During my work with the RRCHNM, I have had the opportunity to (1) apply skills and knowledge learned through my DHP graduate certificate coursework and gain a great appreciation of the diverse projects of digital humanists that are currently underway. Here are the main two the constructs I have carried with me throughout my internship experience: What Digital Humanities are About and Close & Distant Reading.
What Digital Humanities are About
In first course in the sequence, HIST 680 Introduction to Digital Humanities, I explored what digital humanities are and how the field has evolved over time. Attending their speaker series, I get to hear DH experts present their most current projects and define digital humanities from their disciplinary perspectives.
In the second course, HIST 694 Digital Public History, While working at RRCHNM, I have been part of a large team of digital humanists who engage historical thinking with innovative technologies. It is during their weekly staff meetings that I get to hear about their projects and how they have advanced them throughout their various stages. Even though these projects involve different aims, audiences, historical questions and processes, there is this general consensus among project managers on how historical thinking can empower users. Having created the “Territorio no incorporado” prototype project in HIST694, allowed me to appreciate how RRCHNM present their historical arguments, their processes of selecting appropriate content to communicate their interpretive arguments, their platform designs, and the incorporation of interactive elements.
In terms of my particular AT project, most of the presentations and discussions I been part of include elements of topic modeling and visualization. This exposure has introduced me to tools that I could potentially use to model and interpret corpora like the ones from the Appalachian Trailway News and the AT Thru-Hiker’s Annual Companion. HIST 694 afforded me with the insight to technical and methodological considerations I need to make as I model the AT topics and interpret the results.
Close and Distant Reading
In HIST689: Teaching and Learning History in the Digital Age, I got to work with primary sources (postcards) and perform zoom-in inquiry activities that lead to reading gradual complex situations. This type of close reading exercise trained me on articulating the process of historical thinking as I look at the bigger picture. In the case of the AT project, rather than developing an inquiry spiraling experience, I have had to engage for the very first time in distant reading (Moretti). While the HIST689 prototype was about unpacking the meanings emerging from the primary resources at a closer range, my AT topic modeling project has been about condensing large sets of data and spiraling my way in (see Reports 1, 2, and 3 below). Through my AT topic modeling and analysis, I get to apply procedural knowledge (Levesque) building skills in order to scrutinize and uncover the process behind learning about the past, in this case, a past related to the creation of the AT trail and the presence and role of Native Americans in the topics that are emerging.
Overall, through my internship I have been able to apply methodologies learned from the classroom, explore the collaborative and diverse dimensions of digital humanities, and the tensions that can develop between theory and practice.