Digital Humanities

Like many humanists, I suspect, I have been reticent to engage with the Digital Humanities and digitize my work in general. My goal has always been to write articles and books and it seemed unnecessary for these goals to gain digital skills. But over the last few years I have started to see the value of the Digital Humanities and the ways that they can shed light on issues that are not being covered in books or cannot adequately be covered in written work. As someone who hopes to write for more popular audiences, I could not ignore the wide reach that is available through the digital humanities. As an urban historian, my work tends toward spacial analysis and the influx of mapping in humanities based work will effect my own work. My planned dissertation will be on the War on Drugs in New Orleans and I am very interested in the ways race, poverty, and rates of incarceration are bifurcated by waterways and often follow them. I hoping to use mapping software to map the path of high incarceration rates throughout the city and show the relationship to water and the environment. Hopefully, this will create visual aids that will be effective in conveying my argument.

While this is my own personal plan to engage in Digital Humanities work, as a graduate student at the University of South Carolina I saw colloborations between humanists and people in other disciplines effectively develop apps and websites to shed light on the history of the university. Slavery at South Carolina College was a graduate student based project that attempted to disseminate the history of slavery at the University of South Carolina, which the administration and visitor center tries to obscure. This resulted in a website and later an interactive app "Ghosts of the Horseshoe." This project really showed me the value of digital humanities as a tool for social history and as a way to subvert dominant institutional narratives. While there wasn't slavery at Temple, I would love something similar to be made about the history of Temple and the community.

The photo below is of "the wall" which surrounds the historic portion of USC's campus. It was built by enslaved people and was one of the areas of campus that was talked about through this project.

Courtesy of the USC Library