Seeking Digital Humanities Caucus Sessions for ASECS 2013

The Digital Humanities (DH) Caucus of The American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies seeks session topics and organizers for the 2013 meeting of ASECS, to be held April 4-7, 2013, in Cleveland, Ohio.  Session proposals are due to ASECS by MAY 1; session proposal forms are downloadable from the ASECS site (PDF).

The DH caucus has no officers or official meetings. It is an ad hoc group run by those who attend, in person or virtually, and who care to contribute. A description of its goals and aims is available here.

In 2012 ASECS hosted two DH caucus panels, among several other digital humanities events (2011 DH panels listed here; 2010 DH panels listed here).

Please use the comments to contribute ideas for session topics, volunteer your services as chair/organizer, and to generate ideas on how we might organize ourselves as a caucus in the future.

A few ideas of mine, drawn from conversations and observations at ASECS 2012:

  • Developing standards for evaluating scholarly digital projects in promotion and tenure decisions.
  • Training students (undergraduate and/or graduate) in digital humanities theory and methods while also teaching eighteenth-century studies.
  • How to pursue DH projects if you’re faculty at at a smaller, perhaps teaching-oriented, institution without a DH center or strong IT infrastructure.

To quote Lisa Maruca from last year, “I’m sure YOU have better ideas, so please step up!”

Announcing THATCamp ASECS

In conjunction with the Initiative for Digital Humanities, Media, and Culture (IDHCM) at Texas A & M, the Digital Humanities Caucus is planning THATCamp ASECS on March 21, 2012. It will be an opportunity to discuss and debate issues in the digital humanities related to eighteenth-century studies in an informal and open environment. For anyone who is new to the idea of THATCamp, the event will be an unconference. THATCamps are self-organizing, free events ‘where humanists and technologists meet to work together for the common good’. For more information go to THATCamp ASECS will be an opportunity for anyone attending ASECS, and anyone else who wants to join in, to discuss the use of digital resources, tools and methods for eighteenth-century studies.

The event will be accessible to all and it would be good to have some sessions which are about introducing people to some of the digital research possibilities for eighteenth century scholars. Please post co mments or questions about the format here. There will be a website for the event for registering and most importantly for suggestions for the program in the near future.

The last two hours of the day will be a workshop about how to use 18thConnect to which everyone is invited. To wind up what we’re hoping will be a very good day of digital eighteenth-century studies the IDHCM will host a cash-bar with finger-food. Please plan on coming to THATCamp ASECS, the 18thConnect workshop and the IDHCM cash-bar, and tell your friends and colleagues (especially those won’t be likely to read this blog), and of course watch this space for more information over the coming months.

Digital Humanities CFPs for ASECS 2012

The 2012 meeting of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies will take place in San Antonio, Texas from March 22 to March 25. Information about hotel reservations is available at this page.

The call for papers has been uploaded to the ASECS website (as a Microsoft Word file).

Below is a selected list of CFPs that have a digital humanities angle. Please contact the individual panel chairs with any questions and with your presentation proposals.

“Digital Approaches to Library History”

(The Bibliographical Society of America)
Mark R. M. Towsey
School of History/Eighteenth Century Worlds
U. of Liverpool
9 Abercromby Square
Liverpool, L69 7WZ
Tel: 0151794 2379

This panel will consider how digital tools and digital methodologies are reshaping our understanding of eighteenth-century libraries.

Libraries, book clubs, reading circles and other institutions of collective reading have long been acknowledged as important features of eighteenth-century print culture, but the continuing development of modern database software has opened up new interpretative possibilities, allowing us to understand their significance in unprecedented detail. Libraries promised access to a much wider range of books than most patrons could possibly afford, but they were hugely significant in other ways. They emerged to serve particular communities, reflecting the specialist demands of military garrisons, religious academies and informal networks of medical men and lawyers. They provided a forum for conversation, debate and sociability, and made a key contribution to the social impact of the Enlightenment, the ‘consumer revolution’, the growth of nationalism and the spread of religious evangelicalism. Since they emerged in Britain, North America and continental Europe at around the same time, they also provide endless opportunities for comparative history–with different territories adopting distinctive organisational models, yet consuming a remarkably similar canon of international bestsellers.

Papers might consider these or any other themes relating to the history of particular libraries or types of library, but should aim to reflect on methodological approaches made possible by technological advances associated with the digital humanities.

“Diggable Data, Scalable Reading and New Humanities Scholarship”

(Digital Humanities Caucus)
Matt Cohen
Dept. of English
U. of Texas at Austin
PAR 108, Mailcode B5000
Austin, TX 78712
Tel: (512) 471-8112
Fax: (512) 471-4909

Various communities of practice are emerging around new data resources that are available, communities such as Bamboo Corpora Space, sponsored by the Mellon Foundation; ARC, the Applied Research Consortium comprised of MESA, REKn, 18thConnect, and NINES, Connected Histories in the UK, and the Voyeur: Reveal Your Texts group in Canada. These groups are all creating tools that allow for “scalable reading,” that is, combining reading up close with reading at a distance, to produce a new digital philology. Papers given at this seminar would present tools created by these groups as part of seminar papers of the traditional sort—that is, as part of an interesting argument that using the tools made possible. We will invite all ASECS members to submit proposals to present.

“Digital Humanities and the Archives” (Roundtable)

(Digital Humanities Caucus)
Eleanor F. Shevlin
Campus Address
Dept. of English
West Chester of Pennsylvania548 Main Hall
West Chester, PA 19383
Tel: (610) 436-2463)
Fax: (610)-738-0516
Mailing Address
2006 Columbia Road, NW
Apt. 42
Washington, DC 20009
Tel: (202) 462-3105

This roundtable seeks three to four ten-minute papers aimed at generating substantive conversation on the broad topic Digital Humanities and the Archives. Possible topics include but are not limited to how digital tools are transforming our theoretical conceptions of “archives,” what effects digital facsimiles are exercising on our understanding of original documents; how our digital environment is shaping the kinds of archival projects being undertaken, the methodologies used, and/or the types of research questions posed; how interactions between the digital and the archival are creating new paradigms or inspiring shifts in existing models; how questions concerning the economics, equity, and accessibility of archival materials are being addressed or perhaps reconfigured by digital tools and platforms.

“Bits and Bytes Lunch”

(Digital Humanities Caucus)
Adrianne Wadewitz
422 S. Henderson, Apt. 6
Bloomington, IN 47401
Tel: (812) 340-1415

In this lunch time session, we ask participants to bring a snack and a digital tool. Similar in format to a more traditional poster session, presenters in this session will simultaneously demonstrate their tools to participants, who will be able to experience multiple presentations and interact directly with presenters and their tools during this open workshop. The goal is for participants and presents to have an open dialogue and to play with new and emerging technologies in a relaxed atmosphere.

“A Digital Humanities Experiment, Year One: Aphra Behn Online” (Roundtable)

Aleksondra Hultquist
U. of Melbourne
1/17 Byrne Ave
Elwood VIC 3184, Australia

Aphra Behn Online: Interactive Journal for Women in the Arts 1640-1830, launched in March 2011 at ASECS with the intent to create an interactive online community centered on women and the arts in the long eighteenth century.  As an online, free access journal, our aim is to publish excellent and relevant scholarship and other exciting and innovative work.  We hope to support the community of scholars (contributors and readers) with constructive and thoughtful (and signed) submission feedback and by providing a platform for the exploration of the exciting opportunities that online information and researching can offer, such as the blog and discussion forums, creative and meaningful use of the online format, and flexibility and creativity in publication schedules and formats.  This roundtable seeks to explore issues surrounding this new scholarly project and to position these issues–and the journal itself–within a larger trend toward online and interactive scholarship.  We are interested in talking about what has worked, what has been surprising about the process, and what audience feedback and involvement can teach us.  We encourage roundtable submissions that evaluate successes and hiccups both in regards to our journal and to others and engage and participate in a discussion about the perils, pleasures, and possibilities of online scholarship.

“Best Practices in Digital Pedagogy”

Elizabeth Lewis
Dept. of Modern Foreign Languages
U. of Mary Washington
1301 College Ave
Fredericksburg, VA 22401
Tel: (540) 654-1987
Fax: (540) 654-1088

Presenters in this session will share their experiments, challenges, and successes in using digital applications to teach eighteenth-century studies at the undergraduate or graduate level. Some questions that presenters might address are:

  1. How has the use of digital media promoted student learning inside and outside the classroom?
  2. What challenges does the use of digital media pose?
  3. How do “best practices” in digital pedagogy differ from more traditional forms of teaching?
  4. What does the use of digital media add to the study of the eighteenth-century?

Seeking Digital Humanities Caucus Sessions

The Digital Humanities Caucus of The American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies seeks session topics and organizers for next year’s ASECS conference, to be held March 22-25, 2012, in San Antonio, Texas.  Session proposals are due to ASECS by MAY 1; forms are at the ASECS site.

The caucus has no officers or official meetings. It is an ad hoc group run by those who attend, in person or virtually, and who care to contribute. A description of its goals and aims is here.

This year’s 2011 ASECS conference hosted two caucus panels, among many other digital humanities events (listed here; 2010 DH panels listed here). It would be nice to put on two next year as well.

Please use the comments to contribute ideas for session topics, volunteer your services as chair/organizer, and to generate ideas on how we might organize ourselves as a caucus in the future.

I have chaired sessions two years in a row so am definitely ready to pass the torch.  However, I can offer a couple ideas for others to follow up on based on conversations I had with some of you at ASECS11:

  • Best Projects:  Digital Humanities Showcase (perhaps in conjunction with 18thConnect, which peer reviews such projects…)
  • Best Practices in Digital Pedagogy (or something teaching & learning related)
  • Digital Humanities How-To Workshop

I’m sure YOU have better ideas, so please step up!

–Lisa Maruca
Wayne State University

ASECS11: Digital Humanities Caucus Roundtable 1

“Evaluating Digital Projects: A Roundtable Discussion of New Forms of Grading and Peer Review”

(Digital Humanities Caucus Roundtable)

Lisa Maruca, 5057 Woodward, Dept. of English, Wayne State U., Detroit, MI 48202; Tel: (248) 890-5177

E-mail: AND

As new media projects begin to supplement or in some cases replace the print essay, research paper, scholarly article or monograph, what modes of evaluation should we expect or demand of students (undergrads and graduate students), colleagues, and ourselves? In recent times groups like HASTAC and the MLA begin discussion on evaluating digital work — the latter appropriately enough on a wiki — while the president of the MLA has even advised that more digital dissertations be produced. Similarly, the American Historical Association and the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University announced in 2008 a new annual prize for “an innovative and freely available new media project that reflects thoughtful, critical, and rigorous engagement with technology and the practice of history.” Since our students now might ask to produce a YouTube video instead of a paper, and our colleagues go up for tenure with a digital archive instead of a book, it behooves the member of ASECS to join this discussion and reflect on both methods and criteria for judging specifically historical work.

The organizers welcome descriptions of your own or others’ classroom or institutional experiments; policies that you or others have authored; ideas for future criteria, rubrics, methods and standards for evaluation; as well as theoretical examinations of evaluation as a concept. Panelists might reflect on the following, applied to both students and faculty:

  • Which standards should we preserve and which reject as we move from evaluating print work to digital projects?
  • What are the digital equivalents to (or replacements for) familiar print products such as (for undergrads) the interpretive essay or research paper; (for graduate students) the seminar paper or dissertation; (for faculty) the journal article, chapter or book?
  • How do we transfer such criteria as length and depth to innovative projects?
  • How do we account for the new skills that may need to be acquired to produce works in new media?
  • How do we fairly assess forms requiring multiple team members?
  • How can we import crowdsourcing as a method into the classroom or for examining scholarly work?
  • How do we allow for citation and account for influence in the digital realm?
  • What is the relationship between methods of evaluation for students and that for faculty?
  • How do new media projects de- and re-construct print-based concepts we bring to evaluation, such as periodicity, authorship, originality, knowledge, and intellectual property?
  • How might digital pedagogy and service be reconceived as valuable and quantifiable forms of scholarly work?

ASECS11: Digital Humanities Caucus Roundtable 2

“The Eighteenth Century in the Twenty-First: The Impact of the Digital Humanities”

(Digital Humanities Caucus Roundtable)

George Williams, LLC Dept., USC Upstate, Spartanburg, SC 29303; Tel: (864) 503-5285.

E-mail: AND

“The digital humanities comprise the study of what happens at the intersection of computing tools with cultural artifacts of all kinds. This study begins where basic familiarity with standard software ends. It probes how these common tools may be used to make new knowledge from our cultural inheritance and from the contemporary world.”

— Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King’s College London: “Introduction to the Digital Humanities.”

“It isn’t a matter of getting things done more quickly; rather it is about getting things done that couldn’t be done before. That’s the game-changing aspect of technology.”

— Brett Bobley (Director, Office of Digital Humanities, National Endowment for the Humanities): “Why The Digital Humanities?

This roundtable will consider how digital tools and digital methodologies are shaping eighteenth-century studies. Participants might reflect on the following questions, applied to both students and faculty:

  • What sorts of new research and teaching models are emerging in the digital age?
  • What drawbacks should scholars and teachers be wary of as we are confronted with these new possibilities?
  • How are collaborative, interdisciplinary projects affected by the digital humanities?
  • What lessons might we learn for our use of twenty-first-century technologies from eighteenth-century observations about print technology’s influence upon learning, knowledge, and communication?
  • Conversely, in what ways does the media culture of the twenty-first century shape our understanding of the eighteenth?

Open Access? An Important Question. A Handful of Links.

From Cathy Davidson’s HASTAC-hosted blog comes the news that “the Academic Council at Duke University unanimously adopted an Open Access policy for scholarly articles written by the Duke faculty.” In a post at Scholarly Communications @ Duke, Kevin Smith writes

One thing that librarians often believe is that faculty will only be motivated for open access by their own self-interest — impact, citation and the like. But yesterday Cathy Davidson made an eloquent plea for greater access for people around the world who are blocked by high subscriptions costs and other “toll-access” policies. All round the room, heads were nodding as she spoke. I was reminded that most faculty members genuinely do care about the overall welfare of scholarship and learning.

Smith, in turn, links to Joseph Esposito’s “Let’s Make Open Access Work,” published at The Scholarly Kitchen, a blog of the Society for Scholarly Publishing Esposito’s post opens with

This is a blog post that will please no one. That is not the intention; I am not writing it to pick fights. But the topic is open access (OA), and on this topic, fights inevitably erupt; it is scholarly communications’ equivalent of the Culture Wars. For my part, I stand with Voltaire: The perfect is the enemy of the good. Already in the background I can hear advocates of perfection beginning to sharpen their swords. So, without reference to the many arguments on all sides of the matter, How can we make OA work?…

Yesterday, during the first of our 2 “Digital Eighteenth Century 2.0” roundtable discussions, the issue of access to and cost of digital scholarly materials came up with regard to Gale/Cengage’s commercial, full-text database of primary materials Eighteenth-Century Collections Online (ECCO). (See “18th connect and the sustainability of scholarly collaboration,” by David Mazella at The Long 18th, 6 July 2009) This is not the same kind of resource as, say, peer-reviewed scholarly articles, but many of the issues at stake are the same. A full summary of the back-and-forth that took place is beyond the scope of this quick blog post, but an extremely brief précis would note that on the one hand is awareness of the cost associated with creating and maintaining such a resource, while on the other hand is a desire to see as wide an audience as possible of scholars and teachers and students gain access.

More conversation to continue this morning at the second “Digital Eighteenth Century 2.0” roundtable…

To participants in the Digital Eighteenth-Century 2.0 Roundtables…

We wish to remind you that both of the Digital Eighteenth-Century 2.0 panels (which we consider one project spread across two sessions) are roundtables. In other words, we expect that presentations will be kept short, leaving most of our time available for questions & answers, discussion, and audience participation. We encourage you to use to post materials that can be accessed both before and after our sessions (we will announce its availability beforehand). The site runs on WordPress, which is a blogging platform you may already be familiar with. If you’d like your own account on EighteenthCentury.or, please let us know. We would like to have your materials posted online by March 4, two weeks before the start of this year’s meeting.

That said, you should consider this an invitation to brainstorm with us about how more specifically to set up the panel and the accompanying online material.

  • Would you like to do this pecha kucha style or leave it more open?
  • Should we videotape or audiotape the panels?
  • What should we post on, what should be covered by you, the presenters, and how much should we keep open to what the audience wants?
  • How can we ensure continuity and conversation across the two sessions? (We’re assuming, of course, that presenters will attend both.)

Finally, at the end of our second session on Friday, we also hope to specifically discuss the formation of an ASECS Digital Humanities caucus.

Thanks for your participation in planning what we hope will be two very interactive roundtables!

George and Lisa

Digital Humanities @ ASECS10

The following information is drawn from the tentative schedule circulated in October 2009.

ECCO, EEBO, and the Burney Collection: Some ‘Noisy Feedback’

Session 17 — Thursday, 18 March — 9:45-11:15am
Chair: Anna BATTIGELLI, State University of New York, Plattsburgh
Sayre GREENFIELD, University of Pittsburgh, Greensburg
Stephen KARIAN, Marquette University
James E. MAY, Pennsylvania State University, DuBois
Eleanor F. SHEVLIN, West Chester University
Michael F. SUAREZ, S.J., Rare Book School, University of Virginia
Scott DAWSON, Gale/Cengage
Jo-Anne HOGAN, Proquest

The Digital Eighteenth Century 2.0 — I

Session 68 — Thursday, 18 March — 4:15pm-5:45pm
Chair: Lisa MARUCA, Wayne State University
Randall CREAM, University of South Carolina
Molly O’Hagan HARDY, University of Texas at Austin
Laura MANDELL, Miami University, Ohio

The Digital Eighteenth Century 2.0 — II

Session 110 — Friday, 19 March — 9:45am-11:15am
Chair: George H. WILLIAMS, University of South Carolina, Upstate
Sharon HARROW, Shippensburg University
Tonya HOWE, Marymount University
Benjamin PAULEY, Eastern Connecticut State University
Adrianne WADEWITZ, Indiana University, Bloomington

Digital Humanities and the Eighteenth Century: Pros and Cons

Session 128 — Friday, 19 March — 11:30am-1:00pm
Chair: Jeffrey RAVEL, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Alison MURI, University of Saskatchewan, “From Ctrl-F to Digital Editions: The Challenges and Successes of Teaching the Eighteenth Century with Digital Texts and Tools”
Benjamin PAULEY, Eastern Connecticut State University, “Re-membering the Eighteenth-Century Book”
Sean TAKETS, George Mason University, “Recent Developments at the Center for History and New Media”

cfp: “The Digital 18th-century 2.0”

“Texting, Tweeting, Tagging: The Digital Eighteenth Century 2.0” (Roundtable)

George H. Williams, English, U.of South Carolina Upstate, Spartanburg, SC 29303 AND  

Lisa Maruca, English, Wayne State U., Detroit, MI 48202;

E-mail: AND  (Please email both organizers)

Since the early 1990s, eighteenth-century studies scholars have used Internet-based resources for research and scholarly communication via dedicated websites, list-servs, and static presentations of both primary and secondary sources.  In addition to these open and freely accessible online scholarly resources, commercial ventures such as the Gale Group’s Eighteenth-Century Collections Online offer vast databases of digitized works previously available only in a limited number of physical archives.

However, as groundbreaking as these tools or services have been in establishing a web presence for eighteenth-century research, they also have their limitations.   Dubbed retrospectively “Web 1.0,” they draw both their strengths and weaknesses from their ties to print culture, with its view of text as stable and communication as a one-to-many enterprise. Furthermore, online archives such as ECCO often come at a steep price, excluding many working outside large research institutions.

While not denying the importance of previous work, this roundtable will consider how the next generation of digital tools is shaping our field.  In contrast to the first iteration of online resources, “Web 2.0” is characterized by a view of text-making as dynamic and participatory and communication as a many-to-many undertaking.  It privileges a construction of knowledge that is transparent, socially mediated and always in-process.  It is open-access, often open-source, with few if any overhead expenses transferred to users.  This new media environment is already transforming the academy in fundamental ways, as evidenced by scores of digital humanities centers, online classrooms, interactive digital archives, and social networking sites for scholars.

This panel will investigate the changes it has made in the study of the eighteenth-century. Prospective panelists are thus encouraged to provide overviews of eighteenth-century projects (both current and imagined) and new pedagogies made possible by Web 2.0 technologies.  They can comment as well on future directions in teaching and research enabled by the plethora of free, digital tools and services now available.

Through both brief audiovisual presentations and audience participation, we hope to address questions such as these:

  • How are tools such as wikis, blogs, digital cameras, and smart phones, and sites such as YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, Second Life, and Google Apps currently being used in research or pedagogy?  

  • How can we better encourage, evaluate, and share student and/or faculty projects in new media?

  • What sorts of new research models do these media encourage?  

  • Do these tools have the power to engage Gen Y students’ attention and curiosity about Enlightenment thinking?  

  • How can we use Web 2.0 analogies to help students better understand eighteenth-century social networking and media forms?

  • What lessons might we learn for our use of twenty-first-century technologies from eighteenth-century observations about print technology’s influence upon learning, knowledge, and communication?

  • What drawbacks should scholars and teachers be wary of as we work with these new tools and services?