). The decibel levels of the sounds coming in through the mics can be controlled with the dial on the right-hand side of the recorder. Monitoring and adjusting your levels is really important. Practice adjusting the levels of each mic before your first interview, because it can be a bit tricky on the Tascam. I like my levels to peak between -12 dB and -6 dB, which is a little high, and recommendations on that vary. You want consistent, audible sound, and monitoring your input levels will help you get it. If you are interested in how levels really work and why they matter, see this Transom tutorial on levels.

The dual-XLR connections on the Tascam are great because of the sound quality they provide and because they enable using what is called “phantom power,” which a lot of microphones require, including the Rode NTG-3 shotgun mic in the kit. After you turn the recorder on, connect the microphone(s), and turn on phantom power by flipping the switch on the back of the Tascam. Turn off phantom power before connecting or disconnecting the microphone. Leaving phantom power on while connecting or disconnecting could damage the mic (at least according to the manual for the Tascam). The recorder has two built-in microphones, which are good but not great. They can be used in a pinch, perhaps if there are multiple people sitting around a table talking and you aren’t going to be able to manage a microphone throughout the whole recording. As long as everyone is reasonably close to the recorder and the setting is quiet, this will work well enough. Keep in mind that using the built-in mics on the Tascam won’t sound nearly as good as a recording with the external microphones.


The Rode NTG-3 is an excellent, professional-quality shotgun microphone. Shotgun-style mics are directional and meant to be pointed at the source of the sound. It will reject sound from the sides and pick up sounds coming towards the end of the microphone. A lot of podcasts and radio programs are using this type of mic for field interviews nowadays, and so are we. The Auray shock mount and hand grip enable you to quickly move the microphone without creating handling noise, and thus pick up the voices of more than one speaker or isolate (to an extent) sounds that might be important for conveying information about the interview setting (clippers in a barber shop, for instance). If you are recording narration for a documentary-style story or commentary for a podcast, I recommend using the Rode mic on a stand and adjusting the position until you think it sound best. I’d start by placing the mic above your mouth (pointed at it), about 8 inches away, and off-axis.



  • The two Audio-Technica AT899 mics included in the kit are high-quality lavalier microphones. If you are conducting a traditional sit-down oral history interview (with just two people), these two mics are the way to go. Put the battery in the power module for each mic and connect each one to an XLR input on the Tascam. See my note above about lavalier mic placement, and make sure to adjust the levels for each mic based on the loudness of each speaker.

Broderick and I are using both types of external mics to record our interviews, since there are two of us and we want to pick up multiple voices. I connect the Rode mic to the left XLR input on the Tascam. I hold the Rode during the interview and move it to point it at the person speaking—either Broderick or the person with whom we are talking. I connect a lavalier mic to the right XLR input and clip it to my shirt so that my questions are recorded clearly (it’s hard to point the Rode mic at myself). Of course, this is just one way to approach it. As you get familiar with the mics and their pros and cons, you will be able to figure out what will work best for your needs. One thing to watch out for with this method is the interference that can be created when the cables cross.

Post2_Image6Finally, after you are done recording, do not play back anything on the Tascam itself. Doing this could potentially corrupt the file. If you need to remove the card before you are ready to transfer the files, slide the switch on the side of the card to the “lock” position and put the card in the case. As soon as possible, use the Transcend card reader to transfer the files to a computer or external hard drive. Make sure the files are backed up before you erase anything from the card. The surest way to clear files from the card is to use the “Format” function when the card is in the Tascam recorder.


So, there it is: a primer on recording good sound using the equipment in the DigiLab Audio Field Kit. Take some time to watch and read the tutorials I linked to in this post. Take time to practice and make sure everything works before going out to do an interview! And, please, wear your headphones!


Aleck Stephens is a Graduate Research Assistant with the Willson Center Lab for Digital Humanities and is completing this project under the guidance of Professor Steve Berry of the UGA History department.

Broderick Flanigan is an artist and activist in Athens whose work brings narrative and art together. Check out his website fpsartsociety.com

Read more about the Hot Corner Project


DIGI logo


For more information about the DigiLab or starting a new digital project contact the Emily McGinn, Digital Humanities Coordinator at UGA mcginn@uga.edu

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Join the new Faculty Learning Community for Digital Humanities Pedagogy

This fall we are launching a new Faculty Learning Community (FLC) on Teaching and Learning with Digital Humanities. Through this community we hope to provide an introduction to Digital Humanities to faculty members who are interested in learning more about these emerging technologies and methods. The group will discuss syllabus design and how to successfully scaffold digital assignments into humanities classes. In addition, we will explore the links between digital pedagogy and digital research and develop methods for beginning a digital research project. The FLC will be guided by Emily McGinn the Digital Humanities Coordinator here on campus and will meet in the DigiLab on the third floor of the Main Library.

Space is limited, please submit an application to CTL by 5pm on Friday August 25th.

For more information contact mcginn@uga.edu or

visit http://ctl.uga.edu/flc/future-flc to view other FLCs available for the fall.


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Mapping Occupation

Gregory P. Downs and Scott Nesbit launch Mapping Occupation, a new site that gives historians the first detailed look at where the U.S. Army went during the long occupation of the American South after Confederate surrender.

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C-Span films American history classes in DigiLab

The DigiLab hosted a film crew from C-Span here to capture lectures from Professors Stephen Berry and Scott Nesbit for their Lectures in History series. Berry and Nesbit are the first UGA Professors to be included in the series which features lectures on American History from academics across the country.


CSpan films Professor Nesbit’s class

Professor Nesbit, Assistant Professor in Environment & Design and History, brought his Introduction to Historic Preservation class (HIPR 4000) to the lab for a discussion on the politics of monuments including those in and around Athens.

Professor Berry of the History department, presented a lecture for his HIST 4090: Death and Dying in American History class. This class operates alongside of Berry’s latest digital humanities project CSI:Dixie that examines over 1500 coroner’s reports from South Carolina spanning from 1800-1900.

“Lectures in History” airs at 8pm and midnight ET each Saturday night. After a program airs, it is also available online. These lectures are expected to be available for viewing in May.


To learn more about Digital Humanities at UGA contact Emily McGinn, Digital Humanities Coordinator, at mcginn@uga.edu.
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