Digital History

This working group will explore the intersections between the digital humanities and the history of science. Computers have transformed every aspect of our craft, from collection and curation to analysis and interpretation, and every aspect of our profession, from research and teaching to service and conferencing. We will read and discuss works that use digital tools to advance the history of science, and we will interrogate the meaning of this digital revolution for both the historical record and the historical profession.

Please set your timezone at https://www.chstm.org/user

Consortium Respectful Behavior Policy

Participants at Consortium activities will treat each other with respect and consideration to create a collegial, inclusive, and professional environment that is free from any form of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation.

Participants will avoid any inappropriate actions or statements based on individual characteristics such as age, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, nationality, political affiliation, ability status, educational background, or any other characteristic protected by law. Disruptive or harassing behavior of any kind will not be tolerated. Harassment includes but is not limited to inappropriate or intimidating behavior and language, unwelcome jokes or comments, unwanted touching or attention, offensive images, photography without permission, and stalking.

Participants may send reports or concerns about violations of this policy to conduct@chstm.org.

Upcoming Meetings

  • Wednesday, October 12, 2022 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm EDT

    Ted Underwood, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
    Prof. Underwood has graciously agreed to pre-circulate his recent co-authored paper, "Cohort Succession Explains Most Change in Literary Culture." which was published in Sociological Science earlier this year. 
    Abstract: Many aspects of behavior are guided by dispositions that are relatively durable once formed. Political opinions and phonology, for instance, change largely through cohort succession. But evidence for cohort effects has been scarce in artistic and intellectual history; researchers in those fields more commonly explain change as an immediate response to recent innovations and events. We test these conflicting theories of change in a corpus of 10,830 works of fiction from 1880 to 1999 and find that slightly more than half (54.7 percent) of the variance explained by time is explained better by an author’s year of birth than by a book’s year of publication. Writing practices do change across an author’s career. But the pace of change declines steeply with age. This finding suggests that existing histories of literary culture have a large blind spot: the early experiences that form cohorts are pivotal but leave few traces in the historical record.


  • Wednesday, November 9, 2022 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm EST

    Jennifer Guiliano, IUPUI
    Abstract: TBD. Check back a week or two before the meeting date to access the pre-circulated paper and Zoom link.


  • Wednesday, December 14, 2022 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm EST

    TBD


  • Wednesday, January 11, 2023 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm EST

    Justin Madron, University of Richmond
    Abstract: TBD. Check back a week or two before the meeting date to access the pre-circulated paper and Zoom link.


  • Wednesday, February 8, 2023 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm EST

    Lauren Tilton and Taylor Arnold, University of Richmond
    Abstract: TBD. Check back a week or two before the meeting date to access the pre-circulated paper and Zoom link.


  • Wednesday, March 8, 2023 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm EST

    Sylvia Fernández Quintanilla, University of Texas at San Antonio
    Abstract: TBD. Check back a week or two before the meeting date to access the pre-circulated paper and Zoom link.


  • Wednesday, April 12, 2023 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm EDT

    Roopika Risam, Dartmouth College
    Abstract: TBD. Check back a week or two before the meeting date to access the pre-circulated paper and Zoom link.


  • Wednesday, May 10, 2023 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm EDT

    TBD



Past Meetings

  • September 14, 2022

    Amanda Arceneaux, Brown University
    Amanda Arceneaux is a PhD candidate in History at Brown University. She offers the following abstract: "This paper is my first take in articulating my methodology and process in developing a videogame for my history dissertation on early modern herbals and knowledge production systems. It looks at why my research lends itself well to an interactive digital format by discussing the historical research of my project and the digital evolution its underwent. The essay concludes by putting the project into the context of historical videogames and looking at examples from Level 2 that exemplify features of a scholarly videogame."


  • May 4, 2022

    Daniel Hutchinson, Belmont Abbey College
    Dr. Hutchinson will discuss the latest developments in generative art and their potential impact on the historical record and the historical profession. 


  • April 6, 2022

    Emily Merchant, UC Davis - "U. S. Demography in Transition"
    Abstract: At the end of the 1970s, American demographers faced a crisis: population control had lost its moral legitimacy, and private sources of research funding were drying up. This paper examines how demography as a field responded to the crisis, using structural topic modeling to analyze oral history interviews spanning nearly forty years. It finds that demographers tapped a new source of funding, the National Institutes of Health, shifting their research focus to health disparities in the United States, and converted the Population Association of America from an interest group for people concerned with population growth to a professional organization for demographers.
    *Please do not share, cite, or quote from the attached manuscript, which is currently under review 


  • March 2, 2022

    Stephen Weldon, University of Oklahoma, will describe his experiences working on the Isis CB (Current Bibliography) for the past sixteen years. He is kindly pre-circulating two papers in advance of his visit. The first paper details his work as a bibliographer and his innovations related to IsisCB Explore. The second paper details his experiences working on the IsisCB Pandemics Special Issue. 

     


  • February 2, 2022

    E. Thomas Ewing (Virginia Tech), “The Frequency of This Occurrence was Greatly Exaggerated”: A Data in Social Context Study of the 1889-1890 Russian Influenza in New Haven
    This paper examines the “Russian influenza” in New Haven, Connecticut, to explore computational humanities approaches to the history of medicine. Using newspapers and health reports, this case study applies methods such as text searching, close reading, data visualization, and statistical analysis to answer questions about the meaning of data in the context of a pandemic. The essay concludes with a reflection on the ways that studying historical pandemic during a pandemic has shaped the meaning and interpretation of epidemiological data.


  • December 1, 2021

    Anna Guerrero, Marine Biological Laboratory and American Philosophical Society
    Anna Guerrero is a PhD candidate in the Center for Biology and Society at Arizona State University. She’s usually studying history and philosophy of images in science, with a specific interest in fields that deal with entities invisible to the naked eye (like microbes). In this talk, she discusses how computational methods, particularly turning publication metadata and abstracts into networks (co-author, co-citation, keyword co-occurance) with VoS Viewer, can be used to investigate historical questions about the influence of scientists and their ideas. She will present these methods, the data they can produce, and the problems they can help solve through a case study investigating the influence of Günter Blobel and his idea of “protein topogenesis.”


  • November 3, 2021

    Jaimie Murdock will discuss his paper, "The Origin of the Origin: Understanding Darwin’s Delay through his Reading Notebooks," which you'll find attached. The pre-print is also available at the following link:

    https://arxiv.org/abs/1802.09944 Background information on the project is available here: https://arxiv.org/abs/1509.07175

    Summary: There were 21 years between when Darwin first reported the Malthusian insight on natural selection and when The Origin of Species was published in 1859. In the intervening years, Darwin carefully recorded each book that he read in a set of reading notebooks. We reconstructed the contents of this library using digital collections and applied topic modeling to them to discern how Darwin selected the next book to read: was he motivated by deep dives or by massive breadth? We also compared the contents of these texts to the Origin and to several intermediate drafts. The computational models inform historical questions, providing novel evidence to support that Darwin's theory grew from the additional research time and was not held private out of fear of reprisal, but rather continuing to grow in response to newly published materials.

     


  • October 6, 2021

    Ben Lee, "Compounded Mediation: A Data Archaeology of the Newspaper Navigator Dataset" 
     
    In this paper, Ben Lee examines the strengths and weaknesses of the Newspaper Navigator dataset that he developed while recently serving as Innovator-in-Residence at the Library of Congress. The attached paper has been accepted by Digital Humanities Quarterly and is scheduled to appear in a forthcoming issue. You can also access a pre-print on the Humanities Commons


  • September 1, 2021

    Abraham Gibson (UT San Antonio), "Digital Humanities in the Deepfake Era"
    Author's note: "This chapter will appear in the forthcoming edited volume, Debates in the Digital Humanities 2022 (University of Minnesota Press, 2022). I am currently devleoping a larger DH project about deepfakes and the historical record, and I welcome suggestions and feedback." ~ AG  
     


Group Conveners

  • abegibson's picture

    Abraham Gibson

    Abe Gibson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at the University of Texas at San Antonio. He co-edited a Focus Section on computational methods in the history and philosophy of science for Isis, and he coauthored an article contextualizing computational history in the same issue. Forthcoming chapters examine the challenges of interdisciplinary collaboration in the digital humanities and the significance of deepfakes for the historical profession.

     

  • Picarddr's picture

    Danielle Picard

    Danielle Picard is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Medicine, Health, and Society at Vanderbilt University. Her research interests include the history of the human sciences (psychology), science communication, critical disability studies, and the digital humanities.

     

  • johnstewart's picture

    John Stewart

    John Stewart is the Assistant Director of the Office of Digital Learning at the University of Oklahoma. John is the project manager for OU Create, a Domain of One’s Own Initiative that provides web hosting and web development training for all faculty, staff, and students at OU. He also designs gameful learning experiences to promote digital literacy and helps faculty integrate digital technologies into their teaching.

     

  • pvieth@ou.edu's picture

    Paul Vieth

    Paul Kelley Vieth is a Ph.D. student in the University of Oklahoma’s Department of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine focusing on 20th-century Latin American agricultural history. He received his M.A. from the University of Oklahoma in the History of Science. He also has bachelor’s degrees from the University of Oklahoma in International Security Studies with an emphasis on China, and History with a minor in the History of Science. His research interests include alternatives in sustainable agriculture, digital humanities and data visualization, and the democratization of information production and consumption.

     

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